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Alums Get in the Game (Shows)

Posted on October 8, 2014 10:16 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Our alumni get out there and get in the game. Literally, in some cases.

Tensie Taylor

Tensie Taylor on the set of Wheel of Fortune

Tensie Taylor ('09 BA, Communication with a minor in Psychology) will appear on Wheel of Fortune on Thursday, October 9 (7:30 pm on ABC). Taylor, who today manages the Black Alumni Association at USC, is fulfilling a lifelong  ambition. She told her story to NC State's alumni association in this article, and to the News and Observer in a recent interview.

Taylor worked for two years at NC State's Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity before heading to school in L.A. in August 2012. She focused on her studies and earned a master's of education in postsecondary administration from the University of Southern California in May. Meanwhile, she pursued her Wheel of Fortune dream with dogged determination: she applied 365 times in 2013.

Taylor foretold her future at a going-away party before she left her hometown of Louisburg, NC, for California in 2012, assuring her friends and family that one day they would see her compete. Everybody laughed then.

As  N&O reporter Lori Wiggins writes,

Taylor credits her tenacity to family, just as much as she does the bullies who tormented her physically and emotionally throughout school for being both petite and academically gifted – or, in the misguided words of some, “white on the inside and black on the outside, like an Oreo.”

Taylor’s already a winner with a message she’ll one day record in a book she will call “The Oreo Cookie that Didn’t Crumble.”

“I want to use my voice as a beacon of hope to other people: Don’t give up, be persistent and be patient,” she said. “Whatever dream you have, don’t ever give up; just don’t ever give up. I thank those people now.

“I refused to let them see me fail, or to let myself fail; I turned negative situations into positive ones. Now, look ... I get the last laugh.”

Josh Hager

Josh Hager with Alex Trebek on Jeopardy

Another alum, Josh Hager ('11, MA, Public History), competed on Jeopardy last week. He reigned as champion for a full two hours, and walked away with $26,100 -- enough to pay off his student loans -- as he told NC State's alumni association in this article.

When he's not competing on national television, Hager works as a correspondence assistant at the State Archives of North Carolina. “I love the fact that I get to work with North Carolina history every day,” Hager told the alumni association. “It is common for me to work with 200-year-old documents every day. What really is most rewarding to me is helping people find what they are looking for.”

Alums Create "Harbinger"

Posted on August 25, 2014 10:29 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Harbinger posterFilmmakers Kieran Moreira and Andrew Martin were sitting around in the summer of 2012, charged by their boss at Drawbridge Media, a Raleigh video production company, to find content the studio could produce. They read script after script, but nothing really struck the pair. So Moreira decided to present his own idea.

“I had this one idea I called ‘Cloud Fortress,’” says Moreira, who graduated from NC State with a film studies degree in 2011. “I had this image of a boy trying to climb up to the sky.”

That nugget turned into the new short film, Harbinger, that Moreira directed and co-wrote with Martin. The independent movie will premiere at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on Centennial Campus Wednesday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

The film centers around the relationship between a mother and her young son Harold, whose imagination helps him deal with the changing complexities of his reality. “We had always seen it as a fantasy based in reality,” Moreira says. “The fantasy hides the more harsh realities of the world. Harold is at a transition. He is discovering things from his past. So the fantasy is an escape, but it is a shield, too.”

Moreira and Martin, who graduated from NC State in 1999 with a textile engineering degree, learned their own realities could be harsh as well in the three years it’s taken to get the film out. They launched a campaign on Indiegogo to raise money for the production costs, and they didn’t reach their goal. And they didn’t have the luxury of focusing solely on their movie.

“There were tremendous challenges,” Martin says. “This was going to be a year or two of our lives. Even though Drawbridge was encouraging us, we still had a full slate of work from our day jobs.”

But the fact they were able to pull it off with the help of many volunteers was instrumental in accomplishing one of their main goals. They felt they could show that while movies like Iron Man 3, some of which was shot in Cary, N.C., garner a lot of attention for the film industry in North Carolina, there is a strong independent movement afoot in the state that is already producing quality work.

“Something we always wanted to do was to showcase the talents here at home,” says Paul Frateschi, the film’s director of photography and a 2009 NC State communication graduate. “A lot of those big films come in and bring in a DP [director of photography] from New York or out of state. We wanted to show what quality work we’re doing here locally. It was freelance crew people. It was the actors. We wanted to tell a North Carolina story with a North Carolina crew and cast.”

And that goal is tied to another one Martin sees as directly tied to his Wolfpack roots. “Ultimately, so much of the reason we did this was to build the community,” he says. “We would love to build the film studies program and communication department at NC State so more film can come out of there.”

This article by Chris Saunders originally appeared in NC State's Red and White for Life blog, produced by the NC State Alumni Association.

Conducting Defining Research: A Defining Experience for Undergrads

Posted on July 22, 2014 7:43 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Student researcher Ann Paschall works alongside Prof. Ann Ross.

Student researcher Anna Paschall works alongside Professor Ann Ross.

Creating new knowledge. It's one of the big benefits of studying at a research-intensive university like NC State. And conducting important research is not reserved for faculty and graduate students; we encourage undergrads to conduct research, too.

CHASS Associate Dean Vicki Gallagher has spearheaded our college’s drive to get more undergraduates involved with research. Students can propose research projects and work with faculty mentors, supported by small grants made possible through, among other sources, contributions to the NC State University Foundation. "These research projects give students hands-on mentoring in how to be a researcher," says Gallagher. "It's akin to an apprenticeship. And while the experience has a profound and lasting impact on the students, the resulting research produces new knowledge that is of value to others as well." Gallagher hopes to make funds available again this year.

In the video below, three students describe their projects: Daniel Gallagher (Communication, '13), worked alongside Assistant Professor of Communication Nicholas Taylor on a mixed methods analysis of the growth and development of the electronic sports scene globally, and at the hugely popular League of Legends game specifically. Kevin Farrow (English, '13) worked with Associate Professor of English Huiling Ding  to look at retracted publications in the field of engineering as a way to study misconduct such as plagiarism and falsification of evidence. Anna Paschall (Biological Sciences '16) was mentored by Professor of Anthropology Ann Ross as she investigated how to estimate the size of bullets from cranial gunshot wounds.

Want to support student research? You can make a life-changing experience possible for a student with your gift to the CHASS Enhancement Fund.

This video was produced by students in COM 437, Advanced Digital Video, in 2014.

In Ancient Artifacts, A Newfound Passion

Posted on June 17, 2014 10:20 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Jordan Karlis describes herself as an "incredibly shy" incoming student at NC State. That's hard to imagine when you see the confident, articulate senior in this video. But listen as she describes how the archaeological dig she worked on in Petra, Jordan -- the Petra North Ridge Project -- changed her life. Take note of her enthusiasm for the research that has given her a window to the ancient past. Hear her describe what a privilege she finds it to work with pieces of pottery that are 2,000 years old -- how connected she feels to the people who once used them. You understand the transformation this first-generation college student has undergone as she conducted research and studied abroad. She has found her passion.

Since she participated in the Petra dig in 2012, Karlis, who's majoring in history and in anthropology, has been immersed in a research project related to the Petra artifacts under the mentorship of  Professor of History S. Thomas Parker. She returned to Amman, Jordan, in 2013 to present her research findings at an international conference."For an undergraduate to give a paper at an international conference is quite a feather in anyone's cap," says Parker, who has served on archaeological expeditions in the Middle East for more than 30 years. "I'm really proud of her."

The featured video was produced by NC State undergraduate students of COM 437, Advanced Digital Video, in 2014.

Virtual MLK Project: Fill Up The Jails

Posted on June 6, 2014 12:46 pm by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Fill Up the Jails MLK giving speechThe sanctuary of White Rock Baptist Church was filled with 1,200 people on the evening of Feb. 16, 1960, probably the biggest gathering possible on a wintry Tuesday night in the Bull City.

It was just a few days after the historic Woolworth’s sit-ins in nearby Greensboro, and the room was full of activists, students and local residents who were eager to hear what the speaker at the special midweek meeting had to say about the students’ nonviolent civil disobedience against segregation.

What they heard was the Rev. Martin Luther King’s first public call to break the law with their protests.

“Let us not fear going to jail,” King told students who were staging similar sit-ins in Durham. “If the officials threaten to arrest us for standing up for our rights, we must answer by saying that we are willing and prepared to fill up the jails of the South.

“Maybe it will take this willingness to stay in jail to arouse the dozing conscience of our nation.”

The full text of King’s original speech, officially titled “A Creative Protest,” is available here.

Virtual MLK Project

On Sunday, June 8, at 3:00 p.m., noted MLK actor Marvin Blanks will re-create King’s speech at White Rock’s current location on Fayetteville Street in downtown Durham. The original site was demolished long ago to make way for the Durham Freeway.

The re-enactment is part of the Virtual Martin Luther King Project, a digital humanities research study by NC State communication professors Matt May and Victoria Gallagher to understand how oral recordings are perceived given alternate viewpoints and settings. Three different audio recordings of the re-enactment will be available through a website to be created later this summer.

This is the first phase of a larger project that seeks to follow in the footsteps of English professor John Wall’s Virtual Paul’s Cross project, featuring a digital re-creation of a sermon given in the medieval London churchyard.

The event at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday is free and open to the public at White Rock Baptist Church at 3400 Fayetteville St., Durham, N.C.

By Tim Peeler. This article originally appeared in the NC State Bulletin.