It’s that time of year again — graduation. Clemson graduation has always been a time to celebrate the accomplishments our students have made and to anticipate the new heights they will reach in the future, and this year is no exception as the graduating Class of 2013 is showing more potential than ever. On May 10, almost 3,000 Clemson undergraduate and graduate students will be heading out into the world, ready to leave their mark. But until then, here are the stories of five remarkable Tigers.

College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities

Carly Drew
Degree: Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts

Carly Drew’s work in Clemson’s Master of Fine Arts program has brought her closer to her roots in rural Pennsylvania and South Carolina. “My dad taught me to draw when I was little, and I haven’t stopped,” she said. “Art requires a lot of hard work, but it’s the only thing I would ever do.”

As an artist, Carly works with mixed media, combining both watercolor and drawing. This is no small task — literally — her biggest piece is 8 feet long. Carly’s graduate work has helped her develop her style as an artist. “I take a lot of inspiration from my family and then pull in political topics as well,” she said. “Rural landscape is the direction where I see my work going.”

The passion she has for her art is clear in every brush stroke. The MFA program recently put on a show featuring her work. “I have been dealing with some pretty emotional subject matter, so that was a big moment for me.”

As she leaves Clemson, Carly is considering the possibility of teaching, but wants to explore her options by applying for various grants and residencies. “A lot of MFA graduates teach full time at the university level, but I want to try my hand at becoming a professional artist.”

With all she has learned the past two years, Carly is ready to face new challenges.

“I have learned the value of determination and a good work ethic. People think art is just something you do, but it’s not that easy,” she said. “There’s a lot of rejection — you don’t get into all the shows and all the galleries, but it gives you a stronger sense of dedication, a stronger sense of yourself.”

College of Health, Education and Human Development

Chris Rhodes

As the Harry Potter theme song rang out from the Tillman Carillon during Chris Rhodes’ campus tour, he knew he’d found home.

As a nursing major, Rhodes spends his classes primarily in the presence of all females, but found an interesting way to handle this during his sophomore year.

“The flow of estrogen was a little overwhelming. Therefore, I decided to grow a beard for an entire year in order to bring some extra testosterone to the classroom,” Rhodes said.

Aside from his humor, Rhodes takes his work and future seriously. He is in two Creative Inquiry projects, belongs to several nursing organizations, has served as president-elect (2011-12) and president (2012-13) of Clemson University’s Student Nurses’ Association, is a member of the Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society, has his HEHD Certificate of Recognition of Excellence in Nursing and has represented Clemson at several nursing conventions.

Rhodes won’t be taking a break after graduation. He’s moving to Birmingham, Ala., to work as a Registered Nurse at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital.

“I don’t put a lot of emphasis on the job title or the location. I measure success by the impact that I’ve made.”

His impact on Clemson is clear. Aside from his involvement, his peers nominated him to speak at the Nursing Convocation/Pinning Ceremony — a huge honor to him — and he received the HEHD Certificate of Recognition of Excellence in Nursing as well as was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society for Nursing.

With his record, there’s no doubt that he’ll continue to impact people in Alabama and wherever else nursing might take him.

College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences

Jared Sheppard

There is nothing really normal about Jared Sheppard’s story; he does not really identify himself as an American, nor is he really a foreigner. Jared grew up overseas in Sofia, Bulgaria, as a child of missionaries. In many ways he identifies himself as a Bulgarian, having grown accustomed to Bulgaria’s people, language and culture.

A twist of fate introduced him to Clemson. His job in high school was to translate for groups that traveled on mission trips to Bulgaria, and a team from Greenville happened to cross his path. His memory is fuzzy on the details, but that is how he first learned about Clemson University.

Now Jared’s preparing to graduate from Clemson and head to the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

“Clemson is the closest thing I have to ‘home’ in the States, so I am a little sad I have to leave,” Sheppard said.

Although it will be hard to say goodbye to his alma mater and the many friends he has made in Clemson, the microbiology major has his full focus on the future. After he receives his M.D. degree, Jared plans to complete the required five-year residency to become an orthopedic surgeon and participate in long-term medical missions.

He plans to work with local churches to provide free medical care to those who cannot afford it. He sees medicine as an incredible inroad to serve people holistically: physically through medicine and spiritually through the hope of the Gospel.

“I want to take the training I have been blessed enough to have and take it where it will be most beneficial,” he said.

College of Business and Behavioral Science

Robbie Tinsley
Minor: Communication Studies

Robbie Tinsley was born and bred a Tiger, so it was no surprise that he attended Clemson. But after arriving on campus, he discovered something new about himself — he loved to write. The economics major realized this passion when he started working for Clemson’s student-run newspaper, The Tiger. “I always knew I enjoyed writing — I just didn’t realize how much I loved it,” Robbie said.

In his four years on campus, Robbie has refined his journalism skills with plenty of experience. He started out as a Tiger staff writer and has since become the head sports editor. “I always assumed that I would get burnt out with writing, but instead it just kept growing on me,” said Robbie, who particularly enjoys covering Clemson soccer.

After receiving his diploma, Robbie will continue to write freelance articles for the local newspaper. He knows this type of professional experience will transform into a full-time position in the future. “Nothing strikes me as much as writing,” he said. “I need to give it a shot or I know I’ll regret it.”

No matter what, he won’t have much to regret. His talent for writing and his knowledge of business and economics will be helpful tools in the development of his career.

When he’s not writing about sports, Robbie is probably watching them. His favorite Clemson memory was seeing the Tiger football team win the 2011 ACC Championship game in Charlotte. “It was a pretty special experience to be there as a part of the Clemson Family.”

Although Robbie is excited about persuing his career as a writer, he admits that he will miss the place where it all started. “Clemson will always be a part of me, even when I leave,” he said. “There’s nothing quite like being here.”

College of Engineering and Science

Jared Williams

Jared Williams was focused on excelling the moment he stepped foot on campus freshman year — he has more responsibility than the average Clemson student.

That responsibility has bright red hair, a big smile, stands about 2 feet tall and calls him “dad.” His 5-year-old daughter named Addison and his wife, Morgan, are the reasons he puts so much effort into his studies.

“I came to college and knew what I had to do from the get-go. I have a drive: my daughter and family I have to support,” Jared said.

The 22-year-old knows that going above and beyond at Clemson is key to his long-term goal of having a great job. Jared dove into research over the last four years, and is awaiting his second publication based on thermoelectric materials.

In addition, Jared has left a visual impact on Clemson. He and a group of students raised $70,000 to fix the pendulum between Kinard and Martin halls. After 10 years of standstill, it is finally swinging again.

His driven spirit and list of accomplishments have paid off in a full ride to Michigan State to get his Ph.D. He hopes to work for the government researching alternative energies one day. As for now, the journey continues for the family of three. They will move up North this fall; Jared will begin school, his wife will finish and little Addison will start her first day of kindergarten.