Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wilmington College Reflections

Almost 50 years later, Shirley Zeznock recounts the story of the impact Wilmington had on her and husband Eugene ‘67. 

“In 1965, my husband Eugene and I moved our young family to Wilmington, North Carolina and settled on Harbor Island. Eugene planned to finish a bachelor degree in Accounting that he had starting working on years before at what was then known as Wilmington College, now UNC Wilmington. The original college buildings sat across from New Hanover High School on Market Street. At the time, Wilmington College only offered associate degrees and a large percentage of the student body was comprised of enlisted service men returning from the Korean War.

Our return to Wilmington was very exciting. We had previously lived in Wilmington in 1956 to 1957 and at that time I was a new Registered Nurse working the night shift at James Walker Hospital on Rankin Street.

During our second two years living back in Wilmington, 1965 to 1966, I had the best job ever at Babies Hospital. This children’s hospital originally opened in 1920 and was located on the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway just before the first bridge to Wrightsville Beach. I had returned to Wilmington as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) and was the sole anesthetist in the hospital. I previously had worked in a large and busy operating room so this new job felt almost like a vacation.

I lived five minutes from Babies Hospital. The daily schedule usually was finished by late morning and even though I was on standby six days a week for emergencies, I had lots of time to… take a few college courses. All the new-found free time gave me the opportunity to work with the Wilmington College Marine Biology department which was right next door to Babies Hospital. They were doing a wide range of studies that I found very interesting and they even had an adopted seal named Lucille on site.

We left after the Wilmington College graduation ceremony in 1967 for improved job opportunities near Philadelphia but throughout the years our connection to the area remained strong… and after our retirement in 1995, we permanently moved back to Wilmington. We still remember and cherish all the opportunities made possible for us here."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

An Advocate for Equitable Education

As a young man growing up in rural North Carolina, Sherick Hughes ’97 experienced inequities and opportunities at the intersection of race, class, gender, education and desegregated schools. He later witnessed those same inequities and opportunities while working with urban and rural public elementary school youth in North Carolina and Ohio.

His experiences sparked a desire to advocate and seek solutions that would provide equitable educational opportunities to all.

Over the years, Hughes’ work has aided in the advancement of education. His research was applied to a N.C. Supreme Court case involving schools; to rural extension education efforts in Pennsylvania; urban education policy efforts in Indiana; and, most recently, his research on the myth and math of affirmative action was requested by national- and local-level legal advisors. “It has the potential to be used in pending cases regarding race-conscious college admissions,” he said.

Read more about Sherick at We Are UNCW.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Meet the New Chapter Leadership

Joey Morganthall – Charlotte Area President
Grad Year: 2007
School & Major: Cameron School of Business, Business Administration & College of Arts and Sciences, Communications Studies
Current Employment: Broker, MPV Properties
Activities as a student: Vice President – Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, 4 Years- Club Soccer Team
What motivated you to get involved with the Alumni Association?
I wanted to give back to UNCW because of the quality experience I had at UNCW.  I want to ensure that my education at UNCW is a long term investment, and that Alumni continue to give back and help raise the standards of the University. 

Juliana Nesbit – Watson College of Education President
Grad Year: 2006
School & Major: Watson College of Education, Social Studies Certification,  B. A. in History, 
Current Employment: Social Studies Teacher at Topsail High School
Activities as a student: NC Teaching Fellow
What motivated you to get involved with the Alumni Association? I enjoy being able to give back to the university and the Watson College. I like the networking opportunities, building connections between the university and community, and having an inside look at how certain things at the university are run.

Will Owens – Triangle Area President
Grad Year: 1998
School & Major: College of Arts & Sciences, Sociology and Criminology  
Current Employment: Attorney/Partner, Owens & Miller, PLLC
What motivated you to get involved with the Alumni Association?
I gained a lot from my experience at UNCW, and want to give back to the extent I am capable from 120 miles west of Wilmington.  Through the Alumni Association, I've been able to both reconnect with former classmates, and also meet other alumni from other classes and even other generations.  We've formed good friendships and even a few business relationships.  By volunteering with the alumni association, I'm hopeful of helping other Seahawks foster the same positive experience. 

Jamie Kury Thompson – Communications Studies President
Grad Year: 2003
School & Major: College of Arts & Sciences, Communication Studies and French
Current Employment: Development Director, Coastal Horizons Center
Activities as a student: Alpha Phi, French Club, Study Abroad in Marseille and Paris
What motivated you to get involved with the Alumni Association?
I have had the pleasure of working with interns from the Communications Studies department over the last 8 years. It has been an incredible experience and it made me realize that I really enjoy staying involved with UNCW. It is so wonderful to see how much the department has grown since I was an undergrad and I want to find ways to be of service to a university that did so much for me as a student and now as a professional.   

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Lifelong Marine Biology Dreams Realized

Madeline Marens ’12 knew at the age of 5 that she wanted to be a marine biologist – a dream she never outgrew. She majored in marine biology and achieved her goal, landing a job as an aquarist at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

“I really enjoy the aquarium setting and feel like I can be engaged in shark conservation initiatives there,” she said. “The aquarium serves as an instrumental public agency to inspire and commit to the conservation of the environment. I enjoy the hands-on aspect of it.”

Marens credits several UNCW professors – Fred Scharf, Tom Lankford, Ann Pabst and Marcel Van Tuinen – for her passion for conservation.

“The education I received as an undergrad and now as a graduate student has helped me achieve the career I dreamed of as a child,” she said.

Find out more about Madeline at We Are UNCW.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards for Excellence in Teaching

A passion for teaching and a desire to help future educators are two things Frances Bessellieu ’82, ’99M and Sueanne McKinney ’82 have in common. The lifelong educators spent much of their careers helping at-risk or special needs children and preparing teachers.

They were honored by the Watson College of Education for their efforts to make a difference in the lives of young people and the advancement of teacher education. Bessellieu, a former teacher and consultant with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and McKinney, an associate professor of elementary education at Old Dominion University, were recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.

“I was well-prepared for the classroom and working with diverse populations,” McKinney said. “The number and quality of my field experiences gave me a realistic picture of the demands of teaching.”

Read more about Frances and Susanna at We Are UNCW.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Researching Issues Close to Home

Mount Everest may draw hundreds, if not thousands of people to Nepal each year, but it was the more remote regions that influenced Janardan Mainali '16M to study earth sciences. Nepal’s treacherous terrain affects more than just mountain climbers; it also impedes villagers’ access to basic elements like water. For his studies, Mainali was specifically interested in dynamics of natural resources and their inherent link to the people who live in the place he calls home.

Mainali, a Fulbright Scholar, began his master’s studies at UNCW in August 2014, and received a grant from the International Foundation for Science to fund his fieldwork in Nepal. “I was born and raised in a remote, hilly region of Nepal in an agrarian family,” he said, “and grew up observing change in the forests and farms around my house.” Following landslides, he said, “those barren lands were protected under the community forest regime and they are now full-fledged forests. That helped local people as they no longer had to walk long distances to collect forest products.”

As part of his master’s thesis in geoscience, Mainali collected data from 10 villages in his native Nepal to assess socioeconomic drivers of drought vulnerability in the Ramechhap district. “Thank you so much, UNCW and Wilmington, for being so accommodating to international students,” he said. “Thank you for making this journey so memorable. I will miss UNCW and Wilmington.”

Read more about Janardan at We Are UNCW.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Meet the new members at-large of the Board of Directors

The UNC Wilmington Alumni Association welcomed four new members at-large to our Board of Directors. These individuals will provide leadership and guidance to the association during their three-year term of service.

Danielle Bryant ’02 earned a bachelor’s in Business Administration and now lives in Raleigh, NC, serving as Human Resources Manager at Amec Foster Wheeler. There she is responsible for implementing human resource management strategies and acts as a strategic partner to the executive management team. Additionally, Danielle volunteers as a Meredith College Business student mentor, Chair of a Human Resources Construction Council and member of the Raleigh Wake Human Resources Association.

Deborrah Newton ’83 earned a bachelor’s in English and is currently an attorney, licensed to practice law in both state and federal court. Owner of Newton Law Firm, Deborrah litigates trial and appeal cases, with a concentration in State and Federal Criminal Law. She has served as both Secretary and President of the Wake County Academy of Criminal Trial Lawyers and is currently a member of Governor McCrory’s Mental Health and Substance Use Commission. Deborrah’s daughter Brittany is also a UNCW alumna, carrying on the UNCW legacy.

Cedrick Barrett ’00 attended UNCW on a full academic scholarship and earned a bachelor’s in Business Administration. Cedrick works as the Finance Director for the YMCA of Wilmington, Inc. where he is responsible for the fiscal management of the organization. Cedrick is currently a board member and past treasurer of DREAMS of Wilmington, and won the New Hanover County Partnership for Fatherhood Award in March 2016. He has remained actively involved with UNCW by attending alumni events and creating opportunities for students through partnerships with the career center and the Upperman African American Cultural Center.

Louis “Gus” Fennell, Jr. ’00 earned a bachelor’s in Business Administration, while serving on the Student Government Association as the Junior Class Senator and Senator at Large. Currently, Gus lives in Charleston, SC, and is a Vice President at BlackRock, Inc. where he works with investment professionals in North and South Carolina. Additionally, he serves on the Advisory Board for the Cameron School of Business Economics/Finance department.

Additionally, the board welcomed new chapter representatives:
· Joey Morganthall ’07 – Charlotte Area President
· Will Owens ’98 – Triangle Area President
· Juliana Nesbit ’06 – Watson College of Education President
· Jamie Thompson ’03 – Communications Studies President

Check back next month for more about these representatives.

To learn more about the role of the Alumni Board of Directors, and renewing members Brian Cruz and Dawn McKernan, visit