When 10 seniors gather later this month for an early graduation celebration, they’ll be acknowledging more than four years of their classroom achievements in the College of Business.

The graduating charter members of the Minority Business Student Association (MBSA) will also be toasting to a legacy they are leaving at their alma mater which will benefit future Tigers.

MBSA president Antonio Harrison leads a discussion at a recent meeting

Antonio Harrison, MBSA president, presides over a recent meeting of the organization.
Image Credit: College of Business

The Diverse Leader of Tomorrow Ceremony on March 29 will recognize graduating MBSA seniors by presenting awards and celebrating their accomplishments. The keynote speaker will be Jametta White, an attorney and professional sports agent from Birmingham, Ala., who graduated from Clemson University in 2001 with a degree in marketing.

One of the newest student organizations on campus, MBSA has grown in numbers and ambition since its inception in the fall of 2017.  One person who deserves much of the credit for the organization’s growth and ambitious agenda to date is Antonio Harrison, an operations management major who will graduate in May.

“With 75 members, our ranks have more than doubled in size since MBSA was formed,” said Antonio, a native of Anderson and MBSA co-founder. “There clearly was a void that we filled in students’ lives here. We wanted to create a support network for minority business students, but also keep them engaged, and one way of doing that is involving them in community development opportunities. They not only provide a service to the community but also build our members’ relationships with others.”

In its short existence, MBSA has exposed students to career opportunities through a trip to the business graduate programs at Greenville ONE, and created relationship-building connections with the Greenville corporate community.

“Community service is one of MBSA’s pillars and our membership has also been very active with a canned food drive, a Martin Luther King Day property clean-up, an American Heart Association date auction, and a school supply drive is coming up in April,” Antonio said.

In her first year of college as an academic sophomore, Angela DiMascio says MBSA has improved her quality of life at Clemson in that the organization has become her family away from home.

“I’m from Connecticut so I don’t have the opportunity to go home very often. At the beginning of my first year here, I missed my family, but once I joined I had a new family that I could rely on just like my family back home,” she said. “To me, MBSA isn’t just an organization anymore, it’s a group of people who mean the world to me and are always looking out for me.”

Daryl Perkins, the college’s student recruitment manager, said MBSA has been a welcoming addition for current minority students, but the organization’s benefits extend beyond those already enrolled at Clemson.

“The MBSA plays a critical role in the recruitment of minority, first-generation and low-income students to the College of Business,” he said. “Our current MBSA members are great ambassadors and leading the charge in creating opportunities for minority students. It’s important for prospective students to know an organization like MBSA is available to them and can have such a positive influence on their time at Clemson.”

Like any good business person, Antonio has a succession plan in place to ensure MBSA remains a support network for future business students. He will be passing the leadership baton to Cameron Blassingame, a rising sophomore in finance.

“We have people who are passionate about keeping MBSA a relevant organization on campus. In addition to Cameron, I know our faculty advisor, Jesse Moore, and Helen Diamond Steele of student enrichment, will continue to provide their support.”

Dean Wendy York credited Antonio, co-founder and alumna Ebony Aiken, and other MBSA charter members for their leadership in improving the Clemson experience for underrepresented business school students.

“One of the College of Business’ charges is to develop leadership qualities in our students. When Antonio and other charter members identified a void, they took action, which created a support system and a more welcoming environment for our minority students,” she said. “Because of their efforts the college has taken another step closer to a culture of inclusive excellence.”

Antonio credits co-founder Ebony, the graduating charter members and others for MBSA’s role in improving the Clemson experience for minority students.

“What’s most important to me about MBSA’s impact is students are feeling more comfortable. Having a role in making the excluded feel included, maximizing their career potential and creating a sense of family is what we are all about,” he said. “What we’ve accomplished isn’t a legacy of mine, it’s the college’s legacy and one that we expect will benefit minority students for a long time to come.”

Other graduating seniors joining Antonio at the March 29 recognition event include, Arrian Bright, entrepreneurship management; Anne Marie McCoy, general management; Asha Boyd, finance; Josue Figueroa, computer information systems; Khristy Glover, general management and non-profit leadership; Lisa Johnson, political science; Mauri Leonard, operations management; Taja Geiger, marketing; and Auston Anderson, management.

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