Thursday, February 26, 2015

Coming Home to UNCW

Homecoming earns its name because alumni want to come back to UNCW - their home. I have a few months left at UNCW before I’m an alumna myself but I still went to the alumni events during Homecoming.

I work in the University Advancement Office as the Digital Marketing Intern. With every event that I attended, I was playing the role of both student and staff. I was at the International Festival on Saturday as part of my women’s a cappella group the Seabelles (that's me, all the way on the left), but I was also there to take pictures for Alumni Relations.

This was my first Homecoming experience. I didn’t know what to expect but I quickly realized why so much work is put into Homecoming – it’s a ton of fun! Technically I was working, but it didn’t feel like it. When we were under the TEALgate tent immersed in music from the UNCW Pep Band and a crowd of smiling faces, I knew I was coming back next year as an alumna. There was no way I was going to miss the good food and drink, the awesome light show, cornhole, bounce houses, catching up with other alumni – well, you get the picture. As a soon-to-be-graduating senior, it’s comforting to know I’ll be coming home in a year to see old bosses, professors, and friends at reunion events and the TEALgate.

UNCW Advancement/Christine Schulze '15

Friday, February 20, 2015

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients Honored at Homecoming

Left to right: Lt. Col. Robert Rideout Jr. ’95, Josh Vach ’87 and Ryan Crecelius ’06 

Lt. Col. Robert Rideout Jr. ’95, Ryan Crecelius ’06 and Josh Vach ’87 may have different backgrounds, but they share a common bond – a love for the University of North Carolina Wilmington and the distinction of being named distinguished alumni.

The three award recipients were honored during UNCW Homecoming held Feb. 13-14. Rideout, the 2015 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year; Crecelius, the Young Alumnus of the Year; and Vach, the Citizen of the Year, were nominated for these awards by fellow alumni and peers due to their achievements and contributions to their communities. Find out more about the recipients in WE ARE UNCW.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Introducing UNCW dubrai$er: Olivia Sadler ’15

When UNCW senior Olivia Sadler submitted an application to the dubrai$ers program in her sophomore year, she did not anticipate the experiences she’d create, or the benefits she would generate for her university.

As a dubrai$er, Sadler, 21, a Charlotte native and a communication studies major, calls numerous alumni and parents of students every week to share information about UNCW events and news. During these conversations, she updates alumni contact information and, most importantly, encourages everyone to participate in the university’s fundraising programs.

“Sometimes people can really open up to you when you’re on a call,” said Sadler, “but my favorite part about being a dubrai$er is speaking with alumni who are very passionate about UNCW. They are eager to give to and to help their university.”

Sadler shares this same passion about UNCW, especially for the faculty in the Department of Communications Studies.

“They really incorporate real-world applications into the education, and the faculty projects help set students up in the world,” she said.

When she is not working, Sadler enjoys attending concerts and plays. Sadler recently decided to take this hobby to the next level by getting an internship in event planning at the new Cape Fear Theatre located in downtown Wilmington. After graduating in May 2015, she hopes to continue with a career in event planning or enroll in graduate school.

According to Sadler, her time as a dubrai$er will serve her well in both graduate school and event planning.

In her three-year tenure as a dubrai$er, Sadler has raised more than $16,000, helping many UNCW departments and programs. These gifts were given in an average of $25-$50 amounts. Although the individual gift amounts are not large, their combined impact is meaningful. Gifts generated by the dubrai$ers provide funding for equipment and services across campus, including: supplies for student research projects; resources for student travel; textbooks for students in financial need; and scholarships for high-performing students.

Want to help the dubrai$ers make a difference at UNCW? Consider contributing to a scholarship or program that is meaningful to you. For more information, visit the Office of Annual Giving or call (910) 962-7613.

UNCW/Davis McKinney ’15

Monday, December 1, 2014

Alumnus Keeps It Personal, Shows How to Make a Difference

The Hawks for Hunger campaign has brought a heightened awareness to the staggering statistic that more than 22,000 children in the Cape Fear area are at risk of hunger. Long-time community advocate Daryl Dockery '06 is leading the fight to change this statistic, not only to feed these children, but to also nurture their minds.

Daryl opened the doors to Wilmington's Residential Adolescent Achievement Place (WRAAP) in 2005 and has been recognized for its community programs year after year. He measures WRAAP's success with test scores, evaluation interviews and other performance outcomes, like the distribution of 20,000 pounds of food last year with the help of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern N.C.

Photo credit:

Wilmington residents are fortunate to be enjoying the same coastal city the 20-year, non-profit veteran calls home. Daryl's passion for volunteer work and community activism has provided him with opportunities to partner with different local groups, as well as UNCW.

"His positive approach has brought UNCW faculty and students, business leaders, government officials, law enforcement officers and a variety of community volunteers together with children and families," shared Dr. Kathy Fox, Chair of the Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle, Literacy and Special Education in the Watson College of Education (WCE).

Daryl currently serves as an WCE Advisory Board member, a group of community members sharing knowledge for the integration and future of WCE programs in our communities. He has also worked with the Cameron School of Business, piloting a Young Entrepreneurship Program.

Ken Smith, WRAL News Anchor (left) and Daryl Dockery '06 (right).
As the Hawks for Hunger campaign winds down and coordinators get ready for meal distribution, Daryl is focused on this opportunity to address, "some gaps in services that help benefit at-risk children and families." He's excited about WRAAP's role in the campaign, noting it's perfect fit with one of his principles of successful social entrepreneurship: "personal involvement is the key to academic and social change."

Friday, November 28, 2014

Seahawk Love: Creating a Legacy

Each step you take on UNCW’s campus showcases evidence of the generations of Seahawks who have created the student experience that the university provides today. When George Barnes ’82 remembers his own student days, he often thinks of his daily bike ride from his home off Rose Avenue.

In contrast to many students in their late teens and early 20s, Barnes shared his home with his bride, Leonora Barnes ’80. She completed her nursing degree prior to his attending UNCW. After his graduation, the couple used their education to propel their careers, giving them opportunities to move across the nation.

“I was really good at taking poor performing places and making them good,” recalls Barnes, a retired utility plant operations executive. It’s been four years since he’s worked, and his team’s record-breaking performance still hasn’t been matched.

The Cameron School of Business graduate quotes many professors on his path to success, and he recounts the text from tattered text-book pages that have helped shape his management style. His decades of experience could easily fill a book themselves, and it’s been more than once that he’s been asked to teach others what he knows.

However, Barnes prefers to give back and support our next generation in another way – a way that honors the woman who captured his heart and continues to hold it tight. The Wilmington Society member has created a legacy for Leonora at UNCW that echoes her passion.

“She was the most caring person I have ever known,” he said about Leonora, who passed away in May 2014.

George Barnes '82 shares memories and his plan for a new nursing scholarship.

Sitting across from Barnes, who has managed billion-dollar operations in the highly regulated utility industry, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with pride by his accomplishments. But when his face brightens talking about Leonora’s generous nature, it’s obvious who he’s most proud of.

He shares memories about Leonora, especially how she was always looking for a way to lend a hand to help others. She got a lot of personal satisfaction out of it, he says, and it’s likely the reason she pursued a degree in nursing at UNCW. “She did a lot. She always gravitated towards things that helped people,” Barnes recalls.

When asked if Leonora learned her hard-working ethic from his example, Barnes laughs and admits that influence is likely from her mother. He also remembers her devotion to their son Alex, and her willingness to pass up executive trips to take care of him, even personal tours of Germany, Leonora’s native country.

Now, she’s the reason that George is creating a new scholarship for nursing students. 

The new, endowed scholarship will provide $4,000 annually to a high-achieving student in need. As Barnes hopes, it will provide the hands-on experiences that Leonora wanted to support in the nursing program.

“The gift will allow our School of Nursing to recruit and retain an outstanding nursing student who will make a difference in the health and life quality of individuals, families and communities in southeastern North Carolina and beyond,” said Dr. Charles Hardy, Dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences.

Barnes has created a legacy for Leonora that will forever benefit nursing students at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

“They need it,” he says of the gift in his late wife’s honor. “They need it right now.”

Friday, November 21, 2014

Eradicating Poverty and Supporting Economic Growth: A Regional Sociologist’s Mission

Meeting an alumna with a track record of presenting to the U.S. Congress and N.C. General Assembly is awe-inspiring, especially when you consider the fact that her work has led to economic development partnerships that receive millions in support. But, when you spend a few minutes with Dr. Leslie Hossfeld ‘83, watching her smile and wave to familiar faces walking by, any nervousness quickly fades away.

Leslie’s friendly, collaborative approach to working with others is essential to her success as co-founder of the Southeastern North Carolina Food Systems Program (SENCFS), which connects farmers to local businesses and consumers through its nonprofit initiative, Feast Down East.

Her latest partnership is one that she hopes many alumni will join. Feast Down East has teamed up with University Advancement, UNCW Campus Dining, Wilmington’s Residential Adolescent Achievement Place and the Food Bank of Central & Eastern N.C. to sponsor Hawks for Hunger to provide a meal to a local family for each new donation received from UNCW alumni and students. The campaign fits perfectly with the nonprofit’s goal of ensuring “access to healthy, affordable food” for everyone.

Partnering with Hawks for Hunger was an offer Leslie Hossfeld '83 couldn't refuse.

Spearheading Feast Down East represents just one part of Leslie’s plans to improve the quality of life in Southeastern North Carolina. As professor and chair of the UNCW Department of Sociology and Criminology, she is leading campus efforts to eradicate poverty in the region. Leslie believes we all are stewards of our communities and leads by example as a Clocktower Society member, showing consecutive philanthropic support to UNCW for at least three consecutive years.

“I focus on 11 counties in Southeastern North Carolina, and I work with USDA Rural Development thinking about change mechanisms we can have for our region. We want a vision for what that change could be over the next 10-20 years. How can we help grow communities? The university is a big part of that,” Leslie said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development provides financial support for economic development opportunities in rural areas.

One of her standout programs is the Community Campus at Hillcrest, where she has created a home base for the public sociology program through a partnership with the Wilmington Housing Authority. The program provides numerous service learning opportunities for students while also creating stronger connections between them and local residents.

“It gives me a lot of pride working with students who just jump into community work,” said Leslie.

“The students don’t come to a classroom on campus. It’s a two-semester program, so they have a year of working in the community.” She reflects on the impact these applied learning opportunities provide, citing how students often continue their studies and work in the same field. Feast Down East is another example of hands-on learning.

“[Students have] been involved in every aspect of this project. They are doing interviews, data analysis and planning and running programs,” she said.

Leslie still maintains a hands-on approach to addressing community social problems as she did during her work as a new graduate, teaching in South Africa during the apartheid era in the 80s and 90s.

Helping to shape her mission, Leslie is currently working on two books. One is a collaboration titled, “Food and Poverty,” and a second that will address the heritage of African-American agriculture in the Southeast. She also has inspiration from her decade-long project, Jobs for the Future Collaborative, which is currently conducting follow-up interviews with Robeson County residents on job losses due to the start of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Learning to Keep Going: Alumni Authors

It is increasingly difficult for writers to stand out from the crowd as publishing agents receive thousands of letters each month from aspiring authors. Writers try different tactics such as sending in query letters, including past publications and awards, or directly submitting pieces to editors with the hope of being discovered. Out of hundreds of submissions, an agent will only consider two or three to take on as clients. What, then, makes a writer stand out from a sea of other talented individuals? Emma Bolden ’05M, Jason Mott ’06, ’08M, and Carmen Rodrigues ’10M offer insight into what has made a difference in making it to bookshelves.

Emma Bolden
The primary support for young writers at UNCW is its stellar faculty who can teach by example. Emma Bolden ’05M, author of the chapbooks The Sad Epistles and The Mariner’s Wife, in addition to the book length series of poems Maleficae, was first attracted to UNCW to study writing in multiple genres, but fell in love with the program when she saw one of her favorite authors, Mark Cox, on the faculty list. Emma first began publishing in high school but still worries every day that her work will go unpublished, saying that “even now, when I see my books on shelves, I’m not certain that I entirely believe it."

Though Emma has never used an agent to publish, she shares that the biggest obstacles for any writer to overcome are internal: “learning when work is ready to be sent out, learning when work needs to be put aside, and learning to keep going – and going and going and going.” Recently published in The Rumpus, Emma explains that she is most proud of her essay “About The Human Hymen Membrane (Disambiguation)” which discusses her twenty-two year struggle with endometriosis and was especially difficult for her to write. As an assistant professor of Creative Writing at Georgia Southern University, Emma continues to pass along the determination, perseverance and support she was shown at UNCW.

Jason Mott
Like Emma, Jason Mott ’06, ’08M shares an appreciation for the faculty and was first attracted to UNCW when poetry lecturer and MFA coordinator Lavonne Adams visited Jason's class at a community college. Jason, author of The Returned, graduated magna cum laude and is one of only 683 students to earn both a BFA as well as an MFA in Creative Writing at UNCW. His hard work as a student earned Jason the Margaret Shannon Morton Fellowship and the Philip Gerard Graduate Fellowship.

Though Jason’s first published novel The Returned has recently been adapted into the critically acclaimed television series The Resurrected, this accomplishment was preceded with unfruitful endeavors. In addition to collections of poetry, Jason wrote several manuscripts that went unpublished and The Returned, a NY Times Bestseller, received its fair share of rejection letters before it was picked up by an agent.

Working on his writing projects during evenings, after returning home from his full-time job at a Verizon call center, Jason had to stay organized and focused. It was this diligence paired with his literary talents that eventually landed him a contract with a major publishing house and he is grateful for his good fortune. “As a writer, you dream of a publisher who is over the moon for your project,” he said in an interview with the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts.  Jason will be sharing about these experiences and more at the Summer Writer's Conference this weekend at UNCW where he will be a keynote speaker and workshop leader.

Carmen Rodrigues
Carmen Rodrigues ’10M is a Seahawk who believes her writing was strengthened by the “fluidity between disciplines” offered at UNCW. Carmen has published two well-received young adult novels, Not Anything and 34 Pieces of You, and is currently working on her upcoming novel Carry You With Me. While Carmen’s novels have been quickly picked up after being seen by several publishing houses, she struggled to find the right agents for her projects. Her experience taught her that agents consider multiple factors before signing a new client, including market trends, the writer's compatibility with the current roster, the project's immediate viability, and their passion for the manuscript. "They may still choose to pass on it," which Rodrigues takes in stride because, "that same agent will provide you with valuable feedback. A wise writer considers that feedback carefully."

Carmen recommends using the rule of five when deciding what to revise. “If five people you trust—agent, editor, teacher, fellow writer, or astute reader - express the same concerns about any part of your project, then listen and understand that some of what you’re trying to do isn’t working…yet.” She urges young writers to overcome rejection and keep working on their craft.

Emma’s professors at UNCW instilled in her what she considers very wise and true advice when it came to publishing her work. “When I was in graduate school, Professor Messer told us that she approached sending out submissions as a job.  You just have to keep going, to keep believing in your work, and to keep working!”

UNCW Alumni Relations/Chris McCall '14