This isn’t exactly how Katherine Harland envisioned her college experience.
A native of Jacksonville, Florida, her dream was to be in an urban environment. And not necessarily one ripe with rabid devotion to its college football team.
“Now that I’ve been here, I can’t imagine being anywhere else,” says Harland, a senior architecture major. Harland is a member of the National Scholars Program, one of eight students to enroll in Fall 2020 at the height of a global pandemic. Engaging in campus life was all but non-existent as the University navigated modified operations.
“Campus organizations were doing everything over Zoom and it was hard to be plugged in,” she says. “I was desperate for an avenue to be involved in and ended up finding the campus Habitat for Humanity chapter.”
Habitat is a global non-profit committed to providing permanent, affordable housing solutions to low-income individuals and families. Year after year, Clemson’s campus chapter works in conjunction with the local Pickens County Habitat to build area homes.
Its most visible project occurs each fall as part of Clemson’s Homecoming Week. Hundreds of volunteers—students, faculty, staff and local community members—come together and construct the framework for a Habitat home on Bowman Field in the span of days.
Harland was involved as a first-year student and ran for an executive board position as a sophomore. She was named vice president of the chapter and spent a year learning the organization.
The past two years, Harland has served as chapter president, leading a group of 12 officers who oversee the annual Homecoming project and other organizational activities.
“I’ve met people from all areas and have been provided with incredible leadership opportunities,” she says, reflecting on the honor of presiding over the chapter during the 30th anniversary of the Homecoming build on Bowman Field.
She cannot help but think about lifelong memories made with fellow student leaders like Zane Andrews, Will Bavin, Ally Bedenbaugh and Addison Dicks.
“It’s really cool to be part of a milestone this year,” she says.
Harland has been part of multiple milestones in 2023. Earlier this year, she studied abroad with members of the School of Architecture in Genoa, Italy. She was on site as Clemson officials celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Charles E. Daniel Center for Building Research and Urban Studies, better known as “The Villa.” Each semester, the historic space serves as both home and school to approximately 25 architecture students. Harland says living and studying in Italy was one of the most exciting, fast-paced experiences of her life.
Following graduation, Harland hopes to enroll in graduate school and become a licensed architect. She plans to pursue a career based in community service, inspired by her work with Habitat. During her time at Clemson, she’s worked with a non-profit firm in Montana and interned with architectural firms in Charlotte and Greenville.
Meanwhile, she’s looking forward to Homecoming Week 2023 and the construction of a new home on Bowman Field. It’s undoubtedly been a big part of her transformational journey.
“I feel really blessed for my time at Clemson.”