Clemson PRTM Recognizes Exceptional Graduate Students  

May 4, 2020

Eight Clemson University Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management graduate students have been recognized with department awards for academic, teaching, service and other achievements.

Interim Department Chair Jeffrey Hallo says that all of this year’s award recipients are equally impressive in their own right.

“These students continually demonstrate the best of our graduate program at Clemson, focusing on service, scholarly achievement, professionalism and a demonstrated passion for what they do,” Hallo says. “Every single one of this year’s award winners has the potential to make a great contribution to our field.”

The department’s 2020 award recipients include:

Graduate Student Awards of Excellence

This award recognizes graduate students who are distinguished through academic achievement, scholarship, community service and perseverance.

Cait Henry

Cait Henry-Outstanding PRTM Graduate StudentCait Henry is a master’s student in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and originates from Saint Louis, Missouri. She works as a Project Coordinator and Master’s Research Assistant in the Parks Solutions Lab, where she has had the opportunity to network with other highly motivated and passionate social scientists. She was accepted into the Ph.D. program at Kansas State University under Dr. Jessica Fefer in the department of Horticulture and Natural Resources, and will move back to the Midwest after graduating this May. Her hobbies include: hiking and backpacking along the Blue Ridge Parkway, reading at coffee shops, discovering new craft breweries and slowly turning her cats into Adventure Cats.

Kaitlin Mueller

Kaitlin Mueller-Graduate Student Award of ExcellenceKaitlin Mueller is a proud Clevelander with a passion to live in a world where one day all people have access to recreation therapy services. She completed her undergrad in RT at Slippery Rock University and finished her master’s studies at Indiana University in RT. After graduating from Slippery Rock University, Kaitlin worked as a recreational therapist in geriatric, sub-acute rehabilitation in Cleveland for five years. Kaitlin is now a 2nd year Ph.D. student in RT with hopes of becoming a future academic. Kaitlin’s research interest is currently transitional care for older adults when moving into a new senior facility. Kaitlin enjoys all the quality time she can get with her husband and almost one-year-old son, preferably at Clemson baseball or softball games. Go Tigers!

John Nettles

John Nettles - 2 awards CBSHS and PRTMJohn is currently in the final semester of his master’s degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at Clemson University where he works as a research assistant for Dr. Matt Brownlee in the Park Solutions Lab. Through his assistantship, he has helped to write four extensive visitor management reports for national parks across the country, conducted visitor surveys in three additional parks, and drafted five research articles for submission to peer reviewed journals this spring. His thesis focuses on integrating emotional affect into bear management and bear safety education. Prior to coming to Clemson, John received his bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology and Statistics from the University of Montana. Between programs, John worked as a veterinary technician in Texas, interpreter at a grizzly bear sanctuary in Montana, and a panda behavior intern in China. John and his fiancée, Emma, will get married in May and he hopes to continue on towards a doctoral degree in wildlife biology and work in grizzly bear research and management.

John was also recognized with the Outstanding Masters Student Research Award from the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.

Suk Oh

Suk Oh-Graduate Student Award of ExcellenceSuk is a fourth-year graduate (Ph.D.) student in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management with a research focus on the development of disability sport through corporate social responsibility. He has put forth significant effort to find ways for firms, as well as sport organizations, to make a social impact and address community priorities, especially for the communities of persons with a disability.

Suk has worked closely with Dr. Skye Arthur-Banning (advisor) on several projects. Among his many accomplishments, Suk has assisted in implementing a multi-institutional, short-term study abroad program with 13 students from nine different institutions to the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games. Furthermore, he has been involved in a community service grant project (Clemson Paralympic Soccer Program) funded by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. As one of the starting members of the project, Suk has devoted ample amount of time in running a total of eight adaptive sport camps including six in Clemson, one in Seattle (in partnership with Seattle Sounders) and one in Arizona (in partnership with Arizona Soccer Association). Besides grant work, Suk was involved in facilitating the first-ever Football 5-a-side (Blind Soccer) Development Think Tank Session in the United States as a researcher with experts from a number of different organizations across the country.

Brian Peterson

Brian Peterson-Graduate Student Award of ExcellenceBrian completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of San Diego, and he completed his master’s degree at the University of Utah. His doctoral research focuses on advancing spatiotemporal research of visitor travel patterns within parks and protected areas. His dissertation is comprised of research conducted at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.


Francis A. McGuire Graduate Student Teaching Award – Alexsandra (Ali) Dubin

This award is presented to a graduate student who has shown excellence in teaching exemplified by the qualities of caring, passion and engagement with students.

Ali Dubin-Fran McGuire Teaching AwardAli Dubin is a graduate student from East Greenbush, New York. She is working towards her Ph.D. in Community Recreation, Sport and Camp Management. After high school, Ali spent eight summers working at Girl Scout Camps in NY and VA, sparking her interest in camp and camp administration. Her research focuses on issues in camp administration, with a specific focus on children with severe food allergy and the constraints to participation that they face. She has had the opportunity to use her formal education and camp skills to teach many classes at Clemson University including Finding Your Voice, Camp Administration and the Writing Mentor Program. When Ali is not talking or thinking about camp, which is rare, she likes hiking with her dog Ari and spending time by the lake. Her other hobbies include wine tasting, reading cheesy romance novels and crafting: she hopes to have more time to do these things after finishing her dissertation.

Brett A. Wright Award for Graduate Student Achievement – Donna Gregory

This award is presented to an online graduate student who has excelled both academically and professionally while earning their degree.

Donna Gregory - Brett A. Wright Award for Graduate Student Achievement - OnlineDonna earned her Bachelor’s degree in Recreational Therapy at the University of Maryland. She earned an MBA from the Pennsylvania State University and is currently working toward her Ph.D. at Clemson University.  She is the Chief of Recreational Therapy at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. She has managed interdisciplinary treatment teams and has clinical experience working with a variety of patient populations including individuals who have sustained traumatic brain injuries. Her interests include program development, process improvement, and research related to the health and well-being of at-risk populations.

Marsha A. Ward ’79 Fellowship for Play – Jennifer K. Garcia

The Marsha A. Ward ’79 Fellowship for Play is awarded annually to a Clemson University graduate student in PRTM who demonstrates a commitment to play and the value of play in modern society.

Jennifer Kinch Garcia-Marsha A. Ward'79 Fellow for PlayJennifer Kinch Garcia is finalizing her 2nd year as a doctoral student with the Clemson University Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management program. Her focus lies mostly within Community Recreation, Sport and Camp Management with an emphasis in youth development. Jennifer is working towards the evaluation of nature based free play, and how communities can support the spaces and policies that surround the concept of free play. After graduating with a B.S. in Biology from West Texas A&M University, she began her career within the world of zoos and aquariums at the Amarillo Zoo in Amarillo, Texas. She started her role at the Greenville Zoo as the Education Coordinator in 2012. Since moving to Greenville, South Carolina she has earned her M.Ed. for Curriculum Development and through her work, has been fortunate to be a part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Nature Play initiatives along with the Children and Nature Network’s family nature clubs, to encourage communities to get outdoors. Jennifer looks forward to promoting play through more equitable access to parks and community engagement.


The parks, recreation and tourism management department at Clemson University is one of the largest and most well-recognized programs of its type in the nation. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in  community recreation, sport and camp management, park and conservation area management, PGA golf management, public administration, recreational therapy, travel and tourism, and youth development leadership.