College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences; Community, Engagement, Belonging and Access

Greenville Business Magazine lists two Clemson staffers among ‘Best and Brightest’


CLEMSON – Clemson University’s Matthew Kirk and Lauren Winkelman-Smith made the list of Greenville Business Magazine’s 2018 “Best & Brightest under 35.”

Matthew Kirk at Greenville Drive Stadium
Matthew Kirk at Greenville Drive Stadium
Image credit: Greenville Business Magazine

Kirk is associate director of Clemson’s Tiger Alliance program in the Division of Inclusion of Equity’s Office of College Preparation and Outreach.  He moved to South Carolina in 2012 to earn his master’s degree from Clemson in counselor education, student affairs.

“I am beyond humbled to be considered one the Upstate’s Best & Brightest under 35,” Kirk said. “I stand on the tenants of servant leadership, believing that the best leaders are servants first. I look forward to continuing to serve community in the years to come!”

The Philadelphia native said he is committed to helping young people realize their dreams and potential in achieving higher education.

Lee Gill, Clemson’s chief diversity officer and special assistant to the president on inclusive excellence, nominated Kirk for the award.

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“Matthew brings to Clemson the will and ability to yield results that benefit students around the state of South Carolina,” Gill said. “He is relatable and inclined to go the extra mile for students. That’s critical to the work he does. He is very deserving of this honor.”

Tiger Alliance helps prepare African-American and Latinx young men for higher education. The program is in its second year with 400 students enrolled from nine South Carolina high schools in the Upstate. Clemson students mentor Tiger Alliance members and take part in a list of activities designed to prepare them for college and careers, including attending the Men of Color National Summit.

Lauren Winkelman-Smith in the stands at Greenville Drive Stadium Image credit: Greenville Business Magazine
Lauren Winkelman-Smith in the stands at Greenville Drive Stadium Image credit: Greenville Business Magazine

“Much of the growth and success of Tiger Alliance can be attributed to Matthew’s leadership,” said Amber Lange, director of the Office of College Preparation and Outreach. “We are very proud of him and grateful to see his talents and services recognized by Greenville Business Magazine.”

Clemson’s Lauren Winkelman-Smith joins Kirk in the list of honorees. Winkelman-Smith is director of development for the College of Engineering, Computing, and Applied Sciences. She moved to Greenville six-years ago where she found kindred spirits in the people around her.

“I am fortunate to be constantly surrounded by people who want to see positive impact in our world – both in Greenville, and alongside wonderful colleagues and donors here at Clemson,” Winkelman-Smith said. “I get to see firsthand the lives that change when you bring together people who are willing to step up, and make a difference. It’s an honor to be chosen for this award, but more so, to serve among people who don’t take our community for granted and actively engage to make it better.”

Winkelman-Smith earned her MBA from Clemson in 2017. The York, Pennsylvania, native got her bachelor’s degree in public relations from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

“Clemson is fortunate to have strong talent and Lauren is one of Clemson’s Development and Alumni Relations Division’s strongest,” said Brian O’Rourke, vice president for Development and Alumni Relations. “She represents the university, its communities, our division and CECAS with professionalism and commitment to philanthropy and its powerful impact not only on our university, but the lives of so many who benefit from these gifts. Lauren’s work and dedication make her among the Best and Brightest!”

Winkelman-Smith’s work at Clemson involves securing financial support for the college to help ensure students reap all the benefits of receiving an education at the university.

Greenville Business Magazine identified 37 out of 117 honorees for this year’s Best and Brightest under 35.

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