South Aiken High School senior Daniel Taylor signed a letter of acceptance for a four-year, Type 1 Air Force ROTC Commander’s Leadership Scholarship to Clemson University.


Taylor is planning to major in mechanical engineering and pursue a career as a pilot. At SAHS, he is co-student body president, president of the National Honor Society, vice president of Mu Alpha Theta and plays on the T-Bred varsity soccer team. He also serves as a youth board member for the City of Aiken Parks Recreation and Tourism Department and is a member of Grace Church.


The Commander’s Leadership Scholarship is an Air Force ROTC scholarship aimed at recruiting high-quality students like Taylor. The scholarship allows college Air Force ROTC Detachment Commanders the opportunity to offer one scholarship before the Air Force’s National Selection Panel makes their evaluations.


The early scholarship offer came in a phone call from Col. James Riemens-Van Laare, Clemson’s professor of aerospace science.


“It was an unexpected honor. I took the weekend during a Young Life Camp to pray about the decision,” Taylor said. “It was tough to commit and turn down the Air Force Academy so early in the process.”


Taylor had service academy nomination interviews scheduled with both South Carolina Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint, as well as with Rep. Joe Wilson.


“When it came down to making the decision, I realized that I could have the best of both worlds,” Taylor said. “I can serve my country and be a Clemson Tiger, too.”


Dan and Lynn Taylor also have three older daughters – Hannah, a USC Aiken student who was on hand for the signing, Phoebe, a sophomore in mechanical engineering at Clemson, and Grace Johnson, former UGA Gymnast, who is currently a program director at Mercy Health Clinic in Athens, Ga.