Having a strong support system makes for a more comfortable existence and can play a role in success or failure.
That’s especially true for minority students in the College of Business, according to Antonio Harrison, co-founder of the newly formed Minority Business Student Association (MBSA).
Harrison, an operations management junior, along with Ebony Aiken, recent MPAcc graduate, founded MBSA to provide a sense of belonging for minority business students. Among other goals, the newest sanctioned student group on campus also aims to help create more diverse leaders and increase on-time graduations for minorities.
“The minority population is very small in the business school with a little more than 300 students out of a 3,000-member student body,” Antonio said. “We took our idea of creating a support network for the various groups of minorities to the college’s leadership and it received a positive response.”
MBSA was recently approved as a student-led organization by the Clemson University Student Government, a process which qualifies them for funding for needs such as office space and operating expenses.
Harrison and Aiken see their new organization as an opportunity to develop the professional, academic and personal needs of underrepresented business students. “MBSA will also be a great recruiting resource for the college. Knowing there is a supportive infrastructure and networking opportunities, minority students will view the college as being a welcoming environment for students from all walks of life.”
Harrison and Aiken’s observations on the need for a minority student support system hasn’t gone unnoticed by the dean’s office. The college has created a new position to recruit more underrepresented students to the business school. Darryl Perkins joined Clemson this fall from Bowling Green State University to lead that effort. Joining him will be another new recruiting employee and student advisor, Melonee Yearwood.
“As a seminary of higher learning, it is incumbent for us to provide students a holistic educational experience that prepares them for life. The new Minority Business Student Association and our commitment to recruiting more underrepresented students are steps in that direction,” McCormick said. “Having a support system in place for minority students creates a more welcoming environment for current students. It also sends a message to aspiring Tigers that we value a multicultural environment where students from all walks of life can learn from one another.”
More than 60 students, faculty and staff recently attended MBSA’s inaugural meet and greet, an indication of the support there is for one of the newest student organizations on campus, according to Helen Diamond Steele, student enrichment director.
“The impressive turnout of students, faculty and staff shows there is tremendous support for MBSA, which is well on its way to making a positive impact at Clemson.”
An Anderson native, Harrison would someday like to teach at the university level and become more involved in recruiting minorities to higher education through creation of a non-profit. The MBSA is a first step in that career vision.
“I would like to leave Clemson in a better place than when I arrived and MBSA will make Clemson and the business school a better place for all students,” Antonio said. “Change is sometimes slow but we are moving forward. And by providing a sense of belonging, we are moving toward our goal of developing diverse business leaders and maximizing their career potential.”
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