U.S. Sen. Tim Scott addresses graduates at Friday’s morning ceremony.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

CLEMSON — Clemson University conferred more than 1,700 degrees during two commencement ceremonies on Friday. U.S. Sen. and New York Times best-selling author Tim Scott spoke at both ceremonies and offered three pieces of advice for a full and significant life:

“If I was sitting in your chairs, what advice would I want?” said Scott (R-S.C.). “First, failure is not final if you refuse to quit. The second, stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. And number three, hold on tightly to the dreams that inspire you.”

The College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences and the College of Behavioral, Health and Social Sciences awarded more than 900 undergraduate and graduate degrees during the 9:30 a.m. ceremony. Hunter Elwood, Terrence Oglesby and Eva Diaz were three of the students who walked across the stage to shake President James P. Clements’ hand.

Elwood, a South Carolina native, knew Clemson would help him reach his professional goals. The turfgrass management major transferred to Clemson in 2015 from Piedmont Community College when his lifelong dream of becoming a Tiger finally came true.

For Oglesby, graduation has been a long time coming. He returned to Clemson in 2017 following an eight-year professional basketball career to finish a degree he started more than 10 years ago.

Psychology graduate and future law student Diaz took advantage of the research opportunities available to her at Clemson, which helped build the leadership skills she’ll need for her next adventure. The South Carolinian will take a year off before returning to the classroom at the University of South Carolina’s School of Law.

During the 2:30 p.m. ceremony, the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities and the College of Science conferred more than 800 undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Rebecca Jones is one of the graduates in the afternoon ceremony. She has been studying genetics as an undergraduate and will continue at Clemson this fall to pursue her Ph.D. She will cross the stage again in 2023 as Dr. Jones.

Melody Bazzle earned a dual degree in architecture and construction science and management. Inspired by her love of HGTV, the Tiger will trade in her cap and gown for a hard hat as Robin & Morton’s newest engineer.

Today’s students exemplify what it means to embody the spirit of a Tiger. They’ve overcome challenges, risen to the occasion and strived to reach their dreams — themes evident in Scott’s speech.

“The reality of it is, you go through life, life gets hard. But if you hold on to your dreams, the most amazing things are possible,” he said. “Some of the greatest dreamers have had to overcome defeat and denial to see their dreams come true.”

Before the tradition of singing the Clemson Alma Mater, Clements addressed the Class of 2018 one last time.

“Today, you join a family with more than 150,000 living alumni,” he said. “Today, many of you will sing the Alma Mater for the first time as an alum. And today, your life as a Clemson graduate commences.”

Clemson conferred 1,800 degrees on Thursday to graduates of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, College of Education and College of Business.