Men of Color National Summit volunteers share experiences with newcomers and veterans

It’s become a pilgrimage garnering national attention. For six years, thousands of young men from high schools across South Carolina and universities and organizations from across the country have gathered in Greenville, South Carolina, for the annual Men of Color National Summit.

Behind the scenes, over two hundred University employees give their time and effort as volunteers to ensure the nationally acclaimed event lives up to its hype.

After his first Summit experience, Jeff Anthony is excited at the mentorship opportunities available for students.

Now entering its seventh year, volunteers are key to the Summit’s continued growth. Jeff Anthony, an Occupational Safety Manager, first attended the Summit as an Office of Environmental Safety representative. Seeing the activity at the Summit, Anthony felt compelled to have a more active role at the event.

“While I was sharing information with the youth that approached the table, the conversations turned into mentor sessions. That is when I decided to volunteer for the next Men of Color Summit,” Anthony said.

Having been at Clemson for five years, Anthony is no stranger to service for the University, currently serving as President-Elect of Staff Senate and Co-Chair of its Welfare Committee. Anthony and his family have participated in various volunteer opportunities, from feeding and clothing unsheltered families to aiding food pantries, conducting toy drives and mentoring K-12 students.

When signing up to volunteer for the next Summit, Anthony was excited to experience the event through a mentorship lens he’s very familiar with.

“After volunteering for the Summit, I experienced the same joy as my other volunteer experiences in positively affecting students’ lives and helping change their communities.”

Likewise, Robyn Williams, a service manager in the Office of Human Resources, found herself volunteering for the Summit, which was a new experience. Williams has been at Clemson for three years and believes in the Summit’s mission.

Robyn Williams (pictured middle) is motivated by the Summit’s mission to volunteer.

Upon attending her first Summit as a volunteer in 2022, Williams was amazed to see the number of participants, speakers and breakout sessions available. Seeing how many people came from various places motivated her to sign up to volunteer again the following year.

“I was blown away. Seeing the growth from 2022 to 2023 was inspiring. It shows me that more people want the connections, knowledge, and resources provided,” Williams said. “Attendees travel from all over the country to attend the Summit. Clemson is doing something right when people spend their time and resources attending each year.”

For Williams, she could not pass up the chance to be a part of a rewarding experience like the Summit. She credits the work to provide participants with experiences they wouldn’t have had before.

“It shows that organizers have chosen speakers who know how to reach and leave an impression on them. Also, some of the young men were not afraid to step outside of their comfort zone,” Williams said.

“Last year, I introduced Dr. Nekita Sullivan of Yoga Bar Therapy. I returned a few minutes to wrap up the session, and she had some young men doing yoga. They took a chance to learn something new and enjoyed it.”

As the Men of Color Summit has grown, Anthony, Williams and the large team of Clemson employee volunteers that provide their service have been invaluable in keeping the event running successfully. Both have signed up to return as volunteers for the 2024 Summit.

“At the Summit, you have the opportunity to improve your cultural competence, develop leadership and communication skills, and have fun while giving back to our communities locally, statewide, and nationally,” Anthony said.  

Likewise, Williams credits her experiences as a volunteer with her continued development at Clemson.

“Volunteering at the Summit allows you to connect with so many individuals,” Williams said. “Although the Summit is geared towards younger individuals, as adults, we can also learn something valuable to help us personally and professionally.”

Volunteer sign-ups available!

The Men of Color National Summit runs April 11-12 in the Greenville Convention Center. Faculty and staff interested in volunteering may sign up through the volunteer registration form.