Claflin University alumni always carry on the tradition of paying it forward in mentoring the next generation of visionary leaders. During the Homecoming 2011 weekend, the tradition was renewed with the Images of Success program as 18 prominent young alumni descended on campus to tell their stories and offer advice and counsel to students.
“Claflin University is a family. I enjoy talking to the students every year about tips for the future. I tell them it's really about taking control of their future,” said Ryan McLeod, '04.
McLeod is currently a demand planner for the Defense Logistics Agency, the U.S. Department of Defense's largest combat logistics support agency. He's been part of Images of Success ever since he graduated Claflin with a bachelor's degree in computer science.
His favorite Claflin memory was spending time with his brothers in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and meeting new people.
Assistant to the Vice President of Student Development Carolyn Snell said the Images of Success Program is an exceptional opportunity to demonstrate to students that success is just around the corner.
“This year's Images of Success participants are remarkable young men and women who epitomize the Claflin Confidence,” Snell said. “Collectively, their stories of success illustrate that Claflin University is truly a unique place that transforms students into leaders in every career field imaginable.”
Chrishele Kingdom, a former Miss Claflin who graduated in 2009, said the University is her home away from home. She is currently a kindergarten teacher in Richland School District 2.
In 2005, Kingdom arrived at Claflin as a wide-eyed freshman. As she walked under the Arch of Confidence - a tradition for all incoming freshman during orientation week - it was a move that she recalled “laid the framework for my life.”
Coming back for Homecoming 2011 was a vivid reminder of why she's successful today.
“It reminds me of my drive … of why I strive to be successful,” Kingdom said.
She told the students to hold themselves accountable to their own dreams. “I said you need to forge positive relationships and take advantage of every opportunity. And most importantly to never have regrets” she said.
Other participants for this year's Images of Success program included: Cokeitha Gaddist, '97; LaShay Montgomery Austin, '99; Kevin Charles,' 03; Harriet Huell, '05; Ernest Bervell Mensah, '06; Roberta Sonsary White, '99; Kevin Johnson, '02; Harry L. Jenkins, '04; Dorothy Patrice Nero, '06; Wynnona Haynes, '03; Dr. Leon Christopher Prieto, '04; Nikolai Leger, 01; CoTrease S. Lawson, '03; Pamela Renee Antley, '07; Desiree Lewis, '03 and Dr. Anthony Paul Barnes, '03.