The power of community
Two Clemson University civil engineers have put themselves on track to become professors after immersing themselves in an academic community that has offered them a host of opportunities from mentoring and advising to research and work experiences.
Juliann Lloyd and Logan Wade, now first-year Ph.D. students, have been on separate but parallel tracks since graduating from different high schools in the Midlands.
Both chose Clemson for their undergraduate degrees, found their way to the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering and participated in many of the same undergraduate programs. When it was time to pick a doctoral program, both chose Clemson again.
Along the way, Lloyd and Wade have developed a passion for civil engineering and discovered within themselves a desire to make a positive difference in the world.
Their experiences underscore the power of carefully crafted programs, a supportive community to keep them humming along and students willing to work hard at them.
“They took every opportunity that was presented to them and made the most of it,” said C.J. Bolding, an undergraduate student services advisor. “They were always willing to give back, and they were always willing to get involved where they could.”
Lloyd, of North Augusta, said that she wants to work in industry after getting her Ph.D. but would like to later return to higher education to teach. Mentoring a woman who became her best friend showed Lloyd that she could make a difference and have a voice.
“If I get my Ph.D. and come back and teach, it will give me the opportunity to change people’s lives, whether it’s my students or community members or anyone impacted by my students,” she said.
Wade, of Winnsboro, said that when he started talking about going for a Ph.D., he found that the idea of becoming a professor appealed to him.
“I could be a beacon of change,” he said.” I could implement what I thought was important for a professor to do and say. I could advocate for change, whether it be specifically related to civil engineering or to representation among underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.”
As undergraduates, Lloyd and Wade took part in some of the same departmental programs. They served as department ambassadors, joined the department’s student advisory council and participated in the department’s CE•MENT mentoring program.
Both also participated in undergraduate research and had opportunities for real-world work experiences. Lloyd worked three semesters at Georgia Transmission Corporation as part of Clemson’s Cooperative Education Program. Wade worked internships at the state Department of Transportation and Davis & Floyd.
Jesus M. de la Garza, chair of the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, said the department is fostering an environment that aims to give every student a chance to succeed and an immense sense of belonging.
“What’s remarkable about Juliann and Logan is that they participated in so many of the programs available to them and how hard they have worked to get where they are,” de la Garza said. “Their stories show what it can look like when all the pieces come together.”
Students who participate in the programs that Lloyd and Wade did increase their chances of success, whether they go into graduate school or find jobs in industry, said Oliver Myers, associate dean for inclusive excellence in undergraduate studies in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.
“We develop these programs to help students as they progress toward graduation and choose career paths,” Myers said. “We want to replicate the success that Juliann and Logan found to create a wider and more diverse talent pipeline.”
For Wade, PEER & WISE played a big role in his decision to become a professor. PEER & WISE is a program in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences that offers students a host of services as part of its mission to enhance diversity.
A PEER & WISE research program that Wade attended in the summer before his freshman year gave him a chance to make friends, find his way around campus and learn independence.
As a sophomore, Wade started attending the PEER & WISE study hall, where he found help from tutors and several friends he had made in the summer research program.
“PEER was about 70% of my college experience,” Wade said.
Serita Acker, executive director of PEER & WISE, said that Wade became a mentee in the program and later served as a mentor and that she considers him “one of our children.”
Acker said she would like to see more students pursue their Ph.D.s and that she has been working on that with Myers.
“I feel that we need more students, especially underrepresented students, in the pipeline,” Acker said. “We expose students to all kinds of different resources. We expose them to undergraduate research in hopes they’ll go on to get their Ph.D. or master’s degrees. When they come in as freshmen, if we begin to talk to them early, that’s a way of planting the seed.”
That seed has begun to sprout in Lloyd and Wade. They are now sharing the same Ph.D. advisor, Jennifer Ogle, a professor and associate chair in the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering.
“Juliann and Logan have worked extremely hard to get where they are, and they have been excellent ambassadors for the department,” Ogle said. “I look forward to continuing to work with them as they progress toward doctoral degrees. They will be well positioned to make a substantial impact on the world.”