The full time office staff at PEER&WISE are what keep us running and allow us all to be able to have the resources that we do. Below are a little bit about each of our staff members, including a new face in the office, Mr. Luke Franco! Be sure to remind our staff how important they are to us every once in awhile!
Prior to relocating to Clemson and working with PEER & WISE he worked in the California public school system as a high school math teacher and served in the US Navy as a musician. Luke Franco received his Bachelor of General Studies from Columbia College and his Master of Science in Education from California Baptist University. He will be managing the office support staff and assisting professional staff members in meeting departmental objectives. When not at work Luke enjoys making music and soaking up time with his family. He is excited to join the PEER & WISE community at Clemson and is looking forward to working with you all.
Serita earned her bachelor’s degree from Lander University and a Master of Education in Human Resource and Development from Clemson University. Before becoming the PEER/WISE director in August 2015, Serita Acker was Director of the Women in Science and Engineering program. Additionally, she has more than 25 years of experience in higher education, both in the areas of student support services, mentoring, and diversity programs. She is a certified Global Career Development Facilitator and Life Coach.
Serita Acker sees the PEER/WISE main role as providing student success programs and services that can equip students with the resources they need to excel at Clemson University and achieve their educational goals so that they are prepared for success after graduation.
She has won several State and National Awards: Thomas Green Clemson Award, Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Mountains to Midlands, the James E. Bostic Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Award in 2017 as a diversity champion at Clemson University, Clemson University Woman of the Year, Martin Luther King Jr. Award, Clemson University Board of Trustees Award, Women in Engineering Pro-Active Network Distinguished Service Award, Career Communications Magazine College Level Promotion of Education Award, National Association of Multicultural Engineering Advocates Award, Upstate Diversity Award, Calder D. Elhmann Outstanding Individual. As well as being featured on the cover of Insight into Diversity.
She also served as MentorLinks Consultant for the American Association of Community Colleges in Washington DC and sits on many state and national boards to help promote STEM. She currently serves as the National Society of Black Engineers Student Chapter campus advisor at Clemson University. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and traveling.
Lisa Jackson is the Associate Director of Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention, PEER. She joined the PEER & WISE team in 2014.
She is a proud alumna of Benedict College, one of the finest HBCUs in South Carolina, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Economics Business Administration. It was there she realized education was the tool she needed to change the world. Therefore, in May 2021 she received her MBA here at Clemson University to be the agent of change for her family, community and country.
She said one of her greatest achievements while in this role occurred in 2017; the program received an award from NAMEPA, Inc., the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates. This award recognizes retention programs that have increased the participation of students from historically underrepresented (URM) populations in engineering. This accomplishment allowed PEER & WISE to join other prestigious public engineering research institutions. Subsequently, the morale and participation of engineering students at the university has vastly increased.
“My personal philosophy is to treat others as you want to be treated. Being kind to others costs nothing but can leave every place you travel and every individual you encounter better because of you. When I engage with PEER mentors, I use those moments as opportunities to plant and water seeds of wisdom, kindness, love and compassion. I believe with this mixture, we will make lifetime changes and eventually make this world a beautiful garden, a better place.”
Beth Anne Johnson serves as the Associate Director for the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Program in the College of Engineering, Computing, and Applied Sciences at Clemson University. Since the program’s establishment in 1995, the WISE program has helped thousands of women successfully gain employment in male-dominated industries. This award-winning program pairs first year, female-identifying students with upper-level female students to guide young women in their college experience. While teaching essential skills alongside academics, Beth Anne helps educate and prepare women to pursue and secure successful careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) fields through outreach, recruitment, and college support.
Johnson was recently named the 2022 winner of the WEPAN Women in Engineering Champion Award for her volunteer contributions to STEM education at the primary, secondary, and collegiate levels for her work at Clemson. The WISE program was named winner of the Women in Engineering Program Award for an outstanding woman in an engineering program that serves as a model for other institutions.
Johnson’s path to STEM equity work is a fascinating one. With undergraduate degrees in English and the performing arts, she completed her graduate research as a leisure scientist, looking at parks, recreation, and tourism management. “You can tell who’s equitable and free by who can pursue leisure, so I started with a social justice mindset. It was interesting to see that the statistics for female-identifying athletes in male-dominated sports are similar to the statistics for first year incoming engineering and computer science students.”
In addition to her role at Clemson, Johnson serves as the president of WEPAN. She is honored to serve the WEPAN community alongside the executive leadership team. Together they will ensure WEPAN continues growing, and create a strategic plan, mapping out goals and objectives for three, five, and ten years into the future.
Advice to students: “Find your mindful: be it prayer, meditation, breathing, or exercise. Life is about striving for balance and finding peace. As students with underrepresented identities, life, school, and today’s political climate are extremely challenging. Therefore, it is essential to reassure and ground yourself with rest and reflection, even if it begins with 10 minutes a day.”
Brittany Fatima Sanders is a Graduate Assistant for PEER & WISE, starting January 2021. She held various positions within PEER & WISE since 2014, including Undergraduate Mentee, WISER Resident, Undergraduate Mentor, and Newsletter Committee Chair. As a graduate assistant, Brittany collects, organizes, and interprets data relating to creating inclusive and supportive learning environments for underrepresented student populations at Clemson University.
She is a proud alumna of Clemson University, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering accompanied by a minor in mathematical sciences in December 2020. Currently, Brittany is pursuing a Master of Science degree in industrial engineering with a concentration in operations research (OR). Her research interests focus on understanding and addressing widened racial and socioeconomic inequities in academia through OR models and optimization.
“I value my work with PEER & WISE because there is nothing more I want than to make my ancestors’ unimaginable dreams a reality for my daughter. I never want her to doubt her worth because of how she looks or struggle academically because of financial limitations. When I look at her, I see more than the color of her skin and her gender; I see my mom, dad, grandparents, and all the bright-eyed little girls in the world.”
A passionate believer in building strong family bonds, Brittany is happily married to her life partner, Derek. They share a three-year-old daughter, Lincoln.
Maegan Hinson earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering and her Master of Arts in Teaching in mathematics from Clemson University. Prior to her work with PEER & WISE, Maegan worked in the public school system teaching math and science for middle and high school students. As the outreach coordinator, she works to plan and promote programs such as SEE Clemson and STEM day. Her goal is to show prospective students the value of a degree from Clemson University in the STEM fields.
Advice to students: “Be where your feet are. Don’t get too caught up in what comes next; stay in the moment.”