College of Education

Faculty/staff collaboration improves preparation of ClemsonLIFE graduates



A group of students and adults stand smiling while getting a group photograph taken during a class graduation.
Pictured April 22, 2024, having earned their certificates – front row, ClemsonLIFE students from left to right are Jacob Stark, Tyler Trout, Hope Banks, Katie Meriam and Emily Trumps. Their instructor, Dr. Ali Dubin, is pictured behind Hope Banks and Katie Meriam. Other course founders are Director of Occupational and Environmental Safety Jim Grieger (2nd row far left) and Hospitality Certificate Program Instructor Savannah Barton (3rd row far left). Also pictured are members of Clemson University’s OES staff who were instrumental in certifying the students through hands on training.
Download image

While the ClemsonLIFE™ (Learning Is For Everyone) program at Clemson University has too many success stories to write them all, some simply must be told. Preparing young people with intellectual disabilities for competitive employment and independent living through a combination of academic coursework and career exploration, the ClemsonLIFE program is designed for students who desire a post-secondary experience on a college campus. An employment-based program called the Hospitality Certificate Program (HCP) is of special significance. During the two-year program, HCP students receive a combination of classroom and employment experiences to prepare for employment in the hospitality industry.

One particular course offered during spring 2024 to five ClemsonLIFE students enrolled in the Hospitality Certificate program was inspired by a fall 2023 conversation between two unlikely collaborators.

When ClemsonLIFE Hospitality Certificate Program Instructor Savannah Barton noticed safety courses on Clemson University’s Occupational and Environmental Safety website, the faculty member contacted staff member and OES Executive Director Jim Grieger to explore which courses he would recommend for her and other instructors teaching students within the hospitality certificate program. Grieger and Barton became quick allies on behalf of the ClemsonLIFE students, with Grieger committing his and his team’s help without asking for anything in return. 

“The partnership with ClemsonLIFE students truly inspired Clemson University’s OES staff to deliver creative and innovative ‘hands-on’ instruction to the students to give them a leading edge in the hospitality industry as first-time employees,” said Occupational Environmental Safety Executive Director Jim Grieger. “For us, the experience was thoroughly rewarding.”

I am so proud of the accomplishments of our ClemsonLIFE and Hospitality Certificate students and the support and guidance they receive from faculty, staff and other students in our community. This is what the Clemson Family is all about!

—Kristin Gehsmann, dean of the College of Education

“We had no idea how meaningful and special this partnership would become,” said Barton, noting how incredibly intentional the team of staff members were within Clemson’s Office of Occupational and Environmental Safety at creating content and resources that would be game changers for the ClemsonLIFE HCP students. “They ensured our students had hands-on learning experiences and fun activities to facilitate an understanding of the material. We are so thankful for the Clemson OES staff and their dedication to teaching our students.”

A member of Grieger’s team, Occupational Safety Manager Jeff Anthony, took it a step further, reaching out to his local OSHA contact to investigate if he could get the course certified as an OSHA 10-hour Training Certificate course. He was aware that the team on main campus had the ability to provide the hands-on OSHA training needed to support such a course.

Extending the collaborative goodwill, Anthony’s inquiry was met with OSHA’s support, so the OES team proceeded to deliver the OSHA 10-hour course to the class taught by instructor Dr. Ali Dubin, again—providing the instruction to the students without charge.  Barton, Dubin and Grieger worked together to cover specific topics and even customized other segments of the course around the type of work the students would have as required duties within the hospitality environment. All told, the course ran for nine classes held over six weeks, and each of the five students received their permanent 10-hour OSHA cards.  

In the hospitality industry, many employers have their employees work towards achieving OSHA certification and other employers require the certification to be considered for employment. The cards and certifications don’t expire.

Each student received an OSHA 10-hour certification card issued by OSHA and a training certificate from OES for the following courses:   

  • Introduction to OSHA
  • Emergency Action Procedures/Fire Extinguisher Training
  • Walking and Working Surfaces
  • Machine Guarding/Electrical Safety
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Hazard Communication
  • Ergonomics
  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Hazardous Spill Cleanup Training

“This collaboration reflects the can-do spirit of faculty, staff and students on our campus,” said Kristin Gehsmann, dean of the College of Education.  “It also reflects our university’s commitments to experiential learning and to providing the #1 student experience in the country.”

Visit the ClemsonLIFE homepage to learn more about the programs, including the Hospitality Certificate Program.