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Clemson University Senior Receives 2017 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award

From the thousands of graduating seniors who have participated in Miracle Network Dance Marathon at the approximately 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada, twenty students were selected to receive the 2017 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award for making an exceptional impact within their Dance Marathon program, on their individual campus and for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. To see all of this year’s recipients, click here


Dance Marathon Involvement:

During my four years of involvement in Clemson Miracle, I personally fundraised over $7,751 and held the following leadership positions:

(Senior) Partnership Director– facilitate all partnerships ranging from major corporations to local businesses; designed partnerships and created the partnership packet and media materials. Also oversees all of catering, partnership committee members, as well as partial proceeds events. Worked with other organizations on campus in hosting collaborative events.

(Junior) Events Director – planned all events, including day of DM; coordinated with entertainment, morale, catering, Miracle families, and many more components into the main event.

(Sophomore – Senior) Campaign Chair –  Responsible to create, organize, and implement our campaigns each year.

(Sophomore & Junior) Merchandise Chair – in charge of the ordering, inventory, and sales tracking for all of merchandise; designed several shirts for DM as well.

(Sophomore) Internal Relations Director – oversaw all internal events and activities of DM including of our main DM event.

(Freshman) Community Relations Chair – Responsible for coordinating with the community on creating exposure of DM and how they can be involved

Campus/Community Involvement:

Zeta Tau Alpha: Big Man on Campus Director – coordinated and executed the largest Greek Philanthropy event for Clemson for two consecutive years, having raised over $100,000 the two years I served as Director for breast cancer education and awareness; Programs Council, Overall Philanthropy Director; Executive Council, House Manager; Judicial Council

Samapalooza: Founder & Executive Director – planned and executed one of the largest weekends on campus comprised of 3 main events–a golf tournament, a concert, and a race—as well as a silent auction, raffle, and merchandise sales.

Clemson University Athletic Department: Student-athlete development – designed workshops and career development retreats for student-athletes and led several leadership workshops; Organized all solid orange events at Clemson; Planned and executed Tiger “PRO” Day – the largest event in the Athletic Department.

Clemson YMCA: Soccer Coach for boys and girls ages from 5-7 and 8-9

Vertex Soccer: Creative Director

Awards/Recognition: Presidential Volunteer Service Award, Gold Level; Clemson Core Values Award (for work with Clemson Miracle)

Post-Graduation Plans: While I am applying and interviewing for jobs, I will be working with The ZAC Foundation as one of their Executive Advance Team Members and will be traveling across the country setting up water safety camps at local Boys & Girls Clubs. This position has been an opportunity through my work with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Miracle Network Dance Marathons. My passion for nonprofits, event planning, and public relations have all been stemmed from my involvement with DM. 

The Clemson Miracle leadership revealing their 2017 fundraising total.

What personal accomplishment/contribution are you most proud of from your involvement in Dance Marathon?

Coming to Clemson I was thrilled to immediately become involved with the Dance Marathon here. It was a bit of a culture shock to come from a high school that loved DM to a university that had no DM culture. In 2013, DM was just a small event that was part of Greek Week and only had 8 dancers standing at the end of the event. After this, I sat down with Taylor Dietrich, the Overall Director of the University of South Carolina DM at the time, to express my frustrations and she laid it out perfectly for me. She said I could easily go to a different school and be just another person that helps the DM there, or I could stay at Clemson and I could change the organization and forever change Clemson’s campus. I went home that day and wrote down a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish related to DM before I graduated. One of the goals was intangible. I wanted the Clemson community to fall in love with DM and not to ask “What is DM?” but rather ask “When is DM?!” This goal was accomplished. The two more tangible goals were 1) To reach 6 figures in fundraising during my time here and 2) Get DM to be in Little John Coliseum (our basketball arena). Both these goals were reached during my senior year. To be able to look back on that is something that I am beyond proud to say that I have worked to accomplished.

How has Dance Marathon impacted you as a student leader? What specific skills have you developed during your involvement?

What DM has taught me:

  • A certain leadership style is not always the best fit at a given time – being challenged to become a more well-rounded leader is in large part to DM.
  • You can achieve anything that you put your mind to – No matter what you do in life, if you put your heart and mind into something, things will happen the way that you want them to. It might not happen in the time frame that you would want, or in the way that you would want, but it will happen.
  • You have the power to determine the legacy that you leave behind and to ask yourself how do you want people to remember you.
  • You cannot do everything by yourself – this lesson is still a work in progress for me, but it has been something that I would not even be aware of if it wasn’t for DM. Even if in some cases you can do something by yourself, it is nowhere near as rewarding as when you are able to accomplish something great with others.
  • Dream big and never settle! – If you believe in miracles, you believe in others, and you believe in yourself, you can accomplish more than you could have ever imagined. If you hold yourself to a higher standard and you hold the others around you to a higher standard, you can accomplish the impossible. You can take an organization and grow it to not only increase the funds donated by over 600% in 4 years and to go from 8 dancers to over 600 registered dancers… But you can also change a whole campus’s perception of “just another student-run organization,” you can win the hearts of thousands and thousands of people, and you can set records for Clemson and be the largest fundraising organization in all of Clemson University History!

These life lessons and skills and mind sets are going to be essential to my further development as a person and in the working world. I am able to directly recall from actual events and problems that I have had to overcome, not just remembering something from a book. What DM has given me I will never be able to show how grateful I am to everything and everyone involved in it, but I plan to spend the rest of my life trying to.

Why do you, personally, participate in Dance Marathon?

I began working with DM in high school my junior year. Some people have talents in which they are great with numbers or can understand complex chemistry problems. Not me. My talents are organization, planning events, creating new ideas, getting tasks accomplished, being passionate about what I do. I have an eye for events and executing plans. If I could describe myself in one word it would be resourceful. Planning events and everything involved essentially with DM can all be tied back to being able to be resourceful. To be able to take something that I am naturally good at and then challenge myself with it in ways that I could never imagine is the best feeling. To add to it, there is a passion behind what I am doing. To have my mind and my heart driving me behind a movement that has changed my life is why I participate in DM. 

Why should students get involved with Miracle Network Dance Marathon on their campus?

Simply, there is no other event like it. Dance Marathon can appeal to so many types of students and anyone can benefit in so many different ways from it! You can further develop your career path. For some that are interested in the medical field, they’re able to get direct exposure to a hospital, to the families that one day they might be helping, and to be able to have a passion behind the career that they intend to take. For others, they are able to take the skills that they’re taught in the classroom and directly apply them to what we are doing with DM. Being able to have real world experience before even stepping foot into the real world gives everyone involved with DM a significant advantage over others. Students should also get involved because it’s a movement that is not slowing down any time soon. Why wouldn’t anyone want to be a part of history (globally and locally)? We all want to leave our mark on where we’ve been. The legacy that one can be part of when involved with DM is something that they’ll never forget.

Nahigian and fellow Clemson Miracle members selling merchandise to raise funds.

Why should people donate to their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals?

You never know. You never know if your child will need to be treated at CMN Hospital one day. You never know if your own brother or sister will have to. So being able to have the opportunity to directly impact the lives of the families in our communities is so powerful and unique! There are so many costs that hospital bills can’t cover, yet they are so important to the wellness of the child and their families. Knowing that you can be helping provide for those families is something that is empowering and everyone should do it.

All it takes is one. One person to say thank you and tell you that you’ve made a difference in their life. One person to believe that they can dare to defy the odds. One person to see that others are suffering and that there is something that they can do about it. Donating does not always mean money. People can donate their time or even their social media platforms to help create awareness to others. The power that one has to be able to help others, regardless of age or regardless or your income, is truly remarkable!

Nahigian with CMN Hospitals CEO John Lauck at the 2016 Dance Marathon Leadership Conference.


Miracle Network Dance Marathon is an international movement, involving over 300 colleges and universities across North America that fundraise for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Since its inception in 1991, Miracle Network Dance Marathon has raised more than $180 million–ensuring that no child or family fights pediatric illness or injury alone.

Learn more about Miracle Network Dance Marathon:

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