By Leslie Thornton | Office of Creative Services

Seth HuffmanJust weeks before his final semester, Seth Huffman’s graduation from Clemson University was in peril. Not only had he suffered from the sudden death of his father that summer, he had learned that the student loan his father had co-signed would now be denied.

But just as that bleak summer was coming to an end, Huffman received a life-changing call from President Jim Barker’s office telling him that he had been awarded a scholarship from the Leadership Circle. This fund, supported by unrestricted giving, is designed to allow University leaders to support areas where they see the greatest need.

President Barker saw that need in Seth Huffman.

Huffman was one of 47 students who received a “completion grant” that year to help him cover the costs needed to graduate on time. In addition to the grants, gifts to the Leadership Circle that year funded 231 jobs to replace student positions that had been eliminated in departmental budget cuts. Both the completion grants and jobs were targeted at students who were near to completing their degrees but faced the possibility of having to drop out due to dire financial need.

“Students are our highest priority, and our first obligation is to ensure that students who have worked hard and succeeded academically do not have their educational opportunities cut short because of state budget cuts or an unexpected financial hardship caused by the recession,” Barker said.

When Huffman crossed the stage in Littlejohn Coliseum, graduating cum laude in economics, it was clear that the president’s faith in him was well placed. As Huffman recalls, “When my dad was laid to rest, we outfitted him in his two most prized pieces of clothing — his ‘Clemson Dad’ shirt and his Clemson ball cap. I hope he knows what Clemson has just done for me — and what I plan to one day do for Clemson.”

Learn more about the Leadership Circle and how you can help students like Seth Huffman.