Ally Amavisca has been fascinated with marine science for most of her life.
Amavisca, who studied marine and coastal resources as a student at NC State, works now as a marine science educator. She leads two programs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California.
“I really liked teaching, so I moved to California and started doing education,” Amavisca says.
After graduating from NC State in 2004, Amavisca took a year off before starting law school at UNC. During that time she was also a marine science technician with the U.S. Coast Guard, where she primarily worked with oil spills. She worked for an environmental law firm, but soon decided that education was what she really wanted to do.
“I missed being outdoors,” Amavisca says. “I decided that maybe I didn’t want to do law.”
At the aquarium, Amavisca works with teens in the Student Oceanography Club and the Teen Conservation Leadership program.
The Student Oceanography Club is more-science oriented and allows students to come in and do experiments, hear talks from local scientists, and create conservation projects of their own. The Teen Conservation Leadership program focuses on students learning marine science and leadership through volunteering. These high school students learn leadership skills through activities such as helping families in the touch pools at the aquarium and teaching children how to properly handle the animals.
“It gives me the opportunity to inspire them and teach them to care about the ocean and the environment,” Amavisca says.
Teaching through the programs at the aquarium are not the only ways Amavisca has gotten into education. She gives talks every year to different groups about the importance of oil spill science that she learned about during her time with the Coast Guard.
She also spent three years at the Phoenix Zoo as a programs coordinator and had an opportunity as a part of the Grosvner Teacher Fellow Program with National Geographic to travel to the Arctic Circle and give talks aboard the National Geographic Explorer to other guests.
“I was the only non-formal educator, and I was super privileged to get that experience,” Amavisca says.
The favorite part of her job at the aquarium is working with the kids from the Teen Conservation Leadership program to build confidence and leadership skills.
“It’s so awesome to see the kid at the beginning of the summer who is really shy and unsure of themselves,” Amavisca says. “And then two months later, you see them blossom and have interactions with a family of four and they’re teaching the little kids about the animals.”
Few writers are as celebrated for cutting to the core of writing about the South as Flannery O’Connor. The novels and short story collections she released throughout the 1950s and ’60s, like Wise Blood and A Good Man Is Hard to Find, are hailed as masterpieces for their narratives decorated with Southern Gothic gold and are pretty much required reading in any college introductory literature course.
And on this day in 1962, O’Connor brought her weird Southern world to campus, delivering a lecture on the famed trait she assigned many of her protagonists — “the grotesque.” She appeared as a part of the Contemporary Scene Series.
The Savannah, Ga., native used grotesque trait to underscore how certain characters didn’t fit into the settings about which she wrote. “The grotesque in Southern Literature,” she told the College Union crowd, “stems from the fact that the Southerner is still able to recognize freaks.”
An article in The Technician reported that O’Connor went on to link the South’s recognition of freaks with the region’s emphasis on religion. “Where there is theological thought, she stated, there is more motivation to describe a situation than explain it,” the newspaper reported.
But whereas many of her characters’ grotesqueness prevented them from accepting certain truths about themselves and alienated them from the rest of society in her stories, O’Connor held steadfast to the notion that American literature needed more of them.
“She also expressed the worry,” The Technician reported, ”that in twenty years the South will stop having its grotesque characters and will be filled with men in grey flannel suits.”
O’Connor died two years later as a result of complications from lupus.
Mital Patel always knew he wanted to pursue a career in technology. But the 2005 computer science graduate didn’t know that idea would lead him to a different field of study.
Patel helps local businesses from the ground up at his boutique business law firm in Raleigh. He says he first gained an interest in law while he was on an Alternative Service Break trip to Ecuador during his time at NC State.
“We were doing a reflection on the trip, and I realized I wanted to do something to help other people,” Patel says.
Patel, 30, decided that that “something” was to help small businesses with legal advice, so he attended Elon University School of Law, where he graduated in 2009. Shortly after graduating, he started his law firm, Triangle Business Law, in Raleigh.
Patel jokes that he didn’t want to be too far away from NC State football and basketball. But his main reason for not straying was the technology and startup business he saw growing in Raleigh.
That caused him to want to get involved with the entrepreneurship side of business law. “We always want to be entrepreneurial with the law firm itself,” Patel says. “Providing legal services to growing companies is very different than dealing with companies that aren’t entrepreneurial.”
Some of the areas which Triangle Business Law focuses on are contract review and negotiation, incorporation, and intellectual property law. Having a background in technology has been extremely helpful for Patel when it comes to his clients who are technology or software companies because it allows him to fully understand what they are trying to do with their business.
“We really try to provide the full spectrum for the small companies that just got started yesterday to clients we have that are multinational corporations and have offices all across the world,” Patel says.
Business law is not the only way that Patel is involved in entrepreurship. He is also a leader in Startup North Carolina and many Startup Weekends, seminars that can help new businesses grow, throughout the state. He has traveled all over the world to present at entrepreneurship workshops and even presented on entrepreneurship at the White House in 2013.
“We learned a lot about the way the rest of the world is approaching entrepreneurship,” Patel says, “and we learned a lot of unique points that we took back with us to North Carolina to apply those principles at home and make the best community we can.”
Jason Jefferies grew up finding a story anywhere he could. He consumed comic books daily and saw video games as storytelling devices. That led him to study English and literature. He fell in love with the works of authors such as James Joyce and T.S. Eliot, appreciating the authors as people and reading about their lives.
Jason Jefferies promotes the 2014 N.C. Literary Festival at a radio station.
So it makes complete sense that Jefferies, a former library supervisor at NC State who earned a master’s degree in English in 2008, has a job that’s all about his love of authors.
He’s the programming coordinator for the 2014 N.C. Literary Festival, which kicks off today and runs until Sunday at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on Centennial Campus.
Jefferies, 33, says that his job consists of securing authors, developing the programs, raising money, handling the press and managing volunteers.
And he is most proud of this year’s festival location: the Hunt Library. In fact, when the festival, which rotates between Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina Central and NC State, was set to come to Raleigh after the 2009 event, organizers postponed it until this year when they knew that the Hunt Library would be open and ready to take center stage.
“The best part of the job is really just coming back to the campus where I received my master’s degree,” says Jefferies. “I’ve been able to work very closely with the creative writing program.”
So how did he decide to bring in literary heavyweights such as Richard Ford and Junot Diaz? You might say Jefferies figured out what was “socially” acceptable. He conducted social media polls and talked to local booksellers.
The choices he made were good ones. The response to the festival has been outstanding and underscores that there are more readers than ever out there.
“Society is more literate,” Jefferies says. “People are reading blogs. And they’re reading and writing more than they were 20 years ago. With the Kindle and other devices, folks are buying books that they normally wouldn’t have.”
There was a bit of a problem with spelling, but then maybe the writer was just hungry.
On this day in 1974, the Technician had a front-page story announcing that “Roy Kroc” (His first name was actually Ray), was bringing his famous McDonald’s hamburgers to NC State. (In the story, it was spelled “MacDonald’s.”)
The story said that a McDonald’s franchise was scheduled to open in the Student Center in the fall. The hamburger chain, with its Big Macs and Quarter Pounders, would replaced a snack bar and deli that were on the first floor of the student center.
The deal called for University Food Services to get 15 percent of the revenue and Kroc pledged to hire students when possible.
Augustus Witherspoon was a pioneer at NC State. He was the second African-American to earn a Ph.D. from NC State (he also earned a master’s at NC State) and the first African-American professor (of botany) to work at the university. He would later go on to become associate dean of the graduate school and the associate provost for African-American affairs.
So it was fitting that on this day in 1995, the Student Center Annex was renamed the Witherspoon Student Center in honor of Witherspoon.
“He was like a father figure to many students,” Tracey Avery, president of the student center, said in a story in the Technician. “He served as an inspiration for the future generation.”
The Witherspoon Student Center was built in 1990, and initially provided offices for student government and campus publications. It now houses the NC State African American Cultural Center.
Even if you don’t find math the most engaging topic, it’s hard not to appreciate how NC State alumnus Robert Allison uses math to make interactive maps.
With the recent mystery of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, many people have taken an interest in airplane disappearances. Allison has been interested in airplanes since he was a child because his father was a pilot in the Navy.
Allison, who earned his undergraduate (1987), masters (1990) and doctoral (1996) degrees at NC State, has worked with visual analytics at SAS for over 20 years. He recently developed an interactive map that shows the major unexplained airplane disappearances since 1948.
“NC State is where I learned how to do the graphics and use the SAS software and mapping techniques,” says Allison, who lives in Cary, N.C.
The interactive map he made was based off of one he found while researching the missing airplane on Bloomberg’s website. By downloading a spreadsheet of data from the Aviation Safety Network and using the SAS programming language, he created a new map that contained much more information than the original.
“My goal was just to find a map that I like and make a better version of it,” Allison says. “It’s easy to understand and easy to use.”
Allison focuses on making simple graphics that maximize efficiency. With the map he has created of missing airplanes, researchers could see if there are any trends of which airports these airplanes took off from or make more detailed data sets related to pilot experience or other factors that could have led to these lost airplanes.
“We could potentially utilize some of SAS’ analytic capabilities to help find the missing plane,” he says. “For example, they found 122 pieces of debris in satellite photos that might be from the missing plane – we could use SAS/OR (Operations Research) to optimize the order in which they investigate these 122 pieces, so that they do that in the shortest distance & time.”
Making maps is not new for Allison, but he still enjoys making them for their interactivity and potential for data analysis. Allison has created hundreds of maps and graphics, including maps that track the flu epidemic in California, show the debris from a space shuttle explosion and track iPhone versus Android phone usage by state.
“I’m currently working on a map to try to show all the known information about the missing Flight 370 on one single map,” Allison says.
These maps have the potential to help solve the mystery behind missing airplanes. Allison hopes that future efforts will be made with SAS technology to further this research and find out why some of these disappearances happen.
Student disenchantment with U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was typically most visible through protests staged on college campuses. But anti-war sentiment could also be seen in a decrease in the number of students who took part in ROTC.
That was certainly true at NC State. On this day in 1971, the Technician reported that enrollment in ROTC programs at NC State had dropped significantly from the previous year. Col. William Boylston, who was in charge of Army ROTC at NC State, said enrollment was down 15-20 percent from the previous year. Col. O.T. Reeves, head of Air Force ROTC, also said enrollment was down (although he did not provide specific numbers).
Boylston and Reeves attributed the drop to an anti-military feeling on college campuses, although they indicated that those feelings may not have been as deep at NC State.
“We are a very obvious target because of Vietnam,” Boylston said. “It has some influence here at State, although there is not a great anti-military feeling here. We can’t say for sure how much influence it has had.”
Chris Wimberley spent his childhood dreaming up songs in his head.
And though he didn’t go on to win a Grammy, he now helps artists get their own songs out of their heads and recorded for anyone to listen to as a producer and mixing engineer at Carrboro’s Nightsound Studios. He opened the studio in 2001.
“I’ve been writing songs since I was seven, and having greater control over those songs was originally something I wanted to do for me, but I get just as much, if not more, from helping other people with their songs,” says Wimberley, who graduated from NC State with an arts application degree in 2000.
During college, Wimberley had an apprenticeship at a local recording studio in Raleigh. He also had a mentor, Rodney Waschka, an NC State music professor, who became one of Wimberley’s first clients at Nightsound Studios.
Some larger music recording studios tend to be expensive, and sometimes artists do not get the personal attention they crave. But at Nightsound, Wimberley, 37, has created a place to redefine the music studios of the past and make them more community-based and affordable for anyone who wants to record a song.
“Nightsound has a creative atmosphere, and it’s a community resource,” Wimberley says. “We’re able to accommodate all of these very talented clients from all different kinds of music.”
Wimberley said that the studio has as many as five clients in one day. Musicians recording their music at Nightsound are of various experience levels and have different goals for their music. The staff members at Nightsound help with every step in the process to make sure that the song each client composes is recorded just like they want it.
Engineer Geneva Walata , left, and producer/ engineer Chris Wimberley, right.
“This place is really accepting and open to everyone,” says Geneva Walata, an apprentice at Nightsound and sophomore at NC State.
The variety of genres recorded at Nightsound make for a diverse culture within the studio. This diversity was a primary factor when Wimberley chose Carrboro for the location. “This town is one of the most artistic, creative, twilight-zone wonderlands that you could have an artistic business in,” Wimberley says. “ It’s just perfect for that stuff.”
Some of the artists who have worked with Nightsound are Morning Brigade, Davis Coen, Future Kings of Nowhere and Chase Rice – all from different genres, ranging from country to indie rock. “Expanding and redefining what a recording studio is for all these diverse and talented artists is still a challenge,” says Wimberley, “but it’s definitely a job that I love.”
One of the more scandalous would-be visitors in NC State’s history was Playboy model June Wilkinson. The pin-up girl was set to appear on campus in 1962, but the appearance was axed on this day 52 years ago.
The reason why was never totally revealed. According to The Technician, Wilkinson’s appearance was canceled due to one of two reasons. Either school administrators feared she would create too much “havoc” with the anticipated number of young men that would come to see her, or there simply was not room given that Gov. Terry Sanford was scheduled to appear on the same day.
Some even implied it might have been a matter of one not measuring up to the other. “June Wilkinson, allegedly 42-21-39 (?), lost the chance to appear on the State College campus Saturday to Governor Sanford (measurements unknown),” read the lead in The Technician‘s article about Wilkinson’s failed appearance.
However, Wilkinson kept her promise to appear and showed up at the Western Lanes bowling alley for autographs the following Saturday.