Pay it Forward

Three students from the Clemson University Honors College have earned a share of a $5,000 scholarship in the Pay it Forward competition sponsored by South Carolina’s electric cooperatives. The competition challenged students to search for solutions to pressing social and economic problems in the state’s rural areas. 

Micah Jordan of Easley, Trina Pham of Mauldin and Aiden Tombuelt of Spartanburg won the top prize for their plan to create mobile dental clinics to serve rural residents who do not have dental insurance or access to regular dental care. Calling their initiative “The Party Enamel,” the students outlined plans to outfit and staff mobile clinics and identified multiple partner organizations and funding sources. 

With the inaugural contest, students at the state’s largest public honors college programs put their educations to work by brainstorming solutions. Honors students at Clemson and S.C. State universities were named as finalists in the new academic competition. 

The team from S.C. State University’s Dr. Emily England Clyburn Honors College —including Jordan Brown of New Zion, Simien Chestnut of Saint Matthews and Jerdashia Scott of Spartanburg—was awarded a $1,000 scholarship for their team report, “Getting Crime Rates Down in Rural South Carolina.” The students researched criminal activity near historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and proposed a community partnership solution (complete with an app) to make students, faculty and staff aware of the risks and to provide crime prevention tips.

“It’s great to see young South Carolinians apply their education, talent and drive to the issues facing rural communities,” says Mike Couick, president and CEO of The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina. “Both of these projects represent the creativity and critical problem-solving we hoped to inspire when we launched the Pay it Forward initiative.”

The projects were judged by a panel of community leaders including U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, Post & Courier reporter Avery Wilks, state Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, the Rev. Charles Jackson of Brookland Baptist Church, and Sue Berkowitz of the S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Foundation. 

Micah Jordan, Aiden Tombuelt and Trina Pham will share a $5,000 scholarship from the state's electric cooperatives.
S.C. State University students share finalists prize.
Pictured from left to right:
S.C. State University Interim President Alexander Conyers, Dr. Emily England Clyburn Honors College Dean Dr. Harriet Roland, Jordan Brown, Jerdashia Scott, Simien Chestnut, Tri-County Electric Cooperative CEO Chad Lowder and Tri-County Electric Cooperative Director of Marketing & Energy Services Wilford Thompson