Claflin University CU alumni returned to Orangeburg, S.C., in April, to attend the CU’s International Alumni Association's (CUIAA) 49th Convention. The annual event celebrated Claflin's distinctive history as South Carolina's oldest Historically Black College/University and the first in the state to admit all students regardless of ethnic origin, gender, race, or religion. It also provided alumni of all generations to return to where it all began "On A Hilltop High."
Claflin University is one of the black colleges supported by the Black College Fund which provides financial support to maintain solid, challenging academic programs; strong faculties; and well-equipped facilities.
The Corporate Breakfast featured five Claflin scholars who discussed their internship experiences. The panelists were: Yayi Dia, a sophomore business administration major with a concentration in finance; Dejane Lawerence, a senior mass communications major with a minor in marketing; Donnie Manuel, a senior psychology major with a minor in early childhood education; Lazarus McCray, a sophomore, mass communications major with a minor in business management; and Danaezha Wade,a junior psychology major with a minor in education and sociology.
Dia interned at the Executive Office of the President of the United States in Washington D.C.; Lawrence was an intern at WhittPR, andManual interned with UNCF K-12. McCray was an intern with the South Carolina Association of CPAs, and Wade's internship was with BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.
"I wanted to get my foot in the door in a corporate environment," said Wade, whose internship was with the Human Resources Department at Blue Cross Blue Shield. "Blue Cross provided me with resources in the area that helped get me acclimated to the corporate setting. During my internship, I assisted a few seasoned workers with some of the company's technology. I also recommended system upgrades that would streamline processes and attract younger employees."
McCray said his internship was a great experience, "I was a content creator. It was great to see how my skills correlated to the corporate setting even though I did not have a background in accounting," he said. "The workplace environment was very family oriented. If I did not know how to perform a particular task, I could tell them, and they would take the lead and guide me. The internship allowed me to break out of my comfort zone. I learned some skills I did not have, which helped me develop as a mass communications student."
McCray's remarks were so impressive that Merle Johnson, executive director of the Orangeburg County Development Commission, offered him a job publicly after his presentation. "Since arriving at Orangeburg, I have learned that Claflin's higher education system prides itself in developing young minds and preparing them for the 21st Century. These students are not just business minded – they are civic minded as well, and that's very unique," Johnson said.
Matthew McDaniel, vice president with Truist Bank, said he attends similar events during the year throughout South Carolina, but his experience at the Corporate Breakfast was special. "This was by far the most fun and engaging of any I have ever attended," he said. "Hearing from the students was tremendous because they are the future of our workforce. It gives me much hope because that's talent sitting right here in Orangeburg. Our challenge is to create career opportunities that will keep this talent in Orangeburg and the Midlands."
Bob Miller, who is in his fourth year as CUIAA President, said that attracting younger alumni to the convention was a major topic during their meetings. "There was a lot of discussion about how to recruit younger alumni to participate in the CUIAA," he said. "Most of us have been where they are now – trying to start families and launching careers.
Claflin University website
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Black College Fund provides financial support to maintain solid, challenging academic programs; strong faculties; and well-equipped facilities at 11 United Methodist-related historically black colleges and universities. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Black College Fund apportionment at 100 percent.