Dr. Laneika Musalini DSC 4713
Dr. Laneika Musalini

Dr. Laneika Musalini, director of the Office of Sponsored Research and Programs  for Metropolitan State University of Denver, returned to her alma mater and former place of employment to talk with students in the Women of Color organization. Her presentation was titled From Surviving to Thriving.

“It doesn’t matter where you start but how you complete the course and run the race,” she said. Receiving an Abney Foundation scholarship was life changing for Dr. Musalini, who entered Tri-County Technical College as an 18-year-old single mother in 1998. “I couldn’t afford a four-year college so Tri-County was the only place I applied. It was close to home, and I could work part time, take care of my son and maintain my grades. But I had goals,” she said.  Today, she holds associate, bachelor’s, master’s, educational specialist and doctoral degrees 

The plan was to graduate from Tri-County, gain a skill, get a job, and begin pursuing a four-year degree.  With help from an Abney scholarship and a vocational business school scholarship from the Hanna-Westside Extension Campus, she completed the Office Systems Technology (OST) degree at Tri-County. She also relied on AIM and its Women and Children Succeeding (WACS) program for assistance with eliminating barriers that existed for her as a single mom.

She joined Clemson University in 2000 as an administrative assistant and returned to Tri-County’s University Transfer program, taking classes on her lunch hour.  Two years later she began working as the Grants and Human Resources Specialist for the Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences Department at Clemson.  “I left Tri-County with no student debt.  My OST degree helped to fund the next journey of my education,” she said.   

“The Abney scholarship led me to so many opportunities,” said Dr. Musalini, now married and the mother of four.  She transferred to Anderson University, where she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in human services and resources.  After taking a break, she returned to get her master’s degree from Clemson University where she graduated with highest honors from the Human Resource Development program. 

After working in Clemson’s College of Business and Behavioral Sciences where she was grants manager from 2008 – 2012, she joined Tri-County as director of grants where she remained for a decade.  That same year her son, Antonio, began looking at colleges, and she began to realize the magnitude of her Abney scholarship and what she calls ‘the multiplier effect’ of higher education.  “The Abney scholarship got me started and allowed me to finish at Tri-County and get to the next step without staggering loans to pay back,” she said.  She also didn’t want Antonio to be saddled with student debt. 

He entered his junior year with a strategic plan to find scholarships.  It paid off.  An honor student at Westside High School, Antonio had nine university acceptance letters and was offered nearly $600,000 in scholarship opportunities. He chose to attend Clemson  -- all expenses paid, thanks to a highly-competitive Gates Millennium Scholars program.  He was one of only 11 students in South Carolina to win the award that year. 

Dr. Musalini agrees that it is her responsibility to pay it forward, to help others. “My Abney scholarship came at just the right time. After I graduated, I couldn’t give back financially so I decided to dedicate my time and service to organizations that are important to me, like AIM, because I can identify with the single parents they serve. Not everyone has the means to give back financially, but your time and talent are just as important as a monetary gift.” 

Dr. Musalini's contributions to TCTC have been countless -- she raised more than $20 million by writing successful state and federal grant proposals as director of grants development. She has been recognized by local, state and national organizations time and time again for her passion, service, commitment and collaboration with other individuals and organizations to enhance and improve educational opportunities for folks in her community and beyond. 

She is active with the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA) and is the past chair of the organization’s presidential task force on diversity and inclusion. She also has chaired the NCURA Region III D&I Committee and served as DEI advisor to the executive committee. In 2020 she was honored by NCURA with the Distinguished Service Award.

Dr. Musalini has been recognized for her commitment to her community over the years with the Thomas Media Top 20 under 40 African Americans in South Carolina, Anderson University Alumni Service Award, Cox Radio 107.3 JAMZ Upstate Black History Maker; and the Clemson University MLK Jr. Outstanding Contributions to Diversity and Community Award. 

She is a member of Tabernacle of Deliverance and Praise in Anderson and just celebrated 15 years as founder of the organization Women’s Empowerment Incorporated.