Undergraduate Student Spotlight: Michael Fanning

August 21, 2019

When many of us think about summertime for university students, we imagine vacations with family or afternoons spent on the lake.

For many Clemson University students, however, part of their summer is spent on-the-job, as they complete practicum requirements for their program of study. Michael Fanning, a Clemson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management (PRTM) major, was one of those students.

Clemson PRTM student Michael Fanning with fellow Summer Scholars counselors.

Clemson PRTM student Michael Fanning (center) worked with several other student counselors across campus to deliver Summer Scholars programming.

Michael completed his summer practicum on Clemson campus through the university’s Summer Scholars program, which helps middle and high school students explore the college experience through subjects they’re interested in.

Michael worked as a counselor, mentoring students and acting as a Clemson ambassador, by sharing his insight on what it is like to learn on campus in his chosen area of study.

“Our counselors come from a diverse set of majors so that there is always someone our scholars can connect with to learn more about being trained in a certain discipline,” says Camille Swanson, Director of the Summer Scholars program. “Michael was able to represent his major to the scholars, while also making them feel welcome and supported on campus.”

Michael says that the experience worked both ways, as the program hosted high school students from throughout the United States and other parts of the globe, such as South Korea and Japan, giving him insight into how other cultures perceive Clemson. He says he also benefited from an increased awareness of programs offered by other parts of the university.

“My favorite part of the Summer Scholars experience was experiencing different programs offered at Clemson, such as audio and civil engineering, various animal farms during vet camp, genetics and others,” he says. “I also enjoyed meeting and building relationships with counselors from other majors.”

Practicum experiences for students majoring in PRTM are designed to give students an opportunity to build their resume, while also gaining knowledge and work experience, according to Jamie Cathey, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management Lecturer and Michael’s internship coordinator.

“For many of our students, their practicum is their first experience working in their field,” she adds. “Practicums serve an exploratory purpose, in that they give students a chance to try different jobs out and see what they enjoy doing most, while also giving them an opportunity to put what they’re learning in class into action.”

Michael Fanning (center) with summer scholars from different parts of the world.

Michael (center) also had the opportunity to meet summer scholars from different parts of the world during his practicum experience.

Both Jamie and Camille agree that Michael was well-suited to his practicum position, as he has a natural affinity for helping others.

“If Michael saw one of our scholars sitting by themselves, he would immediately go and reach out to them, and find a way to get them involved,” says Camille. “He’s always calm, inviting and welcoming, and ready to connect with everyone he comes into contact with.”

Michael also knows that he’s picked the right major. “A PRTM major has a wide variety of rewarding career choices and is critical to the development of happy families,” he says. “I hope to take my experience and invest in the lives of young people and families to help create experiences for family time – the most valuable thing any family can share.”

Michael’s looking forward to graduating and exploring all of the options his Clemson degree can afford him. After his summer scholars experience, we’re confident his future looks bright.