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Sep 30, 2014 04:00 AM EDT

Clemson Alumnus Donates $100,000 to Financially Support Intellectually Disabled Students

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Clemson alumnus Bob Stanzione and his wife, Kaye, have made a gift of $100,000 to The ClemsonLIFE program.

ClemsonLIFE (Learning is for Everyone), housed in the Eugene T. Moore School of Education, offers a coordinated course of study for students ages 18-23 with intellectual disabilities. The program teaches employment and independent-living skills through courses, job internships, and campus and community participation.

Stanzione, a 1969 Clemson mechanical engineering graduate, believes that ClemsonLIFE is a life-changing initiative.

"We hope our gift will inspire others to support the students in this wonderful program, and we have committed to match the next $100,000 that is donated to ClemsonLIFE," Stanzione chairman and chief executive officer of ARRIS Group, Inc., said in a statement.

Kaye, an active volunteer and a member on the ClemsonLIFE advisory board, said that students benefitted by the Stanziones' gift will be known as Monarch Scholars.

"We think that butterflies are an appropriate symbol for how we hope the ClemsonLIFE students will morph and change as they participate in the program," Kaye said. "The name also honors Bob's mother, who loved butterflies, and is inspired by the monarch butterfly, whose colors remind us of tiger stripes and the Clemson spirit. We are pleased to support these scholars and help them soar."

The Stanziones' GIFT will thus allow ClemsonLIFE to grow and offer additional scholarships to reach out to more students and young adults with intellectual disabilities.

Founder and special education professor Joe Ryan aims to prepare such students to be self-sufficient, acquire job skills and learn to live independently. Ryan said that ClemsonLIFE addresses a critical need in the country by helping students with disabilities transition successfully from high school to the work force.

"So often people tend to focus on what individuals with disabilities can't do," Ryan said. "We like to focus on teaching them what they can do. With that focus, they are ready for the world that awaits them after the program."

ClemsonLIFE, opened in 2009 as a post-secondary education program and comprises of full-time and part-time staff members and nearly 200 Clemson student volunteers serving as tutors, mentors and "buddies" for daily social activities.

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