This week’s Shining Sisters teach us that no dream is ever out of reach. The pursuit of what colors your life is a noble one; find your “why” and live it.
Ladies, we have a Natty Champ on our hands! It’s no shot in the dark to say that Bryan is blowing away the competition while kicking gender roles to the curb at the same time.
“Hey guys! I’m Bryan Douglass Boykin - no, my parents weren’t hoping for a boy. I’m a freshman, Pre-business major from Statesboro, Georgia. I’m a lifelong Clemson fan with my dad graduated from Clemson in 1994. Clemson football has been a huge part of my life. I’ve been coming to the games and cheering for the Tigers since I was little. Clemson was always my goal and I was super excited to become a member of the Class of 2023(ish).
I came into Recruitment only knowing two or three girls at Clemson. My main goal was to find a group of girls that felt a little like home. I graduated from high school with 42 people in my class (about half the size of our alpha class) so the idea of a close knit, family atmosphere would not be an exaggeration. I noticed the same family atmosphere during my visits to ADPi. This feeling and, of course, my connection with my soon to be Big Diamond Sister, Elizabeth, was what made me know ADPi was where I wanted to be!
When I was asked to write about my background and success in shooting sports, it only made sense to start at the beginning - with a puppy! When I was ten, I got a Boykin Spaniel puppy. We took her to be trained and the trainer introduced us to Hunting Retriever Club (HRC) Hunt Tests. HRC is a male-dominated (usually older men) sport that is a simulated duck hunt judged on by how well my dog and I work together to complete the hunt. My dog and I passed to the “final” level but there was a problem - I was terrified of guns and I had to handle a gun to compete at this level. I had never needed to touch one so I didn’t want to. Being from South Georgia that is a little out of the ordinary. But it wasn’t an option, so I learned. And when I say I learned, I went all in.
I joined my high school shotgun team which got me involved with a totally new group of people that I came to love. I shoot in three events: Trap, Skeet, and Sporting Clays. All three of these events involve very small, fast moving, orange clay targets. I shot on our varsity shotgun team 8th-12th grades as well as played the drums, tennis and basketball. My senior year I won the State Championship in the Trap portion of the State Tournament. My little sister, Garris, won second place so that was pretty special too! The best things about shooting are that I will be able to enjoy this sport forever and I’ve made some incredible friends and traveled to some amazing places to shoot.
And, it all circles back to the dog… after learning how to handle a gun pretty well, the dog and I continued competing and this summer my dog and I partnered with another HRC handler, a UGA vet student, and competed in the inaugural collegiate retrieving event called the Super Retriever Series University (SRSU) in Arkansas. We worked against top collegiate teams from all over the country and we won the Championship! It was cool to represent Clemson before I’d even taken a class! I’ve had some amazing experiences… all thanks to a puppy!” - Bryan Boykin, AC ‘19
Where is your happy place?
“I know it’s cheesy, but my happy place is truly Death Valley in Clemson, SC during a Saturday night football game. I’ve been coming with my family every fall for 18 years. To be a student and get to go to the games is a dream come true.”
Childhood trend you miss?
“Silly bands!! I always had them on my wrist ready to show off their shapes and trade them with my friends. They definitely bring back good memories :)”
Favorite childhood memory?
“Throughout my childhood, my family has taken a trip every summer somewhere to fish - whether its Boca Grande, the Keys, or our annual trip to the Turks & Caicos Islands - we fish every summer. My daddy has a bucket list of fish he wants my sister and me to catch. I love spending family time doing something we all love in some of the most beautiful places in the world!”
Expression feeds the soul, just ask Elizabeth. Her fire for dance ignited a collegiate career and an understanding of the freedom in following the things that make you feel alive.
“Honestly, when I was graduating from high school, I knew I wasn’t ready to stop dancing because it had been such a large part of my life for so long and helped me through so many hard situations that I really felt like I would struggle through college without dance. So, Tiger Dancers was a blessing in disguise because the team allowed me to go to my dream school and continue what I love to do. Since dancing has always been a way that I’ve been able to express myself and get away from the world, just being able to dance in college is my favorite part, but I also really love the girls I’m on the team with. This year especially, we are all really close and I feel like I could go to them for anything.
This team has blessed me with so many opportunities already and I still have one more year! The Tiger Dancers dance team gets to travel with the band to all post season games so last year I got to go to Charlotte, Dallas, and San Francisco. I cannot relay in words how amazing the 2018 National Championship was in person, I just kept thinking, “This is a dream.” However, with these opportunities, I’ve definitely overcome a few challenges. I always have to remember to balance my schoolwork, dancing and extracurriculars because I want to do everything all the time but that’s just not possible in the fall during football season because I end up spreading myself too thin. I’ve also learned that, just like my parents always told me, people are always watching you, especially if you are in sparkles and holding pom poms. For example, the kids in the Sunday School class I volunteer in, the dance studio I teach at, people around campus or even people at stores would recognize me as a Tiger Dancer and I wouldn't even be wearing anything Clemson. So that aspect of the team has definitely taught me a lot about representing myself and something larger like a University well.
Finally, I would not be where I am without my Zeta Nu sisters. ADPi has taught me to go after what I want confidently, passionately, and with love. The chapter as a whole accepts me for who I am and has pushed me to be my best and strive towards goals I may not have thought of on my own. Through academics, volunteering, and good ‘ole social events, I know I will never be alone. I have 280 sisters that would cross the world and beyond to help me out in any situation and push me to be my best. Even more so than that, I know that I could talk to any single one of these girls about anything from Netflix to a challenge I’m facing in my life and they would be just as engaged for either conversation, which I think is really unique. We really are a sisterhood, and I love that about ADPi.” - Elizabeth O’Donnell, - AC ’18
If you could eat dinner with one person, living or dead, who would you choose and why?
“If I could eat dinner with anyone it would have to be Katherine Johnson or Michelle Obama because I think they are such boss women and they did such great work in areas women aren’t always welcome and I think it would be interesting to pick their brains and see what advice they could give me about navigating a more male directed world and learn more about their lives.”
Where is your happy place?
“My happy place is Folly Beach, South Carolina. I have so many great memories on that beach, it feels like my second home. I like to think about it when I’m stressed because those memories calm me down and remind me to reevaluate my life. Stress is only temporary! This is why we work!!!!”
Who is your role model?
“My role model is my mom. I would not be where I am today without all of her sacrifices, support and knowledge. She is so selfless in everything she does and if I could be even half of the person she is when I am older, I would be lucky.”
Betsy’s love of nutrition, fitness, and cooking inspired her to find a healthy, protein-packed, yet delicious bite and now she’s getting down to business. Striving to “Be fit. Be fueled. Be full,” Besty’s Bites are only beginning.
“The backstory of Betsy’s Bites: I started making them in the 8th grade and would just give them to friends and family. They always said I needed to sell them and make a business out of them, but I never had time or would come up with more excuses to not do it. Earlier this year, I was talking to my grandmother, mom, and boyfriend, Reid, and we all decided that this needed to be a thing and I could at least venture out and try it. I met with some friends Brian and Sassy, creators and owners of Palmetto Cheese, and they really encouraged me to go for it and gave me a lot of great tips and ideas. Some things were hard to hear, but it was all very helpful and necessary. Finally when I got back to school, I started posting on Instagram and telling people I came in contact with, and suddenly it exploded. I had so many orders I didn’t even know what to do with them. It has been so fun, rewarding and challenging all at the same time! I have had to juggle and manage my time better but I have learned a lot and grown a lot. I have always loved to cook and make things for other people, but I never thought it would take me here. My family, boyfriend and friends have been very supportive and helped me in so many ways along the way.
I would say ADPi has impacted me through meeting new people and connecting with new people. It is so cool to me to see how many different girls I have been able to meet and have great conversations with all because of ADPi. Without this connection I probably would’ve never met any of them.
As my last semester at Clemson approaches, I am overwhelmed with so many different emotions. I am so excited for my next step that the Lord is leading me to. It is so cool to see how He has prepared me for this next step and leading me to do His will. I am sad to be leaving the University but hope to stay in Clemson as long as I can. I love this town and all of the friends I have made in it. Clemson has been the best four years and brought me the man of my dreams. I can’t believe it’s coming to a close in just three and a half short years. I will always cherish the memories I have made!” - Besty Cook, AC ‘17
Famous person you’d like to be BFFs with?
“If I could be best friends with a famous person I would pick Joey Batson, the football strength coach. I understand this is probably so strange but I love motivational speeches and high energy situations. He obviously possesses both and I think it would have been so cool to have him as a coach.”
Where is your happy place?
“My happy place would definitely be at a drive-in movie, perfect temperature (about 70 degree), in cozy clothes, with Reid and my dogs (Nellie and Waylon)”
Favorite childhood memory?
“Some of my favorite childhood memories are going to Georgia football games with my family growing up. My daddy would take me and my sisters to games as often as we could go and we always had the best day!”