Student who ‘beat the odds’ honored at Clinton College convocation

dworthington@heraldonline.comSeptember 11, 2013 

— Albert J.D. Aymer, former president of Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, N.C., was the featured speaker at Clinton College’s convocation on Thursday.

He spoke to students, faculty and staff about being focused, determined and making each day count.

But it was Timothy Royster, an early childhood education major at Clinton, whose determination and drumming brought down the house.

Clinton College President Elaine Copeland asked Royster to come on stage, an unannounced change to the program. She told those assembled of Royster’s brush with death, how he saved two women from attack, and how he had “beaten the odds” to return to Clinton. He is the embodiment of what Aymer had just told the student body, she said.

This summer, Royster was a bouncer at a Charlotte club.

One evening a man was harassing two women and Royster stepped in. He asked the man to leave the club.

Royster said the man appeared to be intoxicated when he left the club.

Only he didn’t leave.

Royster said the man followed him when he left the club. There was about a five-minute fight. “I defended myself,” Royster said.

After the fight, the man got into his car and ran over Royster.

Before the car struck him, “I made eye contact with the driver,” he said.

The injuries put Royster in the hospital for a week, and he still has a small hole in his head.

“God protected me,” he said.

Royster said he has learned to watch his surroundings after the attack. He’s also learned to “appreciate life and make a difference.”

Royster told the students that “life is about the decision you make.” He briefly lost his composure, but regained it to exchange a fist bump with Copeland.

“He is determined and focused,” Copeland said of Royster.

After faculty, staff and trustees exited Clinton’s gym, Royster, on drums, and his cousin, Jadarias Ross, on organ, traded a few licks.

‘A lot of room at the top’

Aymer encouraged students to apply themselves, noting, “There is a lot of room at the top. They are too many ordinary folk scrambling to fill the bottom.”

He told the students that “you are not in college alone,” that they are part of a community of scholars and students that can help nurture them.

“You have to learn live in this community, know where to turn to for help.”

Aymer also noted that students didn’t get to college by themselves. Parents and guardians “have sacrificed for you. Your success are their successes. You failures are their shame.”

The convocation marked the start of the 120th year for the school and its first as Clinton College.

The college now offers four-year degrees in business administration and religious studies.

This year’s enrollment is 184 students, the largest it has been since Copeland became interim president in 2001. She later became its full-time leader.

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066

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