EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Oct. 24, 2019) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University celebrated its annual Fall Convocation program Thursday, Oct. 24, in Harrison Auditorium. The program recognized student athletes for their academic and athletic accomplishments and welcomed back alumni for “The Greatest Homecoming on Earth” celebration.

At this year’s event, Kevin H. Wilson Jr. ’11, an Oscar-nominated and Student Academy Award-winning filmmaker based in New York City served as the keynote speaker.

In 2017, Wilson won the gold medal at the 44th Student Academy Awards for "My Nephew Emmett," a 20-minute short film based on the true story of the 1955 murder of Emmett Till. Months later, the film was nominated for a Best Live Action Short Film Oscar at the 90th Academy Awards. It also garnered him a Directors Guild of America Student Film Award and a BAFTA Student Film Award. He has a B.S. in journalism and mass communication from North Carolina A&T and an M.F.A. in film production from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Wilson speech focused on following your dreams and overcoming the odds of rejection. He shared his difficult but rewarding journey of pursuing film school, and the perseverance and faith he needed to produce his Oscar-nominated film.

“If you have a dream, you must fight for it and the fight starts now,” said Wilson. “As an Aggie, it’s in all of us to keep fighting and to never give up. It’s the Aggie spirit that will not allow us to fail.

“I believe while I attended A&T, it was the training grounds I needed to prepare me for what I was going to face in New York.”

While the university commemorated the 93rd edition of the Greatest Homecoming on Earth, it also honored and recognized seven alumni for their outstanding work and accomplishments, on behalf of their respective colleges.

Wilson was also an award recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

The following received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award:

Rosa Purcell, Ph.D. ’70 – College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Graduated from A&T’s Department of Home Economics (now Family and Consumer Sciences) in 1970 and earned her M.Ed. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in Home Economics Education (now Family and Consumer Sciences Education). Her professional experiences include serving as a high school teacher in Louisa, Virginia, an extension advisor at the University of Illinois and associate professor and department chair of family and consumer sciences at A&T. While at A&T, she served the university as coordinator of the family and consumer sciences education program, the consumer sciences concentration and the Master of Arts in Teaching in family and consumer sciences education. She also initiated accreditation for the department by the American Home Economics Association in 1984, initiated the dietetics program accreditation by the American dietetic Association (now known as the Accreditation Council for Education in nutrition and dietetics) and developed the Master of Arts in Teaching in family and consumer sciences education. After more than 35 years of employment at A&T, Purcell retired in June 2014 and immediately established the Dr. Arthur and Rosa Purcell Endowed Scholarship Fund to support students in the department of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Hilda M. Pinnix-Ragland ‘91 – College of Business and Economics

A retired Duke Energy corporate affairs and business executive acknowledged for building best-in-class organizations that consistently achieve aggressive revenue and profit objectives. She serves as chief financial officer at AHK Global Resources. She is a dedicated board member/advisor to numerous industry, educational and community organizations, bringing new strategy and processes to enhance effectiveness. She is also on the advisory board of BB&T Bank and 8 Rivers Financial Capital Inc., and serves as vice chairwoman of the North Carolina A&T Board of Trustees. Pinnix-Ragland holds a B.S. in accounting from A&T and an MBA from Duke University Fuqua School of Business. She also completed graduate studies in taxation at St. John’s University and the Executive Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of government.

Brenden A. Hargett, Ph.D. ‘91 – College of Education

A behavioral health professional with more than 25 years of extensive clinical experience in a variety of settings. Hargett works at High Point University in the Office of Student Life as the substance abuse educator/addictions specialist. In July 2019, he was appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper to serve as a member of the North Carolina Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services. He is the vice president of the North Carolina Foundation for Alcohol and Drug Studies board of directors and is a mentor for the National Board for Certified Counselors’ Minority Fellowship Program. He previously served as adjunct faculty at Winston-Salem State University and A&T. He has a Ph.D. in rehabilitation counseling and rehabilitation counselor education from A&T. He is a licensed professional counselor (LPC), licensed clinical addiction specialist (LCAS) and a nationally certified counselor (NCC) with a Master Addictions Counselor (MAC) designation.

James C. Dalton ‘78 – College of Engineering

The director of civil works at Headquarters, United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in Washington, D.C., where he leads, manages and directs the policy development, programming, planning, design, construction, contingency operations and emergency response, operation and maintenance activities of the Army Civil Works Program, which is a $6 billion annual program of water and related land resources of the United States and oversees the work of more than 25,000 civilian employees. He also represents the USACE in the United Nations Advisory Board High-Level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and disasters, serves in several national and international water resources committees, and serves as the U.S. chair of the Columbia River Treaty Permanent Engineer Board — a major treaty between the USA and Canada for flood risk. His career at USACE began in 1978 immediately following the completion of his B.S. in architectural engineering from A&T.

Faye Z. Belgrave, Ph.D. ‘73 – College of Health and Human Services

A university professor of health psychology, professor of psychology and founding director of the Center for Cultural Experiences in Prevention at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Belgrave’s programmatic and research interests are in the areas of health disparities, including drug and HIV prevention among African Americans and other ethnic minorities. Her research also focuses on the role of culture and context in prevention interventions, on women’s health, and gender-related issues. She has been the principal investigator of several federal grants to implement programs and conduct research related to reducing disparities for racial/ethnic minorities. She has mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students, community members and junior faculty, and supported them in establishing successful careers. She has received many awards and recognition for her research, teaching and service including the American Psychological Association’s Psychology and AIDS Leadership Award and Lifetime Achievement Award, the Association of Black Psychologist’s distinguished Faculty Award, and the State Council of Higher Education (Virginia) Outstanding Faculty Award. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, her M.S. from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and her B.S. from A&T.

Michael R. Watkins ‘83 – College of Science and Technology

A global executive management professional with more than 35 years of experience, including more than 10 years of profit and lost (P&L) management. His experience also encompasses 20-plus years of the following: product and process (manufacturing) engineering; manufacturing operations; quality, supply chain, supplier quality and development; and executive leadership experience in low, medium and high volume global environments within the automotive, heavy truck, outdoor power equipment, off-highway/specialty equipment and electric motor/ generator industries. Watkins is with Regal Beloit Corp., a $4 billion Wisconsin-based global manufacturer of electric motors and generators, where he is the global director of supply chain quality, development, critical processes and compliance. He is chairman of the Department of Applied Engineering Technology (AET) Advisory Board in the College of Science and Technology at A&T and has served on the board for more than 10 years. He has a B.S. in manufacturing engineering technology from A&T and an Executive MBA from Bowling Green University. He has attended executive leadership programs at the University of Wisconsin and University of Michigan.

Among university and local officials in attendance, greetings were brought by Venessa Harrison, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees, Goldie Wells, Ph.D Greensboro City Council District 2, and Allison Gilmore, president of the Student Government Association.