Growing up in Bamberg and keeping the books in her parents store at the age of 13, Gov. Nikki said she learned there were no limitations.
“Growing up in and Indian family, our parents taught us what a privilege it is to be in this country,” she said. “There were no limitations regardless of age, gender, or being Indian. We learned whatever you do, to be great at it.”
Haley was the guest speaker at Claflin University's 142nd Founders' Day Convocation. The event is held each year to commemorate the anniversary of the university's founding.
In her speech, Haley drew parallels between Claflin University and the State of South Carolina. Both, she said, refuse to settle and no matter what challenges are faced, they succeed every time.
“Clalin University is one of the most successful liberal arts institutions in the Southeast and in the nation. It is a true source of pride of the state of South Carolina,” she said. “
Haley said her number one goal in office is to improve jobs and the economy. She noted recent success in bringing new jobs to the state including Bridgestone bringing 850 jobs to Graniteville, Continental Tire's 1,700 in Sumter, Nephron Pharmaceutical's 's 700 jobs to West Columbia and TD Bank's 1,600 jobs to Greenville. These successes, she told students, translate into jobs when they graduate. Haley said she would like to see students stay in South Carolina after graduation, so she is working to make sure jobs are in this state for them.
“Here in South Carolina, we make things, we build things, make medicine – aeronautics, automotive, research and development all need students coming out of college with math and science degrees. One of the best selling points for us to recruit new businesses is Claflin University.”
During the ceremony, the 2011 Bythewood Award, named after former trustee Thaddeus Kinloch Bythewood, Sr. in recognition of outstanding contributions to Claflin and the community, was given to Dr. Spencer Disher who served as the physician for Claflin for 48 years. Disher, who recently retired, was much more than the university doctor.
“Dr. Disher was the physician here when I was a student,” said Claflin President Henry N. Tisdale. “He was the physician here when I returned as president. He volunteered his service beyond medicine. He was a mentor to our students and we are grateful for his service to Claflin, the Orangeburg Community and the medical community.”
The university also gave a Doctorate of Humane Letters to the Rev. Dr. Solomon Jackson, Jr., pastor of Solomon's Temple in Columbia. Jackson was commended for creating opportunities and making higher education affordable for students. He gave Morris College $10 million, the highest single gift in the institution's history.
The Founders' Day Convocation is the culminating event for Claflin University's Homecoming Week. Founded in 1869, it is held each year to reflect and celebrate the university's accomplishments.
“At this university, can't is not an option. We continue to be proud of Claflin University, and continue to want to see it succeed,” Haley said.