December graduates from Clemson University’s student veteran population were honored Wednesday afternoon in an annual “Hail and Farewell” ceremony inside the Hendrix Student Center. Nine students were presented red, white and blue cords to place over their graduation gear. The graduates also received a letter from President Jim Clements and a special challenge coin featuring the insignia of the military branches.

Members of the December 2019 student veteran graduating class were honored in a special ceremony in Hendrix Student Center on Wednesday, Dec. 18.

Members of the December 2019 student veteran graduating class were honored in a special ceremony in Hendrix Student Center on Wednesday, Dec. 18.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

Brennan Beck, Clemson’s director of military and veteran engagement, hosted the 90-minute ceremony inside the Hendrix Center. The graduates were joined by their families and a slew of special guests, including representatives from the Alumni Association, Clemson Corps, Graduate School, Student Affairs, Student Veterans Association, Undergraduate Studies and more.

The event featured a keynote address from Vice President and Chief of Staff Max Allen. He is a retired lieutenant commander who served nearly 20 years in the United States Navy. He was a public affairs officer who has since enjoyed a standout career in higher education at Georgia College & State University, UNC Wilmington and now Clemson. He has been at Clemson since June 2015 and serves as the chief advisor to President Jim Clements.

Jeremy Holloway, a December 2019 graduate, with Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Chris Miller during the annual "Hail and Farewell" ceremony for student veterans

Jeremy Holloway receives a military challenge coin from Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Chris Miller. Holloway served more than eight years with the U.S. Navy and is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

Allen spent about 10 minutes addressing the graduating student veterans and thanked them for their collective service to not only the country, but also to Clemson. He challenged them to stay connected to fellow veterans, to discover themselves by staying true to their passions and to find the motivation each and every day to make a difference in the world.

“All of your hard work, dedication and commitment has paid off,” he said. “As student veterans, you are great role models for all of us. You made a choice to come to Clemson to continue your education here. We have a very strong military heritage but it hasn’t been until recent years that have we made a stronger and more intentional effort to support student veterans.

“I am proud to be part of an institution that recognizes that and honors, supports and respects student veterans and our military heritage. The fact you chose Clemson University to prepare you for future endeavors is truly special, and we thank you for that.”

Clements was unable to attend Wednesday’s event but delivered a special message to student veterans, administrators and guests through a recorded video:

“I want to take a moment to congratulate you and thank you for everything you’ve done for our country and the Clemson Family. I also want to say thank you to your families for supporting you during your military service and for being there for you as you work to further your education. Our student veterans are highly valued members of the Clemson Family. Clemson is a better university because of you. I’m glad that you chose Clemson for your college home and I can’t wait to shake your hand at graduation. Thank you again for your service and congratulations on completing your degree. May God bless you all and may God bless this country. Go Tigers!”

Following the presentation of graduates, Victoria Graham of Clemson’s Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter and Ret. Lt. Col. Jimmy Mullinax of Clemson Corps offered brief remarks.

Ashley Johnson, a student veteran graduating in December 2019, with Director of Military and Veteran Engagement Brennan Beck

Ashley Johnson, pictured with Director of Military and Veteran Engagement Brennan Beck, was honored with a special certificate of recognition for her work with the Clemson University Veterans Commission. Johnson is a former president of Clemson’s chapter of the Student Veterans of America.

Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

Beck also took a moment to recognize one graduate in particular, Ashley Johnson. She previously served as president of the SVA and will graduate Thursday with a degree in psychology. After graduation, she will take graduate courses at the University of South Carolina while working for Upstate Warrior Solution.

Johnson was honored with a certificate recognizing her dedication and leadership to the Clemson University Veterans Commission, whose ultimate goal is to further the mission of creating a veteran-inclusive campus.

“I’m honored and thankful for the recognition,” she said. “Being able to serve on the commission has been big. It’s been a long road for me personally, but I’ve had so much support from the SVA and Military and Veteran Engagement. I’ve been able to find my community again. Having that support network and a stable foundation to grow from has been big.”

FULL PHOTO GALLERY

MASTER’S CANDIDATES 

Philip Volino

  • Majoring in business administration
  • Native of Westfield, New Jersey who served four years in the U.S. Navy as an aviation electrician’s mate
  • Achieved the rank of E-5 and served on deployments to Iceland in 1984 and Bermuda in 1985

BACHELOR’S CANDIDATES 

Sean Cauley

  • Majoring in electrical engineering
  • Native of Walhalla, South Carolina who served four years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force as a nuclear weapons specialist
  • Achieved the rank of E-4

Dustin Duckett

  • Majoring in mechanical engineering
  • Native of Laurens, South Carolina who served six years in the U.S. Air Force as a radio frequency transmission systems technician
  • Achieved the rank of E-4 and served on a deployment to Iraq

Stewart Fuller

  • Majoring in mechanical engineering
  • Native of Chapin, South Carolina who served five years of active duty in the U.S. Navy as a damage controlman
  • Achieved the rank of E-5 and served on a deployment to the Persian Gulf

Jeremy Holloway

  • Majoring in computer science
  • Native of New York who served eight and a half years in the U.S. Navy as a mineman
  • Achieved the rank of E-6 and served on a deployment to Japan

Mason James

  • Majoring in biological sciences
  • Native of Richmond, Virginia who served four years of active duty in the U.S. Navy
  • Achieved the rank of E-4 as a damage controlman and served on two deployments to the Persian Gulf

Tres James

  • Majoring in industrial engineering
  • Native of Georgetown, South Carolina who served five years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force as an aircraft electrical and environmental system specialist
  • Achieved the rank of E-4

Ashley Johnson

  • Majoring in psychology
  • Native of Addison, New York who served three years of active duty in the U.S. Navy as a nuclear machinist’s mate
  • Achieved the rank of E-4 and served on a deployment to the Persian Gulf
  • Served as president of Clemson’s Student Veterans of America chapter

Mychaela Smith

  • Majoring in animal and veterinary sciences
  • Native of South Carolina who has served in the U.S. Army Reserves for the better part of five years as an animal care specialist
  • Achieved the rank of E-4

Isaac Whealdon

  • Majoring in financial management
  • Native of Denver, Colorado who served five and a half years in the U.S. Navy as an aviation electronics technician
  • Achieved the rank of E-5 and served on a deployment to Southeast Asia