CLEMSON —Recent Clemson University College of Science graduate Mackenzie Foster was named the 2019 Leader of the Year in Scholarship by Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), the national leadership honor society, which provided her with a $1,000 graduate/professional studies scholarship.

Mackenzie Foster

Mackenzie Foster, recent genetics graduate, was named the 2019 Leader of the Year in Scholarship by Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), the national leadership honor society.

Foster was recognized for her role in the ODK Clemson chapter’s fundraising operations, including the establishment of an ODK Endowed Scholarship on campus.

A May 2019 graduate, Foster earned B.S. degrees in genetics and psychology. She is currently taking a gap year, spending time with her elderly grandparents before attending the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Greenville as a member of the Class of 2024.

During her senior year at Clemson, Foster served as honor stole chair for ODK. Undergraduates with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or greater may wear the honor stole over their graduation gown. Nearly 2,000 students ordered a stole in the 2018-19 academic year.

Proceeds from the stole sales enabled ODK to support campus-wide scholarships and a number of local charitable groups, including a food pantry and the United Way. In all, ODK donates nearly $10,000 back to individuals and groups on campus each semester.

According to ODK faculty advisor James Morris, a Clemson professor of genetics and biochemistry, Foster did an impressive job leading the stole sales because each student’s stole is personalized, meaning the ordering, production and distribution is very challenging.

“Her role in ODK is unsung yet substantial,” Morris said. “The university is indebted to her efforts as they have had a real and lasting impact on the community.”

Among her other leadership and campus activities, Foster served as president of the Clemson chapter of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the national health pre-professional honor society; volunteered at a local free health clinic; tutored fellow Clemson students; and was a student ambassador for the department of genetics and biochemistry.

Foster also conducted research in genetics and biochemistry alongside assistant professor Jennifer Mason, helping with studies on the RAD51 DNA repair protein. In April 2019, she received the psychology department’s award for academic excellence, as well as being named a Davenport Scholar.

“Receiving a national award is something I had only dreams of doing,” said Foster, expressing her gratitude. “If not for the support I received at Clemson and the opportunities it provided me, I would not have been able to serve and receive this incredible award. ODK and the National Leader of the Year program have provided me with confidence to pursue my medical education alongside many other leaders in scholarship.”