I never thought I would find myself taking a tour of a mobile health clinic, which is more of a visual tour, yet only recording the audio. But that is how this just so happened to transpire. After arriving to see this large vehicle, larger than the biggest Ryder truck, Dr. Paula Watt just wanted to show me around. So I hit record.
We identified numerous narratives showcasing visual stories that would inspire individuals to take the next steps to change the world. During the creative process, we knew telling a story of a bioengineering researcher helping a young boy with a lower limb prosthetic find comfort while walking and running would be a compelling story.
There are days when you are not sure what is going to cross your path…but then there are days when think you are prepared for a good story. Today was a combination of both…one of anticipation yet one of amazement.
I just finished a project telling the story of one Clemson’s most precious graduates, one who has experienced so much, and one that has so much to share. Col. Ben Skardon is that man, class of 1938 and served in World War II. Not only did he serve, but he was a prisoner of war where he did something that seemed so insignificant but has left a tremendous legacy.
As a prisoner of war, he took part in the Bataan Death March:
“Which began on April 9, 1942, was the forcible transfer by the Imperial Japanese Army of 60-80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war after the three-month Battle of Bataan in the Philippines during World War II. All told, approximately 2,500–10,000 Filipino and 100-650 American prisoners of war died before they could reach Camp O’Donnell.”
“The 80 mi march was characterized by wide-ranging physical abuse and murder, and resulted in very high fatalities inflicted upon prisoners and civilians alike by the Japanese Army, and was later judged by an Allied military commission to be a Japanese war crime.”
But what makes this story so fascinating is that his Clemson Ring was the one thing that helped saved his life. He used that ring while a prisoner of war to “buy” food in order to survive. He traded it for rice, the nourishment necessary to stay alive.
The only thing he has left from that experience was the spoon he used to scrape food together, his dog tags, what was called a “chop” that was used as currency, and the identification card that was made after he was released.
I am have embarked on a project to tell his story and finally I can share…one that I will remember for a lifetime. A few years ago, I sat down with him to capture the first part of his story, here is the completed project…in his own words.
*Reference information from Wikipedia.
A few years ago…I had the privilege of working with the Call Me MISTER program to document and tell their story. It was the 10th Anniversary and they wanted to bring 10 years of progress to their supporters during this celebration.
I met Dr. Jones as the Executive Director of Call Me MISTER and as we embarked on a journey to document the progress…I grew to truly see the struggle beyond the classroom.
The goal of the Call Me MISTER program is to educate and empower young black men to become elementary school teachers here in SC. Why? To provide role models for young children…to help elementary children see black men in this leadership role. What a BIG idea…especially for South Carolina.
During this production process…I dug deep into my soul and was challenged to see whether I was truly open to this movement. As a white male, I do not think we can truly feel, see, hear, and comprehend the struggles of the black community. We think we are not “prejudice” but what I learned to realize is prejudice has nothing to do with this movement.
I did not see this until I met Mr. Harvey Gantt. Mr. Gantt was the first black male to be admitted to Clemson University. I worked wit his daughter Sonya Gantt at WCNC-TV in Charlotte.
It was a Saturday during the Summer of 2010. We were about to embark on the production of this project when I was asked to attend a weekend summit. All the “MISTER’s” from around the state were coming to Clemson University’s Tillman Hall to listen to Mr. Harvey Gantt speak.
As I walked into the auditorium in Tillman, I noticed I was the only white individual attending this packed house event. Not wanting to bring attention to my minority status…I found a seat in the back. As I sat and listened to the first black man to attend Clemson…I began to see his viewpoint. As the only white person in the room…his words felt like they were darts shooting across the room for only me to feel. And after his powerful remarks…something happened that brought context to the day.
Dr. Jones stood up and announced our documentary project. He shared the vision to tell this story and that it would be shared in a few months during the 10th Anniversary Summit at BMW in September 2010. Then he asked the team to stand-up to be recognized. As he called out each name…applause followed. Then my name was announced as the person who would help lead this initiative. Since I was sitting in the back…it took a second for Dr. Jones to find me amongst 800 plus in the room.
Then…he spotted me. For the first time, I felt the true meaning of the work *minority*. Dr. Jones told everyone to clap for me…the only white male in the room who has agreed to help produce this story. I think Dr. Jones knew that my perspective was crucial to help truly capture and share this story, especially given my minority status and viewpoint.
Almost three years later…I still do not think I truly grasp the core of the struggle. But I do think I see this movement through an ever shifting lens. Now, they have released their book call “Call Me MISTER.” Dr. Jones gave me a signed copy, one that I will cherish for a lifetime. I was in the meeting when they first talked about writing this book.
I hope you watch the interview above. It was great to catch-up with Dr. Jones…as a reminder of their story, their progress, and their continuing struggle to bring voice to their mission. We need more black males as role models. From the public school system to collegiate and professional coaching…we need more black males in the public as leaders…as role models. To watch the videos we produced that summer, here is a link to read more: www.callmemister.clemson.edu.
*Images from SCETV website and Amazon.com.
For the past few years, I have been working with Clemson on a small project each year called Legacy Day. A great event to share the Legacy of Clemson University.
Above are short videos we have been creating each year to encourage students to get involved. Each video is a short vignette that includes Thomas Green Clemson helping students around campus.
Who Is Thomas Green Clemson?
“Clemson drafted a final will in the mid 1880s. The will called for the establishment of a land-grant institution called ‘The Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina’ upon the property of the Fort Hill estate. He believed that education, especially scientific education, leads to economic prosperity. He wanted to start an agricultural college because he felt that government officials did not appreciate the importance of agricultural education.”
This year, we thought it would be great to introduce his wife Anna Calhoun Clemson. Anna was John C. Calhoun’s daughter. John C. Calhoun was a Senator and Vice President of the United States. His home now sits on Clemson’s campus which is the location of the Legacy Day event.
Each video, we see Thomas Green Clemson providing the metaphor of his determined spirit, ever present helping students across the campus. The hope, students at Clemson learn his legacy and want to join in this yearly event.
This year’s event description:
“Come leave your mark this November at Fort Hill! Take a tour of the historic home and join us in celebrating when Thomas Green Clemson signed the university into his will.
There will be FREE long-sleeved t-shirts, koozies and more. Free food will also be provided! The Clemson University Gospel Choir will be performing, as well as a string quartet!”
Here is a link to the Facebook Event:
Here is a link to the Clemson University Calendar Event:
About the project:
This project began in 2009 with the vision of creating a day where students, faculty, staff, and alumni come together to share the legacy of Clemson University. The first Legacy Day featured the release of the new book called “Thomas Green Clemson”.
“The book was written by 12 authors, most of whom are Clemson faculty and staff members, and edited by English professor Alma Bennett. Each of the 13 chapters focuses on a certain facet of Clemson’s life, including his education; his relationship with his wife Anna Calhoun; his time spent in Europe and Washington, D.C.; his career as a scientist and farmer; his love of art and music; his role as a national advocate for agricultural education; and his vision to found an agricultural college.”
Students and staff collaborated on the project using video as a way to engage other students on campus. Short vignette videos were created by students and staff to share Thomas Green Clemson’s commitment to students. The videos were then shared by students on Facebook.
The first year, there were close to 350 in attendance. Attendees were able to tour the Fort Hill Mansion, purchase a signed copy of the new book, and meet other individuals who wanted to learn more about Clemson’s Legacy.
Learn More & Credits:
Thomas Green Clemson – Wikipedia Page, Clemson History Information
Anna Calhoun Clemson – Wikipedia Page
John C. Calhoun – Wikipedia Page
Fort Hill Mansion – Clemson History Information
About the Book “Thomas Green Clemson” – Clemson Description
Purchase the Book “Thomas Green Clemson” – Clemson Book Store
I always love coming away from teaching with something that helps me contextuallize a process. I began working with my MBA Students on blogging…and ultimately building/finding your voice.
Clemson’s new MBA in Entrepreneurship Program is a one year intensive program helping shape twenty-two students’ business plans into a reality. As a part of this program, I working with them all semester to build a digital communication strategy.
Every class from finance to sales, they are constantly having to pitch. They are pitching their business ideas and I get to take it from a communications point of view. How do you take that elevator pitch and turn into a marketable piece of communication for numerous target audiences. One way is to get them writing and sharing…and we are doing this through the blogging process.
As I was working through today’s session, we were not focusing on platforms…but the message. What is the mission behind the blog? Who is the audience? What are you going to write about on a consistent basis that meets your goals. Most importantly, how does that effect their digital equity?
I thought this diagram above made sense as I was walking through a messaging process. As they begin the writing process, they are searching for their voice. We know those keywords that will attract the search engines and the audiences, but the more they write…the more they refine their message and their voice.
We have to understand that blogging is a foreign many of these students. As they find their voice, they begin writing for their audiences. The more they share, the more chances they have to build a community around their idea(s). As the community grows, they begin moving from writing specifically for the audience to writing with the audience as community effort.
This workflow helps refine and grow their digital equity and thus their blog’s search engine optimization. They continue to think through their keyword strategy and continue connecting with more and more individuals that share their common ideas. This is just fun!
Now…this is my perspective and one small part of an overall blogging strategy. But, this just made sense during our discussion this morning. I love helping people work through the thought process surrounding audience and purpose…ultimately finding their voice.
Connecting People is Fun!, originally uploaded by bobbyrettew.
GHS and Clemson students collaborating on project! Robin Stelling and Kayce LeNeave of Greenville Hospital System and Brooke Carson, Jennifer Eckart, and Hannah Swank of Clemson University worked together to create a social media marketing plan for GoHuntScan, a Greenville Hospital System project. The three students won a competition for best social media marketing plan and as a part of the reward, they enjoyed a lunch at the Lazy Goat networking.
In an article by the Orange & White, Clemson University’s President James Barker looks at Social Media from a different position. He is looking at the strong tie between academics and athletics by using the main university Facebook fan page growth during the football season.
Question from reporter: “Are athletics and academics at odds?
“We are not going to choose between one or the other. We are going to be strong in both, and, in fact, where one is strong, it helps make the other strong. The number of applications this year are up and hopefully attributed to our success academically, but I’m fairly sure some factor in that is a result of the football team. Applications are up five percent. They were up last year, too, but not that much … Our Facebook fans number at 84,000 and increased 1,000 per week during football season. That gives us some idea of the exposure football gives to us … I think success between the two is linked together.”
Interesting comparison especially when you are looking for ways to show success in numbers. Facebook here is the barometer of measurement for some indicator of success.
CLICK HERE to read the complete article by the Orange & White.
CLICK HERE for Clemson University’s Main Facebook Page.
One of my favorite projects to work on over the years is the Legacy Day Project at Clemson University. Legacy Day is an event dedicated to sharing Thomas Green Clemson’s legacy. It started a few years ago when Clemson released the new book “Thomas Green Clemson” exploring many aspects of the life of Clemson University’s founder.
The book was released in 2009 and shared for the first time during the first Legacy Day in November that same year. Many special donors were invited to the lawn of Fort Hill Mansion to interact with students, faculty, staff, and general public as an opportunity to share the life long legacy of Mr. Clemson.
Clemson’s Marketing Department wanted to create a video campaign to attract students to the event in November 2009. So we tried to capture and share the spirit of Thomas Green Clemson in these short films, showing Mr. Clemson helping students around campus. The theme was to represent Mr. Clemson’s determined spirit, how it was and still is all around us. Each short film was produced with student… and delivered via Facebook by students across campus. Each week, a new film was released showcasing the many ways Mr. Clemson is all around us.
This year, Clemson Marketing Department wanted to produce another series of short films to continue this storyline. The first film released shows Mr. Clemson helping Tanner Smith, a Clemson Basketball player, struggling during a weight lifting exercise. At the end, you will see Tanner getting excited giving Mr. Clemson a hug after being spotted during his bench press routine. Mr. Clemson stepped in to help.
More short films will be released over the next two weeks leading up to Legacy Day on November 11, 2011. The best part of this project, students were involved in the creation and execution. They are also a major part of the distribution of these short films using Facebook and YouTube as a way to distribute these videos across their network of friends.
Here is a link to the Facebook Event: CLICK HERE
Here is a link to read more about the “Thomas Green Clemson” book: CLICK HERE
There is no better affirmation of success than seeing your “Students” succeeding and excited about life. Teaching at Clemson is the one thing that has changed my business approach and has helped me grow professionally everyday. As I sit here in Starbucks in downtown Clemson, I have already seen two students who have gone through my Business Writing and Entrepreneurship classes…each of them excited to say hi!
Their vibrant smiles remind me everyday why we as professionals should try to teach, give something of ourselves to those who will change the face of tomorrow. On this Clemson Homecoming weekend, it is so much fun to come home to Clemson weekly and see those students who have taught me something special about life.