I already know what you are going to say before you say it.
“What in the Hell, does he know about Life at Clemson University?”
“He didn’t go to Clemson he’s a damn Alabama guy!”
So before you start your disagreeable email to me…..
You might be surprised to know that I happen to know quite a bit about it actually.
You don’t think so?
Read on dear readers, read on……
This article isn’t about the incoming freshmen or the returning students at Clemson University checking in this week for the fall semester or even about the excitement, thrills and numerous events for students that surround the official start of another year at Clemson University.
It isn’t about the Mighty Clemson Tigers Football Team
It isn’t about any of the Sororities or Fraternities on the Clemson Campus.
It isn’t about that at all.
It’s about a program at Clemson University that often goes unnoticed by those outside the University and one that I am proud to be associated with, it’s called.
“Learning is for Everyone”
What is Clemson LIFE?
At the risk of sounding like a commercial for the University it is simply a Post Secondary transition program for students with intellectual disabilities. This program provides a “Next Step” with educational skills and independent living skills in an effort to teach them to be self sufficient and let me say it again, “Independence”.
Much like any and all colleges acceptance into Clemson LIFE is a competitive program and acceptance is not guaranteed. Like any other college or university, it’s not easy to get into the program and only a select few applicants are chosen each year.
If you are thinking at this point that this is some separate “feel good” program created by the university, then you would be mistaken.
The students at Clemson LIFE are dropped off by their parents for college just like any other student; they live in dorms, ride public transportation, eat in the dining hall with other students and attend football games and other social events on campus, just like everybody else.
They are fully integrated with other students on campus and enjoy the same university experience as any other college student and I will tell you one other thing, these students are Rock Stars on the Clemson Campus.
You think you are having a bad day in your Biology Class?
Are you upset that Jimmy didn’t text you about the mixer last Friday Night?
It doesn’t seem all that important when you notice a young adult with Down Syndrome struggle to ask for directions to a certain building or how to get to the campus bus stop does it?
Many of these students work on campus with the Athletic Departments as equipment managers, and assisting with other duties in the respective programs and others work at the Campus Recreational Center or have jobs within the local community.
When they graduate they walk across the stage and get a diploma just like everybody else
Just like “Everybody Else”
Because that’s all they want, these students and many others exactly like them
They just want to be treated like everybody else
They too have dreams, goals and aspirations just like we do and they are given the opportunity to pursue those in the Clemson LIFE Program.
Just like everybody else……
They know better than we do that they aren’t “normal”, they know that.
But that’s not to say they too don’t have a place in this world
I may be able to type faster, write better and speak clearer than most of them.
But I don’t love harder or forgive as easily as those folks do.
Clemson LIFE has a motto that they have taken from Tiger Head Coach Dabo Swinney
“The Only Disability in Life is a Bad Attitude”
Why is all this so important to me?
Because I like broken things
Some of you are saying to yourselves “This doesn’t apply to me!”
“Everything is great with me!”
“I have the perfect relationship!”
“I am not a bad person or have any problems!”
Well the first problem someone like that has who says such things is lying to themselves
If we are honest with ourselves (really honest) then we will recognize that in some form or fashion we are all broken in some area of our lives.
Our brokenness may not be as noticeable as the issues facing the students at Clemson LIFE, and we may hide it under a façade or a cover of one thing or another but we are all still broken.
You can wear a Jesus shirt to work, quote the Bible and sing “Glory Halleluiah” until the Lord returns but in the meantime you are still struggling with a brokenness that you can’t escape from.
There is no denying it.
I say all of that to simply say this……..
Clemson LIFE has a lesson to teach all of us, every single one of us.
Be kind to one another and treat others they way you yourself want to be treated.
Has someone or someone(s) mistreated you?
That’s all the more reason to be kind, forgiving and understanding, because that’s just their brokenness showing through.
Forgive easily and much like the students at Clemson LIFE, hug people like you mean it.
Don’t hold a grudge or keep score with people, you will only poison yourself.
Respect yourself and others and treat each other with dignity
Never (ever) quit no matter what life may throw at you.
Help and encourage one another, LIFE is a team sport and we all need each other.
I probably need to be reminded of this quote more than you, but it’s still worth repeating
“The Only Disability in Life is a Bad Attitude”
Clemson LIFE where “Learning is for Every One”
As it should be for all of us…..