Time to move forward.
After four years as a rower going backwards and the past two as a graduate assistant coach with the rowing program, Michelle Nance is now ready to move ahead.
“Without a doubt, crossing the finish line in front of Virginia with eight of your closest friends,” Nance says is her favorite memory on the water. “Crossing the line to win the ACC Championship was an amazing experience, but the feeling from the start to the finish, the way the boat felt in the water, the way our oars matched, you could feel all nine of us in the boat just click.”
A four-year letter winner at Clemson, from 2006-2010, Nance was a three-time CRCA National Scholar Athlete, a two-time Academic All-ACC selection, the Weaver-James-Corrigan Postgraduate Scholarship winner and the 2009 ACC Scholar Athlete-of-the-Year. A member of the 2009 ACC Champion Varsity 8+, Nance was a two-time All-ACC selection and was named to the CRCA All-South Region first team in 2010.
Nance grew up in nearby Greenville, a graduate of Mauldin High School, where she played soccer and ran cross country. “I was also a summer SAIL swimmer," she said.
Nance says that she been able to spend the last six years looking at everything from a different perspective.
“It’s been challenging, the different ideas I’d had, discovering new things," she said. "Now I can gather everything I’ve learned as a student athlete and see the world in a different way. ”
Nance graduated from Clemson in 2011 with a degree in Language and International Trade.
Next month, Nance will receive her Masters in PRTM (Travel and Tourism), after spending the last two years focusing on community development, sustainable tourism growth, entrepreneurship and microfinance.
Currently selected as a finalist as an entrepreneurial technical specialist with the non-profit organization ‘WAVES for Development Foundation’ Nance says that she now has the opportunity to put one of her favorite quotes to practice: ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’.
“One of the most startling facts I have learned,” she says, “is that the economic benefits from the tourism industry often fail to reach the locals and improve their standard of living.”
WAVES is involved in Lobitos, Peru where Nance says it will give her the chance to work and live with the locals there, “…to help them build businesses and empower them to improve their quality of life and create sustainable opportunities for the future.”
(For more information on Michelle’s involvement with WAVES, please go here)
“I love a challenge”, she says. “Plus, I have an adventurous spirit and a deep interest in the world and its different cultures. In the first grade, I developed a fascination with Spanish.”
Upon completing her four years of rowing eligibility, Nance spent a semester abroad in Alicante, Spain to fulfill her undergraduate degree requirements. Nance used her Spanish language skills fully when she was studying there, but a later trip to Chile left her having to relearn the local idioms. “I felt like I didn’t know Spanish for a couple of weeks until I got used to way they use it there," she said.
A frequent world traveler, she’s also visited Morocco, France, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, The Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, England, Mexico, Chile and Costa Rica.
An very emotional moment during her trips abroad happened while touring Germany and Poland. “I decided I wanted to visit Auschwitz, the World War II prison camp," she said. "It was a moving experience. Every fiber and being in my body made me want to retreat. And then because I missed the bus, I ended up being stuck there for extra hours."
Nance says it was a very haunting experience. “Fortunately, just when I needed a friend, I met a local girl on the second bus and she started talking about the area’s culture in such a positive way, those dark clouds disappeared and the sun shone again," she said.
Making friends is not difficult for Nance. Of course she’s usually wearing a shirt, jacket or hat with a Clemson Tiger Paw on it.
“All over the world, people recognized the Tiger Paw," she said. " ‘…The little paw, the little paw…’ children would say. Other times, you’d walk by someone in an airport and they’d say, ‘Go Tigers’.”
After years of going backwards, Michelle Nance is one Tiger now ready to go forwards and make a difference in the world.