“The Boyd Scholars program is providing support for students who through no fault of their own need a little extra help with math,” said Brad Putman, the associate dean for undergraduate studies. “Many come from areas where advanced math courses just weren’t available, and role models in STEM may have been few and far between. But these students have shown they have the ability to get into Clemson. Boyd Scholars is helping them reach their full potential.”
Matt Miller, senior lecturer in the Department of General Engineering, now coordinates the program and teaches the extended engineering course sequence, giving him the opportunity to work directly with Boyd Scholars. He said that when students first start, many question whether they belong in engineering.
“When we still have 96% in engineering after the summer session, it’s super exciting to see,” Miller said. “It says, ‘Yes, you do belong. Yes, you can do this.’ The math placement doesn’t have to be a barrier.”
Sanders and Graves, now sophomores, were in the first Boyd Scholars cohort, starting the program in fall 2019 and taking their 2020 summer courses online due to COVID-19. The second cohort was midway through its freshman year in spring semester 2021. The program has enough funding left for the second cohort’s summer awards. What will happen in summer 2022 is still unknown, Stephan said, but the hunt is on to extend funding for future cohorts of students.
“I would love to fund more students through the program and help more students stay on this path,” she said. “We need donors. The Boyd Foundation has been fabulous, and it would be great if we had other donors join the Boyd Foundation in this effort.” About 25% of freshmen who start the engineering program would qualify for this program, so the unmet need is great, Stephan said.
For Sanders and Graves, Boyd Scholars was the first stepping stone on a path that led to majors in industrial engineering.
Sanders is also pursuing an automotive engineering certificate and planning to get a master’s degree. Looking ahead, he’s interested in entrepreneurship, artificial intelligence and programming.
Graves is working on his resume and starting to seek a placement at a company through the cooperative education program. He’s hoping to stay close to home, which would help retain his engineering talent in the state.
Wherever these two Boyd Scholars go next, an orange wind will be at their backs.