In 2013, James F. Barker ’70 stepped down after serving as Clemson University’s 14th president for 14 years. Many ideas were considered when discussing how to honor the Barkers. However, because Jim Barker achieved his Clemson degree with the help of a need-based scholarship, an endowment in Jim and Marcia Barker’s names seemed to be the perfect way to show appreciation. The Barker Scholars Endowment was established in 2013 and provides need-based scholarships for undergraduate students.
Jan Childress, a longtime Clemson supporter, became involved with the endowment on day one. As chair of the endowment, she was actively involved in raising funds. “It was so easy to call someone up because not only did people want to honor the Barkers, but they also believed in Jim because he had needed help to finish his education,” she said. In addition to honoring the Barkers for their service, “It was also a great way to say to students that we’re here for them, their education is very important, we want them to have the opportunity to finish, and if they run into a hardship, there are funds available.” Pageland, S.C., native, Jarrett Miller, is one of those students. Miller always had his heart set on Tigertown and was more than excited when he transferred from York County Technical College and became an official member of the Clemson Family. However, in fall 2015 he learned that he might have to put his college plans on hold due to a lack of funds.
A few months after learning this, the accounting major received a call from financial aid to let him know he had been selected as a recipient of the Barker Scholars Endowment. “They told me I was covered, and still to this day I don’t know what to say. I’m just so happy and thankful,” he said. Because of this scholarship, Miller didn’t have to leave his dream school, after all.
“We’ve heard stories about students who have received it. It will bring you to tears at the urgency. It’s so very emotional and raw when they get to the point that they won’t be able to finish their education without some help, and for that scholarship to be available — unrestricted — has made a difference in lives,” said Childress. “That’s really why I was involved in it.”
The scholarship has impacted Miller in more ways than one. “It has taken stress off my shoulders, enabled me to be more calm, more relaxed and focus on what’s important — getting an education and building toward the future. It’s a start, and I can’t wait to see the end,” he said.
Miller admits that his Clemson journey has taught him to set the bar high and put forth his best effort. After graduation, he plans to achieve his graduate degree followed by a career in the accounting field.
“The most rewarding aspect is the potential you have to make a difference in someone’s life. Giving is a pathway to success, and it gives me great joy to know what I’m giving here at Clemson is producing productive adults who are also giving back. It’s a cycle that keeps on giving,” said Childress.
The Barker Scholars Endowment celebrates Jim and Marcia Barker as well as second chances. Because of the commitment of the Clemson Family, students’ futures have been and continue to be solidified. The Barkers and generous donors like Childress, who contributed to this endowment, are thrilled to see what they had envisioned become a reality.