Alumni Spotlight Category
NC State University, the Wolfpack Club and the Alumni Association will recognize some of NC State’s greatest stars tonight at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C., honoring 18 alumni and friends of the university for their professional and personal accomplishments and their continuing support of NC State, the Wolfpack Club and the Alumni Association.
The honorees at the 9th Annual NC State Evening of Stars are:
COLLEGE DISTINGUISHED AWARD RECIPIENTS
Tommy Bunn ‘66, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Bunn, president of the U.S. Tobacco Cooperative, has spent more than 45 years in the tobacco industry. He got his start growing tobacco on his family farm, then went on to work for 21 years as executive vice president of the Leaf Tobacco Exporters Association and the Tobacco Association of the United States. He also worked in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the N.C. Department of Agriculture, and was a charter member and chairman of the Golden Leaf Foundation Board of Directors.
Charlie Stuber ‘65 PhD, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: For more than 35 years, Stuber held a joint appointment as a genetics professor at NC State and a research geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. Stuber then came out of retirement to return to NC State in 2006 to develop and direct the Center for Plant Breeding and Applied Plant Genomics. The USDA Agricultural Research Service named him the Outstanding Scientist of the Year in 1989 and inducted Stuber into their Science Hall of Fame in 1989.
Steven Schuster ‘73, College of Design: Schuster is the founding principal of Clearscapes, a full-service architectural design firm in Raleigh. Under Schuster’s leadership, Clearscapes has been recognized with more than 75 design awards and worked on such notable projects as the Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, the Haw River Ball Room, the Raleigh Convention Center and the Contemporary Art Museum. Schuster is also a national leader in the historic preservation community. He serves on the Board of Visitors at NC State.
Robert Bridges ‘70 MED, College of Education: Bridges taught sixth grade and then high school in Wake County before becoming principal at Crosby-Garfield Elementary School. He then went on to work in Wake County’s central office as a director, assistant superintendent and deputy superintendent before becoming the superintendent in 1984. After five years leading the state’s second largest public school system, Bridges went on to become provost at St. Augustine College in Raleigh, and then worked as an education and management consultant and chaired the N.C. Advisory Commission on Raising Achievement and Closing Gaps.
Stephen Angel, ‘77, College of Engineering: Angel is chair, president and CEO of Praxair, Inc., a Fortune 300 company that ranks as the largest industrial gases producer and distributor in North and South America, with sales of $11 billion in 2011. Before joining Praxair, Angel spent more than two decades at GE, most recently as general manager of the company’s $2 billion power equipment business. He serves on the board of directors of the U.S.-China Business Council and PPG Industries, and is a member of the Business Roundtable, the Business Council and the U.S.-Brazil Forum.
Jimmy Clark ‘74, College of Engineering: Clark is the owner and president of Guy M. Turner, Inc., a diversified company that is a leader in the handling and moving of the heaviest equipment in the fields of rigging, machine tool installation, crane services and specialized transportation. The company has 12 offices in the United States and Canada. Clark serves on the NC State Board of Trustees, as well as on the board of directors for the NC State Alumni Association and the Engineering Foundation. He previously chaired the NC State Board of Visitors.
John Edmond ‘87, College of Engineering: While earning his PhD in material sciences and engineering, Edmond teamed with other graduate students and young faculty on some promising silicon carbide research. Upon graduation, the group co-founded what became CREE Inc., one of the world’s top LED manufacturers. Today, Edmond is director of advanced optoelectronics for the Durham-based company, which makes energy-efficient LED lights, lighting components and semiconductor products.
Susan Warren Rabon ‘82, College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Rabon is a member of the N.C. Utilities Commission, which regulates the rates and services of all of the state’s public utilities. Rabon, who received her law degree from the University of Virginia, has also worked as a clerk in the N.C. Court of Appeals, as special counsel and then chief of staff for the N.C. Department of Justice, and senior assistant for administration in the office of the governor. She has previously served on the NC State Board of Visitors.
Kevin Beasley ‘79, Poole College of Management: Beasley, a CPA, is a partner-in-charge of tax practice at the Raleigh office of Grant Thornton, one of the Big Six international accounting firms. He previously worked at Arthur Anderson, where he rose to the position of partner and earned a spot in the inaugural class of the NC State Accounting Hall of Fame.
Ray Tanner ‘80, College of Natural Resources: Tanner, a former All-ACC baseball player at NC State, was named athletics director for the University of South Carolina last year after spending 25 years as a collegiate head baseball coach, including nine years as the head coach at NC State. Under Tanner’s direction, the baseball team at South Carolina won two NCAA Division I Baseball Championships and made six appearances in the College World Series. Tanner has been named National Coach of the Year three times.
Sung Won Lee, ‘60 MS, ‘67 PhD, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences: After earning his graduate degrees at NC State, Lee returned to his native South Korea to lead the S-Oil Corporation to success as the third largest oil refinery in Korea. He also served as chairman of two South Korean chemical companies. But his passion is downhill skiing, and his family built Korea’s oldest and largest ski and snowboard resort, which will host alpine skiing events for the 2018 Winter Olympics and 2018 Winter Paralympics. Lee is founder and president of the Asian Ski Federation, former vice president of the Olympic Council of Asia and honorary president of the Korean Ski Association.
Michael Fralix ‘00 PhD, College of Textiles: Fralix is the president and CEO of [TC]2, a company that develops next generation supply chain technologies such as 3-D body scanners used in product development for apparel and equipment, made-to-measure clothing, clothing size and style recommendations and body shape analysis.
Dr. Laura Rush ‘97 DVM, College of Veterinary Medicine: Rush began her career as a registered nurse, specializing in the care of cancer patients, before going to vet school. Following graduation, she joined the faculty at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and headed a laboratory funded by the National Institute of Health that focused on cancer research in dogs and humans. Rush now works as vice president and associate medical director for GSW Worldwide, a healthcare marketing firm where she helps develop marketing strategies for healthcare companies.
WOLFPACK CLUB AWARD
Nora Lynn Finch, Ronnie Shavlik Award: Finch was a pioneer for collegiate women’s athletics, serving as the ACC’s first female assistant athletics director and negotiated the first women’s basketball tournament television contract with CBS. At NC State, Finch served as head volleyball and softball coach, associate head coach for women’s basketball, and assistant, associate and senior associate athletics director. She is currently the ACC’s associate commissioner for women’s basketball operations and senior women’s administrator. She has been inducted into the National Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.
ALUMNI ASSOCIATION AWARDS
Ryan DeJong ‘05, Outstanding Young Alumnus: DeJong, chief operating officer of FIRM Consulting Group, has led the Tampa NC State Alumni Network since 2007. As network leader, DeJong has aggressively promoted his alma mater and the Alumni Association. He recruits and manages volunteers to staff local college fairs and plans many types of group activities for his fellow Tampa Wolfpackers.
Sherice Nivens ‘98, Outstanding Young Alumnus: Nivens, cardiac sales manager for Intuitive Surgical, is a member of the PAMS Alumni and Friends Advisory Board and a founding member of the Dean’s Circle. She served as the keynote speaker for the 2009 Department of Chemistry graduation ceremony and the 2010 Society of African American Physical and Mathematical Scientists annual banquet.
Bill Collins ‘54, ‘61 MS, Meritorious Service Award: Collins, a world renowned expert in tobacco field production, was a Philip Morris Professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for 28 years. Since retiring in 2005, Collins joined the CALS Office of College Advancement as senior director of development. He is a former member of the board of directors of the Alumni Association.
Judi Grainger ‘72 MS, Meritorious Service Award: Grainger served as president of the Alumni Association board of directors in 2011 and served for a total of 14 years on the board. She also serves on the NC State Board of Visitors, the College of Education Advisory Board and the board of directors of The State Club.
Everett Case engineered unprecedented success for NC State men’s basketball for 18 years while he was head coach. He brought an up-tempo style to a game that had largely been relegated to the half court. And he helped promote the sport in new ways, vaulting the Wolfpack and the ACC to the top of the basketball world.
And it was on this day in 1964 that what many consider the golden age of NC State basketball came to an end, when the coach they called “the Old Gray Fox” stepped down as the program’s head coach due to health reasons. Case would die two years later after an extensive battle with cancer.
During Case’s tenure, the Wolfpack went 377-134 and won 10 conference championships. He won six championships at the annual Dixie Classic, a tournament that was his brainchild. And he coached seven All-Americans — John Richter, Vic Molodet, Lou Pucillo, Bobby Speight, Ronnie Shavlik, Sam Ranzino and Dick Dickey.
Here’s how the 1965 Agromeck summed up Case’s achievements: “There is little doubt Everett Case’s contribution in filling the basketball program with glamour, exhilarating competition, and high-principled sportsmanship is indirectly responsible for the great success in the sport shared by many teams in North Carolina and the South.”
Case was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in 1982, and into the NC State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012 as an inaugural member.
For Steve Garrett ’85, teaching classes such as drafting, electronics and applied physics at Topsail High School in Hampstead, N.C., has been a part of his everyday routine for the past 26 years. However, when asked about his true passion, Garrett will tell you his love comes in the form of an electric vehicle.
Twelve years ago, Garrett formed Topsail High School’s Electric Vehicle Program, and approximately 125 students have been through the program since then. Each year, about ten students enroll in Garrett’s class and meet for an hour each day before school to work on the vehicle and prepare for the Electric Vehicle Challenge at the N.C. Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR) facility in Garysburg, N.C.
Students from the Topsail High School Electric Vehicle Class
Having the program available to high school students is an expensive endeavor that requires the help of community partners. For every car that is converted into an electric vehicle, an average of $12,000 is needed.
Garrett’s students work to collect all of the funds needed through fundraising, raffles and sponsorships from local businesses. A total of five vehicles have been purchased or donated to the program. This year, students received a 1991 Toyota MR2 and a 2001 Ford Ranger Edge to use in competition.
On a typical morning, students have a briefing with Garrett to establish goals. Then, the work begins. Teams within the group work independently to achieve the goals of converting the vehicle and spend much of their time maintaining or repairing current conversions. Once students begin working on the vehicle, the goal is to remove the internal combustion engine and replace it with electric power.
“During the year, the goal is to provide students with the opportunity to work as a team and become successful in competitions,” Garrett said in an interview conducted by email. “I want to teach them to convert gas-powered vehicles to electric power while learning teamwork and engineering practices that are needed to complete a conversion.”
While in Roanoke Rapids for the Electric Vehicle Challenge, Garrett’s students compete in seven different categories, including Oratorical, Troubleshooting, Vehicle Design, Range, Community Involvement and Electric Vehicle Jeopardy.
On October 22, the Topsail High School team was recognized as the most organized and most motivated group and came home with 10 trophies in a variety of categories. Topsail High School has received 162 trophies since they began competing in 1999.
Garrett's students present their awards after the 2012 Electric Vehicle Competition
“The competition is an amazing, comprehensive competition,” Garrett says. “My students always strive to win, but at the same time, help other schools. When necessary if other schools do not have enough team members to fill an event, we will offer students to fill them in so they can compete.”
Seeing his students succeed has been the most rewarding part of his experience in the electric vehicle program. Upon completing the program, Garrett has seen many of his students continue on to universities, enroll in community colleges and continue their work on electric vehicles in the industry. Twenty-five have gone on to become a part of the Wolfpack family and two have received Park scholarships.
“Without a solid foundation, you have nothing to build upon,” Garrett says.
Growing up in Waynesville, N.C., Troy Tolle ’98 wasn’t a big computer person. He didn’t have the opportunity to use a computer until the end of high school, and even then it was just to write papers and complete other assignments. So it may come as a surprise that Tolle is co-founder and chief technology officer of a successful company, DigitalChalk, that provides online education and cloud computing technology.
“In high school, I loved math but I was very artistic,” Tolle says. “I told my guidance counselor that I wanted to do special effects in movies and she said I would have to go into computer science. Well, that wasn’t the right advice, but I went into it and fell in love.”
Studying computer science and design at NC State, Tolle enjoyed the ability to innovate and create something that had never existed. “There’s a real art form to how you design your code and that’s what really drew me in,” Tolle says. “I love solving problems, and with computer science I get to do that.”
After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in 1998 and his master’s in 2000, Tolle remained at NC State as an adjunct professor of computer science while also pursuing a career in consulting for the Raleigh-based company CrossLogic. Serving companies like Sprint and Wachovia, Tolle helped design scalable software solutions and architect systems. But his passion for education and teaching was also growing.
In 2006, with the help of an enthusiastic investor who saw the potential of Tolle’s idea, Tolle launched his own company, DigitalChalk, an online training platform to which users can upload videos and presentations for continuing and corporate education programs.
“The first couple of years were just really hard,” Tolle says. “We were just trying to build the thing and build it faster than anyone else.”
With YouTube barely off the ground at the time, Tolle says people didn’t grasp the concept of uploading video to the Internet to deliver content. “Getting over that barrier was easy for us — it made sense to us because we’re tech guys,” he says. “But the market wasn’t quite ready for it and we had to educate people that this was the future of technology.”
Now Tolle says there is a staggering amount of money funneled into online education programs. “Companies like ours are being acquired left and right,” he says. “The education market for software is just exploding.”
The basis of the DigitalChalk product, cloud computing technology, didn’t exist when Tolle began developing his ideas for the company. At the time, Amazon had just introduced a product called the elastic compute cloud, a beta product that could launch a server for just 10 cents an hour. “It was very under the radar but I got turned on to it and just really dived in and embraced it,” Tolle says.
Now considered an expert in the field, Tolle travels to places like Chicago, San Francisco and even Egypt to present his experiences and ideas on cloud computing. “It really neat to do those things and help other people move on top of this technology,” he says. “I love how fast paced it is – everything changes weekly and I’m able to be a part of that and push the envelope.”
Six years later, Tolle says DigitalChalk is evolving constantly to meet the needs of its customers. “We’re releasing new features every two months for our software,” he says. “I love that we’re not stagnant. We don’t want to just match other companies feature for feature; we want to be on the forefront.”
Based in Asheville, N.C. — far outside the hub of technology in the Triangle — Tolle is looking beyond DigitalChalk for other ways to increase western North Carolina’s technology footprint.
In collaboration with Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Tolle has launched a technology accelerator which will fund ten burgeoning tech companies with $18,000 each to create their product and pitch their ideas to venture capitalists. At NC State, Tolle serves as vice chairman of the computer science department’s strategic advisory board.
“I got to sit in on that board as a student and listen to industry leaders from around the country, and now I get to be one of the people on that board,” Tolle says. “I’m extremely honored to be asked to be a part of that. At the end of the day I’m just having a lot of fun and using the talents given to me to help in any way that I can.”
As alumni make their way back to campus for the Homecoming festivities this week, many will spend their time reminiscing about their friends, experiences, classes and adventures at NC State. Sonya Windham-Wilder ’90 and Kirk Wilder ’90 will be caught up in more recent memories as they celebrate at the place where they re-connected and fell in love two years ago.
Windham, from Charlotte, N.C., and Wilder, a Virginia native, came to NC State as undergraduates in the fall of 1986. Windham-Wilder spent her time at State studying chemistry and decided to pledge Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority her sophomore year. Wilder, a law and political philosophy major, pledged Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity his freshman year. The two met each other through their involvement in Greek life.
“We would always see each other around campus and would be at the same parties, social functions and other events,” Wilder says. “Because of our close connection in Greek life I saw Sonya all the time.”
The two began casually dating in the spring of their sophomore year.
Sonya Windham-Wilder and Kirk Wilder tailgate before the homecoming game in 2010
“We went on a few dates during our sophomore year but it was very casual,” Windham-Wilder says. “But I always had a little bit of a college crush on Kirk.”
Both earned undergraduate degrees in 1988 and went separate ways after graduation. Windham chose to pursue a career in dentistry and received her dental medicine degree from Medical University of South Carolina in 1996. She completed her residency in Columbia, South Carolina, and took an advanced training program in pediatric dentistry in 2001. Then she moved to Atlanta and opened her first practice.
Wilder, meanwhile, returned to Virginia to attend law school. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Howard University in Washington D.C., in May 1993 and relocated to his hometown to practice family law.
Throughout the time that the duo was apart, both spent their time with other people and went almost twenty years without keeping in touch.
That all changed when they both returned to Raleigh in 2010 for the NC State homecoming football game.
Wilder was a season ticket holder and was planning on coming back to Raleigh for homecoming but Windham-Wilder was not even sure if she was going to make it to Raleigh for the game.
“I returned to NC State in 2009 for a homecoming game and wasn’t planning on coming back in 2010,” Windham-Wilder says. “At the last minute one of my sorority sisters convinced me to go and I am glad she did.”
The evening before the game, both attended a karaoke night hosted by the Black Alumni Society. They saw each other and began to talk, catching up on their lives for the past twenty years. As Windham-Widler began to walk away she turned back and decided to tell Wilder that he had always been her “college crush.”
Both of them, as well as their friends, realized that night that their relationship was going to grow.
“All of our friends recognized that there was a spark,” Windham-Wilder says. “They knew as they saw us talking that something was going to happen between us.”
Windham-Wilder and Wilder got married in Georgia on August 11, 2012
As luck would have it, their seats for the football game were next to each other despite having ordered their tickets at different times.
The couple spent about a year and a half in a long-distance relationship, seeing each other once or twice a month. In May, Wilder decided to move his law practice to Atlanta and the two were engaged to be married in September 2011. They got married on August 11 in Jonesboro, Georgia, surrounded by family and friends that they made during their time at NC State.
NC State will always have a special place in their hearts.
“NC State helped me become a mature, independent woman and allowed me to establish some lifelong friendships,” Windham-Wilder says. “It helped lay a great educational foundation for the both of us to continue on into graduate school in our respective fields and it’s where we met.”
“NC State means absolutely everything to me,” Wilder says. “I met my best friends and fell in love with my wife at NC State. I love NC State will all of my heart and I can’t help but smile when I think how much this school has given me.”
Along with Howling Cow ice cream, giant turkey legs and roasted ears of corn, the cup or carton of cold milk found in the Scott Building has to be one of the most enduring food traditions at the N.C. State Fair.
And for 27 years, Carlyle Teague has helped make sure the milk was there and that there were volunteers on hand to pass it out. Teague is the State Fair’s milk man.
Teague, a 1958 graduate of NC State, is retired now. But for 25 years, he was president of the Cooperative Council of North Carolina, a trade association for a wide range of cooperatives. One of the council’s members was a dairy cooperative and, with that cooperative, Teague helped set up the first milk booth at the fair in 1985. Teague had previously been director of public affairs for the Department of Agriculture, helping to publicize the fair.
Since 1985, Teague has lined up volunteers to work in the milk booth and arranged for the milk to be delivered. Even in retirement, Teague is at the fair each day, helping set the booth up in the mornings.
Teague sees a lot of familiar faces these days, folks who make it a point to stop by the milk booth during their visit to the fair. “It’s something that families have developed over time,” he says.
But he says the adults get more excited about visiting his booth than the kids. “It’s probably the grown-ups when it comes to milk,” he says.
The booth is now run by the promotion committee of the N.C. Dairy industry, and Maola provides the milk. Teague says the record for sales is 35,000 cups or cartons over the 11 days of the fair. He says 2,500 sales in a day is a big day. And chocolate milk, he says, is a much better seller than regular milk.
“Chocolate is a two-to-one favorite,” he says.
Teague continues to work at the fair, even in retirement, because he likes the atmosphere. “I’m interested in seeing the people,” he says.
For Sara Coleman Fitzpatrick ‘01, a typical work week consists of meeting with advertisers, working with event planners and managing finances. When she gets a free minute outside of the office, she rolls up her sleeves and lets her creative juices flow as shebakes cupcakes for dessert lovers in the Raleigh area.
Coleman Fitzpatrick is the owner and head baker at the Cupcake Shoppe on Glenwood Avenue, the first cupcake bakery in the Raleigh area. Coleman, who majored in business administration at NC State, has been in love with baking for as long as she can remember.
“I have always had a passion for baking, and cupcakes just seemed like something even more special,” Coleman Fitzpatrick says. “Who doesn’t love their very own piece of cake?”
After spending her first six years out of college doing pharmaceutical sales for Johnson & Johnson, Coleman Fitzpatrick decided to take a break from corporate America and begin a different career path during the summer of 2005. She used her business background to create the Cupcake Shoppe, and the doors were open to the public in July 2007.
Coleman Fitzpatrick began the Cupcake Shoppe as a single woman but has since gotten married and recently welcomed her first child.
She has learned that opening a small business is “sort of like raising a child and truly takes a village.”
“My husband, Paul, has become an integral part of the shop and my parents have supported me since day one,” Coleman Fitzpatrick says. “There have been many days where my parents helped me bake, took deliveries and even helped paint. My husband is a constant presence and his favorite task is to sample the latest flavors and provide feedback.”
While the Cupcake Shoppe’s sweet treats are widely recognized in the Triangle, people across the nation have also become familiar with the company. Coleman Fitzpatrick’s cupcakes have been featured in numerous magazines, including Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine, Midtown magazine and The Bride’s Book magazine.
President Barack Obama even knows about the Cupcake Shoppe.
During a town meeting at Broughton High School in 2009, Coleman Fitzpatrick represented small business owners in the Triangle and introduced Obama to a 2,000-person audience.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and surreal is really the only way to describe it,” Coleman Fitzpatrick says. “It was inspiring to be part of such a monumental event for Raleigh and represent small, local business owners.”
Coleman Fitzpatrick will be one of the many NC State alumni vendors at the Red and White Food and Beverage Festival at the State Club. Although she and her team are still working to finalize the menu for the event, guests can count on sampling the Cupcake Shoppe’s seasonal cupcake, Pumpkin Maple and the “Big Red” cupcake, which will make its debut at the festival in honor of homecoming weekend.
When asked about her favorite memories at NC State, Coleman Fitzpatrick says they almost all revolve around football games and tailgating. “There is nothing better than a crisp fall day and a sea of red and white to make you smile,” she says.
Ever since Coleman Fitzpatrick traded in her career in sales for an apron and a blender, she has experienced numerous bumps in the road. But her passion for baking and the rewarding experiences of owning a small business outweigh the challenges.
“The biggest reward is seeing our customers happy with the product we produce and seeing them return year after year,” Coleman Fitzpatrick says. “We are so proud of the Cupcake Shoppe and and are so fortunate that we get to be a part of our customers lives.”
The Cupcake Shoppe is one of dozens of vendors - including restaurants, farms, breweries, wineries and bakeries - participating in the Red & White Food and Beverage Festival during the week of homecoming. All of the vendors have NC State connections, with alumni as owners or managers. The festival is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1, at The State Club in the Park Alumni Center. Visit the festival website to register and see a full list of vendors participating.
NC State alumnus Andy Duncan ‘95 never planned on becoming a writer when he was a child.
If he had been asked to fast forward to his life now, Duncan would have never believed he would be an award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer, the winner of two World Fantasy Awards or the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award recipient for best science fiction story of the year.
“I was never serious about writing,” Duncan said in a recent interview by email. “But I was always writing something. I started writing homemade comic books when I was a kid, and in high school I wrote parodies of the novels that were assigned in class.”
During his undergraduate years at the University of South Carolina, Duncan took fiction-writing classes but became interested in journalism. After graduation, he pursued a career in newspapers for a number of years.
It wasn’t until he purchased his first home computer that Duncan began to realize he wanted to write stories and become a published author.
“When I bought my first computer the World Wide Web wasn’t invented yet, but I had to do something with it,” Duncan says. “So I started typing, and the typing turned into personal letters, then memoirs, then plays, then fiction.”
Duncan decided to quit his full-time position as a journalist and came to NC State when he was 28 to become a graduate student in creative writing.
“I applied for two reasons. I wanted to try fiction writing and I wanted to try teaching,” Duncan says. “I learned to love both of these things at NC State, and scores of faculty members, graduate students and undergraduate students helped show me the way.”
Duncan says his career would not exist if it weren’t for the encouragement and inspiration of his thesis director, John Kessel, a professor in creative writing and American literature at NC State.
“Kesell spent countless hours with me in the office,” Duncan says. “He convinced me there was a market for the oddball stories I was writing and the field of science fiction and fantasy… I just didn’t know it yet.”
Some of the oddball ideas that Kessel encouraged Duncan to write about include a homicidal gator-man, an Appalachian dragon, a chicken named Jesus Christ and the devil’s son-in-law. These characters are all featured in his most recent book, The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories.
Duncan will be making his way back to campus for a public reading of the book next Wednesday, Sept. 12. He will be reading from 7:30-10 pm in the Studio Theatre in Thompson Hall.
Today, Duncan is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Frostburg State University in Maryland. Duncan’s day-to-day life revolves around his wife, pets and his undergraduate students, but he has ideas for stories on a regular basis.
“I am constantly thinking of story ideas, story titles, character names, bits of dialogue and description and jotting them down,” Duncan says. “Some of my best story ideas come to me while I’m brushing my teeth, taking a shower, pumping gas or sitting in traffic.”
Duncan looks forward to returning to NC State and hopes to spend his time on campus meeting new people, visiting classes and doing his book reading for CHASS students and alumni.
“I also plan,” Duncan says, “on making a stop at the Char-Grill.”
Eugene Park ‘99 never imagined having any interest in biking or studying abroad when he was an NC State undergraduate student in business management. But this past June, Park spent 10 days riding his bike from Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean along ancient slave-trade routes to raise money for orphaned children in Africa.
Park was part of a 20-person team participating in RideTZ, a 400-mile bike ride that takes place every two years in Tanzania, East Africa, to raise money for The Foundation for Tomorrow (TFFT), a non-profit organization which provides scholarships and support for orphaned children. The trip is an extension of TFFT and was launched in July 2010.
Meghann Gunderman, the founder and executive director of TFFT, is a friend of Park’s and was one of the main reasons he got involved.
“After hearing about Meghann and her fiancee’s experiences and stories from their recent trip to Africa, I was inspired,” Park says. “It sparked me to get involved and do something that would make a difference.”
Park spent more than a year preparing for the trip and raising a minimum of $3,000 to be used for scholarships for the children. He also began training for the physical challenges of the philanthropy event. He picked up mountain bike last summer and took spin classes to help with his endurance.
“I knew everything would come naturally and I would have the ability to adapt to new surroundings, situations and environments,” Park says. “I just had to prepare myself mentally for this epic experience.”
After arriving to Tanzania in June, the adventure continued to be a growing experience. In order to complete the 400-mile trip in 10 days, Park and his team biked approximately 40 miles a day.
“For ten days we woke up at 5 a.m. and were biking by 7 a.m.,” Park says. “Some days were easier than others, depending on the weather and the terrain.”
Along the way, the group spent time visiting and playing with children in the orphanages, meeting local people in the villages, learning Swahili, climbing the Usambara Mountains and swimming in the Indian Ocean on the last day.
“I learned that getting out of your comfort zone and doing something to make a difference in other people’s lives is not only humbling but very rewarding,” Park says. “I gave my blood, sweat and tears for The Foundation for Tomorrow, RideTZ and the kids.”
Two recent gifts mean that the five-bell set needed to play the Westminster chimes on the Memorial Bell Tower — currently sounded every hour through a speaker — will be complete in a matter of months.
Ann Fearrington ’72 MR of Raleigh and her two sisters, Florence Fearrington of New York, N.Y., and Jessica Travis of New Orleans, La., are funding the purchase of a bell in memory of their brother, who was a graduate of the College of the Design. Dianne Clinton ’83 of Raleigh and her brother Kevin Speight ’81 of Winston-Salem, N.C., are purchasing a bell in honor of their parents and other family members and the professors who helped them when they were at NC State.
Although the new bells won’t be ready for several months, the largest of the five, a 2,000-pound bell that sounds the lowest chime, will be on display near the Bell Tower during the university’s Packapalooza celebration on Hillsborough Street from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Fearrington’s brother, James Cornelius Pass Fearrington, who was known as Pass, got a job as a fabric designer in North Carolina after graduation and then was quickly hired by a company in New York. But in young adulthood, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
“There was little or nothing they could do,’’ Ann Fearrington says. “It was stunning for his mother. We just couldn’t get beyond it. He was so successful, so adorable, so smart, so loving.” He died at the age of 33 in 1981. “It was a complete heartbreak for all of us… He was a very special, special person.” Pass Fearrington was also a painter, and many of his works are in Ann Fearrington’s home.
Ann Fearrington recently saw a newspaper article about the bells and started thinking about making a donation. “Pass was crazy about music beyond belief,” she says. She talked to her husband and sisters, and decided that donating a bell would be something that would make her brother happy.
Clinton, who has a degree in music from Winthrop University, says she was aware of the mechanical sound of the chimes when she was at NC State.
“For a long time I had thought how wonderful it would be” to have bells in the tower, she says. During a recent visit to D.H. Hill Library with her niece, who is a sophomore at NC State, she saw the display of the three bells that had so far been purchased. “It just knocked my socks off,” she says. “I knew this was something I wanted to get involved in.”
Matthew Robbins with the bell donated by the Class of 2010
She and her brother are donating the bells in honor of their parents, Carl and Ruth Speight. Both Clinton and her brother are first-generation college graduates; their father was the first in his family to finish high school. It was her parents’ hard work that helped her get a college education, she says. In addition, the bell honors the many professors she and her brother had who “were so willing to go beyond what they needed to do,” she says. “These were people who were invested in their students.”
Clinton is also hoping to visit the foundry in Georgetown, Ohio, when the bell she is donating is being tuned. The new bells should be completed in the next few months, said Matthew Robbins, director of the Finish the [Bell] Tower project.
The largest bell in the set — which is reserved to chime on the hour — was paid for by the Class fo 2010. One of the other bells was donated in memory of Helena H. Gardner by her husband and their three children; the remaining bell was given by the family of William F. Morris Sr. ‘09 and William F. Morris Jr. ‘41 in honor of their father and grandfather.
– Sylvia Adcock ‘81