If you’ve ever attended an event hosted by the NC State Alumni Association, chances are you’ve met Randy Ham. That’s because Ham, associate executive director for the Alumni Association, rarely passes up a chance to hang out with other Wolfpack alumni.
“People think I’m crazy because I tend to volunteer for things that our offices are not responsible for, but I enjoy it so much,” says Ham, who graduated from NC State in 1982. “The people associated with NC State are just so fantastic. You never pass up an opportunity to engage with people that you enjoy being around.”
Randy wears a lot of different hats at the Alumni Association, overseeing everything from outreach programs for alumni to management of the Park Alumni Center.
We talked with Randy about his work at the Alumni Association and some of his experiences at NC State:
How he ended up at NC State: Well, I started out as an engineer. I did quite well in science and math in high school and my guidance counselor said, ‘I think you’d make a good engineer.’ I took notice of NC State and when I realized they had a great engineering program, it was the logical place to come.”
First impressions of NC State: I absolutely loved it. It was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a larger experience, more people. It worked out great for me.
On a change of plans at NC State: Somewhere around the middle of my freshman year, I realized engineering was not where I wanted to be. It was a little bit of a struggle for me and I wasn’t enjoying my classes. I was lucky enough to have a great adviser who said, ‘ Have you taken anything at State so far that piqued your interest?’ I was actually taking an economics class as an elective and said, ‘Yeah.” So I ended up getting two bachelor’s degrees, one in business management and one in economics.
Favorite NC State memories: Oh gosh, the great people I met. We had a tradition – if you had a birthday, you ended up getting thrown in the fountain in front of the student center. I went into the fountain every March. And I can’t tell you the number of times I slept on the sidewalk in front of Reynolds trying to get a ticket. It was a great time.
All the signs point to a Wolfpack fan: If you look at the back of my car, you would see the NC State license plate and the decals on the window. If you walked into my garage, you would see all of my tailgating paraphernalia stacked up in one corner, with magnets and tents and chairs. My home office might as well be the NC State room. It has everything from my diploma to cross-stitched NC State patterns on the wall, to a picture of the 1983 national championship team on the cover of Sports Illustrated. On the porch, I have a flag.
On the benefits of belonging to the Alumni Association: In my mind, it’s just the right thing to do. My life is very different because I attended NC State University. I want to give something back to the university that’s given me so much. With our benefits, you can easily get back the mere cost of $40 a year. We have great discounts on auto insurance, home insurance, discounts to Overstock.com, Amazon.com, networking opportunities, reduced cost to attend chancellor’s events, access to things on campus other people might not have access to. It really does strengthen that tie that I think is so important.
Favorite event hosted by the Alumni Association: Our Alumni Legacy Luncheon that we do in the fall, when we invite the families that have an entering freshman whose parents or grandparents are alumni. We have a huge crowd. It’s a very emotional event, lots of tears, lots of laughs, lots of great stories. It’s just a real feel-good event. It emphasizes the generational tie that a lot of families have to the university.
Why he’s Red & White for Life: NC State is such a wonderful place. The opportunities I have been given, the people that I have met and the relationships that I have built will last me for the rest of my life. There’s a common bond between all Wolfpackers, and it’s hard to put into words. But red and white for life, that’s it.