Six Clemson alumni honored with the 2021 Distinguished Service Award


A photo collage of the six individual photos of the 2022 Distinguished Service Award winners.
Clockwise from top left: Celeste De Laine “Clete” Boykin ’79, John L. Easterling III ’80, J. Allen Martin ’69, Mitchell S. “Micky” Scott ’75, General John W. “Jay” Raymond ’84 and John W. Parris ’58 — 2022 Distinguished Service Award recipients.
Download image

On Friday, April 1, 2022, the Clemson Alumni Association awarded six recipients with the Clemson Alumni Distinguished Service Award — the highest honor the association bestows on those who graduated from the University.

The prestigious Clemson Alumni Distinguished Service Award is based on three main criteria: personal and professional accomplishments; dedication and service to Clemson University; and devotion to community and public service. Members of the Clemson family nominate potential honorees, who are then selected by the Clemson Alumni Association as outstanding alumni, public servants and examples to others.

The 2021 Clemson Alumni Distinguished Service Award winners are:

Celeste De Laine “Clete” Boykin ’79

A smiling African American woman with short hair sits on the end of an ottoman with a sofa, end table and lamp in the background. The room has floor to ceiling windows behind the sofa and also on the wall parallel to the side table and ottoman. She is wearing dark jeans and a sweater with a bright leather jacket. Her dangling teardrop earrings match her leather jacket. She received the Distinguished Service Award.

Trailblazing government affairs executive Celeste De Laine “Clete” Boykin will receive the Clemson Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.

Boykin grew up in Lancaster, South Carolina, and graduated from Clemson University in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science degree in plant sciences. She joined E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company and became the first African American woman to work as a sales and marketing representative in the company’s Agricultural Chemicals business. As her career progressed, she was assigned to the company’s Washington, D.C., office where she managed a variety of policy issues including agriculture, transportation and defense matters related to the company’s Kevlar® para-aramid synthetic fiber used for protective vests and helmets.

In 2015, she retired from DuPont as senior manager for government affairs and started her own government consulting firm, CDB ProjX. She works with Clemson’s Governmental Affairs organization to help foster positive relationships with federal officials. She is based in Brandywine, Maryland, where she lives with her spouse, Kim Sescoe, and their niece and nephews.

Among Boykin’s many volunteer leadership roles for Clemson, she is a former member of the University’s Board of Visitors and the Clemson University Foundation Board of Directors. Currently, she chairs the Clemson Institute for Parks Board of Advisors. She is a member of the Clemson University Tiger Band Association and is a longtime board member with the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. Clemson Club.

She has helped to organize various Clemson events in the Washington area, including 2017’s Clemson Day at the White House honoring the University’s national championship football team.

Boykin is a proud member of the Benet Babes, a group of Clemson alumnae who lived in Benet Hall. In 2015, the group established a scholarship fund to benefit future Clemson students. She is a member of the Clemson Legacy Society, which honors donors who have included Clemson in their estate plans, and she supports Clemson athletics as a member of IPTAY.

Boykin’s community service includes volunteering for McKenna’s Wagon, a mobile food service that feeds people in need throughout the D.C. area; raising funds to fight AIDS by riding in a 250 mile bicycle ride from Philadelphia to Washington; participating in two 100 mile bike rides to support the fight against multiple sclerosis; and participating on the board of the Potomac Riverkeeper Network Leadership Council, a group whose mission is to protect the public’s right to clean water in the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers and their tributaries. 

In service to her home state, she is a member of the South Carolina Business Council and is vice chairman of the board of the Briggs, De Laine, Pearson Foundation, a charitable organization that focuses on providing free after-school and summer tutoring programs for individuals from low income backgrounds in Clarendon County, where Boykin was born.

John L. Easterling III ’80

A smiling man sitting on the edge of a chair the background is a hallway. He isn't completely bald. He is wearing dress slacks and a blazer with a Clemson Tiger paw pendant. He received a Distinguished Service Award.

Accomplished business leader and real estate developer John L. Easterling III of Spartanburg will receive the Clemson Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.

Easterling graduated from Clemson University in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. In 1983, he earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of South Carolina and started working in property management for Pulliam Investment Company. He became the company’s president in 1997 and its owner in 2007. Today, he is a senior associate with NAI Earle Furman, the largest commercial real estate brokerage and property management firm in upstate South Carolina.

Real estate properties and projects developed and managed by Easterling include retirement centers, multifamily housing communities and public buildings. Retirement development locations range from Spartanburg, Beaufort and North Myrtle Beach in South Carolina to Winston Salem, North Carolina, and Columbus, Georgia. His most recent apartment communities are in Camden and Columbia. Other projects include the South Carolina Adjutant General’s headquarters in Columbia, Spartanburg County’s administrative office complex, Spartanburg Regional Health System’s medical office building and a dormitory at Northern Kentucky University.    

Among Easterling’s many volunteer leadership roles for Clemson, he is a charter  member of the Master of Real Estate Development program’s board of directors. He is a former member of the University’s Board of Visitors, the IPTAY board of directors and the Alumni National Council. He has served as a county coordinator for the Clemson Advocates program and as president of the Spartanburg County Clemson Club. In appreciation for his financial gifts for academic and athletic programs, he has been recognized as a member of the President’s Leadership Circle and as a Heisman Donor. 

Easterling’s community service activities include more than two decades in multiple leadership roles for the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, now called OneSpartanburg, Inc. He is on the Downtown Development Partnership Board and the Spartanburg Tomorrow Political Action Committee. He actively participates in youth sports programs, the First Presbyterian Church of Spartanburg, the Arts Council of Spartanburg, the Country Club of Spartanburg and numerous charitable causes, including the Texanna Williams Fund for Children at Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Spartanburg.

Easterling and his wife, Carroll Chambers Easterling, are the parents of a daughter and two sons: Elizabeth Easterling Shirley (Clemson Class of 2009), the late John L. “Jay” Easterling IV (Clemson Class of 2012) and Henry Chambers Easterling.

J. Allen Martin ’69

A man with a slight smile sitting on the edge of a chair with his right arm resting on the chair's arm rest and his left hand placed on top of his right. He is wearing a suit and small-rimmed glasses. His hair is thinning and the top. He received a Distinguished Service Award.

Anderson native J. Allen Martin, co-founder and managing partner of The Livingston Group in Washington, D.C, will receive the Clemson Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Clemson University in 1969.

In 1977, Martin began 22 years of service as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA). In 1999, Martin co-founded The Livingston Group with the retired congressman and other former Livingston staff members. The firm represents non-profit institutions, municipalities, international corporations and foreign governments.

Martin is lead partner for matters related to healthcare, pharmaceuticals, science, technology and telecommunications. He specializes in international affairs and has represented Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Curacao, Cayman Islands, Democratic Republic of Congo and Turkey and currently represents Iraq.

Among his many volunteer roles for Clemson, Martin is a longtime leader of the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. Clemson Club, which also serves northern Virginia. He is a former board member for both the Clemson Alumni Association and the Clemson University Foundation. He is a current member of the Clemson University Foundation’s Order of the Oak, a select group of supporters and ambassadors who provide guidance and engage in philanthropic efforts to further Clemson’s long-term goals.  

Martin has hosted numerous Clemson events in the Washington area and regularly makes his office available for meetings, lunches and other gatherings. He employs at least one Clemson student intern at The Livingston Group each year and mentors Clemson alumni interested in working in government, public policy or politics.

He is a member of the Clemson Legacy Society, which honors donors who have included Clemson in their estate plans, and he supports Clemson athletics as a member of IPTAY. He has made annual gifts for academics since he graduated and has been recognized as a member of the President’s Leadership Circle. His father, James R. Martin Jr., and brother, James R. Martin III, also graduated from Clemson, in 1939 and 1965, respectively.  

Martin’s community service activities include running marathons for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He is a member and former deacon of the McLean (Virginia) Baptist Church. In his home state, he has received the Order of the Palmetto for his service to South Carolina.

He and his wife, Suzanne (Suzie), have fully funded a needs-based scholarship in memory of Suzie’s mother and endowed a professorship in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management at Penn State, Suzie’s alma mater. Their sons are John Allen Martin Jr. and Adam Strickler, and their daughters are Jennifer Louise Martin Roberts, a 1998 Clemson graduate, and Allison Hendricks.

John W. Parris ’58

An older man sits at a table that features the Clemson Tiger Paw logo on the surface top. He is wearing a suit and glasses, hands clutched within one another. His hair is white from years and barely visible on the top and sides. He has a slight and a very distinguished demeanor. He was a warded a Distinguished Service Award.

Nationally recognized agriculturalist and conservation visionary John W. Parris of Columbia has received the Clemson Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.

The Campobello native graduated from Clemson in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education. He began his professional career by teaching agri-science and technology for eight years in Chester and Anderson Counties.

In 1966, Parris became associate director of the State Soil and Water Conservation Commission and served in that position for five years. Then in 1972, he was promoted to executive director of the agency that became the State Land Resources Commission.

Parris led in promoting the enactment of significant natural resource conservation and environmental improvement legislation in areas including Mining and Mined-Land Reclamation, Dams and Reservoir Safety, Sediment Reduction and Stormwater Management, Landscape Architect Registration, Soil Classifiers Registration, state income tax credits for the purchase of drip irrigation installation equipment and conservation tillage planters, increased state funding to conservation districts, increased state funding to expedite the completion of the state soil survey in concert with the USDA Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resources Conservation Service), taxation of agricultural and forest land according to its present use, changing the title of conservation district officials to commissioners and urban flood control projects.

Retiring from the Land Resources Agency in 1994, Parris became interim director of the Clemson University Sandhill Research and Education Center for two years. In 1996, he became state director of public affairs for Agricultural Education and the FFA (formerly known as the Future Farmers of America) in South Carolina and served in that position of 16 years until his 75th birthday. He is now director of the South Carolina Agri-News Service, a voluntary position.

A widely recognized leader in natural resource conservation education, Parris hosted a weekly television show on WFBC-TV (now WYFF TV) in Greenville for five years before becoming executive director of the South Carolina Land Resources Commission. He was the founder and charter trustee of the South Carolina Conservation Districts Foundation and established the first State Conservation Workshop for Youth. Additionally, Parris served as chairman of the first tri-state dams and reservoir safety conference that led to the National Association of Safe Dam Officials, the first southeastern mined-land reclamation conference, the first eastern states conference on drip irrigation and coordinated the first aerial conservation study tour of South Carolina by helicopters.

Parris received a number of prestigious awards including the Alpha Gamma Rho National Scholarship as the Outstanding 4-H Boy in the Nation based on leadership, scholarship and achievement. He was named Man of the Year in Agriculture by the PROGRESSIVE FARMER magazine and received the National FFA Organization’s VIP Award, the International Erosion Control Association’s Distinguished Service Award, the National Professional Conservationist Award, the Centennial Distinguished Agricultural Alumni Award by Clemson University and the Order of the Palmetto.

Among his many leadership roles for Clemson, Parris is a charter member and past chairman of Clemson University’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences Alumni Board. He led in securing approval by the State Commission on Higher Education for a landscape architecture major at Clemson. He recommended the inclusion of Youth Day in the annual Ag Tailgate event. Prior to serving as interim director of the Sandhill Research and Education Center, Parris chaired its advisory committee. The John W. Parris Agricultural Leadership Endowment, administered by the Clemson University Foundation, provides scholarships to agriculture students annually. The community activities of Parris include life membership in the South Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical Society. He also holds membership in the Columbia Rotary Club, the Capital City Club, the First Baptist Church of Columbia, the SC Association of Agricultural Educators and the SC Farm Bureau.

General John W. “Jay” Raymond ’84

In a highly decorated Air Force service dress uniform, a man sits/leans against the arm of a chair. Both of his hands are placed on each corresponding leg. He has a smile and no hair. He is wearing a wedding ring and his Clemson class ring. He received a Distinguished Service Award.

The nation’s first chief of space operations, Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, will receive the Clemson Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. The Air Force ROTC Distinguished Graduate earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a lieutenant’s commission in 1984. Now a four-star general, he is the highest-ranking military leader, in any branch of service, to graduate from Clemson University.

When the U.S. Space Force was established in 2019 as the first new military service since the creation of the Air Force in 1947, Raymond was appointed chief of space operations. As Chief, he serves as the senior uniformed Space Force officer responsible for the organization, training and equipping of all organic and assigned space forces serving in the United States and overseas. He is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, providing senior uniformed advice to the President and Secretary of Defense.

The U.S. Space Force mission is to organize, train and equip Guardians to conduct global space operations that enhance the way our joint and coalition forces fight, while also offering decision makers military options to achieve national objectives.

During 38 years of military service, Raymond has held numerous key national security and command positions. Among them, he is the only non-pilot in history to serve as the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for operations. He served in the Middle East in support of United States operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. His leadership of U.S. humanitarian and relief efforts in Japan during its 2011 earthquake disaster was recognized by citations from the Japanese government. He was also awarded the French National Order of Merit for his contributions to French and American military cooperation.

Raymond has spoken to thousands of Clemson students, faculty members and graduates in settings ranging from ROTC commissioning ceremonies on campus to alumni gatherings in the Washington, D.C., area. He is a donor for both academic and athletic programs, and he sponsors an annual scholarship for Clemson Air Force ROTC cadets.

He regularly presents educational remarks on national security and space operations to community and school groups. He engages local, state and national leaders to highlight the needs of military members and their families.

He and his wife, Mollie, have two daughters, Christina and Amy, and a son, Garry.

Mitchell S. “Micky” Scott ’75

A smiling man with a mustache and short beard, hair thicker on the sides than top, sits comfortably on a sofa with a table and lamp behind him. He is wearing khakis,  a blazer and tie with a Clemson Tiger Paw pendant. He received a Distinguished Service Award.

Forest industry leader and philanthropist Mitchell S. “Micky” Scott of Allendale, South Carolina, will receive the Clemson Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.

The 1975 forest management graduate of Clemson University is president of Collum’s Lumber Products, a fourth-generation family owned company founded in the 1930s that has become one of the most advanced sawmill and planer operations in the Southeast. The mill is capable of producing 200 million board feet per year while maintaining Sustainable Forestry Initiative certification for operations and practices that promote forest sustainability for future generations.

Scott has served in numerous leadership roles in support of the forest industry and related professions. He is a member and former chair of the Forestry Association of South Carolina and received its distinguished service award in 2019. He is a former member of the South Carolina Wildlife Federation and the Palmetto AgriBusiness Council and served for 16 years on the South Carolina Forestry Commission.

He and his family are major contributors to Clemson’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences. They are recognized as the college’s first Academic Cornerstone Partner because of the generous endowments they have established for undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, faculty and program support, and a forestry summer camp.

Scott helped Clemson create its Wood Utilization + Design Institute and is active with the institute as a board member and corporate partner. He also helped the Clemson University Real Estate Foundation develop its Timberland Legacy Program, which allows landowners to use their timberland to benefit Clemson while ensuring that the land is managed and protected.

Scott’s many community service activities range from being an annual sponsor of various charity events in Allendale to supporting the nonprofit Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, which protects heirs’ property and promotes its sustainable use to provide increased economic benefit to historically underserved families in 22 counties in the Lowcountry, Midlands and Pee Dee. He has provided lumber for handicap ramps in his community, decking for the Harbison Environmental Center in Columbia and rebuilding a local animal shelter.

Scott is a member and elder at Allendale Presbyterian Church. He and his wife, Amy, have two sons and daughters-in-law: Justin (Clemson class of 2003) and his wife, Winter; and Jake and his wife, Mallory (Clemson class of 2001).

The Clemson Alumni Association, an open-membership, nonprofit organization. Since its inception in 1896, it connects members of the more than 161,000-strong Clemson Family, inspiring pride, celebrating achievement, providing service and strengthening relationships with Clemson University and with each other.

For more information, visit

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.