By Betsy Finklea
Two Dillon High School students are the school’s first graduates from the Clemson Emerging Scholars Program and now have both earned full rides to Clemson University.
Emeline Niyibitanga and Dohnavin Brown are the first two students from Dillon High School to complete the program in the high school’s history.
The Clemson Emerging Scholars Program began in 2007 to help students from the I-95 corridor known as the “Corridor of Shame” learn about college. Schools participating in the program include Dillon High School, Allendale-Fairfax High School, Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School, Denmark-Olar High School, Estill High School, Marlboro County High School, and Wade Hampton High School. Felicia McCollum, the local director, McCollum said that students in the program are minorities and first generation students are targeted.
The program began in their 9th grade year. They attended a week-long residential program on Clemson’s campus. They took extracurricular classes including STEM classes, public speaking, and social justice along with math and English classes. Throughout the school year, they have weekly afterschool meetings and activities. They had a career fair and hosted a food drive for Hurricane Florence victims among their activities.
In their second year, they went to Clemson for two weeks. During this two weeks, they focused on topics such as entrepreneurship, food and nutrition, and event made containers for packaging. Throughout the school year, they followed the same procedures of afterschool workshops, ACT practice, learning about FAFSA (financial aid), and working on study skills.
They also toured several college campuses such as Winthrop, the University of South Carolina, South Carolina State, Orangeburg Tech, and others. They also did a needs assessment about what was needed most at Dillon High School.
They were planning some parent enrichment nights, but due to COVID-19, these were cancelled. COVID-19 also caused the two students to transition online to fulfill their afterschool workshops.
Both said the program helped them bond with each other as well as create relationships with other students who are participating in the program.
Both have now fulfilled the requirements to complete the program. They are two of eight students at Dillon High School who started with the program and the only two to complete the requirements.
Dillon High School Principal Timothy Gibbs is very pleased that both students endured the process and completed the program. He is also delighted at the fact that both students will be attending his alma mater, Clemson University and hopes that both students will meet great success in their future endeavors.
By Betsy Finklea