About the Program

Emerging Scholars group on Carillon Garden steps at Clemson University, Clemson SC

Since 2002, the Emerging Scholars Program has made higher education a reality for students who have not seen college in their future.

How Emerging Scholars Works

The mission of the Emerging Scholars Program at Clemson University is to establish a college-going culture among students in families from the state’s economically disadvantaged areas through academic enrichment, developing leadership skills and increasing college preparedness.

Student Experience

Students are taught that knowing the basics in reading, writing and math are the most important factors in high school and college completion. These skills are emphasized throughout their participation in the program, along with more information on the basics of applying to any college or university. Even though the students attend summer sessions on the campus of Clemson University, the goal of college attendance is not limited to Clemson. The students are encouraged to apply and attend any college of their choice with an emphasis on schools in the state of South Carolina. All of this is done through two different components:

Summer Experience

  • Phase 1: Rising high school sophomores attend a weeklong residential experience on the Clemson University campus. This week consists of team building, academic evaluations, college access information and collaborative learning experiences. The students take daily classes in reading, writing and math.
  • Phase 2: Students return to Clemson for two weeks prior to their junior high school year. Reading, writing and math skills are reinforced, while science classes are introduced. Students have more interaction with campus partners and are exposed to more college access information.
  • Phase 3: Students return to Clemson for three weeks prior to their senior high school year. A simulation of a typical freshman schedule is introduced, and students are enrolled in five different courses taught by Clemson faculty: English, math, social science, laboratory science and art. Students begin working on their college applications. Seniors are also taken on a college day trip to Atlanta to visit Morehouse, Spelman and Clark-Atlanta.

Academic Year Experience

Students who participate in the Emerging Scholars program commit to academic-year work and activities. College access workshops are held throughout the year at the USC-Salkahatchie campus in Allendale, South Carolina. Throughout the year, Emerging Scholars staff meet with the students at their schools and host social activities in the area. Students attend a weekly after-school program in their high school that is led by teachers. 

The students are also given the opportunity to visit different college campuses throughout their junior and senior years. By the end of their three-year program, students visit the following universities:

Staff Experience

Emerging Scholars is an educational, fun, work-intensive experience that will prove both very rewarding and very demanding. Every year we hire Program Advisers, who are upperclass undergraduate students, graduate students or post-graduates to mentor our Emerging Scholars students. Our advisers impact the lives of the participating students and are held to standards that reflect this responsibility. It is our hope that through the Program Adviser position, students will consciously gain leadership and mentoring skills that will help them develop as leaders and expand their views of what it means to give back and help others find their way to college. Contact our office if you are interested in applying.

Our History

Captain Byron Wiley, Emerging Scholars founder at Clemson University, CS

Captain Byron Wiley, founder of Emerging Scholars, had a long, distinguished career in the Navy and worked all over the country in the higher education system helping students and staff of color get equitable treatment. After coming to South Carolina, he quickly noticed the inequities in the South Carolina education system, so he took it upon himself to create Emerging Scholars. 

With the support of Clemson President James Barker, Captain Wiley used office funds to bring the first group of students to Clemson during the summer of 2002. He provided these students with motivation and access to the resources their communities were lacking. Two decades later, the program is still going strong and helped more than 600 students reach their goal of college attendance. Even though Captain Wiley is no longer with us today, his legacy lives on through each student that Emerging Scholars has impacted.

To remember and celebrate the life of Captain Byron A. Wiley, the South Carolina House of Representatives honored him on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, for his strong commitment to education. The South Carolina House of Representatives expressed their gratitude for his many years of outstanding service with the Clemson University Emerging Scholars Program.