Student Affairs

Outstanding undergraduates, graduates honored by Student Affairs


The Division of Student Affairs named its 2018-19 award winners during a short recognition ceremony Tuesday in the Hendrix Student Center. Four annual awards were presented to five individuals prior to a directors meeting.

Almeda Jacks with 2019 Student Affairs divisional award winners.
Vice President for Student Affairs Almeda Jacks joined by the 2018-19 division award winners Tuesday.

“These individuals have made a difference throughout the campus and the community,” said Mandy Hays, assistant vice president for Campus Life. “I want to thank our awards and nominations committee and offer congratulations to each of these very deserving members.”

The Almeda R. Jacks Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award is presented in honor of Clemson’s current vice president for Student Affairs. It is given to a junior or senior with a minimum GPA of 3.0 who upholds Clemson’s core values, maintains high scholarly achievement and is involved in university departments, clubs or organizations.

This year’s Almeda R. Jacks Award recipient was Morgan Witherspoon. A senior industrial engineering major, Witherspoon served as executive director of Clemson Miracle each of the past two years. Under her direction, the student organization raised over $460,000 toward children’s hospital needs at Prisma Health–Upstate. Witherspoon is on track to graduate May 10.

The Walter T. Cox Graduate Student Award is presented in memory of the 10th university president and longtime vice president for Student Affairs. It is given to a first-year graduate student employed by the Division of Student Affairs. The recipient must show ongoing excellence as a member of the community through his or her leadership, support of the holistic academic experience and commitment to diversity and acceptance.

McKenzie McNamara (right) with Vice President for Student Affairs Almeda Jacks
McKenzie McNamara earned the Walter T. Cox Graduate Student Award.

This year’s Walter T. Cox Award recipient is McKenzie McNamara. Pursuing a master’s degree in the counselor education program, McNamara is a graduate assistant for alcohol and other drug initiatives with Healthy Campus — part of Clemson’s Student Health Services team. She is the co-instructor for the alcohol and other drugs creative inquiry team and serves as the secretary for the Clemson Community Coalition.

The R.C. Edwards Outstanding Graduate Student Award is presented in memory of the longtime president best known for leading Clemson from an all-male military college to a major coeducational and integrated university. It is given to a graduate student with a minimum 3.25 GPA who exhibits a high level of support for the mission, vision and goals of his or her department, while going above and beyond his or her expected duties.

This year’s R.C. Edwards Award recipient is Emily Zarych. Pursuing a master’s degree in the counselor education program, Zarych is a graduate assistant for leadership development within University Housing & Dining. She supports the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH) through programming. She co-chaired the Clemson Home Graduate Assistant Advisory Board and also serves as the director of professional development for the American College Personnel Association (ACPA).

The Rising Star Award is presented to a first- or second-year student with a minimum 3.0 GPA who is currently involved in leadership or service activities and is actively pursuing future leadership roles at Clemson University.

John Gressette receiving the Rising Star Award from Vice President for Student Affairs Almeda Jacks.
John Gressette was one of two recipients to earn the Rising Star Award.

The first recipient of this year’s Rising Star Award is John Gressette. A sophomore economics major, Gressette has led the creation of new policies and procedures for the Interfraternity Council (IFC) to ensure both safety and transparency. He is the grandson of Lawrence Gressette, who served on the Clemson University Board of Trustees from 1989 to 2007, and from 2007-13 in an emeritus capacity.

Also receiving this year’s Rising Star Award is Ty Robinson. A sophomore criminal justice major, Robinson enrolled at Clemson in the fall of 2017 and works as a student assistant through the VA work-study program. Robinson spent four years in the U.S. Air Force as an engineering technician. He is vice president of Clemson’s chapter of the Student Veterans of America (SVA) and was named top student veteran for the 2018 fall semester.

Want to Discuss?

Get in touch and we will connect you with the author or another expert.

Or email us at

    This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.