Rayshad working on an architecture project

Rayshad Dorsey

Georgetown, S.C.

Learning to Lead

A simple conversation was enough to propel Rayshad Dorsey forward.

The shy, small-town boy from South Carolina couldn't see his leadership potential — but his architecture professor could.

Rayshad's Path

A simple gift

At age 4 my mother gave me a Lego set. The wonder and imagination of building and creating took hold of my interest, and with her encouragement, I immersed myself in the world of design.

Rayshad posing with his Clemson class ring alongside his family.

A visit

Senior year of high school, I was invited to attend a PEER program at Clemson where I stayed with a student mentor. I was able to go to class with him and spent the weekend learning what it would be like to be an architecture student.

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A place to belong

Clemson was so different from my small high school and class of 70. I came from a culture that was predominately African-American, and I initially put a lot of pressure on myself being a minority student. Really, I was looking for where I fit in this new community.

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An opportunity

My friends R.J. and Julian — who was my mentor during my campus visit — and I started talking about creating a National Organization of Minority Architect Students (NOMAS) chapter at Clemson. The architecture program here has so much legacy, and we wanted to start an organization to support that.

Rayshad with the Clemson National Organization of Minority Architect Students Chapter

A way forward

I signed up for a required sophomore architecture studio class and later discovered that my professor was going to be former Clemson President James Barker. I didn't realize then just how much the relationship we would create would push me personally and academically.

Defining   Moment

Ready for your first step?

While not every professor is going to become a close mentor — and even fewer will be a former university president — they will challenge you intellectually. And across campus you'll find people and organizations whose roles are to support you and help you find your place.

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