Graduating from high school is a big deal in Blackstock, SC. Graduating from college is an even bigger deal. This Tiger, a Blackstock native, achieved those distinctions and wants students to achieve the same success. As a recruiting program coordinator, this first-generation college graduate wants to increase the underrepresented student population in the university’s new College of Science. According to her, the Clemson Family is not just a cliché – it represents a community that she can call home.

Meet Sharetta Bufford.

Title: Recruiting program coordinator for the College of Science

Years at Clemson: Six months

What I do at Clemson: I lead on-campus and off-campus event planning and recruitment programming for the College of Science including Fall and Spring Blitz, campus visits, off-campus appearances, summer programs, and correspondence with prospective students and their families. I am usually the first contact for prospective families in our college, and I maintain the College of Science Center for Students Services email account. One of my recruiting objectives is to support Clemson Forward by leading efforts to increase the underrepresented presence of the sciences at Clemson. I also coordinate and manage the College of Science student ambassador program. I love working with the ambassadors and listening to each ambassador share their Clemson experience. Another part of my job is to develop and coordinate programs for underrepresented College of Science students such as peer mentoring and tutoring in order to help with retention efforts. Moreover, I serve as the College of Science liaison for the Connections and RiSE living learning communities to help with retention efforts. Finally, I serve as the backup advisor for the College of Science for study abroad, intra-college transfers, career planning, choosing a degree-granting major, etc.

What I love about Clemson: I love the fact that the institution is making strides to become more inclusive! As a recruiter, many of the underrepresented families I encounter ask about how their future student will be valued and what types of activities, offices, scholarships, etc. will be catered to them. I’ve even had a white family from out of state inquire as to how the climate was for inclusiveness because they wanted their son to become well-cultured while in college. They were looking for more than just the majority, and they wanted to be sure everyone felt included. Diversity is awesome, but the inclusion piece is what excites me the most!

Accomplishment I’m most proud of: I’m most proud of earning my master’s of education in higher education administration in 2015. It means so much to me because I am a first-generation college graduate who came from a family and city where the graduation rate seemed very low especially when compared to those with whom I attended college. Graduating from high school is such a big deal in my hometown that I got a larger gift from my family when I graduated from high school in 2006 than I did when I received my bachelors of arts in both political science and sociology in 2010. I know, firsthand, the difficulty of being an underrepresented, first-generation female at a predominately white institution or in college in general. However, I had enough drive in me to press past my deterrents and achieve greatness. I was highly involved in my school, became a member of what I think is the greatest sorority on Earth, Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Incorporated. I became the first-ever fall homecoming queen, served in various leadership roles and ultimately made the decision to pursue a career in higher education so that I could be that beacon of light that so many were for me at my undergraduate institution. They made me feel included in so many ways, and I, too, want to help everyone feel included. Inclusiveness, feeling comfortable, feeling valued, and worrying less about how others feel about you plays a huge role in being successful in an unfamiliar environment.

Where I see myself in five years: I see myself working on or finishing up my Ph.D. in educational leadership. I also see myself in a leadership role either in my current position or promoted within the university. As I am doing now, I will continue to be a voice of support for diversity and inclusion and will hopefully be working on research, in some capacity, that supports those who are labeled as underrepresented. Finally, I see myself as a supportive wife and mother to my husband in his role as a pastor and children as they pursue their elementary education and become more involved in extracurricular activities.

Last thing I watched on TV: The last thing I watch on TV was Trolls! I love my family, and I sincerely enjoy spending time with them. When I am not at work, I am normally with my husband, Reverend Artis J. Bufford, daughter, Baylee Amira, 5, and son Brenton Artis, 20 months. Baylee wanted to watch Trolls and I’m glad she picked such an inspirational movie. We teach our kids to look for the education in everything they do. Being a first-generation college graduate, I understand the value of using every opportunity to teach the kids in my life. Every bit of it matters and Trolls helped teach our children that happiness is on the inside and to be positive.

Guilty pleasure:  My guilty pleasure is CHOCOLATE! Unfortunately, I cannot have large amounts of caffeine. Caffeine makes me very ill if I indulge; therefore, I must be very careful when eating the chocolate that I LOVE SO MUCH! A few years back, I had eaten so much chocolate due to stress that I ended up in the ER. It wasn’t something that happened overnight. It was days and days of chocolate to help calm my stress, and it ultimately landed me in the ER. So, chocolate is guilty because I know I don’t need it, but it tastes so GOOD!