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Friday, November 2, 2007

Alumni Association entertains UNCP’s December grads

It’s been four years or more since the Alumni Association offered free slices of pizza to welcome these students as freshmen to the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Keynote speaker Paul Willoughby ‘73

Keynote speaker Paul Willoughby ‘73

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At the Alumni Association’s Senior Brunch on October 17, there were memories to look back on and a wide open future waiting for these soon-to-be graduates. Asked about their memories of college, some students like Rafael Torres, a senior from Fayetteville, N.C., was already looking ahead.

“Favorite memory?” he said. “When I am commissioned in December as an officer in the Army.”

Some future graduates looked back, some forward and some stood at the crossroads of the past and future.

  • “Lot’s of personable people,” said Heather Flanagin, a senior social work major from Washington State said. “I plan to stay in North Carolina, and, of course, I will remember this school.”
  • “When I made the Chancellor’s list the first time,” said Brandon Charles McLain, who will attend law school at either UNC-Chapel Hill or North Carolina Central University next fall.
  • “Meeting new friends, most of whom are younger than me,” said Lisa Allen, a criminal justice and sociology major from Bladen County.
  • “The travel opportunities I had,” said Salyna Dvorovy, a biology major from Florida. “I went to Spain to study language and New Mexico, Florida and Bermuda to study science.”
  • “I grew a lot here as an artist,” said Stephanie Aliscea of New York. “Favorite moments? When my work was displayed in GPAC, Old Main and the University Center.”
  • “When I got my Praxis scores in the mail, and I knew for sure I was going to be a teacher,” said Kim McNeill of Red Springs, N.C.
  • “My favorite memory was being part of the non-traditional student family and the GPAC family as a University Marshal,” said Don Woods, a social work major from Hoke County. “Yes, I will stay in touch with UNCP as a graduate student next semester.”
  • “Best thing? When I got my letter in the mail saying I would graduate,” said Michael McMillan, a history major from Whiteville, N.C.

Paul Willoughby, a 1973 graduate and successful McDonald’s restaurant franchisee in the Triangle, offered some thoughts to go forward with.

Seniors – From left: Lisa Allen, Kim McNeill, Brandon Charles McClain and Michael McMillan

Seniors – From left: Lisa Allen, Kim McNeill, Brandon Charles McClain and Michael McMillan

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“Yes, there will be situations you will face in the future,” he said.

A former teacher, football coach and corporate executive from Lumberton, N.C., Willoughby advised that success is not an accident, and it will require self discipline, perseverance and continuing personal growth.

Willoughby urged the seniors to associate with positive people who will set the right tone for their lives and open doors for them.

“As young people, you are who you run with, and a product of you environment,” he said.

He also encouraged the students to set goals.

“If you don’t know where you want to be in five years, you will end up right back where you are,” Willoughby said. “There are no quick fixes. Be patient and pay the price to get from the bottom, where I started, to the top.”

Seniors – From left: Don Woods, Stephanie Aliscea, Dwight Humphrey, Salyna Dvorovy and Rafael Torres

Seniors – From left: Don Woods, Stephanie Aliscea, Dwight Humphrey, Salyna Dvorovy and Rafael Torres

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The near-grads also heard from Chancellor Allen C. Meadors, SGA President Dwight Humphrey, Career Center Assistant Director Sarah Francisco, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies Dr. Kathleen Hilton, Alumni Association board member Sylvia Pate, Vice Chancellor for Advancement Sandy Waterkotte and Alumni Director James Bass.

Chancellor Meadors said a college education will always be with the graduates.

“You’ve earned it, and you should feel really good about being here today,” Dr. Meadors said. “You look at things differently today because you’re mind has been stretched.”

“That’s something that nobody can take away,” he concluded.

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