Campus Events Category
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.”
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.
Adlai Stevenson was born with aspirations in his blood to one day live in the White House. His father, also named Adlai Stevenson, was Grover Cleveland’s vice president from 1893 to 1897.
So Stevenson the second spent much of his adult life trying to reach the highest levels of U.S. politics. He built on a successful career as a lawyer and served as assistants to the secretary of the Navy and to the secretary of state. He was elected governor in Illinois, serving a four-year term beginning in 1949.
And he ran for president as the Democratic candidate in 1952 and 1956, losing to Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower both times.
After those losses, President John F. Kennedy appointed Stevenson to be ambassador and chief of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations in 1961.
Stevenson was serving in that capacity on this day in 1962 when he kicked off a new series of speakers, known as the Harrelson Lectures, at NC State.
For much of his talk, Stevenson found himself having to defend the role the United Nations played in the world. He conceded that the United Nations lacked some power but that it was not a weak body. He also said the U.N. was “full of conflicts and contradictions,” according to The Technician, but that is “what the U.N. was built for — to overcome conflict, to keep from exploding into war, and ultimately to tame it into something like a true community.”
The first commencement ceremony at NC State — at that time, the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts — was a three-day affair that took place in the spring of 1893. And for the next 97 years, the spring event was the only annual graduation ceremony to take place at the university.
But that all changed on this day in 1991, when 6,000 people gathered in Reynolds Coliseum to be a part of NC State’s first fall commencement.
A Technician article explained the December ceremony, which would become a mainstay at the university, arose after a many student pleas and requests by the NCSU Parent’s Board. Up until then, students who had graduated in the summer or fall would have to wait until the subsequent spring to put on their robe and stride boastfully to “Pomp and Circumstance.”
According to the article, 1,900 students received their diplomas that day, and Larry Monteith, who was chancellor, addressed the graduates and their families.
“We will need leadership,” Monteith said in closing, “we will need commitment, we will need education, we will need goodwill and we will need moral character.”
For 35 years, members of the Air Force ROTC’s Marching Cadets stood guard at the Bell Tower to honor veterans on Pearl Harbor Day. At noon Saturday, members of the now-dissolved fraternity are again meeting at the tower to pay their respects.
Founded in 1960, the Marching Cadets (MCs) served as the Air Force ROTC drill team, presenting the colors at football and basketball games and marching in local parades while spinning, throwing and catching M1 rifles. As its annual service project, the organization would guard the Bell Tower for 24 hours every Dec. 6-7 and hold a wreath laying ceremony.
A Marching Cadet at the Bell Tower in 1977
“Even though it was usually right in the middle of exams, we would go out and take turns for an hour at a time at the Bell Tower in groups of four or five,” says Marching Cadet Will Compton, a 1988 graduate. “It was modeled after the tomb of the unknown solider.”
Though they won’t be in uniform or guarding the tower this year, a group of Marching Cadets plans to honor World War II veteran Millie Beasey with an informal ceremony and wreath laying. Beasey served in the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, an all-female, all-black postal battalion that helped deliver mail to the front lines in Europe.
T.C. Moore, a Marching Cadet and 1988 graduate, says the group plans to talk to Beasey about her experiences, explain the significance of the tower and share some stories from past ceremonies. Moore and Compton say that while Dec. 6 always used to feel like the coldest night of the year, it was a special one for the cadets.
“It was just a unique feeling to be standing there,” Moore says. “It just gave you a time to reflect on what sacrifices people in the military have made and what they gave up, and you knew you were doing your own little part in helping honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Compton delivered a speech at his first ceremony in 1986. He says having the chance to speak about the events of Dec. 7, 1941, in front of a Pearl Harbor survivor is something he’ll never forget.
“It’s a very humbling experience,” he says. “To actually have the Pearl Harbor survivor present certainly evoked images of what they went through.”
As a freshman, Moore noticed those wearing the Marching Cadets’ red-and-white cords always seemed to have it together and asked how he could join. Both Moore and Compton pledged in spring of 1986 and were inducted the weekend of the North Carolina Azalea Festival parade in Wilmington, N.C., one of the biggest events the group participated in.
Both Compton and Moore served in the Air Force after graduation. Moore now works for the Air Force as a civilian contractor and Compton is a Delta Airlines pilot.
Over the years, the Marching Cadets became an incredibly tight-knit group of men and women. And once members were initiated, they were in for life, even if they graduated or dropped out — Moore says it isn’t uncommon to see graduates come back to meetings or help out at events.
The group fell on hard times in the ’90s when Air Force ROTC’s national headquarters withdrew its sponsorship and membership declined from about 30 ROTC members to less than 20. Though the Marching Cadets fraternity dissolved in 1996, its legacy hasn’t — the Air Force ROTC guards the Bell Tower overnight for Veterans Day and the cadets held a reunion in 2011.
After the reunion, Compton, Moore and other Raleigh-area members decided to bring back “team eats,” a dining-out tradition from their college days. They try to get together for dinner once a month.
Reynolds Coliseum has seen its share of great performances, from the rock ‘n’ roll stylings of the Rolling Stones to David Thompson’s leaps over opponents.
But on this day in 1961, the arena was treated to something just as enticing as Thompson’s acrobatics when the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company performed there.
The performance, which was a part of the Friends of the College series, was presented in five parts to illustrate the cultural heritage of the Philippines.
One of those parts included the Maginlatik (above). The Technician described the all-male dance as one “characterized by horse-play and the beating of a staccato tattoo on sets of coconut shells positioned on the thighs, hips, chests, and backs of dancers. The dance has its origins in a mock fight for latik, which is the coconut meat residue after the oil has been pressed from it.”
The Bayanihan visit would be a precursor to another dance troupe’s performance at NC State several weeks later. In another performance in the Friends of the College Series, the Polish Mazowsze (below), not to be outdone, wowed another Reynolds’ audience.
Ken Blackburn was, in 1983, an unknown junior in aerospace engineering at NC State who had but one dream — to own the sky.
And it was on this day 30 years ago that Blackburn’s anonymity died and his dream took off as he set the world record for indoor paper-airplane flight in Reynolds Coliseum with his cutting-edge pulp glider, “Bossy,” that cut through the air for 16.89 seconds.
“‘Bossy,’ the record breaking plane, is constructed from a piece of standard-sized typing paper,” the Technician reported, quoting Blackburn as describing his design as being “highly modified” from a design he saw in a book in elementary school.
That November day had been a long time coming for Blackburn. According to the Technician‘s account, he’d been cradling that dream since the sixth grade. He had broken the record, which had been on the books since 1975, by three seconds a year before the historic flight in Reynolds. Unfortunately, there was no official representative from Guinness World Records to record that initial flight.
Even on the record day in 1983, “Bossy” wouldn’t have joined Blackburn on the unfolded pages of history if not for a simple twist of fate taking down another of his planes. “During warm-up, ‘Old Betsy,’ his previous record-breaking plane, gave her life as she drifted into the speaker system in the rafters of Reynolds Coliseum,” the Technician reported.
Ken Blackburn’s launch was captured by a Technician photographer.
According to the story, only six people were on hand to see history that day. But that, and the wear-and-tear that paper airplanes can inflict on their launchers, didn’t deter Blackburn from enjoying his glory. “Blackburn said that his right arm would be sore for the next few days, but this did not take away from the excitement of his accomplishment.” the Technician‘s account read.
Blackburn, who graduated from NC State in 1985, continued his upward trajectory after college. According to his website, he set another record in 1987 with a 17.2-second flight. He wrote and published The World Record Paper Air Plane Book. And he set another record in 1998 inside of Atlanta’s Georgia Dome with an airplane that whirled and twirled for 27.6 seconds.
According to Guinness World Records’ website, the current record for a paper airplane’s flight stands at 29.2 seconds and was set by someone else in Japan in 2010.
Student organizations flooded the Brickyard with hundreds of homemade cupcakes of all shapes, sizes and flavors Wednesday for the Cupcake War, a two-hour event that raised money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and included a competition judged by professors.
“Talk about one of the best things you could do,” says Anita Flick, a biology professor serving as one of the judges. “It’s great to see all these organizations out here. And there’s cupcakes! What’s not to like?”
With two criteria for judging — taste and incorporation of the “Red, White and Wolfpack” Homecoming theme — Sigma Alpha Omega sorority and Beta Upsilon Chi fraternity hoped their Cheerwine cupcakes would help them secure their second consecutive first-place finish.
“It’s my mom’s recipe,” says Brittany Hall, Sigma Alpha Omega president and senior in biology from Raleigh. Hall and her fellow sorority members spent more than six hours baking and decorating 300 cupcakes for the event. The group also made empty Cheerwine cans into decorative displays for the cupcakes.
A short walk from last year’s winners, Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity served up three varieties of cupcakes: Red, White and Wolftracks. The red: a red velvet cupcake topped with an almond cream cheese frosting. The white: a white chocolate latte cupcake with buttercream icing and a caramel drizzle, garnished with a small straw. The Wolftracks: a chocolate cupcake with ganache inside, peanut butter frosting on top and a chocolate drizzle.
Set up in front of DH Hill Library, the Impact Leadership Village sold chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with red and white icing decorated with footballs and wolves.
Anna Sossaman, an Alumni Association student ambassador and sophomore in accounting from Raleigh, organized the event and says she was glad to be a part of a new NC State tradition. “It’s helping the Kay Yow fund and gets students involved on campus, which is great,” she says.
Contest winners will be announced at the Homecoming Pep Rally in Reynolds Coliseum at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
After the event, Christopher Lawing, a student ambassador and junior in industrial engineering from Charlotte, presented the $3,197.26 raised to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
In addition to volunteering at the Cupcake War, Lawing organized another event in the Brickyard: the Homecoming Canned Food Drive. When the event ended Wednesday afternoon, the drive had gathered 1,000 cans for Feed the Pack, NC State’s food pantry, and 21,782 for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. Last year, the drive collected more than 14,000 cans.
“The drive is so different than the other homecoming events,” Lawing says. “It’s not just about school spirit, but the spirit of giving to someone else.”
If you open Mark Bowden’s military classic Black Hawk Down to its first page, you’ll see the first line of the book reads, “At liftoff, Matt Eversmann said a Hail Mary.” Eversmann was one of about 100 U.S. soldiers who were dropped from a helicopter into the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, on Oct. 3, 1993. And what began as a planned hour-long mission to seize the lieutenants of a Somali warlord ended up in 18 hours of facing off with Somali militia.
Eversmann, who retired from the Army in 2008 as a sergeant, is this year’s featured speaker for Homecoming. He will be delivering a talk, “The Story of Black Hawk Down,” at 7 p.m. tonight at the McKimmon Center. The event is free and open to the public. We caught up with Eversmann to talk about the mission and the lessons he took from it.
Was the military always something you aspired to be a part of growing up? It was. I had joined. My father had been in the service. My sister became an Army nurse. My brother went to VMI. I had no plan at all of it becoming a career.
Going into that day in October 1993, had anything prepared you for what you guys experienced for those 18 hours? In peacetime, your sense of mission preparation and training is your number one focus. So when you get into a unit like the [Army] Rangers, it’s more pronounced. All your work is focused on the go-to-war mission. We’d been training for this battle for wherever it’s going to be. …For those who had never been to combat, your first mission is kind of your final examination.
You were 26 years old at the time. How are you different today than you were then as a young man? I do look at events in daily life as very black and white. …I tend to look at things very simplistically. I don’t think you can help it. I think that’s a change. Unfortunately what goes with that also is a lot of cynicism. The other part is there is also a bit, and I’m going to sound like Pollyanna here, but your appreciation for so many things in life becomes so acute. For me, family time and just doing the little things.
When did you start thinking about going around and talking about the experience? What does it give you? The demand was there for people to hear. And the supply side, going back to even say 9/11, there were still a lot of Americans not touched by the world of terror. So it dawned on me I had a great opportunity to share our story and what a bunch of 18- to 35-year-old soldiers did in an unbelievably bad situation. And that’s so rewarding.
And I would imagine you’re gaining a new audience? If you’re a freshman or a sophomore [in college] you weren’t even born then. There are a whole group of folks who don’t know, or if they do know, they only know the movie.
Were you in Ridley Scott’s ear saying, “There’s this handsome guy named Josh Hartnett, and I think he would make a brilliant Matt Eversmann in the movie version of the book?” I had never heard of the kid until they had cast him in the movie. I didn’t know what young independent film guys are. I never will forget, Mark Bowden sent me an email and the line said, “The New Matt Eversmann.” And there was this picture of Josh Hartnett sitting on a beach in Hawaii.
What message do you want people to walk away with tonight? The real nuts and bolts are how we are preparing as leaders, as business leaders, as athletes for this inevitable crisis that’s going to come unbeknownst to us. How do we make decisions on the battlefield? Is it training or emotions? I hope we can share some stories. It doesn’t matter if you’re the student body president or a team captain, we’re going to be in the breech and we’re going to have to figure it out. We’re all average guys and gals. But average people can do pretty amazing things.
Jimmy Burch grows a lot of sweet potatoes in Eastern North Carolina, so he’s always looking for new ways to put them to use.
But even he’s been surprised at how well they’ve done in their latest incarnation — as the starting point for an award-winning vodka that is about to be sold throughout most of the country.
“It’s done good,” says Burch, an NC State alumnus who is one of the owners of Covington Gourmet Vodka and the source of its sweet potatoes, Burch Farms. “In North Carolina, it’s in all the ABC stores right now. We just hired a broker and we’re fixing to go into 32 states. We’ve only been on the market for eight months, so we’re happy.”
Jimmy Burch, left, with a business associate
The process that led to Covington Gourmet Vodka started about five years ago, when Burch worked with food scientists at NC State to develop a puree from sweet potatoes left in the field after the harvest. Burch initially sold the puree to The Boston Beer Company — the maker of Samuel Adams beer — but then decided to see if he might be able to make alcohol out of it.
As it turned out, the sweet potato puree was “just absolutely fantastic for vodka,” Burch says. Researchers at the University of Michigan told Burch it was “absolutely the best vodka they’ve ever tasted in their lives.”
So Covington Gourmet Vodka — named for a variety of sweet potato developed at NC State — was born. In its first year, the self-proclaimed “Best Yam Vodka on Earth” won a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
“We were tickled to death over that,” Burch says. “Everybody says it’s smooth as silk.”
In addition to being in ABC stores, Burch says Covington can be found in places like Biltmore House, the Angus Barn restaurant and PNC Arena. While Burch is pleased with the initial response to his vodka, he recognizes that he is not a threat to the established giants in the vodka industry.
“Grey Goose, they ain’t waking up at night worrying about us,” he says. “This is just a nice addition to the farm, some value-added products.”
Jimmy Burch in one of his sweet potato fields.
Covington Gourmet Vodka 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. today at The State Club in the Park Alumni Center. Visit the festival website to register and see a full list of vendors participating.