Claflin University Presents Degrees Posthumously to Families of Senior Students Killed in Vehicle Accident

May 12, 2017

Claflin University will present degrees posthumously to the families Melvin Lionell Jackson Jr. and Darrell Renard Pendergrass Jr. at the 2017 Commencement Convocation on May 13, 2017, at 11 a.m., at the Seventh-day Adventist Church Worship and Convention Center on Neeses Highway.

Claflin Student Melvin Lonell Jackson JrBoth Jackson (left) and Pendergrass, who were seniors expecting to have their degrees conferred at Commencement, were killed in a car accident that also claimed the lives of two underclassmen. A fifth Claflin student, also an underclassman, survived injuries suffered in the accident that occurred on October 13, 2016 on Interstate 77 in Columbia, S.C.

“The University believes it is the appropriate thing to do under the circumstances,” said President Henry N. Tisdale. “These young men left an indelible imprint on our hearts as students who embraced the principle and concept of scholarly endeavors and effective visionary leadership.”

Claflin Student Darrell Renard PendergrassJackson, of Chester, S. C., was majoring in sport management and had a 3.04 grade-point average. Pendergrass (left), of Society Hill, S. C., was also majoring in sport management with a minor in business administration. He was on the Dean’s List every semester during his matriculation at the University and had a 3.42 grade-point average. He was also a member of the Gammu Nu Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

“It’s going to be hard not seeing Melvin and Darrell walk across the stage to receive their diplomas,” said Dominique W. Riggins, a junior history major and president of the Student Government Association for the 2016-17 academic year. “We continue to pray for members of their families who are definitely experiencing a deeper sense of loss.

The University earlier launched a “Claflin Cares” campaign to collect funds to help the families. The campaign was established as a direct response and expression of Claflin University’s determination to support the families during their unexpected time of loss. 

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