College of Education founding dean to speak during ClemsonLIFE graduation
CLEMSON — Clemson University will live stream the ClemsonLIFE graduation ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday. The commencement ceremony will honor four graduating students in the program, and College of Education Founding Dean George J. Petersen will speak at the ceremony.
Chris Egan, ClemsonLIFE’s community liaison, said Petersen has been a constant source of support for the program since his arrival at Clemson in 2014.
“George is passionate about any program that serves to educate populations that are too often overlooked in our region and state,” Egan said. “I believe the graduates and their families will appreciate his perspective during the ClemsonLIFE ceremony.”
The ClemsonLIFE program at Clemson University is for students with intellectual disabilities who want a postsecondary experience on a college campus. Students in the program take specialized classes, work in on- and off-campus jobs and live in apartments on campus under the supervision of resident assistants during their freshman and sophomore years. They then transition to off-campus apartments to live independently during their junior and senior years.
The four graduates to be honored in the program have engaged in numerous activities at Clemson in addition to their regular studies.
Tyler Davis of Marietta, Georgia, has completed four years with ClemsonLIFE and has worked with IPTAY, Fike Recreation Center, Aramark and the Clemson Men’s Rugby Team as a student manager.
Kate Yonushewski of Denver, Colorado, also graduating after four years with ClemsonLIFE, works at First Baptist Church in Clemson. She is also a Special Olympics Basketball Team athlete and has served as manager for women’s rugby at Clemson.
Kayla Evans of Key Largo, Florida, has completed three years with the program. She works at Firehouse Subs in Clemson, is a former Clemson Rally Cat Manager and is a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.
Shruthi Kadiyala of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has completed two years with ClemsonLIFE. Kadiyala volunteers at Clemson Community Care and works at Tillman Media Center.
Egan said the program handles its graduation ceremony separately from other students’ so that the graduates can share firsthand accounts of how the program has impacted them. He said he personally looks forward to the graduation each year because of the extra attention it affords its participants and their families.
“ClemsonLIFE’s ceremony provides a much more intimate environment for everyone involved,” Egan said. “We want our graduates’ family, friends and teachers to hear just how much their time at Clemson has meant to them.”
More than 500 Clemson students volunteer in the program through the Volunteers4LIFE student organization as teaching assistants, workout partners and in other roles.
The ClemsonLIFE program started in 2009 under the direction of founder Joe Ryan, associate professor in Clemson’s College of Education. The program has grown to include seven full-time staff, five part-time staff and seven undergraduate students who work for the program. ClemsonLIFE is one of five such programs in South Carolina.
To view the live stream of the graduation ceremony, click here.