It’s often hard to explain the unique bond that Clemson alumni share, but if there’s one word that describes the Clemson Family, it’s commitment. Clemson graduates are dedicated to giving back and thinking ahead — a practice that benefits both future students and the future of the University.

Recent biological sciences graduate and South Carolina native, Trinh Chu, always knew she wanted to be a Tiger, but was afraid her goal would be impossible to reach. Chu’s mother, a Vietnamese immigrant, had health issues while Chu was growing up.

It was difficult to watch her parents struggle to communicate with doctors, afford treatment and navigate the cumbersome health care system, but Chu kept a spirit of optimism.

These challenges didn’t scare her — they inspired her to pursue a career in medicine.

When it was time to consider her college options, Chu applied for scholarships to help ease the burden that tuition would put on her family. Chu’s requests were received by Stephen Hutchinson, president of the Dorchester Free School Board and member of the Clemson University Foundation Board. Hutchinson was immensely impressed with the high school student’s goals and accomplishments — he knew that she would be an enormous asset to Clemson.

Thanks to Chu’s hard work in high school, she was named a Clemson Scholar and received one of Clemson’s most sought-after merit-based scholarships. And thanks to Hutchinson’s passion for giving back, Chu was offered an additional grant — the Dorchester Free School Board Scholarship — which made her education affordable.

At Clemson, Chu excelled in her classes and graduated in just three years. In those three years, she was able to get involved and give back in ways that would never have been possible without the scholarships provided by generous members of her new Clemson Family. She joined the Calhoun Forensics and Debate Team and traveled around the world to compete with other university teams. She worked as a resident assistant on campus and helped younger students adjust to Clemson’s rigorous academic workload.  She was a member of two honor societies and developed lasting friendships by joining many of Clemson’s athletic clubs — from martial arts to tennis to running the trails on campus.

Looking back, Chu realizes that it was the spirit of pride, shared by both students and alumni that drew her to Clemson.

“I knew I wanted to be part of the Clemson Family. And in 10, 20, 30 years, I know I will be back here reliving college memories. I will miss it extraordinarily,” she said.

Since graduating from Clemson, Chu has taken the next step toward her goal of making a difference in the medical world. As a first-year student at the Medical University of South Carolina, she has hopes to one day begin a career in neuroscience or primary care. Whichever path Chu chooses, she will undoubtedly follow her passions for helping others and giving back to the community that has given her so much.

Donations from the Clemson Family made a passionate young woman’s college dreams a reality. But they also instilled a tradition of loyalty that Chu will keep long after she leaves campus — one that she hopes to pass down to future Tigers.

“I really am thankful for all the support I have been given. I wouldn’t be here, in the position that I am, without the scholarship,” she said. “Every contribution helps — I can’t imagine not giving back myself one day.”