Peter Rizzolo spent most of his life loving fiction from afar but only had the chance to write in one genre — prescriptions. As a doctor, he practiced family medicine in New Jersey before moving to North Carolina in 1978 and spending 19 years in the Department of Family Medicine at UNC.
But when he retired, he came to NC State to pursue creative writing, something he had wanted to do since he was a child.
“When I was in fifth grade, I had a friend who drew very well,” remembers Rizzolo, who graduated from NC State with a master’s degree in English in 1999. “We put together a comic book. It was a Dick Tracy knockoff.”
Rizzolo eventually moved past the comics to more adult themes, and he recently self-published his second novel called Forbidden Harvest. Rizzolo describes it as “a medical thriller” that takes its lead from his experiences working as a doctor.
“Medicine is such a privilege,” he says. “People come to you and tell you various intimate things. You don’t always get to tell all the stories because of doctor-patient confidentiality. But when you call it ‘fiction’…”
Forbidden Harvest deals with the subject of organ transplants. It’s something Rizzolo has wanted to write about for a long time. He had a childhood friend who died from a kidney ailment at the age of 14. A few years after his death, Rizzolo says doctors began performing organ transplants, and Rizzolo has always wondered how things might have turned out differently for his friend. “In a story where a boy needs a new heart,” he says of his novel, “you can make it turn out how you want.”
Rizzolo says that writing certainly brings along its share of difficulties, from finding a way to get started to staying with it and developing thick skin. But, he says, his new novel shows that writing is the perfect pursuit for someone who spent decades practicing family medicine.
“You tend to write about what you know. And medicine is a really funny combination. It’s part medicine and part being a good listener. It’s not always performing a major operation, and sometimes it’s doing the little things to help.
“That’s what this story is about.”
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Inspired by a beauty queen who co-founded a nonprofit to help impoverished communities in Africa, NC State’s Justin LeBlanc designed a fabric on Project Runway last night that incorporated the American Sign Language sign for “I love you.”
The judges liked the print, but weren’t crazy about the resulting floor-length gown, landing LeBlanc in the group of three with the lowest scores.
The drama was heightened by the fact that it appeared the judges planned a double-elimination. As the stock reality-show music played, one of the three was knocked off, leaving LeBlanc and another contestant standing alone on the runway. One would have to go.
Tick, tock, tick, tock — they seem to take forever to make these decisions — and then, with the words, “Justin, you’re in,” our College of Design assistant professor and graduate was declared safe.
Last night’s challenge began by requiring the contestants to design a fabric using an HP computer (a little product placement there) with an up-and-coming innovator as their inspiration.
LeBlanc was paired with Nana Meriwether, Miss USA 2012, whose Meriwether Foundation constructs schools, medical clinics and helps provide access to clean water in rural parts of Africa.
“She’s not what I expected,” LeBlanc said. He was moved by her altruism to create an abstract “I love you” sign on fabric in grey with a touch of red. The print became part of a fitted strapless gown that one judge called “hard to look at.” Not nearly as hard to look at as a strange-looking knee-length dress with poufy pleats that did the silhouette no favor. The designer of that dress was knocked off the show.
Now, with five contestants left, there’s only one more episode before the show’s finale.
— Sylvia Adcock ’81
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It seems like NC State has always been a part of the Bullard family. And the Bullard family has long been a part of NC State.
So it’s fitting that they will be honored at tomorrow’s football game against Central Michigan as NC State’s Family of the Year. The family will be honored between the third and fourth quarters as NC State celebrates Parents and Families Weekend.
The winning entry was submitted by Emily and Meredith Bullard, cousins from the Triangle who are both enrolled at NC State. Emily Bullard is a junior majoring in applied mathematics and Meredith Bullard is a freshman planning to major in civil engineering. Emily’s brother, Christopher Bullard, is a senior majoring in political science.
But they are simply the latest members of the Bullard family to study at NC State. Steve and Lisa Bullard (parents of Emily and Christopher) and Michael and Lisa Bullard (parents of Meredith) all graduated from NC State in the 1980s. (Yes, there are two Lisas.)
The Wolfpack family tree runs even further back in time, with Emily and Meredith noting in their winning essay that the first Bullard — Amos Gentry Bullard — graduated from NC State in 1930 before going on to earn a master’s degree at NC State in 1942. Amos’ son, A.G. Bullard Jr., graduated from NC State in 1956, and then went on to earn his master’s and doctorate in nuclear engineering from NC State.
Which brings us back to Steve (the son of A.G.) and Michael (the nephew of A.G.) and their wives, Lisa and Lisa, and then their children, Emily, Christopher and Meredith. It adds up to four generations of Bullards who have studied at NC State.
“As fourth generation Wolfpackers, Christopher, Emily and Meredith grew up in Wolfpack families and were constantly surrounded with traditions and role models that helped shape who they are today,” reads the winning essay.
“Each one grew up hearing the stories of their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents, going to NCSU football and basketball games, dressing up in Wolfpack t-shirts and cheerleading outfits, and learning by example what it means to really “bleed red.”
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Not long ago, the automobile ruled on Stinson Drive.
Students walking on Stinson, with its two-way traffic and parking on both sides of the street, had to compete with cars to get where they were going. “The sidewalks were really narrow,” says Lisa Johnson, university architect. “At class change, the street was overwhelmed.”
As part of the university’s effort in recent years to make the campus more pedestrian-friendly and establish a network of “campus paths,” Stinson—which runs roughly from Pullen Road to near Harrelson Hall—got a major facelift.
No more two-way traffic; today there’s only one lane for vehicular traffic. Parking on one side of the street was moved to another location (Johnson stresses that parking spots are never eliminated, just moved).
And most important, the narrow sidewalks have been replaced. On the north side of the street, the brick sidewalk is nearly as wide as the roadway. Most of the existing trees were left in place, and new landscaping was added.
The project was originally funded when Riddick, one of the buildings along the street, was being renovated. Now the corridor that runs between heavily used buildings like Broughton and Polk, Riddick and Daniels is a pleasant walk for students changing classes instead of an exercise in frustration.
—Sylvia Adcock ’81
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Lewis Worth Seagondollar, who witnessed the testing of the first atomic bomb as a scientist on the Manhattan Project before becoming head of the physics department at NC State, died in Raleigh on Friday. He was 92.
Seagondollar joined the faculty at NC State in 1965, serving as head of the physics department from 1965-75, and as a physics professor until his retirement in 1991. He had worked as a professor at the University of Kansas before coming to NC State.
Seagondollar began his career as one of the youngest scientists to work on the Manhattan Project to figure out how to create the first nuclear bombs as part of a secret arms race with Germany during World War II. He was part of a three-man team, known as the W Group, that did experiments at Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory that verified the critical mass of Plutonium 239, a fissionable material that is used to create a nuclear chain reaction and create a blast. As the team’s junior member, Seagondollar worked an overnight shift beginning at midnight, but also had the chance to encounter notable scientists such as J. Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi.
As part of his work on the Manhattan Project, Seagondollar was one of a handful of people who witnessed the first test explosion of an atomic bomb, at a bombing range south of Los Alamos, New Mexico. Seagondollar described the Trinity Test in a 2010 article in The News & Observer and in a 2007 speech at the American Center for Physics.
Seagondollar and other observers were stationed nine miles from the bomb site and, according to the story, told to look in the opposite direction of the blast. Seagondollar was wearing the darkest lenses he could find, the dark blue glass used by welders. But even with their backs turned, the assembled scientists were startled by what they witnessed.
“The amount of light that I saw there was the most intense light I have ever seen in my life, and I hope to God I never see another thing like that,” Seagondollar recalled in his 2007 speech. “There were mountains in the distance, and they actually seemed to mechanically jump forward.”
After counting to 15, Seagondollar turned to see the explosion. He initially thought he had forgotten to wear his dark glasses. “I was looking through the blue glass, but it was just pure white light coming through,” he said in the newspaper article.
Seagondollar described what he saw as “the proverbial mushroom cloud.” “It was not particularly loud, but it was heavy rolling thunder,” he said.
One of Seagondollar’s colleagues invited him to return to the site 30 days after the explosion to check on some experiments. Seagondollar said in his 2007 speech that he was struck by how small the hole from the blast was – about 30-40 feet wide. “Outside of that crater, though, it was really horrifying,” he recalled. “The desert floor had simply melted and was green glass. It had begun to break up into chunks about so big, and it was quite radioactive.”
An undated photo of Worth Seagondollar from his time at NC State. (Photo courtesy of Historical State, NCSU Libraries)
Years later, after giving a speech at NC State about his work on the Manhattan Project, Seagondollar was forced to confront the reality of how the atomic bomb had been used in Japan. During his speech, Seagondollar had said that the bombs had been effective and positive in bringing the war to an end. After he was finished speaking, Seagondollar noticed a member of the audience approaching him. It was a professor visiting from Japan, and he used his cane to whack one of his own legs. It made a hollow sound.
“He told me that he had lost his leg at Hiroshima, and that he agreed that what happened was beneficial to both the Americans and the Japanese,” Seagondollar recalled in the newspaper account.
Throughout his career, Seagondollar sought to support and honor other physicists. He was active in Sigma Pi Sigma, the national honor society for physics, including a stint as the organization’s president. In 1999, Sigma Pi Sigma established the Worth Seagondollar Service Award in recognition of outstanding service to the organization.
Seagondollar, who died peacefully in his sleep, had just celebrated his 71st wedding anniversary. He is survived by his wife, Winifred; their three children, Bryan, Laurie and Mark; and by four grandchildren and two great grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at a later date.
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Fans of the Seattle Seahawks made waves last week at CenturyLink Field when they helped set the Guinness World Record for the loudest stadium, reaching a level of 136. 6 decibels.
But such competitions measuring the clamoring and passion of fans have been around for a long time in sports. And on this day 60 years ago, Wolfpack fans gathered at Reynolds Coliseum took on UNC fans, who were rallying in Chapel Hill, in the epic State-Carolina cheer battle of 1953.
WPTF Radio aided in the contest, providing the hook-up between schools and recording the competition for a broadcast to an estimated 50,000 people. Each fan base was allotted two seven-minute periods in which their yelps, barks, shouts and screams were broadcast to the other group.
Though billed as a contest — we could find no actual claimed victor –the event was primarily used as a way to celebrate Consolidated University Day and to introduce Carey Bostian, the newly elected chancellor of NC State.
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As a kid growing up in Thomasville, N.C., Seth Hibbett never traveled north of West Virginia. But that’s not to say he wasn’t familiar with the terrain when he landed a job as a groundskeeper for the Boston Red Sox.
Hibbett knows baseball, having played regularly as a kid. And Hibbett, who graduated from NC State earlier this year with a degree in turfgrass science, understands what it takes to maintain the grounds for an athletic facility. Hibbett worked on the golf courses at Pinehurst Resort while he was in school at NC State, and had done an internship with the Red Sox.
“The big difference is a baseball field is an acre-and-a-half, two acres, tops, whereas a golf courses has 100s of acres of grass and turf and bunkers to maintain,” he asays. “A major league baseball fields involves a lot of fine-tuning of things.”
But, Hibbett says, “the basic principles are going to be about the same.”
Hibbett was surprised to see how small Fenway Park was when he first arrived in Boston. “It’s very personal,” he says. “It has a lot of history to it. It’s a very cool park.”
Hibbett’s duties range from mowing the grass in the outfield to fixing the dirt on the mound. But he spends the majority of his time – as much as 90 percent of his days – working on the dirt in the infield, around home plate and on the mound. “We are making sure that they are up to specifications and that the moisture is right,” he says.
Some pitchers, he says, ask them to make specific modifications to the mound on the days they pitch. But he says that they typically try to keep the field and the dirt the same from game to game.
Hibbett’s work is typically done before the game begins, with a part-time crew coming in to handle anything needed during the game. So Hibbett is often not there when the Red Sox play. When he does stick around, Hibbett sits along the first-base side about halfway down the line — a similar view to those in ground level seats at $200 a ticket.
“Seeing players that you’ve kind of known about your whole life, seeing them in person, it’s very surreal,” he says. “It’s pretty cool.”
Hibbett says he was not a fan of any particular team growing up as a kid, but that his loyalties are with the Red Sox now. And he likes their chances as the postseason approaches.
“I think the Red Sox will make a real shot at the World Series,” he says. “They have a deep, consistent roster and a solid rotation.”
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Caldwell Fellows and alumni came together in the Brickyard this weekend to turn scrap planks of plywood into a red lean-to for the 22nd annual Shack-a-Thon, a weeklong fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity of Wake County.
Beginning Monday, the shack became a temporary home for participating Caldwell Fellows. In addition to manning their shack during the day, the Fellows will take turns spending the night until the event ends at 5 p.m. Friday.
Julia Rao and Ryan O’Donnell pass time in the Caldwell Fellows’ shack.
Julia Rao, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, helped build the shack on Sunday and was one of the first to staff it on Monday.
“When we started we had absolutely no plan,” Rao says. “I’m impressed we were able to make it look this good.”
Ryan O’Donnell, a junior in business administration, joined Rao in the shack. Looking up from his Chinese homework, he mentioned that this year’s shack is slightly larger than those in previous years. “We’ll be able to fit more people in it, that’s for sure,” he says.
According to Shack-a-Thon rules, each organization’s shack must be manned by at least two students at all times and can be no larger than 12-by-12 feet.
Last year, the Fellows raised about $3,400 and placed third behind the first-place Poole College of Management and second-place College of Natural Resources. According to Summer Higdon, a senior in wildlife biology and leader of the Caldwell Fellows’ Shack-a-Thon effort, the group hopes to raise $4,000 this week through in-person and online donations.
In addition to collecting donations, the group will raffle off donated gift certificates and coupons from local restaurants.
Higdon says she plans on spending most of her free time in the shack this week. “Everyone seems really excited about it,” she says. “It’s more exciting when you can see it there and you think ‘oh I get to live in this shack, that’s really cool.’”
To contribute to Habitat for Humanity through the Caldwell Fellows, visit 2013ncsushack.kintera.org.
– Alex Sanchez
The Caldwell Fellows program is an intensive leadership-development scholarship program that was created by the Alumni Association to honor the legacy of Chancellor John T. Caldwell.
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Bill Barnhardt ’50 remembers playing on a YMCA basketball team when he was a kid in Charlotte, N.C., but his connection with the YMCA didn’t end there.
As a student at NC State, Barnhardt was a member of the cabinet of the campus YMCA, which at the time functioned as something of a student union. As a textile executive, Barnhardt continued to be involved in the YMCA, serving in leadership roles on the board of directors and board of trustees for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, and later as vice chairman of the YMCA of the USA.
Bill Barnhardt, far left, with fellow inductees.
This summer, Barnhardt was inducted into the YMCA Hall of Fame, making history by being one of the first volunteers to receive the national honor. (Another was John D. Rockefeller Jr., who was inducted posthumously.)
Barnhardt remembers receiving the letter informing him of the recognition. After reading that Rockefeller was one of the other inductees, “I laughed out loud,” he says. “It said he had given a million dollars. I said, ‘Well, I’m not giving a million dollars.’ I laughed and put the letter aside.”
Not long after that he got a phone call from Andy Calhoun, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, telling him he was going to be inducted at ceremony in Philadelphia.
“He’s a visionary guy,” Calhoun says. “We are the eighth-largest Y in the United States. I lay a lot of that at Bill’s feet. He inspired a lot of people to get involved.’’ In addition, Calhoun says, Barnhardt has a “pure servant’s heart….He does not crave recognition, but enjoys seeing things happen.”
Barnhardt says one of the accomplishments that he is most proud of is his work to rehabilitate the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly near Black Mountain, N.C. The facility was built in 1906 as a Christian conference center, but was plagued by financial problems and only operated during the summer. In 1968, Barnhardt spearheaded a $5 million capital campaign to expand the facility and renovate so it could operate as a year-round debt-free enterprise. Today it serves 30,000 guests annually.
“It’s been an interesting life,” Barnhardt says. “But the most interesting thing that’s happened to me was getting this award from the Y in front of 4,000 people.”
— Sylvia Adcock ’81
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NC State’s Justin LeBlanc is one step closer to the finale of Project Runway after designing a signature — literally — dress for a fan during last night’s challenge.
The designers on the reality show were each paired with one of the show’s fans, each of whom won a competition to appear on the show The fans got a makeover and a custom-made look, and the designers each got a chance to work with a so-called “real woman” (Let’s just say no one was a size 2.).
LeBlanc, an assistant professor at the College of Design, first asked his “client” to sign her autograph on a piece of paper. He then used machine-stitched embroidery to “autograph” a dark gray knee-length dress.
The fan who was assigned to LeBlanc is a Mormon and asked that her dress be modest, so he went with a simple scoop neck and three-quarter length sleeves. And the signature embroidery wrapped diagonally around the dress made it a design that was truly hers alone.
“I want it to be one of a kind, conceptual and modern,” LeBlanc said.
The judges were wowed, and LeBlanc ended up in one of the top three positions. (The winner was a dark blue strapless evening gown.) The original 16 contestants have been pared down to seven. In past seasons, the finale has featured the top three designers left.
LeBlanc made a brief appearance at the Park Alumni Center this morning to help give a presentation on Art2Wear to NC State’s Board of Trustees. In a brief interview, he wouldn’t give up any spoilers about what’s going to happen next.
But when asked about last night’s episode, he said it was “definitely my favorite.”
– Sylvia Adcock ’81
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