Claflin Spring 2024 Graduates Looking Ahead To Successful and Fulfilling Careers

May 07, 2024

India Rice and Abigail Bingham are thrilled beyond imagination to be among the students receiving their undergraduate degrees at Claflin's Spring 2024 Commencement Convocation on Saturday, May 4, at the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex. While their coursework was decidedly different, they are bound together by the nurturing professors and advisors at South Carolina's only Historically Black College/University (HBCU) that has been ranked a Top 10 Best HBCU for 13 consecutive years by U.S. News and World Report. 

Rice will receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. The native of Greenwood, S.C., plans to enter law school to become an attorney and launch a career in either state or federal government. 

"Originally, I chose political science because I thought it would be the correct major for law school," said Rice, a member of the prestigious Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College. "But I realized that policy is something that I was interested in. I want to know more about how policies are developed and their influence on how the government functions."

Rice will be a summa cum laude graduate, and she was voted Miss Claflin for the 2023-2024 school year.  Rice thoroughly embraced her role and represented the University at numerous activities and events. 

"One of the best decisions I've made was coming to Claflin," Rice said. "I was exposed to so much academically, socially, and culturally. My professors and advisors were exceptional. They taught me how to think fast on my feet and to express my personal and professional opinions and perspectives effectively."

Meanwhile, Bingham, also a summa cum laude graduate, is excited because she is the first member of her family to earn a college degree. It is a dream come true for the native of nearby St. Matthews, S.C., who is graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education.

"I have always dreamed of being a teacher since I was a little girl," Bingham recalled gleefully. "I remember coming home from school to 'play school' and be the 'teacher' to my little cousins. The experiences I had in K-12 were some of the biggest moments in my life, and those teachers profoundly impacted my education."

Those experiences influenced her decision to begin her teaching career in the fall at Edisto Primary School as a second-grade teacher. Edisto Primary School is also where she completed her professional clinical practice (student teaching). She has also served as a coordinator and an after-school teacher at First Baptist Child Development Center.

 "I want to be the educator I had growing up through school," Bingham said. "The biggest inspiration for choosing this field is being able to make an impact on kids who may not have the support at home. My goal is to make sure my students leave my classroom knowing I supported them 100 percent throughout their time in my classroom and beyond." 

Bingham explains her reason for attending Claflin and says her experience was fulfilling. 

"I chose Claflin because I always heard that its education program was top-notch," Bingham says. "I transferred from Francis Marion. Claflin was close to home for me. I attended Claflin and got a job at a daycare to gain more experience in my field of study. 

"I liked that the program gave me experience in my field throughout my three years - not just my student teaching experience. The education department has many organizations that you can join. I decided to join Women Heroically Inspiring Students Professionally, Educationally, and Respectfully (WHISPER) when it was established in April 2023.  

The organization also gave me experience in public speaking and the classroom and tips on being an educator.

"I plan to be the best educator I can be by putting my students and their interests first. The professors in the education department were always supportive and provided me with guidance, encouragement, and ideas on being the educator that society needs today."

Bingham served as vice president of WHISPER.

Claflin University's "Elevation and Transformation" has made a lasting impression on these two graduates and prepared them for success in their respective careers. 


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