Featuring delectable flavors ranging from the unique Queen’s Red Velvet Cheesecake to the classic vanilla or peach varieties, Clemson ice cream is often the highlight of a campus visit or a sunny, 80-degree afternoon. When food science major Stephanie Schatz heard about a co-op opportunity with the famous ’55 Exchange, the exclusive place to buy Clemson ice cream, she instantly set up an interview. Within a few weeks, she became the manager of one of Clemson University’s most beloved institutions.
“The extent of what I knew about ice cream before this experience was how to eat it,” Schatz admits. “I knew absolutely nothing about the process of making ice cream or what goes into running an ice cream store.”
She quickly caught on thanks to professor John McGregor who oversees the general operations of the ’55 Exchange. Schatz says, “Dr. McGregor has a strong relationship with all students. I couldn’t pick a better boss.”
According to Schatz, the entire process of making the ice cream is performed by students — from mixing and freezing in the creamery to stocking and scooping in the ’55 Exchange. “There’s a graduate student who oversees everything we do in the creamery, but everything else is performed by undergraduates.”
“The biggest task is creating the Clemson ice cream experience that everyone knows and loves,” says Schatz. “The main job is the customer service side of things, but my position as a co-op involved much more than that.” On top of managing and training a small crew, she also met with tour groups and gave presentations about the history of Clemson ice cream.
Her co-op is over, but Schatz continues to work at the ’55 Exchange. “I’ve worked in catering or a restaurant since I was 15, but this job gave me experience I really wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else,” she says. “It often made me think on my feet, and that helped develop my decision-making skills. It also helped me see the small details when it comes to running a business — you really can’t see all those details until you’ve done something like this.”
Aside from the work experience, Stephanie has taken away much more. “The team and I became like a big family. They made my job so easy with their respect and help — things that are hard to come by anywhere else.”
She’s also supported by a larger family — the Clemson Family. From faculty, students, alumni and just fans from the community, everyone is instrumental in the success of one of Clemson’s most delicious institutions. Schatz says, “Donations to the endowment fund supplement anything we make so we can continue to keep the tradition of Clemson ice cream alive.”