Bryan Hum got an unexpected treat not long after he sat down to dinner last night at a restaurant in Albany, New York. And it appears he has a fellow NC State alumnus to thank for the pleasant surprise.
Hum, a 2013 NC State graduate who majored in international studies and political science, is in his second year of law school at Albany Law School. After attending a Student Bar Association meeting last night, Hum and a friend walked to a favorite restaurant for dinner. They had just ordered drinks, when a waitress walked up and handed Hum a hand-written note and a $20 bill. She said another diner had noticed Hum’s red NC State t-shirt, and asked her to give him the note and the money.
“Apply this to your bill! God bless!” read the the note. It was signed “Brian,” with no last name, and indicated that “Brian” was a 1996 NC State graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Hum’s initial reaction was confusion. He wondered if it came from someone he knew, particularly since it was signed “Brian,” a different spelling of Hum’s first name. He asked the waitress to point the customer out, but she said that he had given her the note and the money as he was leaving. “He saw your shirt and wanted you to apply this to your bill,” the waitress told Hum.
Hum thought briefly about going outside to try to track down his benefactor, but quickly realized that he appreciated the anonymous nature of the gift from a fellow Wolfpacker.
“I was just astounded by it,” Hum said this morning. “It really touched me. It made me want to pay it forward myself.”
It also reinforced the strong feelings that Hum already had for NC State and its alumni — something that he quickly shared with friends via social media. “We talk about the great alumni we have, and this just proves it,” he said. “We look out for each other. It’s just a great connection we all have.”
Hum says he only spent $15 of the gift on his dinner, and plans to use the remaining $5 to pay it forward – hopefully sometime later today or this weekend.
Filmmakers Kieran Moreira and Andrew Martin were sitting around in the summer of 2012, charged by their boss at Drawbridge Media, a Raleigh video production company, to find content the studio could produce. They read script after script, but nothing really struck the pair. So Moreira decided to present his own idea.
“I had this one idea I called ‘Cloud Fortress,’” says Moreira, who graduated from NC State with a film studies degree in 2011. “I had this image of a boy trying to climb up to the sky.”
That nugget turned into the new short film, Harbinger, that Moreira directed and co-wrote with Martin. The independent movie will premiere at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on Centennial Campus Wednesday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. Admission is free.
The film centers around a relationships between a mother and her young son Harold, whose imagination helps him deal with the changing complexities of his reality. “We had always seen it as a fantasy based in reality,” Moreira says. “The fantasy hides the more harsh realities of the world. Harold is at a transition. He is discovering things from his past. So the fantasy is an escape, but it is a shield, too.”
Moreira and Martin, who graduated from NC State in 1999 with a textile engineering degree, learned their own realities could be harsh, as well, in the three years it’s taken to get the film out. They launched a campaign on Indiegogo to raise money for the production costs, and they didn’t reach their goal. And they didn’t have the luxury of focusing solely on their movie.
“There was a tremendous amount of challenges,” Martin says. “This was going to be a year or two of our lives. Even though Drawbridge was encouraging us, we still had a full slate of work from our day jobs.”
But the fact they were able to pull it off with the help of many volunteers was instrumental in accomplishing one of their main goals. They felt they could show that while movies like Iron Man 3, some of which was shot in Cary, N.C., garner a lot of attention for the film industry in North Carolina, there is a strong independent movement afoot in the state that is already producing quality work.
From left to right, Kieran Moreira, Andrew Martin and Paul Frateschi.
“Something we always wanted to do was to showcase the talents here at home,” says Paul Frateschi, the film’s director of photography and 2009 NC State graduate. “A lot of those big films come in and bring in a DP from New York or out of state. We wanted to show what quality work we’re doing here locally. It was freelance crew people. It was the actors. We wanted to tell a North Carolina story with a North Carolina crew and cast.”
And that goal is tied to another one Martin sees as directly tied to his Wolfpack roots.
“Ultimately, so much of the reason we did this was to build the community,” he says. “We would love to build the film department and communication department at NC State so more film can come out of there.”
Doug Mattox was a history buff long before he majored in the subject at NC State.
As a boy growing up in Wendell, N.C., he discovered stamp collecting. No one in his immediate family was a stamp aficionado, but Mattox gravitated to it. And just like a stamp, the hobby stuck.
Today, Mattox is the founder and president of Mattox Coins & Stamps, Inc., a Raleigh company that generated $1.5 million in revenue last year.
“It’s just the treasure hunter in me,” he says, when asked what has kept his business going for more than 35 years. “You never know what’s going to come in the door or what you’re going to find in a box of stuff. That’s what keeps it fun.”
As the name implies, the company deals in more than just rare stamps. Mattox and his son, Austin, work as agents and brokers, appraising the value of coins, currency, stamps and envelopes and selling them to auction houses.
The work attracts a variety of clientele, ranging from universities and bank trusts to individuals who inherit items from deceased loved ones and aren’t sure of their value. Other customers come to Mattox with items they purchased for investment and are ready to sell.
But the Internet has fooled many a would-be collector, says Mattox, who graduated from NC State in 1976. People often buy coins that are purported to be rare by advertisers, only to learn that they were duped when they come to Mattox for an appraisal.
One of the most counterfeited items that Mattox comes across are U.S. gold coins. Valuable ones are about 90 percent pure, but Mattox says people often come to him excitedly with some, only to find that their coins are perhaps 50 percent gold, or even just gold-plated brass.
“I tell them just to put it in the bank or give it to a kid,” he says. “You know, on the Antiques Roadshow, everybody gets good news. But here, more people get bad news than good news.”
Over the years, Mattox has encountered many old and unusual items. One day, he might find himself appraising German currency from the 1920s. The next, a $5 American bill from the 1880s. The priciest item sold recently was a set of Tibetan stamps from 1907 for $121,000.
But as a former American history major, Mattox gets the most excited when an American colonial item comes his way.
“That’s always fun because we weren’t very populated – even in big cities – in colonial days,” he says. “So when you run across envelopes or currency, that’s always cool.”
One California day, a scared and suicidal man walked into a homeless shelter in a city he’d never been to before. He’d been discharged from a psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas three days before, given a bus ticket and shipped off to Sacramento with barely any food and little medication.
He was looking for help – but he never imagined it would come from Phillip Reese, a 1999 NC State graduate and investigative reporter for The Sacramento Bee.
Reese and colleague Cynthia Hubert uncovered a systematic process of patient dumping by the Nevada hospital, which shipped 1,500 mental patients out of state over five years, stranding many in unfamiliar cities with no support system.
Some ended up turning to crime, including one murder.
Reese and Hubert’s reporting led to multi-million dollar reforms in the Nevada mental health care system, led to Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital being stripped of its accreditation and received several prestigious awards, including becoming a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting.
Reese, a former Technician editor-in-chief, called the patient dumping series the most important and effective work of his career thus far.
“This was a very taxing story to report,” Reese said in an email interview. “Cold calling people and asking them about their time in a mental hospital is tough.”
Finding the patients and family members who were willing to talk was one challenge. So was identifying the trend. To do it, The Bee requested the receipts of bus tickets that has been purchased in the last five years.
Reese, who is skilled at data analysis, put the receipts into a database and mapped them. He discovered Rawson-Neal had bused patients to each state in the continental United States during that period, and that’s when he and Hubert started tracking them down.
Some were dead ends. Some of the patients’ stories couldn’t be verified. But thousands of hours later, Reese and Hubert had spoken with nearly two dozen patients and 100 family members, as well as former Rawson-Neal employees who confirmed that busing patients without escorts happened more frequently than officials claimed.
The reports led Rawson-Neal to change its busing policies so that now no one can travel without a chaperone. The state of Nevada also has allocated $30 million in additional funding for mental health care in the state.
“That was validating,” said Reese.
Since the series was published in 2013, Rawson-Neal made changes that enable it to continue receiving federal Medicare funds. A civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of the Sacramento man that was the catalyst for Reese’s series was just dismissed, but the attorney plans to appeal.
Asked if he has any other investigative pieces currently on his radar, Reese has a one-word reply:
Email can seem like such an easy way to communicate.
But, as Cheryl Sutton has recognized, email can also be confusing, unclear and ineffective. Her mission is to help individuals and organizations do a better job with email.
“Very few of us have been educated how to use email,” says Sutton, who graduated in 2004 from NC State with two undergraduate degrees.
To address the problem, Sutton started her own email consulting company, Email Lemonade, from her home in Belmont, N.C., earlier this year. She serves as the company’s president and “email ambassador.”
“I have always taken email very seriously,” she says. “I don’t want people to feel like they have to settle for bad email.”
Sutton, who also earned an MBA from Northwestern University, worked for Jockey International for nearly a decade before she started her new venture. For many of those years, she worked in Jockey’s international division, requiring her to communicate with people around the world.
“There are particular challenges when communicating internationally,” she says. “You have to pay attention to the tone you use. So much of your relationship is based in email. You can’t always pick up the phone or have a face-to-face meeting. I learned how to be very clear, and even preemptively answer questions when I sent an email.”
Sutton, who will be the featured speaker at an upcoming session as part of the Alumni Association’s Career Webinar Series, says that by following some simple steps, people can increase the chances that their emails stand out among the clutter of emails that many people receive.
Make sure, for example, to put a subject in the email’s subject line. Sutton says many people fail to take that simple step, making it likely that their email will move to the bottom of the pile.
She also says it’s important to format your email. “People glaze over it when they see an email with one long paragraph,” she says. “When you break it up into three shorter paragraphs, or put it in some bullets, it’s much easier for the reader to digest the email.”
Sutton says job-seekers need to be careful with their emails with potential employers. “People forget that grammar actually matters,” she says. “Have an opening to the email. Close it with, ‘Kind regards, Cheryl.’ Just really basic content like that. People are so used to texting now.”
It’s critical, Sutton says, that people are mindful of the tone of their emails.
“Tone is one of the most overlooked and also one of the most important considerations,” she says. “If I receive this email, would I think it was friendly or positive. I have seen a lot of business relationships get wrecked because they didn’t think about the tone.”
Sutton’s webinar session on July 8 is free for NC State alumni. To register, visit the webinar series website, and click on the button that says “registration.”
Grown-ups always told young Madelyn Rosenberg that she should be an author.
It started in the fifth grade, when Rosenberg wrote a story about how Randy the raccoon got his mask. He was at a Halloween party, and his mask shrunk while bobbing for apples. No one could get it off, and it remained there forever.
Her relatives loved the tale, and they correctly forecasted Rosenberg’s future. Today, Rosenberg is a children’s writer, with three books already published and three more about to hit store shelves. The next book, a young adult novel called Dream Boy co-written with her friend Mary Crockett, comes out July 1.
Despite the praise of her earliest works, Rosenberg had no idea what to study when she came to NC State in 1985. “That was ridiculous, because writing is the only thing I’ve ever been able to do,” she says. “But it just never occurred to me that it was something that I could turn into a career.”
Rosenberg decided on an English major. Over the next four years, she honed her writing skills in the classroom and delved into journalism as a staff writer for Technician, going on to become its news editor.
After graduating in 1989, Rosenberg worked as a reporter for the Roanoke Times in Virginia. It was a job she loved, but eventually the allure of make-believe storytelling was too great. Rosenberg got a master’s degree in creative writing at Boston University in 2002 and returned to NC State as an adjunct professor in journalism for a year, all while submitting samples of her work to book publishers.
It was a frustrating process that lasted at least a decade.
“It took a lot of ‘no’s’ before I got a ‘yes,’” Rosenberg says with a laugh. “I didn’t count rejections because if I did, that probably would have thrown me into a depression. I did hit a point where I would prepare envelopes so that when a rejection came, I wouldn’t have to get over that whole psychic barrier before sending out another query.”
In 2009, Rosenberg got an agent – and that’s when she scored her first book deals. Her first children’s books, The Schmutzy Family and Happy Birthday, Tree, A Tu B’Shevat Story, came out on the same day in 2012.
“Every time I write a book, I feel like ‘This is the last book anyone is ever going to publish by me, ever,’” Rosenberg says. “So, when the first ones came out, I pretty much wanted not to be a one-hit wonder.”
But her luck didn’t end there. Next was a book for middle graders called Canary in the Coal Mine, which was named a VOYA Magazine top-shelf read and a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People in 2013.
Rosenberg says writing for a young audience comes naturally. She has two children, a son and daughter, and says she has always been fascinated with the unique ways children navigate the world.
Her books often explore on sibling relationships, drawn from her own close relationship with her brother and the dynamics she sees between her children and their friends. How to Behave at a Tea Party, due out Sept. 9, will focus on a Type-A little girl who has to learn to let loose when her brother keeps wrecking her proper tea party. Nanny X, due later in September, involves siblings with a secret agent nanny.
When she is not telling her own stories, Rosenberg continues real-life writing for Arlington Magazine in northern Virginia.
NC State’s Department of English had been housed in Winston Hall for 20 years in the spring of 1980. But due to space constraints and a move into the digital age, it was announced on this day in 34 years ago that the department would find a new home in Tompkins Hall.
“Right now, we are teaching any and everywhere,” said Larry S. Champion, professor of English and the department’s chair, in a 1980 Technician article. “We do desperately need the space.”
And part of that space would go to a state-of-the-art computer center to be used as a writing lab. It was meant to solidify a commitment to the writing and editing program and to help place students in journalism or business writing jobs.
“Students will use terminals with video display screens which will display texts for editing,” the Technician reported. “The terminals will be hooked by telephone line line into the Triangle Universities Computation Center (TUCC) used by State, Carolina and Duke, which is based at the Research Triangle.”
Tompkins, which has been home to the English department ever since, was undergoing a renovation at the time of the announcement. The building finally welcomed the wordsmiths in March 1981.
The early months of 1960 were turbulent ones in North Carolina, with the civil rights movement at the forefront. In February, four African-American students staged a sit-in inside of a Greensboro Woolworth’s after they were denied service. And two weeks later, Martin Luther King Jr. came to White Rock Baptist Church in Durham on the heels of that protest and, for the first time, called for activists to break the law through nonviolent protests.
On that day, 1,200 citizens came to hear King’s message, which historians refer to as his “fill up the jails” speech. And this Sunday, NC State’s Virtual Martin Luther King Jr. Project will bring the civil rights leader’s words back to life as performer Marvin Blanks re-enacts the historic sermon in Durham.
“Doing it in the symbolic location of the church does two things,” says Keon Pettiway, a 2005 CHASS grad and doctoral student in the communications and rhetoric department who’s working on the project. “It’s a public marker for the history of Durham. But it’s also about the wider significance of the black church as a center for community activism.”
The virtual project, the idea of an NC State communications professor, is designed to explore the effectiveness of public speakers. When she saw the virtual Paul’s Cross project, which featured a digital re-creation of a medieval sermon in the James B. Hunt Jr. Library, she felt she could re-create a famous North Carolina speech. “We are interested in this as a rhetorical process,” says Victoria Gallagher, who teaches communication ethics and organizational communication. “We’re trying to understand how this type of public discourse affects people.”
For Gallagher, the project centers on the concept of “kairos,” a Greek term that describes the opportune moment when all elements come together. Her team is looking at audience, speaker, what the speaker says, and the exact moment in history. “When you bring about that right moment,” she says, “you have transformation.”
While the sermon holds a pivotal place in the history of the state and nation, Gallagher believes it offers lessons for the future. “What you find is when you hit these moments,” she says, “it’s important to have someone like King who can bring all these experiences together. It was him in that moment with the people at the church. We can use this to help people be great speakers.”
The sermon will be recorded and placed on a website that is under construction and should be ready later this summer. There, visitors can listen to King’s speech in different ways.
The re-enactment, open to the public, will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at White Rock Baptist Church in Durham.
Winning one of golf’s four sought-after majors each year can be a life-changing event for a PGA professional, sometimes taking an unknown to folk-hero status or simply adding one more piece of hardware to an already-great’s mantle. Members of a golfer’s family also feel the effects of that winning — or not winning.
Such was the case for Carl Pettersson‘s two children in August 2012 at the PGA Championship in Kiawah Island, S.C. Pettersson had held the lead after the first round and a share of the lead after 36 holes. But on Sunday, he couldn’t catch Rory McIlroy, who went on to win the championship by eight strokes. Pettersson, who graduated from NC State in 2000, finished tied for third, his best finish at a major during his 12-year career on the PGA Tour.
“We told our kids if Carl ever won a major, we’d get them a dog,” says DeAnna Pettersson, Carl’s wife and herself an NC State alumna. “So at the PGA, they were like, ‘Come on, Dad.’”
It’s not often that you get to hear stories of the golfers away from the course. But DeAnna Pettersson, along with other wives who belong to the PGA Tour Wives Association, have now pulled back the ropes, so to speak, and have offered readers a glimpse of PGA professionals at home with their families in the book Beyond the Fairways and Greens: A Look Inside the Lives of PGA Tour Families.
The book features 132 golfing families, from Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player to some of the youngest players on tour today. And there are some recipes included in the book, as well, to offer a taste of the golfers’ homes. All the proceeds from the book go back to the PGA Tour Wives Association and then go to all the charities they donate to through the year.
Pettersson says what’s interesting to her about the book is that it helps readers understand that PGA golfers and their families are like other families trying to juggle professional and private worlds. “Most people think it’s an extremely glamorous life, going to what oftentimes is a resort property,” she says. “But it’s a work week. We’re doing the exact same thing on the road. The laundry. The kids still have to go to school. It’s a job. And it’s a wonderful job.”
She says the PGA tour makes it easy for family and professional lives to intersect, adding that there’s a kinship among golf families. “We all feel like we’re family.”
Left to right: Carlie, DeAnna, Chase and Carl.
The Petterssons first met at East Village in 2000 when they were both at NC State — Carl, a Wolfpack golfer and CHASS major studying communication, and DeAnna, a CHASS major with a focus on textiles. They dated for a couple of years after graduation while Carl played on the European Tour and commuted to London. The couple married in 2003 and settled in Raleigh, and DeAnna soon started traveling with Carl to all the PGA events. These days, she still travels with him to the almost 30 events he plays a year, and they often bring along their daughter, Carlie, who is 9, and son. Chase, who is 6.
DeAnna laughs about being married to someone who plays golf, a sport she had no involvement with until she met Carl. And she says that the she’s grown more superstitious in her 14 years with him. “The longer we’re together, the more I’m involved emotionally and physically,” she says. ”I’ve become more superstitious. I’m like ’I was chewing gum and he bogeyed. Maybe I need to get rid of the gum.’…If he’s eaten eggs with Tabasco and he has six birdies, then we’re eating eggs with Tabasco sauce the rest of the week.”
The ups and downs of the golfing life are not lost on DeAnna Pettersson, and she realizes the magic can leave the golfer’s putter on the next hole or in the next round. That’s why Carl and DeAnna finally caved two months ago and got Carlie and Chase a chocolate lab named Grace.
Maybe a victory in a major tournament will come next.
Tyler Helikson remembers last August and the early days of Happy + Hale, a healthy option food delivery service in downtown Raleigh.
He and business partner Matt Whitley had just turned their vision into a company. There was nobody else but them and one line cook in a kitchen. The summer was bearing down on them as they took turns operating a juice tricycle on the corner of Hargett and Fayetteville streets.
Tyler Helikson, left, and Matt Whitley, right.
And then there was the delivery of Happy + Hale’s juices and salads, which could prove tricky with everything from a golf cart that might die to dangerous Raleigh traffic.
“I remember one time I was using Matt’s car for delivery, and a city bus came by and took off the door when I had opened it,” says Helikson, who graduated from NC State in 2007 with a communications degree. “But we looked at the vision and the lives we impacted, and we knew it would be okay.”
Helikson, 29, and Whitley, 26, have grown Happy + Hale into a downtown mainstay, offering healthy food in a quick way. They now have seven full-time employees, and that number will double in mid-June when the pair opens the company’s first brick and mortar store.
It’s the culmination of of a dream for Helikson and Whitley, who also attended NC State, who never strayed from what they saw as the bigger picture to the business.
“There was a serious need for and lack of quick healthy and delicious food in Raleigh,” says Helikson, a Charlotte native. “We knew as long as we continued to put in the hours and connected with a lifestyle choice, we would succeed.”
The idea first came to Helikson when he was traveling around the country in a previous job, selling champagne for Moet Hennessey. That experience gave him time to see other cities, like Los Angeles, Austin and Portland, Ore., that he says are ahead of the curve with flourishing downtown cultures. And it hit him that similar delivery options in those cities would take off in Raleigh.
“Raleigh’s one of those cities growing rapidly,” he says. “You have an influx of young, healthy, progressive people who are conscientious about their health.”