In the Lowcountry of South Carolina is a small town called Allendale where unfortunately, due to a lack of resources and opportunities, many students are unaware of what exists far beyond that small part of the state. However, since 2002, Clemson’s Emerging Scholars program has been transforming the lives of many students in this area, including Jasmine Fields, a 2016 Clemson University graduate.

The Emerging Scholars Program at Clemson works with 150 students each year from five high schools in the Lowcountry. Students enter the program the summer before their sophomore year and begin taking college courses, learning about the college application process and developing leadership skills.

Fields didn’t know what to expect when she signed up for the college-access program, but once she stepped foot on Clemson’s campus, everything changed for the Allendale native. Throughout the program, students also participate in workshops and tour colleges across the state. “A lot of us don’t get to travel, so the fact that we get to see places that we probably wouldn’t experience on our own is really amazing,” she said.

Fields toured many universities, but Clemson continued to stand out in her mind. “Emerging Scholars helped me fall in love with Clemson’s campus. I visited other schools, and nothing else compared to it,” she said.

Because of generous donors, Clemson is able to offer scholarships to those Emerging Scholars who enroll at Clemson the fall after their senior year. Receiving his aid took a weight off of Fields’ shoulders as, without it, a Clemson education would not have been possible, and it helped her focus more on her studies. “I can’t put into words the amount of support I have received from this program and how it has impacted me and helped me,” she said. “Honestly, I wouldn’t have come to Clemson without Emerging Scholars.”

Fields has remained actively involved with Emerging Scholars, giving her the opportunity to meet with generous Clemson alumni and friends who have donated to the program. “The donors are amazing. All of them have such good hearts,” she said. “Without this program, I have no idea what my life would be like right now. I can’t put into words how much it has done for me.”

Field graduated this past May, but Emerging Scholars will always have a special place in her heart. “If I could say anything to the donors right now, it would be, ‘Thank you. We couldn’t thank you enough. There’s so much that you have done and so many lives that you have touched. I’ve gained experiences that I would have never been able to have if it wasn’t for you.’”