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Meet Some of Our Outstanding 2018 Graduates

Graduates wearing caps and gowns celebrate
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Our community of 40,000 alumni will grow even larger this spring, as nearly 1,000 Humanities and Social Sciences undergraduate and graduate students earn NC State diplomas for their hard work.

Meet a few of our outstanding graduates and see what’s next for them after commencement.

Madelyn Afshar gets up close and personal with a camel while studying abroad in Morocco.

Madelyn Afshar

Major: Interdisciplinary Studies (Middle Eastern Language, History and Culture); Psychology

Scholarships and Awards: Fulbright Scholar (2018); Global Perspectives Certificate (2018); Gilman Scholar (2017, Morocco); Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation Scholarship (2017); Study Abroad Office Scholarship (2017); chosen as the 2018 Interdisciplinary Studies graduation student speaker

On Campus: Kappa Alpha Theta (founding charter member, 2013-2017); Dance Marathon at NC State (Morale Committee, co-director of Greek Relations, vice president of external relations, 2013-2017)

In the Community and Beyond: Volunteer refugee mentor with Lutheran Services Carolinas (2018); volunteer youth English teacher in Rabat, Morocco (2017); Intern Project Team Leader with the S.M. Sehgal Foundation in Gurgaon, India (2016)

What’s Next? I will be spending 10 months in Tajikistan through the Fulbright Student Program serving as an English Teaching Assistant. Afterward, I plan to attend graduate school for international affairs with a regional focus on the Middle East and North Africa. I plan to ultimately find a career in foreign services and diplomacy.”

Favorite Experience at NC State: My favorite experience at NC State has been my participation in the Global Perspectives Certification program. I was able to tailor my coursework and travel interests around the curriculum of the program, and I was encouraged to attend various cultural events that have both expanded my knowledge of different cultures around the world and inspired me to follow my chosen career path. What I have learned domestically and what I have experienced in my travels has shaped me into a more mature, globally-minded citizen of the world, and I am eternally grateful that I was offered the opportunity to grow like this here at State.”


Jackie Gonzalez poses for the camera

Jackie Gonzalez served two terms as an NC State senator before being elected Student Body President for the 2017-18 year.

Jackie Gonzalez

Major: Political Science

Scholarships and Awards: Stafford Student Leadership Scholarship; Member, University Scholars Program

On Campus: A leader in NC State Student Government, Gonzalez served two terms as a senator before being elected Student Body President for the 2017-18 year. She has also served as development chair for the Krispy Kreme Challenge, chair of the Student Media Board of Directors, an intern with the Chancellor’s Office, a Humanities and Social Sciences ambassador and a writer for NCSU PackPoll.

In the Community and Beyond: Gonzalez served as a legislative intern with the North Carolina General Assembly in 2017 and has also interned with the Wake County Democratic Party and the Roy Cooper for North Carolina campaign in 2016. She’s currently serving as Finance Director for Anita Earls’ campaign for N.C. Supreme Court.

What’s Next? Gonzalez will be pursuing a master’s degree in public administration in the near future. She will be focusing her efforts in advancement or development in the Raleigh area for education and/or social justice policies.

Favorite Experience at NC State: My favorite experience at NC State was being elected by thousands of students as the first Latinx Student Body President in NC State history.”


Anahzsa Jones portrait

Anahzsa Jones served as editor of the Nubian Message during the 2017-18 year, the publication’s 25th year in circulation.

Anahzsa Jones

Major: English

Scholarships and Awards: Humanities and Social Sciences International Connections Study Abroad Award (2017)

On Campus: During her senior year, Jones served as editor-in-chief of the Nubian Message, where she’s also held the titles of managing editor and writer. She has interned with the Humanities and Social Sciences communication office and Friends of the Library; she also served as a mentor for the Read to L.E.A.D. program.

In the Community and Beyond: During summer 2017, Jones studied abroad in England, where she took classes at Oxford, saw a Shakespearean play and visited famous landmarks such as the London Eye, among other activities.   

What’s Next? After graduation, I’m moving to New York with the support of my amazing grandparents, where I plan to pursue a career in publishing. My goal is to work with young adult fantasy with a focus on people of color.”

Favorite Experience at NC State: Serving as editor for the Nubian Message, particularly during its 25th year. I am especially grateful to have been a part of the paper at a time when its history was at the forefront. I got to shine a light on the problems faced by the black community at the time of the paper’s founding and celebrate how far the NC State community has come as a whole.”


Gillian Mahoney headshot

Gillian Mahoney interned at the National Museum of American History, where she produced a study of data standards and the work culture of NMAH.

Gillian Mahoney

Graduate Program: M.A., Public History

On Campus: “I worked as the editorial assistant for the International Journal of Middle East Studies my first year on campus. In my second year, I transitioned into a more traditional teaching assistant position. Beyond that, I served on the founding editorial board of the NC State’s History Department’s blog Brick by Brick. I was also involved in the group “Historians for a Better Future” which held several teach-ins.”

In the Community and Beyond: “As a part of my introduction to public history course, I worked with small museums who were hoping to create a programming plan for senior citizens. Through research grounded in scholarship of museum studies and gerontology, as well as needs assessment interviews conducted with social directors, I attempted to understand the diversity of methods museums could use to collaborate with older stakeholders and their individual needs.

“Last summer, I interned at the National Museum of American History, where I produced a study of data standards and the work culture of NMAH. This work included an assessment of past data standards handbooks as well as interviews with staff, identifying staff reticence and lack of communication as the cultural features that inhibited data standards implementation.

“Outside of the historical field, I am an assistant novice coach of a youth rowing team, Triangle Rowing Club.”

What’s Next? This summer, I’ll be working at the Library of Congress to process architectural photographs. In the fall, I’ll be at UNC-Chapel Hill to work on a master’s degree in information and library science. I’ll also work  at the Chapel Hill Historical Society to help researchers and to monitor and update the society’s archives.”

Favorite Experience at NC State: Being part of such a collaborative and supportive environment in the History Department and getting to work with extremely knowledgeable and passionate professors and fellow students.”


Edwin Maldonado cheers on the sidelines

Edwin Maldonado helped the NC State cheerleading team win two NCAA national titles in 2016 and 2018. 

Edwin Maldonado 

Major: Social Work

On Campus: As a student-athlete on the NC State cheerleading team, Maldonado helped the Wolfpack win two NCAA national titles in 2016 and 2018. 

In the Community and Beyond: Most recently, Maldonado has served as a case management intern with the nonprofit Stop Soldier Suicide. He’s also served as a volunteer with the Brentwood Boys and Girls Club, Healing Transitions and Habitat for Humanity. In addition, Maldonado has worked as a junior project coordinator for the recruitment firm Personify and an instructor at The Tumble Gym in Raleigh.

What’s Next? “I am still not completely sure. However, I have been accepted to the Master of Social Work program here at NC State and am also seeking full-time employment.”

Favorite Experience at NC State: My favorite experience at NC State was when we beat Duke in basketball during the 2016 season and we all ran from the Belltower to the Weisiger-Brown Athletic Facility to welcome the team back!”


Adora Nsonwu in Malaysia

Adora Nsonwu during her study abroad trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Adora Nsonwu

Majors: Anthropology; English (Language, Writing, and Rhetoric)

Scholarships and Awards: Caldwell Fellows Scholar; Shelton Scholars Fellow; 2018 Matthews Medal recipient; Outstanding Presentation Award at NC State’s 2018 Undergraduate Research Symposium, W.E.B. DuBois Honors Society President (2017-2018); 2017 Most Outstanding Woman’s Award in on-campus involvement; English Honors Program; Anthropology Honors Program

On Campus: Nsonwu has served as the president and vice president of the W.E.B. DuBois Honor Society, a resident mentor for Wood Wellness Village, an intern for the Shelton Leadership Center, and a member of the Afrikan American Student Advisory Council. She was also the Caldwell Fellows leader for Shack-A-Thon, a student-run fundraiser that helps bring awareness to the issue of affordable housing. Recently, Nsonwu conducted ethnographic research with Muslim American women in Raleigh and also helped present the results of a 2018 NC State diversity workshop, Art United.

In the Community and Beyond: Nsonwu interned with Project Y.E.S!, which provides youth development programs for military families affected by deployments or other service-related programs. She has also served as a service-learning teaching assistant for Habitat for Humanity, a Habilitation Technician for Lindley Habilitation Services and a teaching volunteer for The Vital Link Private Schools. In 2016, Nsonwu also traveled with a delegation of students and service providers on a 21-day trip to Malaysia to learn about forced migration of Rohingya refugees.  

What’s Next? “A joint degree in law and public health! I hope to use the skills that I have learned through the English department to advocate for my community and beyond. I am especially passionate about the challenges that immigrant and refugee communities experience, and hope to use my degrees to fight for fair and just access to healthcare.”

Favorite Experience at NC State: “The Caldwell and Shelton Fellows programs have truly changed my life. These are my favorite experiences because they have afforded me the opportunities to travel, study abroad, grow as a person and explore this beautiful world. Most of all, they have given me an unbelievably lovely community and the best friends I have ever had. I wouldn’t trade this for the world.”


Lucia Planchon with research poster.

Lucia Planchon poses next to her research poster.

Lucia Planchon

Name: Lucia Planchon

Graduate Program: M.A., Foreign Languages and Literatures, Hispanic Linguistics Track

Scholarships and Awards: “I received the very competitive Sigma Delta Pi Graduate Student Research Grant, which I used to collect data on Uruguayan speech, focusing specifically on the prepalatal variants in the dialect. I presented my research about Zheísmo and Sheísmo in Uruguay at three professional conferences and at NC State’s Graduate Research Symposium, where I received second place in the Humanities category. More recently, I participated in the Sigma Delta Pi graduate research panel at the Kentucky Foreign Language Conference.”

On Campus: I have been active in Sigma Delta Pi (NC State’s National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society) for the past four years, and currently serve as president. As a graduate student, I have worked with several professors, including Dr. Inma Navarro, Dr. Rebecca Ronquest, and Dr. Jim Michnowicz, to bring back FLS 335: Spanish for Native, Heritage and Bilingual Speakers. I served as the main source of publicity for the course by creating a survey that asked for Spanish speakers to share what they would look forward to in a class designed specifically for their language needs. The survey was sent out on various platforms, through organizations like Mi Familia and SHPE, as well as through Facebook groups and at various Latino events held on campus. With the results, Dr. Navarro was able to create a course that catered to the Latino population on campus.”

In the Community and Beyond: I volunteered at several community events focused on introducing the idea of language variation and dialectology to the public. One event was with NC State’s Language and Life Project at the State Fair. Another was with La Fiesta Del Pueblo, through the NC State Foreign Languages and Literatures Graduate Program, where we shared dialectal differences in the Latino population that resides in the Triangle region. Additionally, I’ve worked to provide translation services for Latino community members several times during my time at NC State.”

What’s Next? A few days after graduation, I will begin working with a nonprofit organization based in Selma, working to provide family resources to low-income families of Johnston County.”

Favorite Experience at NC State: I’ve had so many wonderful experiences in my six years at NC State that it’s hard to boil it down to just one. The Graduate Research Symposium this year was definitely a personal highlight, though, as I learned how to curb my inherent need to talk incessantly by having to share my research in under three minutes to people that may not even speak Spanish. Placing second was really the cherry on top of an amazing experience!”


Betty-Shannon Prevatt with her family.

Betty-Shannon Prevatt

Graduate Program: Ph.D., Psychology

Research Focus: “I returned to graduate school to further my study of  postpartum mood disorders. I was particularly interested in examining risk factors, identification, and treatment of mood disorders following the birth of a child. During my time at NC State, I’ve had the opportunity to explore all of these areas and not only to contribute to the scientific literature but also to work with local stakeholders and organizations to improve local resources.”

Scholarships and Awards: “My research has received a lot of attention, from Vogue to National Public Radio. Maternal mental health has recently been identified as a critical component of care for infants and new mothers and I am thrilled that my research is helping to increase public awareness. I received the Lutterman Award from the Mental Health section of the American Public Health Association for my work examining factors that contribute to women disclosing their postpartum mood symptoms to a healthcare provider. I was also the recipient of the John Oliver Cook Graduate Student Award in Psychology. In addition to these research awards, I’m equally proud to be recognized for my  teaching and undergraduate mentoring; I received the Award for Excellence in Mentorship in 2017 and the Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching in 2018 from the Graduate Student Association. Finally, I was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi this year.”

On Campus: “I have served as a primary instructor for several undergraduate psychology courses including Health Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and Applied Psychology. I value undergraduate education and was selected to participate in the  Preparing the Professoriate fellowship program this year.” 

In the Community and Beyond: “I have been able to present my research locally to train perinatal mental health providers in North Carolina. Additionally, I have presented at national conferences including the Biennial Perinatal Mental Health Conference, the American Public Health Association annual conference, the American Psychological Association annual conference, and the Postpartum Support International annual conference.”

What’s Next? “I have accepted my dream job! Starting in August, I will be a tenure-track assistant professor in the Psychology and Social Work Department at Meredith College in Raleigh.”


Mackie Raymond wears a straw hat

Mackie Raymond in a promo shot from Star Pocket Theatre’s production of The Member of the Wedding. Raymond, the co-founder and managing director of the theatre company, played the role of Frankie Addams in the production.

Mackie Raymond

Major: Communication (media concentration)

Scholarships and Awards: Dean’s List; Humanities and Social Sciences Student of the Month (November 2015); Student speaker at Gregg Museum Grand Re-Opening (2017); Attendee, North Carolina Theatre Conference Administration Intensive (2016)  

On Campus: A Humanities and Social Sciences ambassador since 2017, Raymond has volunteered with the Women’s Center, served as a research associate in the Department of Communication, and worked as a scribe, proctor, and access assistant for NC State’s Disability Services Office. She’s also been a member of Lambda Pi Eta, the Friends of Arts NC State Board of Directors, the NC State Vox Accalia and State Chorale choirs, and the Student Government Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Outreach Board. She served as a director and producer for NC State’s Central Campus Murder Mystery Dinner in its first two years, and has performed in a number of NC State University Theatre and TheatreFest productions.

In the Community and Beyond: Raymond co-founded and is managing director of Star Pocket Theatre, a local theatre company. She recently played the role of Frankie Addams in the company’s inaugural production of Carson McCullers’ The Member of the Wedding, and has performed with professional companies throughout the Triangle. She’s also interned with the Sehgal Foundation, Raleigh Little Theatre, and the nonprofit 826DC.

What’s Next? Raymond plans to continue her career in theatre performance and administration.

Favorite Experience at NC State: When aerial dance troupe Bandaloop performed as part of NC State Live’s 2015-16 season, Arts Village residents had the opportunity to try out their harnesses and get rigged into the air. It was a blast swinging around Stewart Theatre!”


Jesse Young stands in front of a river

Jesse Young near his home in Burnsville, North Carolina.

Jesse Young

Major: Religious Studies; Foreign Languages and Literatures (Spanish)

Scholarships and Awards: 2018 Religious Studies Prize (awarded by NC State’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies)

On Campus: Outside his own studies, Young has also supported his fellow students by serving as a tutor for student-athletes and a peer mentor in religious studies.

In the Community and Beyond: Young studied abroad at the University of the Basque Country (Spain) in spring 2017, where he studied philosophy and developed proficiency in Spanish.

What’s Next? This fall, Young will begin an M.A. program in religion at Florida State University, where he will study Buddhism under Dr. Jimmy Yu.

Favorite Experience at NC State: “Feeling very much at home after returning from studying abroad.”

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