I was recently awarded the amazing honor of receiving the NC State Matthews Medal. Here are my essays for the medal and my speech I gave at the ceremony.
How have you contributed to the NC State community in a way that will have a lasting effect on campus?
For most people, our goal is to humbly lend our service to organizations and events that we deem worthy. After all, it is a goal of most people to make a difference in what they do. For me, I was raised to work hard, be honest, and to make a difference. I was taught to be a responsible citizen and to give back to what gave me to me. One thing that has given much to me, which I can say with absolute certainty, is NC State. It is my sincere hope that I have been able to give back a fraction of what has been given to me.
I did not begin my collegiate journey at NC State. Instead, it began at Campbell University, a small private school in Buies Creek, North Carolina. I had been accepted to NC State for civil engineering out of high school and was planning on attending. I was even a Park Scholar nominee by my high school. However, I was also accepted to Campbell on, for all purposes, a full scholarship. At the time, it was a difficult but logical decision, I would attend Campbell and study trust management. Soon after beginning at Campbell, I realized I had made the wrong choice. Campbell is a great school, it is growing exponentially and making great strides to expand its brand, but it just was not for me. I spent a lot of time that semester visiting my future roommate at NC State. After one semester at Campbell, I transferred away to attend NC State, but would continue my studies in business.
My decision to transfer from Campbell to NC State is one that I would never regret. The transition from a small private school to a giant public institution was a bit difficult at first. I spent a good deal of my first semester, the spring of 2008, finding my way around NC State and meeting people. I soon began to fall for NC State, but it was not until the fall semester of 2008 that I would fall completely in love with NC State. I had been in marching band in high school and had even been “recruited” to join a couple ACC bands at Clemson and Virginia. Campbell did not have a football team, let alone a marching band, when I attended, so the lack of musical presence in my life needed to be filled at NC State. In the fall of 2008 I joined the marching band and was thrown into an ocean of NC State spirit. In my opinion, it is impossible to participate in one of our athletic bands without becoming a Wolfpack fan through and through. I was introduced to a world of different people, events, and the spectacle of Wolfpack football. I sweated on the field during rehearsal, played and cheered my heart out at home football games, and traveled to Birmingham, Alabama to perform and cheer on the team during our bowl game. I experienced an explosion of talent in the marching band that created what many alumni have called, the best marching band NC State has ever had. At this point in time, NC State began to give to me, and I back to it.
The following years I began to give completely back to NC State. I joined student government in the fall of 2009 and began to work on the Kay Yow Memorial project in July of 2009 as well. I would like to believe that the Coaches’ Corner will provide a lasting impact on NC State as it will honor the achievements and spirit of those who gave so much to NC State basketball, such as the first coach honored, Kay Yow. Next, the project will be expanded to include other coaches, such as Everett Case, Norm Sloan, and James Valvano, who all embodied the true spirit of NC State. Hopefully the memorial will stand for generations of future NC State students so that they may see and honor those whose influence should be felt by all fans and alumni. As the athletics representative in student government, I enjoyed quite a few experiences where I gave much to NC State. I have worked for two years, finally succeeding this year, in developing a new student ticketing distribution system to adequately award loyal students the seats they deserve. I believe this ticketing system will be the best in the ACC and will make NC State students the envy of the conference. It was not an easy route to get to the new system. I endured quite a bit of criticism from fellow students, participated in some heated closed-door debates with administrators, and pushed administrators constantly to do their best for students. I also hope that some of my other initiatives including student appreciation nights and residence hall challenges will continue for years to come.
NC State has given much to me. I have a world-class education, many life long friends, and some of the best experiences I could have ever dream of having. I took it upon myself to give back to the institution that has given me so much, and I hope that what I have done, and what I plan to continue doing, will continue to reflect positively on the university for generations to come.
What makes a good alumni body and how will you contribute to that community?
There are many different interpretations of what makes a good alumni body. I’m sure you could find many different opinions in the NC State Alumni Association alone. To me, a good alumni body is one that is actively engaged, giving, and supportive.
First, I believe that a good alumni body should be actively engaged. A large public institution, such as NC State, is constantly growing and undergoing change. Change is fluid, especially in today’s world. There are many committees and areas to be involved in an alumni association, and a good alumni body will take advantage of those opportunities. After all, most alumni’s lives have been shaped by NC State; we need to be able to shape NC State’s life as it continues to grow as well. Input needs to be given by those who have been there and attended NC State. I plan to continue my record of serving on university and university associated committees whenever possible after graduation.
Secondly, I believe that a good alumni body should be giving. A public university is a non-profit organization that needs the support of its alumni to grow and function. I believe that a good alumni base sees the need for monetary support and actively seeks to aid in the operation of the university by giving generously and whole-heartedly to the university. Being a land grant university, NC State falls into a trend of having a smaller endowment than local peers such as UNC-Chapel Hill, Virginia, and South Carolina. In order to continue NC State’s growth and success in areas such as Centennial Campus, technological and medical research, and business growth, alumni need to support this growth by actively seeking to expand the university’s endowment. This is an area that I am very passionate about, as it is a dream of mine to work in our university’s development department. I hope to one day be able to work to achieve record levels of giving by our alumni base and grow our endowment to never imagined levels.
Lastly, I believe that a good alumni base should be supportive. Yes, constructive criticism is an asset, but constant strife is not productive, nor a conduit to success. Sometimes I feel that our alumni base is not as harmonious as it should be, though I believe we are moving in the right direction. You see other alumni bases at schools such as UNC-Chapel Hill and UVA who support everything that their university does, which leads to high levels of giving and engagement. If we, as an alumni base, encourage a better community and family atmosphere, I believe that our alumni base will become even more united and supportive, which is essential to a strong university. I hope to help continue the advancement in this area through increased alumni communication and pushing the envelope to have even better alumni relations.
A good alumni base is essential to sustaining growth and success at a university. A university would not exist without students, and would not grow without alumni. I feel that our alumni base is one of the best in the country, and I also feel that we do not, and cannot, settle for being as good as we currently are. Through increased engagement, giving, and support, our alumni body can propel NC State University to levels of success never previously imagined.
Receiving the Matthews Medal is an amazing honor that I will truly cherish my entire life. While growing up, my family always taught me to humbly work hard to give to those in need and to give back to those who gave to me. I can say without doubt that NC State University has given me more than I could have ever imagined. It is my hope that I have been able to give back but a portion of what has been given to me.
I didn’t begin my college career at NC State, but it only took me one semester away to realize that NC State is where I belong. Coming here has been one of the greatest decisions of my life.
During my time here, two things equally stand out as the most satisfying parts of my experience as a student. First, is the moment where I stood back after the press conference and finally realized that the Kay Yow Memorial had been completed. What an honor it was to meet the people I did, and to work on something to memorialize someone who epitomized what NC State represents. Secondly, it wasn’t always the most fun part, but easily the other most satisfying thing for me was representing students during my time in Student Government. I
served as our Student Athletic Director, as a part of Student Government, for the past two years, and during my time faced quite a few challenges with ticketing, tailgating, and other issues on the external operations side. However, no matter how frustrating or difficult things got, a special thanks for this goes to my fellow students, I always felt satisfied knowing that I was giving everything I had to fight for students.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my parents and family for always being there for me. I would also like to thank everyone here who has helped, advised, or been a friend to me along the way. You are all special and unforgettable people.
I will be forever grateful to NC State for the things that I’ve learned, experiences I’ve had, and people I’ve met, and I will work the rest of my life to make sure that future students are able to have the same, and better, experiences and opportunities as me.