CLEMSON – Four people have been named recipients of Clemson University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Excellence in Service.

The awards are presented each year by the Diversity Office and President’s Office to recognize a student, an employee and a community member who have shown excellence in their service to the Clemson community.

The honorees are congratulated by Clemson President James P. Clements. From left, Rosa Grayden, Caitlyn Lydia Carlile, Clements, Kaitlyn Lewis and Natasha Topoluk.

The honorees are congratulated by Clemson President James P. Clements. From left, Rosa Grayden, Caitlyn Lydia Carlile, Clements, Kaitlyn Lewis and Natasha Topoluk.

This year, two students were chosen to receive the award for their leadership in serving the community: Caitlyn Lydia Carlile of Spartanburg and Natasha Topoluk of Corcoran, Minnesota. Kaitlyn Lewis was chosen as the community member recipient, and Rosa Grayden was selected as the employee recipient. The awards were presented to the recipients at the Jan. 20 Commemorative March and Service.

The recipients were chosen based on the following criteria: their service to Clemson and the surrounding community; their advocacy for social or environmental justice; and their service above and beyond their direct employment.

In addition to volunteering to tutor students, Carlile serves as a tour guide, has organized a mission trip to India and is currently organizing a mission trip that will take place over the university’s spring break. She also works to assist deaf individuals.

Topoluk, a graduate research assistant, has spent numerous hours volunteering for the Foothills Rape Crisis Center, as well as Project Linus, the Animal Rescue Fund and a local hospital. She has been described by her peers as being “a person of unparalleled selflessness.”

“Past mentors and leaders have laid the groundwork for all of my opportunities and accomplishments. It is important to me to work towards creating a similar foundation for future students and community members. It is encouraging that Clemson recognizes community involvement and service in such a prestigious manner, and to be selected as an award winner is incredibly humbling,” said Topoluk.

Lewis was chosen as the community member recipient for her charity in multiple different areas, including organizing a fundraising campaign to aid homeless families, which raised nearly $2,000. In addition to her service in these areas, Lewis also volunteered at animal hospitals and children’s homes.

Grayden, an administrative manager in the College of Business and Behavioral Science’s sociology and anthropology department has devoted herself to being a member of the President’s Commission for Black Faculty and Staff, through which she works to advocate a literacy program that would allow employees to develop reading, math and computer skills. Grayden also is an active adviser to the campus NAACP chapter, acting as a liaison between this chapter and the Pickens County NAACP chapter.

“I enjoy doing the things that others seem to take for granted, which include to motivate, educate and inspire others that their past is the past. In acknowledging our past, we move forward to a brighter future,” said Grayden.

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