Some had ties that went back four generations; others brought a mom or dad who went to NC State. And for one mother and son, the Alumni Association’s Legacy Luncheon this weekend was particularly meaningful. Hristiyana Zhelezova became an NC State alumna and a legacy parent all in the space of a few months.
The luncheon is an annual tradition that brings together new students whose parents or grandparents are alumni, and parents get a chance to pin their child with a “legacy pin’’ to welcoming them into the Wolfpack family.
Zhelezova and her son Paskal came to the United States from Bulgaria six years ago along with her husband and daughter. The family didn’t speak English, and Paskal enrolled at Apex (N.C.) High School, taking English as a second language courses while his mother studied as well.
She had been a lawyer in Bulgaria and after mastering the language, was able to transfer the credits from her education to NC State and enroll in a master’s program in education, earning her graduate degree in May. Paskal graduated from Apex High, and spent two years at a community college before transferring to NC State and the Poole College of Management. “It was extremely difficult,” she said of the first few years in the United States. “But we worked hard.”
Paskal says he is thrilled to be able to study economics at NC State. And his mother was beaming as she pinned the legacy pin on Paskal. “We came here to build a new life,” she said. “Now our history will be here at NC State.”
The crowd of more than 700 parents, grandparents, students and siblings enjoyed a buffet lunch at the McKimmon Center along with pictures with Mr. and Mrs. Wuf and words of advice from Chancellor Randy Woodson (“Go to class,” he said.).
Paul Ridgeway, president of the Alumni Association’s board of directors, spoke of the excitement of students beginning a new chapter in their lives — but also of the emotions parents were likely feeling. “You will realize that they have really moved away,’’ he said to the parents, “and they likely will not return to live in our homes.” Ridgway should know. He was also there as a proud parent and alumnus, pinning his own son Isaac, who is an entering freshman.
“Hopefully, NC State has been a parent of these students’ lives since birth,” said Benny Suggs, executive director of the Alumni Association. “They have heard their parents’ stories, attended football or basketball games, seen the NC State symbols on sweatshirts and T-shirts and know the fight song by heart.”
His words were proven correct when the crowd stood up for a special appearance from the NC State Marching Band and sang, “We’re the Red and White from State.” Paskal and Hristiyana Zhelezova were clapping as loud as anyone.
—Sylvia Adcock ’81