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The first of many: 2023 Boeing Scholar reflects on the past year at Clemson as new high school scholar accepts award


Luis Gonzalez-Gonzalez calls himself a “first-generation everything.” He was the first in his family to not only graduate from high school but to finish elementary school. And he was the first to go to college when he enrolled at Clemson University in Fall 2023. He also has been among the first students to receive the University’s Boeing STEM Tiger Alliance Scholarship, a total-cost award for Black and Latino males entering a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) degree field, at the Men of Color National Summit in March 2023

“I knew something was going on when I was invited to Men of Color, but I wasn’t sure exactly what it was,” Luis recalls. “And when I won the Boeing scholarship and was given an opportunity to speak on that stage, it made the Clemson decision for me.”

The scholarship was started just four years ago in 2021 and combines equal funds from Boeing and Clemson to encourage young men of color to pursue STEM degrees. At the 2024 Men of Color National Summit, the Boeing scholarship was awarded to Tiger Alliance student Sinceare Jackson of Southside High School in Greenville. He is a first-generation student who plans to study engineering at Clemson.

After last year’s Summit, Luis enrolled at Clemson, also in general engineering, and for the past eight months, he has been taking those introductory classes along with the rest of his first-year cohort. His next steps include focusing on mechanical engineering this Fall and, eventually, a career in aeronautical engineering. 

His journey continues as a new one begins with Sinceare.

Finding first-year success

Luis has had his fair share of adjustments in his first year at Clemson. He’s made those with the help of supportive professors and by taking advantage of the benefits of a generous $12,500/year scholarship funded by Boeing that is matched by Clemson to cover the full cost of attendance for four years.

He has learned efficient time management and is already involved in multiple clubs and organizations, including Latinos Unidos, the Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers, the Clemson Rocket Engineering Club and PEER/WISE, an academic mentoring organization on campus. 

A young, latino male wearing a short-sleeve collared purple shirt shakes hands with an African American man wearing a blue suit. They are standing on a stage with signage that reads "Men of Color."
Luis Gonzalez-Gonzalez was the 2023 recipient of the Boeing STEM Tiger Alliance Scholarship. At far right is Slevensky Jules of Carolina High School, the 2022 recipient. 

Scholarship and learning

All of that, along with his own internal drive to build off his parents’ hard work, has made the transition between his first semester and his second like night and day. Not to mention, Luis spent his high school years splitting time between school and work at Bruster’s Ice Cream and the QT chain of gas stations to help his family. 

“I would work 30 hours a week sometimes in high school just so I could help out, so knowing I can focus on school and can work a few hours a week is a huge weight off of me,” he says. 

Luis felt that weight roll off his back when he was announced as the Boeing scholarship winner at the 2023 Men of Color National Summit, even more so than when he got offers from other schools. Coming to Clemson meant he could still be close to his parents in Greenville, South Carolina, while becoming a part of the Clemson Family and having access to all the resources needed to fulfill his dreams after graduation. 

And being a Boeing scholar means being supported by the world’s largest aerospace company, something he knows bodes well for his goal of working in aeronautical engineering. Between that and his professors and advisors at Clemson, Luis knows help is there when he needs it and that all the things he dreamed of leading up to college are even closer to reality. 

“I want to be a part of sending someone back to the moon and recovering the wealth of information from the early missions there,” Luis says. “I want to be a part of something that will live on forever. This scholarship was the first step to making that a reality.”

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