Park Profile: Clifton Knight

The Park Scholarships Diversity Student Task Force has compiled profiles of Park Scholars, Park Faculty Scholars, and Selection Committee Members designed to give prospective students insight about the Park Scholarships program, the selection process, and how scholars made the decision to join the Wolfpack.

Clif Knight
Photo by Becky Kirkland

Name: Clifton Knight

Title: Corporate Attorney

Role(s) within Park: Selection Committee member and Regional Selection Committee Leader for the Northeast region

1. Tell us a little more about who you are, your background, and your identity.

I’m a corporate attorney practicing in NYC. My areas of focus are intellectual property, media, arts, and entertainment. I grew up in Raleigh, attended NC State as an undergraduate, then UNC Law School, and later earned an MBA in strategic planning at NYU while practicing law.

I enjoy being active as an alumnus both at NC State and Carolina Law. At present, I’m privileged to serve on the NC State University Foundation Board in Raleigh and on the Advisory Board of the Institute for Innovation at UNC Law School in Chapel Hill. The Institute for Innovation is an exciting partnership between Carolina Law and NC State’s Poole College of Management. This relationship and collaboration in entrepreneurship between two powerhouse schools is fantastic both for Carolina Law students, who benefit from clinical legal training, and for new business start-ups, as they receive much-needed legal advice.

On a personal note, my wife, Raya, and I split time between NYC and Southampton, N.Y. We’re heavily involved in philanthropy and support organizations including the Southampton Fresh Air Home for children with physical disabilities and the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation, where I just concluded a two-year term as co-president.

2. What initially attracted you to the Park Scholarships program?

I was initially drawn to the Park Scholarships program because I saw it as an important part of the overall momentum building at North Carolina State in its pursuit of excellence.

3. Why do you continue to stay involved with our program?

I love being involved with the program because one can readily see the extraordinary, life-changing impact of the Park Scholarships program on its participants.

I have reviewed many applications and had the pleasure of conducting a number of interviews with Park Scholarships candidates. So, I’m familiar with the flow of students into the program. I have also had the pleasure to become acquainted with many Park alumni after their tenure at NC State.

So, I know the “before” and “after.” The Park alumni that I have met, to a person, are amongst the most upbeat, dynamic, successful, distinguished individuals one will ever encounter – particularly in terms of character.

4. What do you seek in a Park Scholar?

Most Park Scholarships applicants have great credentials. All other things being equal, I particularly seek applicants who have great positive energy and are game for challenges.

5. What advice would you give a high-schooler who is considering applying for the Park Scholarships program?

My advice to high-schoolers considering applying for the Park Scholarships program is to be fearless — fearless in opening up and showing your true personalities and fearless in setting out and clearly conveying your dreams and aspirations.

6. Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself, the Park Scholarships program, and/or your involvement with it?

The Park Scholarships program is unique and very special. The director and her team have created a real family atmosphere for everyone involved with the program. Every individual coming into the program is embraced with open arms. It’s a great life experience. To become a Park Scholar is truly a “forever” accomplishment.