CLEMSON — Jonah Robison, a fifth-year senior at Clemson University, has been named a student member at-large for the board of directors for Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), the nation’s most respected and effective leadership honor society. Robison, a native of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, is one of four students named to ODK’s National Advisory Council.

Jonah Robison, Clemson senior

Jonah Robison currently serves as president of Clemson’s circle of Omicron Delta Kappa, the nation’s top leadership honor society.
Image Credit: Omicron Delta Kappa

Robison, pursuing an undergraduate degree in bioengineering, is a member of Clemson’s Honors College and has been heavily involved with ODK since being initiated by the circle in 2016. He served as the circle’s vice president in 2017-18 and is currently the president at Clemson.

The potential for leadership development through appointment to the board of directors was appealing to Robison.

“It’s all based on driving the mission and path of the society at a national level,” he said. “We initiate 60 new members at Clemson each year from ODK’s five focuses of campus leadership — service, scholarship, athletics, communications and arts. At the national level, we want to support the development of leaders. Speaking to my goals at Clemson, I want to increase alumni involvement and increase inter-circle engagement with colleagues at regional institutions.”

Robison attended the ODK national convention over the summer and is spearheading the establishment of a national scholarship funded through the Clemson circle’s philanthropic efforts.

“We are looking for funding support from our alumni, more than anything else, to endow this scholarship,” Robison said. “We are still in the process of determining its criteria.”

Jonah Robison and fellow members of Omicron Delta Kappa at the society's National Convention in May 2018

Robison (middle) and fellow members of Omicron Delta Kappa at the national convention in May 2018.
Image Credit: Jonah Robison

Clemson’s circle raises money by managing the sale of honor stoles for commencement ceremonies, but engages heavily in other outreach efforts as well.

“Being president of the group calls for special leadership skills, and while Jonah is new to the position, he has tackled it with vigor,” said Jim Morris, faculty adviser for ODK. “We are excited by his appointment to the National Advisory Council because the Clemson circle has flown under the radar historically. But the new scholarship idea initiated by Jonah seems to be a perfect way to bring the hard work of our group to light nationally.”

While ODK has been a big part of Robison’s college experience, it is far from his only involvement. He completed a co-op with Clemson’s technology transfer office, where he completed evaluations for different university inventions to determine path to market and commercial potential. He performed patent background checks for these innovations, with a focus on life sciences and medical devices. This summer, he was a product management and marketing intern with Thermo Fisher Scientific. Robison hopes to pursue a career in intellectual property law and the commercialization of medical technologies.

He has been active in the bioengineering department and with the Honors College. He has served as a bioengineering adviser since his sophomore year, providing tours to prospective families and advocating on behalf of the department. With the Honors College, he took advantage of a previous opportunity to study abroad in Thailand and this year will serve as a SASH (Seniors Advising Sophomores in Honors) mentor.

Robison receives the R. Larry Dooley Entrepreneurship Award from department chair Martine LaBerge at the bioengineering banquet in April 2018.

Robison receives the R. Larry Dooley Entrepreneurship Award from department chair Martine LaBerge at the bioengineering banquet in April 2018.
Image Credit: Department of Bioengineering

Outside of the classroom, Robison serves as assistant attorney general with student government and as director of professional development for the Clemson chapter of Rotaract. A Rotary-sponsored service club, Rotaract is open to all students 18 and older. Its goal is to encourage humanitarianism worldwide while developing professional and leadership skills. Robison ensures the organization has professional development opportunities each semester, such as résumé workshops.

As assistant attorney general, Robison is a member of the judicial branch and takes an active role in adjudicating cases.

“Jonah is an intentional and purposeful leader who has always taken his role with us seriously,” said Marijohn Boyd, associate director of the Office of Community and Ethical Standards, who oversees the student judicial board. “He is passionate about the judicial branch and his role and is interested in directing positive change. I’ve always found him to be dependable, professional and efficient.

“And on top of all that, he makes the best homemade mashed potatoes, as I found out last year at a judicial potluck dinner!”

Despite the move from the Midwest, Robison discovered the feeling of “home” in Clemson. He is grateful for every mentor he has met along the way, such as Boyd, Morris and bioengineering research adviser Melissa McCullough — each of whom has helped shape his Clemson experience.

“The small-town feel is great and the Clemson family is real,” he said. “Clemson has increased its percentage of out-of-state students recently; it’s more of a melting pot than it once was. I hit the ground running pretty well, and I never thought of it as a big culture shock or anything like that.”