Alumnus who died shortly after graduation memorialized with endowment
Sue Lasser remembers when Tillman Hall was “packed to the rafters” to memorialize Miranda White, who died less than a year after graduating from Clemson University with a degree in chemistry.
“She was loved,” said Lasser, the former director of PEER. “She was a warm and engaging and caring and funny and bright personality. She was one of those people who attracted others because she was interested in them.”
White’s legacy continues to resonate 18 years after her 1999 death following an illness. Her friends, Sharla and Sam Savage, are establishing a $50,000 endowment in White’s name that will benefit PEER, a program that brought them together. Others are encouraged to give to the endowment.
While details are still being worked out, the endowment calls for the money to go to the PEER Snapshot program, student professional development and other diversity needs. PEER supports Clemson students who are from groups underrepresented in engineering and science.
Sharla said that White was a huge advocate for the program and that she had great relationships with other students and professors.
“We felt it was important that we establish something in her honor because when she passed away, so many people were impacted by it,” Sharla said. “We felt this would be a way to help give back to her through this scholarship fund.”
Serita Acker, the current director of PEER and WISE, thanked the Savages and said the funding will help PEER reach a wider audience and increase diversity.
“It will give students the opportunity to be educated in the opportunities we have here in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences,” Acker said. “It will open up opportunities for students to see role models and fill the pipeline with diverse talent.”
The PEER Snapshot program gives juniors and seniors in high school a chance to visit Clemson to learn about engineering and science. They tour campus, learn about financial aid and meet other students.
Sharla said she first learned about PEER when she visited Clemson during high school as part of a career workshop. She met other high school students who were also Clemson bound.
Sharla and Sam both received degrees in chemical engineering. In addition to their contributions to PEER, the Savages have supported the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
The Savages in 2003 founded S2 Engineering & Consulting in Irmo, where they do environmental engineering, construction and project management.
Sharla said the relationships she formed with other students and Lasser were the reasons for her wanting to give back to PEER and led to the creation of the Miranda White Endowment Fund for Diversity in Engineering.
Lasser, who remains close to PEER in retirement, said it was not a surprise that the Savages are continuing to give back to the program. Sharla’s devotion to students in PEER goes all the way back to her days as a student mentee, Lasser said.
“She wanted PEER to go to the next level,” Lasser said. “She was always thinking of things we could do to make things better.”