May 192017

Graduates show off their decorated mortarboards to commemorate the day. Check out WSSU’s Flickr page for more photos.

Many Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) graduates showed their creativity through their unique mortarboards and attire. But for some graduates, this was also a way to tell the stories of their journeys and where they are headed as they “Depart to Serve.”

As students marched into Bowman Gray Stadium during the Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 19, they shared their messages of gratitude, accomplishment and encouragement.

Dealva Glaspie, a biotechnology graduate, had a decorated mortarboard with the message, “I turned my can’ts into cans, and my dreams into plans.” Glaspie is the first in her family to earn a college degree. “I finally made it. I turned my dreams into plans,” Glaspie said.

James Bullock

Sherabiah Olglesby, a behavioral sciences and social work graduate, wore a stole with the imprint “black grads matter” to show her pride as a graduate of a historically Black college and university (HBCU).

“A lot of my friends went to predominately white institutions and believe that their degrees are better, but that’s not true,” Olglesby said.  “A lot of graduate schools want students from WSSU because they know that we have been properly prepared and are ready for the work force, and I think that is great.”

Olglesby plans to attend graduate school in the fall.

Taylor Gaulden, an interdisciplinary studies graduate, had a picture of her recently deceased grandmother on her mortarboard. “I promised my granny that I was going to do it, and I did.,” Gaulden said.

James Bullock, a sports management graduate and former member of the Rams football team, was at the front of the processional with a large crown atop his graduation cap. About 25 family members from Cleveland were there to cheer him on.

Berenice Rodriguez, a nursing graduate whose parents migrated from Mexico, displayed the message, “Lo Hicimos. Gracias mami y papi,” which means “We did it. Thank you, Mom and Dad.” Rodriguez is the first in her family to graduate from college. “I did what I’m doing for them.”

Berenice Rodriguez

Commencement Speaker

Attorney and CNN analyst Bakari Sellers delivered the commencement address. During his address, he spoke of his father, civil rights veteran Cleveland Sellers Jr., who was convicted and jailed in 1968 at the Orangeburg Massacre.

“We lit a torch of freedom whose light shines still for all the world to see, and it is that torch we pass to you today,” Sellers said. “So don’t be afraid to dare greatly and fail. Don’t be afraid to aim high and fall short. Don’t be afraid to be the miracles you already are.”

Sellers, a former South Carolina representative, said history is full of achievements that were not supposed to happen.

“Throughout history, Americans have always showed a true talent for exceeding expectations,” Sellers said. “Life isn’t fair but it’s not fixed either.”

Class of 2017

WSSU recognized more than 1,200 graduates during the ceremony.

The ceremony honored WSSU students who earned their degrees in summer and fall 2016 and spring 2017. Many outstanding students were among the class of 2017. More than 1,100 undergraduates and 129 graduates received degrees.

Graduates included:

  • Sisters Eomba F. and Edith Pungu, immigrants from the Congo who are earning their master’s in nursing degree to become family nurse practitioners. The sisters will cross the stage together for the second time as WSSU graduates.
  • Nursing Bridge to Ph.D. Scholars Nicole CalhounMorine Cebert and LaKita M.J. Knight, who will earn their master’s degree and continue their education this fall as doctorate in nursing students at Duke University.
  • Taylor Evans, a third-generation educator who has several job offers in special education.
  • Victoria Segwick, a chemistry major who will attend the Medical Sciences Ph.D. Program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
  • Anthony Wells, a marketing major who plans to join AllianceBerstein as a private wealth consultant in New York City. While at WSSU, he studied abroad in Brazil and the Dominican Republic and studied at the Harvard University Business School.

Also at the ceremony:

  • Dr. Donna Gwyn Wiggins, associate professor of music, was awarded the 2017 Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.
  • Dr. Brenda Allen, provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for her contributions during her eight-year tenure at WSSU. Allen was recently selected as the president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, her alma mater.

A bold past. A brilliant future.

For 125 years, Winston-Salem State University has fostered the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn. Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment. Join us in celebrating our 125th anniversary with events throughout 2017. Learn more at the 125th Anniversary website.

WSSU recognized more than 1,200 graduates during the ceremony at Bowman Gray Stadium.

May 182017

Chancellor Robinson

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) has received the highest honor for campaign excellence from the State Employees Combined Campaign (SECC).

Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson was presented with the SECC Chairman’s Award, which recognizes state departments, agencies and universities that increased donations and participation. In addition, Michelle Cook, vice chancellor for advancement and executive director of the WSSU Foundation, received the Growth in Giving award for the largest increase in dollars raised, and Derek Jeter, chairman of the SECC Committee, received the SECC Leadership Award. The awards were presented on April 17.

For WSSU’s 2016 campaign, which ran Oct. 21-Nov. 30, faculty and staff donated over $25,000. Almost 18 percent of employees participated.

May 182017

Kiana Rushdan (left) discusses her research during 2017 Scholarship Day.

Members of Winston-Salem State University’s newest graduating class have new opportunities to go along with their new degrees.

Faculty-mentored research is helping Winston-Salem State University undergraduates get a head start as they continue their education or transition into the job market.

Here are a few examples to illustrate the importance of pursuing undergraduate research. You’ll also learn where they’re headed next.

Lanazha Belfield

Lanazha Belfield

  • Major: Biology with a minor in physics
  • Hometown: Rocky Mount
  • About her WSSU experience: Belfield worked with Assistant Professor of Physics Tennille D. Presley on analyzing the effect of acute heat and exercise on the biophysical parameters associated with Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
  • Next step: Continue her research, pursuing a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Bioscience at Wake Forest University.
  • Quote: “My research career at WSSU has been an amazing opportunity for me to travel and find what career path that I wanted to pursue.”

Beverly Dosso

Beverly Dosso

  • Major: Chemistry
  • Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland
  • About her WSSU experience: Dosso studied with Dr. Azeez Aileru, director of MARC U*STAR, a federally-funded program that aims to nurture undergraduates for scientific research careers. Her research focused on neuroscience and hypertension.
  • Next step: Continue her research, pursuing a Ph.D. in Physiology and Pharmacology at Wake Forest University.
  • Quote:“I can’t stress enough the importance of undergraduate research.”

Taylor Evans

Taylor Evans

  • Major: Special Education
  • Hometown: Fayetteville
  • About her WSSU experience: At WSSU, Evans worked closely with Dr. Lynn Zubov on a research project that focused on using exercise balls as classroom chairs for students.
  • Next step: Evans, a third-generation education major, has completed her student teaching and is weighing several offers to teach special education.
  • Quote: “Winston-Salem State University provided me with a plethora of opportunities. I will forever be grateful, and I will never forget the impact that this university has had and will always have on me.”

Zipporah Foster

 Zipporah Foster

  • Major: Psychology
  • Hometown: Durham
  • About her WSSU experience: This year, Foster presented at six regional and national conferences. She partnered with Professor Amber DeBono on research. Their research on the influence of perception on student athletes’ motivation and relationship with coaches was published in an academic journal earlier this year.
  • Next step: Will pursue her master’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University
  • Quote: “Take a risk to get out of your comfort zone.”

Eric Pridgen

Eric Pridgen

  • Major: Mathematics
  • Hometown: Jersey City, New Jersey
  • About his WSSU experience: Worked on mathematical research with Dr. Mark Hunnell and also worked on projects related to bioinformatics with Dr. Xiuping Tao. His research was supported through the MARC U*STAR program.
  • Next step: Will attend Columbia University to obtain a master’s degree in applied analytics through the HBCU Fellowship.
  • Quote: “The domain of WSSU is infinite and that has been one of the most rewarding parts. I have built a foundation that is solid, and I will humbly need more improvement to make the most profound impact in the world. I am thankful for my WSSU and HBCU experience.”

Kiana Rushdan

Kiana Rushdan

  • Major: Biology
  • Hometown: High Point
  • About her WSSU experience: Rushdan, the 2016-17 Miss Winston-Salem State University, worked with Dr. Mesia Steed to analyze innate expression and activity of matrix metalloproteinases in the isolated abdominal aorta during hypertension. In other words, high BP.
  • Next step: Plans to pursue a master’s degree in bioethics and go to medical school.
  • Quote: “I’ve learned soft skills through research that I can take anywhere in life, even corporate.”

Victoria Segwick

Victoria Sedwick

  • Major: Chemistry
  • Hometown: Indianapolis
  • About her WSSU experience: She transferred to WSSU as a junior from Fisk University. Through the MARC U*Star program, she partnered with research mentor Dr. A. Barkarr Kanu, assistant professor of chemistry. “He made sure we knew how to work every instrument as well as understand the theory behind them.” Her research helped develop a method to distinguish fire starters from one another in gas chromatography. A publication is in the works.
  • Next step: Will continue her research in the Medical Sciences Ph.D. Program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
  • Quote: “There’s research everywhere, not just WSSU, but downtown at Piedmont Triad Community Research Center (PTCRC), the hospitals and Wake Forest. We have access, and all we have to do is ask.

Alex Sumner

 Alex Sumner

  • Major: Computer Science
  • Hometown: Raleigh
  • About his WSSU experience: At WSSU, Sumner was paired with Dr. Mustafa Atay on research projects. He also completed an internship at Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio. As chapter president of Phi Beta Sigma, he gained knowledge about leadership and community outreach.
  • Next step: Plans to continue his education at North Carolina A&T State University in computer science.
  • Quote: “I’ve never been the most outgoing person, and I’m still not, but I have come so far from when I first arrived at WSSU.”

Anthony Wells

 Anthony Wells

  • Major: Marketing
  • Hometown: Charlotte
  • About his WSSU experience: At WSSU, he worked closely with Dr. Derick Virgil, associate dean for Academic Services and Assessment, to track the perception of HBCUs among high school students. He also had the opportunity to study abroad in Brazil and the Dominican Republic, study at Harvard University Business School and work as a marketing intern at Eli Lilly and Co.
  • Next step: Plans to join AllianceBernstein as a private wealth consultant in New York City.
  • Quote: “WSSU is a microcosm of the world that truly enables the student to grow into the best version of themselves. I am a direct representation of the change that takes place once you enter the arches of WSSU.”

Micalyne Zimmerman

 Micalyne Zimmerman

  • Major: Computer Science
  • Hometown: Charlotte
  • About her WSSU experience: Zimmerman, a distance runner for WSSU’s track and field program, had the opportunity to be part of two research programs under Dr. Elva Jones in the area of robotics. She also completed the BB&T Leadership Institute program.
  • Next step: Will pursue a career in web development. Zimmerman has a summer internship with Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio, in application development.
  • Quote: “A STEM career is very challenging but opens up a variety of opportunities to discover what is best for you.”


May 152017

Betty Ann Falkner, director of the Center for Smart Financial Choices was on hand to receive the check.

Accounting students learned managerial accounting and business concepts while also supporting The Center for Smart Financial Choices, a non-profit whose mission is “to empower all individuals to achieve financial wellness through all stages of life.”

The students raised $600 by competing to sell cookies they produced in Dr. Carol Cain’s Principles of Managerial Accounting  (ACC 2317).

The center is located in WSSU’s Enterprise Center. Dr. Cain would like to thank all the students, faculty and staff who supported this project.

May 122017
Students recognize library security guard

Students have recognized James Tate, property security guard at the C.G. O’Kelly Library, for his work and dedication to the Winston-Salem State University and students. Tate was surprised with the Ordinary Man Award during the Rams Choice Awards on April 19. The awards are through the WSSU Campus Activities Board. Read more in the O’Kelly Library […]

May 112017
WSSU receives $30,000 Retool Your School campus improvement grant

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) has received a $30,000 campus beautification grant through Home Depot’s Retool Your School program. The grant will support improvements to the historic lawn between Blair and Carolina halls. WSSU qualified for the grant by receiving more than 100,000 online votes and social media posts  during a monthlong contest that closed on April […]

May 112017
Nursing sisters again share WSSU graduation stage

Eomba F. and Edith Pungu are sisters by birth and also sisters in nursing. The sisters, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, will cross the Winston-Salem State University commencement stage together for the second time in 10 years on Friday, May 19, earning their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. “I’m so excited. I feel […]

May 082017
WSSU pledges support for entrepreneurship in Winston-Salem

In an unprecedented and historic demonstration of solidarity, Winston-Salem State University joined leaders from five other Winston-Salem-based colleges and universities – each pledging to incentivize entrepreneurship among their students and alumni through a series of programs based on their areas of focus and unique visions. The announcement was made at Inmar during the inaugural meeting of […]

May 072017
WSSU staffer wins Governor’s Volunteer Award

Dana Walker, coordinator of community service at Winston-Salem State University, has received the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award for his work matching members of the WSSU community with non-profit organizations. Walker coordinates WSSU’s Project GIVE [Getting Involved (through) Volunteer Efforts], which is hosted through the Office of Career Development Services. Last year (2015-16) through the program, 779 […]

May 062017
WSSU administrator recognized by Winston-Salem leadership program

Rosalba Ledezma, associate vice chancellor of facilities management at Winston-Salem State University, has been recognized through the City of Winston-Salem’s Outstanding Women Leaders Program. Ledezma, who joined WSSU in 2012, was recognized at an event on April 20 at the Embassy Suites in downtown Winston-Salem. She and other honorees also were recognized by the mayor […]