James Otis Terry Jr. ’96 says his parents taught him he didn’t need to swear to make his point. So, when he began to write music in 1995, Terry took that message to heart.
Terry, who is known as J.O.T. to his fans, has been pursuing his passion for music while also championing family values since graduating from NC State. Terry, a native of Winston-Salem, N.C., incorporates clean lyrics into his music that promote the acceptance of others’ individuality.
As a rap artist, Terry provides a clean alternative “to offer another opinion” on the widespread use of vulgarity in rap music.
Terry’s musical exploration started when he worked as a disc jockey in high school and at NC State. Terry says he has always felt need to disassemble stereotypes.
“I DJ’ed parties for fraternities and sororities” Terry says. “When I DJ’ed for the black fraternities, I played rap, but when I DJ’ed at the white fraternities, I played rock. People were surprised I would do both.”
After retiring the turntables, Terry began a new venture — music production. He started his own record label, J.O.T. Records, to release his music.
“I wanted that creative freedom to put out music the way I wanted and how I wanted it to sound,” Terry says. This choice also allowed him the freedom to incorporate Spanish lyrics into his music as well. By creating a bilingual album, he hoped to bring the Spanish community into his fan base and pay tribute to his Spanish-speaking peers.
Full control brought full responsibility, though. “I had to wear multiple hats — I had to be a pro at everything — promotions, street team, recorder, producer and musician,” he says.
Eight albums and four CD singles later, Terry has mastered the art.
Terry says his background at NC State influenced his work — he describes the university as “the backbone of North Carolina” — and noted that he continues to get support from his alma mater when his music airs on NC State’s student-run radio station, WKNC.
– Jeannene Lang
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There is always more than one way to solve a problem. Lynn Ennis, who was an associate director of the Gregg Museum, stressed this to the students in her Creativity in Business classes at NC State.
A group of five students from the 2009 MBA class, who took her course on creativity in business, used everything Ennis taught them to come up with a way to honor her after she died suddenly last July.
The group was talking about having a class reunion when they heard they news that Ennis had died. Shocked and saddened, they started brainstorming ideas to turn the reunion into something that would honor Ennis, and give back to something she was passionate about.
“She understood the importance of giving back,” says Kevin Idahor, who got to know Ennis on a more personal level during a service trip to New Orleans. Idahor planned the trip, and Ennis jumped at the chance to sponsor him.
Karen Bell, one of the 2009 graduates, had just become a runner, and suggested some members of the class get together and go running. That led, Jorge Parejas, a member of the class, to suggest they do a 5k in her honor. Everyone agreed, and the planning for the MBA Wolfpack Run began.
Just like Ennis taught them, the former students used their creativity when planning meetings. The group of five is spread throughout four different cities in the United States, which could have been a problem when they all needed to talk together about the plans. The distance has not hindered anything at all, and they frequently talk through Skype and phone conferences.
Planning the event has not only tested the group’s creativity, it has put their business administration skills to the test. There are a lot of things going on when managing an event,” Bell says. “ We’re fortunate for the sponsors we have.”
The Alumni Association, the Poole College of Management, and the Gregg Museum are a few of the organizations sponsoring the event.
All of the proceeds from the event will go to the Gregg Museum. The class knew Ennis was involved with the renovation process the museum is currently going through, and they wanted to donate the proceeds to it in her name.
“It would be a way for her to have her stamp on the process, and our way of making sure she had a part of seeing that final project come to completion,” says Idahor.
The MBA Wolfpack Run will be held on Saturday, March 3, starting and ending at the Dorothy and Roy Park Alumni Center on Centennial Campus.
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One current student and one alumna will make their way to New York this week to present their research on women’s issues to the United Nations. The pair will represent WomenNC.org, a nonprofit organization that formed out of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Becca Bishopric ’11 and Anuja Acharya, who will graduate in May with a degree in political science, were fellows the past year with WomenNC.org. They each spent time researching a topic dealing with rural women in North Carolina and wrote a paper on those findings.
This week, they will spend a few days attending U.N. workshops and seminars covering issues affecting rural women around the world. On Thursday, they will present their findings.
“In the past, there’s actually not a whole lot of youth going to this conference,” says Bishopric, who worked as a student at NC State to combat violence against women. “Part of what WomenNC is trying to do is to show that there can be young faces at these conferences. There are people who’ve been there who don’t necessarily have the same perspective as young people do in our world today.”
Bishopric, who has an interest in global public health, focused her research on human sex trafficking in North Carolina. She says research shows there are more slaves in the world today than ever recorded in human history and that the problem extends to North Carolina, where there are large proportions of homeless youth in rural counties.
It’s an issue, she says, that has gone ignored. “Nobody knows about it and nobody wants to talk about it,” she says. “But it really hit home to me that this is a huge problem.”
Acharya, who first gained an interest in politics in high school when she read George Orwell’s 1984, researched political involvement of North Carolina rural women. She interviewed several women who had served, who are serving or who had run for state office.
One common response was that those women said they didn’t necessarily have political role models. And it had never occurred to some to even run for public office until a specific issue, like education, personally affected them. “The had issues they held some connection to,” Acharya says. “They had a strong sense of purpose.”
Both women will be blogging about their experience this week for WomenNC.org. The organization selects four to five fellows each year who research issues the U.N. finds itself dealing with. Past issues have dealt with gender equality in Beijing, China, and women’s access to education, science and technology around the globe.
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More than 100 NC State alumni, friends and prospective students gathered along the North Carolina coast last night to visit with Chancellor Randy Woodson.
Woodson is visiting Dare and Beaufort counties this week to meet with NC State alumni and local business leaders and talk about ways that NC State can and does help boost the local economy. Woodson also took time Thursday evening to meet with some local high school students who are considering going to college at NC State.
Bobby Purcell, executive director of the Wolfpack Club, and Louis Martin-Vega, dean of the College of Engineering, joined Woodson Thursday evening for a reception at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head.
Woodson is continuing his visit today with a trip through Beaufort County, ending with an oyster roast with area alumni at the home of Lalla and Forest Sidbury. Lalla Sidbury is a member of the Alumni Association’s board of directors.
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Photo by Richard Mitchell.
Win Bassett ’07 doesn’t brew much beer himself, but he does have a trait required for his new position as executive director of the North Carolina Brewers Guild, a nonprofit organization made up of artisan brewers, vendors and retailers.
“I’m happy drinking other people’s beer,” he says.
A former patent lawyer and assistant district attorney in Wake County, Bassett took over his new position for the guild last week. Instead of sitting behind a desk drowning himself in legalese, he now travels around the state, representing 58 breweries and their interests.
As he rattles off his list of things he wants to accomplish for the guild, it’s evident Bassett won’t be able to abandon his taste for law. Many of those breweries’ interests are legislative in nature.
For instance, Bassett says he’s committed to passage of the Small BREW Act, which now awaits a vote by both houses of Congress. (He wrote an editorial on the matter in The News & Observer.) Bassett says the act would cut by 50 percent the excise tax rate on small U.S. breweries on their first 60,000 barrels of beer sold each year.
Bassett says he would also like to see North Carolina adopt “more friendly beer laws” that would allow brewers to invest more money in their operations, hire more employees, purchase new equipment and pay for their employees’ benefits.
Bassett, who was a Park Scholar and engineering student at NC State, isn’t a registered lobbyist. He’s just a 26-year-old who’s passionate about beer. That passion came about when he tasted his first craft beer, a Rogue Dead Guy Ale, at trivia night in Tyler’s Tap Room in Carrboro, N.C., when he was in law school.
“Previously, I’d been turned off by beer,” he says, “but I tasted it and was like, ‘So this is what I’ve been missing.’”
Bassett began writing about beer and brewing issues — even starting his own beer blog, NCBrewing.org. He also serves as education coordinator and a writer for All About Beer Magazine.
Bassett says it’s a great time to have so much of his professional life tied to the craft brewing industry, which has been thriving despite the difficult economic times. “It’s about the community, the people behind the beer,” Bassett says. “Every beer has a good story.”
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Chancellor Randy Woodson is visiting Beaufort and Dare counties in eastern North Carolina today and Friday to talk with alumni and business leaders about ways that NC State bolsters the economy of the area and possible partnerships for the future.
The trip, arranged by the Alumni Association, will include visits to the Coastal Studies Institute in Manteo, the PCS Phosphate mining facility in Aurora and the North Carolina Estuarium in Washington.
The trip will culminate in an Alumni Oyster Roast at the home of Lalla and Forest Sidbury in Beaufort County. The local alumni network had the greatest percentage increase in members among Alumni Association networks last year.
Woodson will spend his time today exploring Dare County, starting with a luncheon meeting with local Chamber of Commerce members at Pamlico Jack’s restaurant in Nags Head. The day will end with an alumni reception at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head.
Bob Woody, a 1967 NC State grad, is owner of the White Doe Inn in Manteo where Woodson will stay tonight. Woody spent time on Wednesday decorating the inn with NC State banners and memorabilia. “We’re pretty much dyed-in-the-wool NC State fans here at the Inn,” Woody says.
Woody says it is important for the chancellor at NC State to be familiar with what’s going on throughout the state, but said that people in Dare County are particularly proud about some of the ways NC State has helped the economy there. Some of the more familiar connections are in well-known industries such as commercial fishing, but Woody says many don’t realize that the College of Design has helped develop long-range plans for the town of Manteo.
“Tourism is a big economic driver down here, so I’m sure that the folks who are going to show him around are going to be make sure he becomes familiar with how we approach the tourism economy,” Woody says.
On Friday, Woodson will visit Beaufort County. Lentz Stowe, a 1983 NC State grad and director of the Small Business Center at Beaufort County Community College, says it means a lot to a small county to get a visit from the chancellor of the state’s largest university.
“From an economic development standpoint, that excites folks,” Stowe says. “Being from a rural setting like this, we need all the help we can get.”
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Life has been something of a whirlwind for David Merritt ’94 since the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl earlier this month.
Merritt, a former linebacker at NC State, is an assistant coach for the Giants, with responsibility for the defensive secondary. So it was his guys — the cornerbacks and safeties — who were on the line when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tossed a last-ditch “Hail Mary” pass into the end zone as the final seconds of the game ticked away. When the ball hit the ground, incomplete, and the Giants’ victory was assured, Merritt hugged one of the other coaches working with him in the press box and then made his way to the field to find his wife, Yolanda Merritt ’94, and their children.
It was Merritt’s second Super Bowl championship with the Giants, both of them against the Patriots. Merritt said the latest one was the sweetest because of how the Giants rallied from a 7-7 record to win the final two games of the regular season just to get into the playoffs.
“We got healthy at the right time,” Merritt says. “And the guys started trusting one another. They were determined not to lose the games. Sometimes it may not be your ability. It may be that you were more persistent than the other guy.”
Since that win, Merritt says there has been little time to catch his breath. The coaches were given 10 days off, but Merritt was back at work on Tuesday. He was getting ready to return to Indianapolis this week for the college scouting combine and has already been assigned a list of free-agent players to study and grade. “Our next season started today at 7:30 a.m.,” he says.
But Merritt took some time on Tuesday to talk about the Super Bowl and his career in coaching. Merritt got into coaching, first at the college level, after playing in the NFL for a few years. He says that two of his coaches at NC State, defensive coordinator Buddy Green ’76 and linebackers coach Ken Pettus, served as role models when he became a coach.
“I really liked the fact that Dick Sheridan and his staff treated us like men,” Merritt says. “At the same time, they were like father figures to us. You have to reach these young men with more than x’s and o’s.”
Merritt worked his way up to the NFL, initially as a coach for the New York Jets. After three years there, he joined the Giants in 2004. Merritt says there is little difference in his approach to coaching college players and professionals.
“The teaching I was doing back then is the same teaching I’m doing today in the pros,” he says. “You have to start from ground one.”
Merritt spent most of his years coaching linebacker, a position he was familiar with from his playing days. But in 2006, Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin approached him about coaching the team’s defensive backs and safeties. “I had always told my wife I would never coach defensive backs,” Merritt says. “I don’t want anyone to see me when I screw these players up.”
Merritt told Coughlin that he wasn’t familiar with defensive backs, but Coughlin was persistent. “He said, ‘I know a good coach when I see one,’” Merritt recalls. “That was it. From that point on, I started finding every defensive back coach I knew, and conducted my own interviews. I learned as much as I could from film study and from talking to former NFL players.”
The Giants appreciate Merritt’s ability to get the most of his players, whether they be long-time stars or rookie free agents simply trying to land a spot on the roster. “I make sure that I teach them the basics,” he says. “Once you teach them the fundamentals, you can make a free agent or a high-draft pick look like he’s been playing for years.”
Merrill says the Giants approached the Super Bowl much like they would any other game. But he acknowledged being nervous about preparing his defensive backs to go up against Tom Brady and his talented receivers and tight ends. He says he still gets nervous watching tape of the game, even knowing the final result.
“It’s a nerve-wracking challenge,” he says. “You look at Tom Brady and you know what he can do with a football in his hands. He understands coverages and he can get the ball out of his hand.”
But Merritt told his players before the game that the only player who could defeat them in the Super Bowl was themselves. “You guys are prepared, you know what you’re doing, so I expect you to go out and execute,” he says he told them.
And as for that Hail Mary? Merritt says they practice defending that play every week during the season, but that one of his players made a mistake by not blocking out Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was almost able to grab the ball before it hit the ground. But Merritt says he can use video of that when his players return in the fall.
“It’s a tremendous learning tool,” he says, “one that I will probably use for the rest of my career.”
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Photo by Peter Hutson.
President Barack Obama will deliver remarks tomorrow at the groundbreaking ceremony for the latest Smithsonian project, one that is being designed by a team led by architect Phil Freelon ’75.
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture will be the first national museum solely dedicated to chronicling and celebrating African-American history and culture. It’s a $500-million project that is set to be completed in 2015.
Construction starts this winter on the site, which is one of the last building sites on the National Mall, between the Washington Monument and the National Museum of American History. The NMAAHC will also be the first green building on the National Mall.
We profiled Freelon in our Autumn 2011 issue. He leads the 32-consultant team of Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup on the Smithsonian project. He talked extensively about the NMAAHC’s design and its influence.
The building will extend upward into the sky, looking like a three-tiered crown. The concept originates in Yoruban art and architecture, and the angles of the corona match the 17-and-a-half degree angle on the capstone of the Washington Monument.
And although he believes the project is his pinnacle, Freelon said he still has much more to do. “I’m in here not to get to a certain destination, but to make sure the journey and the path is a meaningful one and that at the end of the day, we’ve made a positive impact,” he said.
His firm, The Freelon Group, which is based in Durham, N.C., is also working on the new Gregg Museum of Art & Design, slated to open in 2014 in the chancellor’s residence on Hillsborough Street.
Freelon said in the article that such projects fall in line with his professional philosophy. “We have a standard that says the building should contribute positively to the community in which it’s built,” he said. “In our measure libraries, museums and educational buildings do that. And prisons and strip shopping centers don’t.”
An exhibit celebrating Freelon’s designs opened earlier this month at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. It will be open until April.
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The NC State Police Department will host the 7th annual Polar Plunge and 4th annual Torch Run 5k on Saturday, Feb. 25, to benefit the North Carolina Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.
Anyone who wants to participate in the Polar Plunge is invited to dive into the chilly waters of Lake Raleigh, on Centennial Campus. For those less enthused about the icy water, there will be a Plunge Festival, which includes music, prizes, raffles, a bake sale, homemade goods and more.
The 5k runners are welcome to use the plunge as a cool down, or just participate in the run and enjoy the festivities.
The minimum donation to plunge is $50.00, and plungers will receive a free long-sleeved t-shirt.
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Many fans and alumni wrote emails to the Alumni Association over the last year expressing their desire that South Carolina offer a Wolfpack specialized license plate. Those fans don’t have to wait any longer as the Alumni Association has worked out a deal with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles to start offering that plate by early April.
The plates will be available on the South Carolina DMV’s website. Each will sport a red-and-white design, the famous block-S and the letters “PK” for “Pack.” (“WP” was already taken for West Point’s plates.)
The charge will be $70 for an individual to have the plate for two years, and the profits will go to the Alumni Association as revenue to promote and support the university.
The Alumni Association paid an up-front cost of $4,000 for the option to be introduced. That cost allowed the Alumni Association to expedite the process and avoid having to secure 400 orders before finalizing a deal. The Alumni Association estimates that it should make back the start-up costs after selling around 70 plates. That should be no problem with about 5,500 alumni residing in the Palmetto State.
“As soon at they print them, I’m hopefully going to send in my orders and get the first and second plates printed for my cars,” says Brian Scott, a resident of Duncan, S.C., who was raised a rabid Wolfpack fan.
Scott says he was tired of driving around and seeing the specialized plates of other schools, like Ohio State, Georgia Tech and even UNC, taunting him through his windshield.
“As soon as they make it official,” he says, “then I’ll send in my order.”
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