CLEMSON — Founder. Leader. Graduate. These are just a few of the words that describe two students who are receiving their diplomas Friday from Clemson University’s School of Architecture.
Rayshad Dorsey and Brayton Gregory made the most of their time at Clemson by getting involved and excelling in the classroom. This fall, the two will pursue their master’s degrees from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and both will be attending on full-ride scholarships. Harvard’s graduate program was recently ranked best in the country by DesignIntelligence.
A native of Georgetown, Dorsey grew up in a rural community where he and his mother lived in a mobile home. At age 4, she gave him a Lego set, and since then his interest in architecture continued to grow. With her continuous encouragement, Dorsey immersed himself in the world of design, and as a high school senior he had the opportunity to visit Clemson.
“I was exposed to the everyday life of an architecture student and fell in love with the program. I felt at home at Clemson,” Dorsey said.
During his time as an undergrad, Dorsey took advantage of the services that were offered to him, such as advising, academic success tutoring and the Writing Center.
“I never felt like I was lacking resources at Clemson. If I needed help with anything I could find it.”
And while the opportunities for academic success were readily available to him, Dorsey realized there was something missing from campus: an architecture organization for minorities. As a sophomore, he decided it was time to change that, and in the spring of 2014, he co-founded Clemson’s chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS).
“NOMAS continued to open doors for me. I attended two national conferences and had the opportunity to be a project manager for the national Barbara G. Laurie design competition,” Dorsey said.
The two-time recipient of the American Institute of Architects Grand Strand Scholarship served on the Student Affairs Student Advisory Board and the School of Architecture’s Student/Faculty Advisory Board. He received the Ray Huff Award for Excellence, Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston’s highest recognition for achievement, and, most recently, the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities bestowed him the Blue Key Award, which is given annually to a student who has distinguished themselves in terms of academic scholarship and campus leadership.
Now, Dorsey prepares for his venture to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to continue his education.
“I have an opportunity that a few months ago I couldn’t even dream of having. Harvard is in one of the most intellectual places in the world and I can’t wait to take part in that atmosphere. While I am extremely nervous, I know that Clemson has prepared me well for what lies ahead and I am looking forward to the challenge.”
What will he remember most about Clemson?
“At Clemson, the professors really care. I felt like I could talk to all of my professors about anything. They were all so welcoming and really passionate about teaching. Lastly, of course, I’m going to remember being national champs in football my senior year!”
While Dorsey and Gregory are both accomplished Tigers who will be attending the same graduate school, their paths getting there were different.
A Greer native, Gregory grew up a Clemson fan.
“I knew that this is where I wanted to be even though it was not until later on in life that I found out Clemson was the only school in the state that offered architecture,” said Gregory. “The world of architecture has always been intriguing to me, from the multiple forms of design to the freedom of expression.”
In 2013, Gregory had the opportunity to attend his first conference as an undergraduate in Chicago. It was there he was introduced to the American Institute of Architecture Students. Being able to create connections with architecture students from around the world, he began building a strong network and the organization became one he truly believed in. The following fall, Gregory decided to run for a position in the institute. He won, and as membership chair he was able to further advance his skills and connections with others on campus and beyond.
“The position sparked my love for leadership and pushed me to want to reach higher in the organization, which led me to run for president-elect in 2015.”
In 2016, Gregory assumed his position as president. Over the past year, his chapter was recognized as one of the largest and fastest-growing chapters in the South.
Throughout his undergraduate career, Gregory also served as an undergraduate research assistant and became an active volunteer through his involvement with Pi Kappa Phi.
“In 2014, I went through the process of becoming a re-founding father for Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. During this process, we established a well-rounded organization that is now nationally recognized.”
Gregory’s ambition and dedication to his craft and campus did not go unrecognized. He is the recipient of the Phi Kappa Phi Certificate of Merit, which is given annually to an outstanding student with a 3.5 or higher grade-point average who has made noteworthy contributions to Clemson. He also won the Alpha Rho Chi Medal in Architecture for his professional merit, ability to lead and performing willing service to the school.
“During my time at Clemson, I had a lot of guidance from my peers and professors. The Clemson family is a real thing and one of the most inspiring things about this university. Being from Upstate South Carolina, the move up north will be a complete change in scenery, but I’m very excited about the opportunities that I’ll have at Harvard and believe it will open doors that I never expected.”