A&T Honors 12 Distinguished Alumni at Fall Convocation during Homecoming

By Alana V. Allen / 11/02/2023 Alumni

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Nov. 2, 2023) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University celebrated its annual Fall Convocation program Thursday, Nov. 2, honoring 12 distinguished alumni.

Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. welcomed alumni to the Greatest Homecoming on Earth celebration before Keli Christopher ’94 delivered the keynote address.

Christopher is founder and CEO of The STEM Greenhouse, an organization that prepares children of color for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Established in 2014, The STEM Greenhouse specializes in fun and hands-on STEM programs for students in kindergarten to 12th grades. The organization prides itself on serving more than 600 youth in Grand Rapids, Michigan through after-school, in-school and summer programming.

Christopher’s passion for growing minority participation in STEM disciplines has driven her to serve as national president of Alpha Epsilon Honor Society for Agricultural Engineers and on the board of the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. In addition, she received the Brilliance Award in the Social Change Agent category from West Michigan Woman Magazine in 2020, the Malinda Sapp Legacy Award from the Grand Rapids Symphony in 2021 and the Nolan Groce Business Leadership Award from the Urban League of West Michigan in 2023.

Christopher received her bachelor’s degree in agricultural and biosystems engineering from North Carolina A&T. She also received both a master’s and doctoral degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she became the first African American to receive a Ph.D.

Christopher’s speech focused on the joy she found for doing the important work of helping more kids while overcoming carious systemic challenges along the way. She wasn't afraid to speak truth to power, to prepare for and continue the "battle" to bring equity to students of color.

“Know this: there will be barriers,” she said. “But you are bigger than those barriers. Anything is possible. Never give up and be blessed.”

While the university commemorates the 97th edition of the Greatest Homecoming on Earth, it also honors and recognizes 12 alumni for their outstanding work and accomplishments on behalf of their respective colleges and service to the alumni community.

Christopher received the Distinguished Alumni Award for the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award recipients are:

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Pamela Richardson Wilks, Ph.D., ‘97 and ‘98, is provost and vice president for academic affairs at Coppin State University in Baltimore. She is the former associate provost for academic operations, programs and institutional planning, research, and effectiveness for Edward Waters University. In addition, she is a former administrator and associate professor of English at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Wilks received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from A&T. She earned a Ph.D. in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

John R. and Kathy R. Hairston College of Health and Human Sciences

The Honorable Lora Cubbage ‘02 is a superior court judge for the state of North Carolina. She has served the state in the capacity of assistant district attorney, assistant attorney general and district court judge. She is an adjunct professor at A&T in the Department of Criminal Justice and is a member of the university’s Board of Visitors.

Cubbage received her bachelor’s degree in sociology at A&T and law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law.

Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics

Brian L. Moore ‘07 is an assurance partner at BDO USA with more than 15 years of public accounting experience. He began his career as an assurance professional with PwC in 2008 in Greensboro, North Carolina with a primary focus on serving both public and private health care, pharma life sciences and consumer markets clients. In the community, he is an active member of St. James Baptist Church and a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Moore serves on the Accounting Advisory Council for North Carolina Central University School of Business, and is a recurring A&T Accounting Colloquium presenter for the Deese College. He serves on the board of directors for both Gateway Research Park, Inc., and Next Generation Academy.

Moore received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from A&T and a master’s degree in accounting from Michigan State University.

College of Engineering

Troy Dawson ‘85 and ‘87 is vice president of Government Satellite Systems, leading a family of programs for the Department of Defense (DoD), civil and proprietary customers delivering end-to-end satellite, ground and network solutions. Prior to this role, he was vice president of C-17 Services, a business within Boeing Global Services, providing the Air Force and eight international customers with innovative life cycle sustainment solutions and capability enhancements.

Dawson serves on the board of directors for Homeboy Industries and A&T’s College of Engineering Advisory Board.

Dawson received bachelor’s and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from A&T.

College of Education

Lucy Bailey Hardison, M.Ed., ‘82 and ‘86 has led and consulted within the field of education for 39 years. The diversity of environments she has worked in encompasses school districts in 48 states and three countries. She specializes in large, district-wide product implementations involving hundreds of educators and thousands of students. Administrators frequently seek her subject matter expertise on product utilization toward district and state measurements.

Hardison received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from A&T and master’s degree in instructional technology from The Ohio State University.

College of Science and Technology

The Honorable Justice Henry E. Frye ‘53 is an accomplished legal professional who has made significant contributions to the field of law and public service. He is widely recognized as a trailblazer and a distinguished figure in the North Carolina legal community.

Throughout his career, Frye was a pioneer in breaking racial barriers in the legal profession. In 1963, he became the first African American to be admitted to the North Carolina Bar Association since the Reconstruction era and in the same year he became an assistant U.S. attorney. In 1968, he was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly as a state representative serving six terms, and was then elected to the state senate, serving one term.

In 1983, Gov. James B. Hunt appointed Frye to the North Carolina Supreme Court, making him the court’s first African American justice. He served with distinction for 16 years, elected to his first full-term position in 1984, then re-elected in 1992. In 1999, he earned the distinction of being named chief justice by Hunt and served until retiring in 2001.

Frye received a bachelor’s degree in biology and minoring in chemistry with the highest academic honors from A&T. After graduation, he joined the Air Force and earned the rank of captain. In 1959, he received his Juris Doctor, becoming the first African American student to do so from the University of North Carolina School of Law.

The Honors College

Adero Paige ‘05 and 07 is deputy director of the Office of Chief Engineer for the National Reconnaissance Office. He leads 200 plus military officers, civilians, and contractors advancing high priority DoD space programs. In 2010, Paige received a Special Act Award for contributing to Operation Unified Response. This humanitarian mission aided Haiti's recovery following a devastating earthquake.

In 2021, Paige earned his agency’s Director’s Circle Award, which is presented to fewer than 2% of employees for exemplifying integrity, mission excellence and teamwork built on respect and diversity.

In 2022, Paige was appointed to the board of directors of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, making him the first historically Black college or university (HBCU) alumnus to serve in this capacity. As a board member, he shapes ASF’s policies, strategic objectives and organizational direction. In addition, he mentors new scholars and serves on the Scholar Selection and Program committees.

Paige received a bachelor’s degree in physics and master’s degree in mechanical engineering from A&T.

The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering

Smith Woosley, Ph.D., ‘13 is a senior process development engineer at Qorvo. He is a leading innovator at Qorvo in the semiconductor manufacturing technology area, where he has consistently strived to transform and improve processes to meet the changing industry demands.

In addition to being a leading innovator, Woosley has taken a lead role in yield enhancement projects, resulting in improved product quality and substantial yield increase. Cost reduction projects have also been instrumental in enhancing Qorvo’s efficiency and competitiveness in the semiconductor industry. His involvement in these areas has been recognized by the internal engineering council, naming him as the lead contributor, with cost savings and enhancements totaling in multiple millions of dollars.

Woosley received his doctorate degree from the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.

Howard C. Barnhill Distinguished Service Award

Arlene Maclin, Ph.D., ‘67 is a physicist by training and has spent the past 40 years in a combination of academic and government service positions. Her academic service includes more than 15 years of teaching at the levels of associate and full professor with administrative experience at the level of an associate dean of a college of arts and science, and a director of research. She has also served as the director of several major research grants in excess of $10 million. She is president and CEO of a nonprofit called MacSmith STEM Enterprises dedicated to increasing the numbers of minorities and women receiving degrees in STEM fields.

Prior to this, Maclin served as the senior project director for the Howard University Partnership Design and Development Project. Previously, she served as executive director of Mid-Atlantic Consortium - Center for Academic Excellence at Morgan State University that included four HBCUs in the Mid-Atlantic Region and reported to a governing board, which included college presidents and high-level corporate and government officials.

Maclin has an extraordinary track record for developing undergraduate and graduate programs in optical physics and optical engineering. She has developed numerous science education programs for K-20 students. She has extensive experience developing and evaluating science and mathematics programs for teachers and students in high school and postsecondary education. She has also worked with STEM township teachers in South Africa on the development of inquiry-based and hands-on learning.

Maclin received a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from A&T, a master’s degree in theoretical nuclear physics from University of Virginia and a doctorate degree from Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics from Howard University.

Julia S. Brooks Achievement Award

Tonya LaDeen Powell ‘75 is a licensed funeral director and chief operations officer for Peoples Funeral Home in Whiteville, North Carolina. At the age 29, she became the first Black elected official in the City of Whiteville, being elected to the Whiteville City Schools Board of Education. She served for more than 20 years on the board and numerous times as its chair.

Powell is active in her community by serving as on the board of directors for the Greater Whiteville Chamber of Commerce, American Cancer Society, Southeastern Community College Foundation and Columbus County Community Foundation. She is a member of Whiteville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Columbus Regional Healthcare System Auxiliary, Women Leading Columbus, Columbus County Relay for Life and Tri-County Campaign of the United Negro College Fund.

Powell received a bachelor’s degree in office administration from A&T.

Dr. Velma Speight Young Alumna Award

LaToya Bynum ‘05 is the director of sales for PepsiCo in Dallas, Texas. She has won multiple awards while at PepsiCo that include the ERG Activation of the Year Award for the inaugural PepsiCo Juneteenth celebration in 2022, the Storz Award, given to the top 20 of 135 national markets, and the PepsiCo Way Award, a global award presented by the global PepsiCo CEO. In 2023, she was unanimously voted to represent PepsiCo as a board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters supporting Collin County.

Bynum has been appointed to serve on the National Mosaic Board supporting all of PepsiCo specifically in the HBCU space. She is an active member of the Omicron Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and serves as the Dallas and Fort Worth Alumni Chapter president for North Carolina A&T.

In addition, Bynum co-founded and serves as president of The HBCU Project Foundation, a nonprofit working to expose North Texas scholars to the diversity of the 107 HBCUs across America. She co-founded Citizens Create Change, an organization that strives to educate the community on the power of a collective voice to drive changes they want to see. 

Bynum received her bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and industrial engineering from A&T and an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Media Contact Information: avallen@ncat.edu

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