The World Needs Visionaries
Note: Claflin University will be closed for the holiday season from Thursday, December 20, 2018, until Wednesday, January 2, 2019. The offices will reopen on Thursday, January 3, 2019.

Claflin Confers More than 100 Degrees in Inaugural Fall Commencement Convocation 

Claflin University held its inaugural Fall Commencement Convocation on Friday, December 14, 2018, at 11 a.m. in the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex. The speaker for the commencement ceremony was Katarina Fjording, head of Volvo Car University Americas in Ridgeville, S.C. The graduating class consisted of 101 students who received graduate and undergraduate degrees with nursing, criminal justice and sociology heading the list of top majors. 

During the Commencement address, Fjording shared with the graduating class valuable advice that they could use"As leaders of tomorrow, I encourage you to exercise the power of tolerance. We live in a time of extremes, sensationalists and disrespect, and it is easy to lose perspective on what is normal, and it's difficult to follow, and it's difficult to lead," she said.

Congratulations to Kayla Williams, a marketing major from Savannah, Ga., who was announced as the "top honor graduate," finishing off her academic career at Claflin with a 3.98 grade point average. 

Williams' GPA was the highest in the class and she was selected to give the traditional "Senior Challenge." In her speech to the packed audience, Williams stated "I used my pain to apply pressure. Took the pressure and got productive. Turned the tears into triumphs, and used my lessons to make blessings, which is how we are all here," she said. Williams was also presented the Presidential Academic Excellence Award.
If you missed the inaugural Fall Commencement Convocation, please click here

Local Nurse Achieves Career and Personal Goals Through RN to BSN Program at Claflin University 
Kathy Breland was at the crossroads of her professional and personal life when she decided to take a chance on a career in nursing. She had worked as a hairdresser and dabbled in accounting. But neither job was interesting, exciting, or paid enough to help Breland achieve her dream of owning a home.  Her mother in-law, Anna Breland, now a retired registered nurse (RN), encouraged her to try nursing. Initially, she scoffed at the idea. 
"God truly does have a sense of humor," Breland said. "If God would have asked me to be a nurse I would have said 'Not this girl!' But He had a plan for me. God used my desire to purchase a home to put me on the path He wanted me to follow."
Breland was one of 21 graduates in the fall Class of 2018 who earned degrees in Claflin's RN to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.  Claflin held its first-ever fall commencement Friday, December 14, at the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex and conferred bachelor's and master's degrees to 101 candidates.
A native of Orangeburg, Breland has enjoyed a rewarding and satisfying nursing career that spans more than 30 years.  She presently serves as a critical care nurse at Regional Medical Hospital. She received her associate degree and completed RN and LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) programs at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College.
"I waited until the time was right to get my bachelor's degree," Breland said. "It was on my bucket list, and I am glad I finally did it."
Breland,  61, admitted that when she last attended school "many years ago," she used a pencil and paper to complete her assignments. Conversely, Claflin's RN to BSN degree program offers courses 100 percent online and represents how technology has transformed teaching and learning in the 21st Century.
"It was very challenging, and I could not have made it without the support of Dr. Shannon Smith," Breland said. "I really did not have any computer skills when I started the program. But Dr. Smith was always there to help me.  I learned a lot about myself, and I was amazed at what I was able to accomplish. I really feel empowered by earning my BSN degree."
Claflin received approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission (SACSCOC) to launch its RN to BSN program during the 2016 fall semester.  The program is designed to provide an opportunity for nurses with an associate degree to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing while having the flexibility to work fulltime. Claflin is the only historically black college/university (HBCU) in the state of South Carolina to offer a nursing degree. The fall Class of 2018 represents the program's fourth graduating class. 
"The primary goal of our nursing program is to produce highly-skilled and compassionate nurses who will be in high demand and offset the shortage of nurses in South Carolina and beyond," said Smith, associate professor and chair of the Nursing Department. "We have the opportunity to serve the community by improving health outcomes and contributing to the region's workforce by producing visionary leaders in nursing and other healthcare professions."
The Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) visited Claflin's Nursing Department this past October for an accreditation onsite evaluation.
"The evaluators' feedback was very favorable," Smith said. "They submitted their report to CCNE this past November and the board will meet early May 2019 to finalize findings. The official letter of notification will come from CCNE mid-June 2019."

"At this point in my career, it is comforting to know that I have other options if I choose," said Breland, who paid off her home mortgage 15 years ago.  "I plan to continue working as a nurse until I can't keep up or if I am unable to provide a high-quality of service to the patients.  My experience and BSN may lead to leadership opportunities as an administrator or manager."
Developing and implementing a community project is required of students in the nursing program before they earn the BSN degree.  Breland's project promoted weight loss, healthy diets, and stress management to residents of the Canaan community in Orangeburg County.  She persuaded local volunteer fire fighters to serve as role models and help articulate how a healthy lifestyle improves the quality of life.
"Fire fighters are considered the pillars of the community in many rural areas.  They have a lot of influence," Breland said. "I made presentations to schools, churches, and several non-profit organizations about shopping for nutritious foods and how they can be delivered to rural neighborhoods. I was able to get people's attention and teach them valuable lessons that can help improve their lives. It was very similar to nursing. I really enjoyed working with the various groups.  Who knows -  teaching and education may be my next career."

Claflin Writing Center Becomes First HBCU Writing Center to Receive SWCA Certification
The Writing Center at Claflin University is now the only HBCU writing center to become Southeastern Writing Center Association (SWCA) certified. The SWCA "serves as a forum for the writing concerns of students, faculty, staff, and writing professionals from both academic and non-academic communities in the southeastern region of the U.S.," its website reads. Founded in 1981, the SWCA is a member of the International Writing Centers Association: An NCTE Assembly.

To be considered for certification, Writing Center Coordinator Candace Kelly was tasked with putting together a certification packet that included a letter of application and a memorandum explaining institutional and writing center contexts. Kelly also had to provide documents that served as evidence of the center's tutoring training program, letters of support from two Claflin employees , a description of the approach to tutoring and how the center supports writing on campus and participates in the writing center community.

"This certification is another way in which I am proving that Claflin is a leader not only among HBCUs or in South Carolina, but far beyond," Kelly said. "There are very few HBCUs active in the international, regional, or even state organizations. Claflin was the first active HBCU in the state. South Carolina State University is now involved and Morris College is being encouraged to join."

Kelly has been the Writing Center's coordinator since 2015, and she is also an adjunct English professor at Claflin. She is currently serving as South Carolina's Representative to the SWCA.

The SWCA will recognize Kelly and the Writing Center, as well as all other centers receiving certification, at the 2019 SWCA Conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in February.  Because the Claflin Writing Center is certified, Kelly will also be invited to contribute to future research and development efforts.

Claflin Collects More than $2K for Local Organization During Holiday Season

Claflin University donated $2,500 in gift cards to support the children of Project Life: Positeen, an after-school tutoring program. The program allows children from K5 to high school to receive tutoring from faculty, staff and students from Claflin and South Carolina State universities. Claflin collected the gift cards during its annual faculty and staff Christmas party, and Claflin's  Student Athlete Athletic Association (SAAC)  collected a portion of the money, as well.

Director of Project Life: Positeen Dr. Liz Zimmerman Keitt, '70, accepted the donation from Claflin University President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale on December 14. Keitt is also Mayor Pro Tem  for the City of Orangeburg.
"We're proud of you as an alumna leading this effort," Dr. Tisdale told Keitt. "When I arrived at Claflin, this program was going on, and now it has been over 25 years, and it's still going strong."

After retiring from Claflin's purchasing department, Keitt decided to start the program one day after she said the Lord told her that she needed to do something to help the children in Orangeburg. Today, Project Life: Positeen has grown to several sites in Orangeburg including 349 Summers Ave., and  Brookdale, Mellichamp and Sheridan elementary schools. There are also sites in Bowman  and St. Matthews. Keitt says the donation will help provide more snacks for the children in the program.

"Most of our children come from single-parent households, and they don't get as much as other children sometimes, so this will help us give them healthier snacks and a little more to help fill them up," Keitt said. "There aren't enough words to say how we feel about this gift, especially coming from Claflin, it is so awesome."

Student Profile - PennSheila Griffin
Junior human performance and recreation major PennSheila Griffin is the recipient of the South Carolina Recreation and Park Association's Herman F.A. Lange Scholarship for the spring 2019 semester. The scholarship is given to students who major in parks, recreation, tourism, sports management, or leisure service. After graduating from Claflin, Griffin's goal is to attend medical school and become a physical therapist.

CIAA Tickets Now On Sale
The Claflin University Panthers will make their inaugural appearance in the CIAA Basketball Tournament which begins Tuesday, February 26, 2019 through March 2, 2019, at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. The tournament is widely-acclaimed as one of the nation's top sports, cultural, and entertainment attractions. Men's and women's basketball teams representing all 13-member institutions will compete for the tournament title and a berth to the NCAA Division II Championships. Let's cheer the Panthers on to a CIAA Tournament Championship!

Tickets are on sale Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Claflin University cashier's window on the 2nd Floor of Tingley Hall. Please contact the CU Athletics Department at (803) 535-5504 or email for additional information.
Ticket packages available for the tournament as of Wednesday, December 19, are as follows:
  • Courtside Tickets - $485.00 each (only 1 ticket available)
  • Center Court - $250.00 each (only 10 tickets available)
  • General Admission - $200.00 each (only 124 tickets available) 
The host hotel for Claflin University is the Doubletree Hilton Hotel Charlotte, N.C. Please click here to reserve your hotel accommodations. You may also call the hotel at ( 704) 227-2815 and use the group code - CLA.
Please contact Tammy McCottry at (803) 535- 5665 or email  or Zelda M. Lee at (803) 535-5348 or email  if you need additional assistance.

Panther Pride
Note: Claflin University men's and women's basketball teams will open the 2019 calendar season on the road at Winston-Salem State University on Friday, Jan 4. They will return home on Monday, January 7 to play Shaw University.

Basketball Standout Jaleel Charles Finds History and Success at Claflin

Success follows Jaleel Charles and he hopes it will continue long after his graduation from Claflin University. His remarkable career on the Panther men's basketball team portends as much.

At 6-9, Charles was a formidable presence on the court and was accustomed to attracting attention from opposing teams.  His deft shooting touch around the basket led Claflin to a 14-5 record in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) and 26-7 overall, tying the school record for most wins in a season since moving to NCAA Division II. The Panthers also captured their first-ever SIAC Tournament title last season.
With the tournament title, the Panthers advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II Tournament. Charles averaged 13.8 points, eight rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game in 2017-18. His stellar play earned him All-SIAC first team honors and the tournament's Most Valuable Player Award. He was also named to Boxtorow's first All-America Team.
"It was an experience that I will never forget," said Charles, looking back at last year's accomplishments. "We played with a chip on our shoulders.
We remembered how bad we felt losing in the quarterfinals to Fort Valley State University the previous year when were the tournament's the top-seeded team. We did not want that to happen again."

His coach, Ricky Jackson, was effusive in his praise of Charles.

"Jaleel was perhaps the best traditional post player in Division II basketball last year," Jackson said. "He can play with his back to the basket, he shoots with either hand, and he can play facing the defender. His teammates enjoy playing with him because Jaleel does what it takes to win."

Jackson is also elated that Charles committed himself to playing well on the court, as well as performing in the classroom.

"He took a chance on us," Jackson said.  "He did not know anything about Claflin, but he came and it worked out great for him and for us. Jaleel could have left school last year. He had several offers from international teams, but he made it clear he wanted to graduate before he left Claflin."

"I have really enjoyed my Claflin experience," Charles said. "The environment is dramatically different from New York. "It's a slower pace but it helped me improve academically and as a student athlete."

Charles' future plans include participating in tryouts for several international professional teams. He has travel ed abroad before, and he is looking forward to an opportunity to continue his basketball career.  

Just as Charles played an integral role in Claflin's historic SIAC championship, he realizes he will make another enduring mark at the University as a member of the first Fall Commencement Class.

"I decided to participate when I heard this was Claflin's first fall commencement," Charles said.  "This was another historic event at the University - and for me - another very memorable moment."

December 19, 2018
In This Issue
Calendar of Events
Connect with Us
@Claflin is published by the Office of Communications & Marketing 
President: Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, '65
Vice President for Institutional Advancement: Rev. Dr. Whittaker V. Middleton, '73
Assistant Vice President for Communications & Marketing: George Johnson Jr.
Public Relations Director: J. Craig Cotton
Public Relations/Social Media Coordinator: Charnita Mack
Web Communications Manager: Colin Myers, '07
Sports Information Director: Romanda Noble-Watson
Photographers: Cecil Williams, '60, Geoff Henderson and Colin Myers, '07