Pittsburg native, Amanda Todd ’17, was packing up to head back south to begin her sophomore year at Clemson when her family received news that had the potential to impact her college career. Her father had been diagnosed with a significant brain tumor. After an extensive 14-hour surgery, many unforeseen complications evolved, ultimately putting the Todd family in a difficult financial situation. At the time, two of Todd’s three older siblings were enrolled in college as well, which only made things more financially difficult for the Todds. It wasn’t long before the out-of-state student came face-to-face with the possibility of having to leave Clemson and attend a community college or even drop out. But Todd was determined not to leave the school she had developed such a strong love for. To her, that wasn’t an option.
Todd thought of all the possibilities and eventually decided to reach out to President Clements. “President Clements and I were both ‘freshman’ at the same time. I lived in Clemson House my freshman year, and he lived on the top floor while the President’s house was being prepared,” she said. “I would often run into him on the elevators. We ended up becoming pals. We ate lunch together in the dining hall and became close.”
President Clements was aware of Todd’s potential and the love she had for the University, and with his help she was able to receive funds from Clemson’s Leadership Circle. These unrestricted funds, made available by generous donors, enabled Todd to come back to Clemson for the fall semester, giving her family time to sort through things back home, including their finances. “I was so happy because if I had to go anywhere else other than Clemson, that would have made it so much harder to deal with everything going on. That semester was incredibly difficult, especially with my dad being in the ICU, and my friends here are the people who helped me get through it all.”
Because Todd didn’t have to take time off or transfer to another school, she has stayed on track and looks forward to pursing physical therapy school after graduating in 2017. “The experience with my dad was really eye-opening. My dad had to relearn how to walk, talk, eat — pretty much everything. When he was in the ICU, the only thing he could move was his fingers, and I was able to work with the physical therapists and help him relearn to walk and take his first steps. It was so amazing. I just want to be able to help people get their lives back and get back to where they were,” she said.
Thanks to generous donors, Todd has been able to continue to grow and thrive at Clemson, all while making memories she’ll never forget. “Clemson means family. Clemson is coming back after a long break and seeing all the tiger paws as you get near Clemson. It’s watching the sun set over Tillman and the lake. Clemson is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” she said.