Kimberly Poole’s charge was simple. She was asked to create an environment where current student leaders could interact with alumni and tie it to Homecoming at Clemson.
On Friday, Oct. 6, Poole and the Division of Student Affairs hosted an engagement luncheon designed to foster connection between esteemed alumni and student leaders.
“We wanted our students to hear from alumni who have been very successful and learn from them,” says Poole, assistant vice president and senior associate dean of students. Alumni came from near and far and shared stories of successes and opportunities during their Clemson days.
Shalanda Webb ’97, M ‘00 works as an OBGYN in labor and delivery in Columbia. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biochemistry from Clemson before attending medical school. She now serves on Clemson’s Board of Visitors.
Webb encouraged attendees to find a good support system and prioritize mental health. She says both helped her succeed during her time at Clemson and beyond.
“No matter where I go now, everyone knows the Tiger Paw,” she says. “Clemson has been the best thing to ever happen to me.”
Lori Amos ’87 and Mechelle Taylor ‘97 shared stories of their involvement at Clemson. Both were members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Amos was runner-up to Miss Clemson and has gone on to a successful career in engineering. Taylor served on the housing judicial board and has worked in the banking industry for more than 20 years. Taylor encouraged students to “think outside the box” when looking for employment opportunities after Clemson.
Janay Crosland ’18 and Crystal Pee ’18 were the youngest alumni in attendance. Crosland has lived in Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina since graduating from Clemson. While in Tigertown, she was the first African-American female to be named attorney general for student government. She also was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha and served as a resident assistant at Clemson House in one of its last years as a campus housing option.
“The network I created at Clemson still works for me by leaps and bounds,” Crosland says. “I encouraged the students to gain that community you can truly depend on personally and professionally as you navigate the ups and downs of life.”
Pee was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and has already given back to her alma mater. Recently, she pledged a gift to establish the Major and Mazie Booth Diversity Scholarship Endowment in memory of her grandparents. While working as a consultant, Pee is also pursuing a Ph.D. at Virginia Tech.
Current Student Body President Ashley McCollum attended the luncheon and shared insights with the group. She came to Clemson by way of Spartanburg and immersed herself in the student experience. She joined the Student Alumni Council, sang in the gospel choir and was an Orientation Ambassador — among many opportunities. In addition to her presidential duties, she continues to serve as a University tour guide.
“I felt like there was a big purpose ahead of me at Clemson,” says McCollum, who was initially hesitant to follow in her sister’s footsteps as a Tiger. “When I got here, I became very involved. Now I try and advocate for those who don’t know how to use their voice. I’m humbled to be in the position I’m in.”
Like McCollum, other attendees represented a wide range of underrepresented student organizations. Among them were Joi Albert, a financial management major, and Bayle Carey, an aspiring anesthesiologist. Both have been actively involved in CONNECTIONS. Ashanti Elliott serves as the president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, while Sarina Ranjit is vice president of marketing and recruitment with Sigma Lambda Gamma of the Multicultural Greek Council.
Imari Crumity is a sociology major from Jesup, Georgia and is the founding president of Kappa Alpha Pi, a pre-law fraternity. She was thankful for the alumni who gave of their time and talents during the luncheon.
“It’s very inspiring to see so many women of color who have graduated from Clemson and are giving back to their University,” she says. “I thank Dr. Poole and all of the women I was able to meet for this wonderful opportunity.”