Joevan Palmer – Senior: "I am so proud to be at WSSU because; its foundation is robust. This University has very strong values that shape students into strong and encouraging leaders for tomorrow’s future. The brand of Winston-Salem State University gives me strong pride to go out into the world and say that I am a proud student of WSSU. I did not know that WSSU was the first HBCU within the United States to offer undergraduate degrees in primary education, as well as the first predominantly African American university in NC to obtain full membership in the American Association of Colleges for Teachers Education in the Sothern Association of Colleges and secondary schools. This makes me so proud that, I am willing to spread the word to more students looking for more than just a college but a lifetime experience."
Vicki Pulliam – Sophomore: "After reading the article I have a greater amount of pride in my university. What was most striking to me was that S.G. Atkins committed his life to servicing the community and was devoted to the education of black people. His love for education and the go-getting attitude he displayed is inspirational to me and reassures me that if I have a dream I should go for it. I am truly proud to be not only a student but a scholar at The Winston-Salem State University . Thank you"
She'cora Evonne Davis – Freshman: "I am so proud to be at WSSU because it's the HBCU that I love the most! I always thought that going to WSSU and being from Winston would be dreadful but the education, ram love, and campus environment is awesome! I did not know that my college experience would be filled with so much support and love from my fellow ram family. College is all about education however, the love and support given throughout the campus gives me more determination. This makes me so proud that my HBCU is top ranked and also filled with wonderful people wanting to step out and help the community. WSSU is a wonderful school all around!"
Dr. Manuel P. Vargas - Professor & Dean: "I’m so proud to be at WSSU because . . . I can contribute to the work of educators who made "teaching" a profession upon which all professions are built. My hope is to continue the legacy of those who came before us so we can prolong a sense of pride in generations to come."
Dr. Travis L. Teague - Associate Professor and Motorsport Management Program Coordinator: "What strikes me is the persistence and determination of the Simon Green Atkins family to hold on to the dream of producing and preserving an educational institution throughout the challenges of the early years. It is a statement to the family’s devotion, love and commitment that have formed the foundation for our motto “Enter to Learn-Depart to Serve”. Hopefully, the passion and determination that was exhibited by our early leaders will continue to motivate us to pursue that motto for many future generations."
Notis Pagiavlas - Associate Professor and Founding Director of Center for Entrepreneurship: "One of the most fascinating aspects of WSSU is what I call “intelligent humanity.” It’s a sense of comfort that comes from dealing with kind, warm, and intelligent folks around campus. One often finds some but not all components together in other institutions. Every day is unique and refreshing including a blend of (mostly) positive and (few) negative happenings that keep the spirit active and engaged. I am very proud of my affiliation and contribution to this community of students, faculty, and staff that extend their caring attitude to folks outside the walls of the university. We are a powerful resource that can change lives and offer options for personal and professional growth to those that seek the challenge of success."
London Mickle, President, Staff Senate: "I am proud to be RAM. Understanding the university’s humble beginnings has inspired to be more and give more. After reading the story, it gives a new revelation to “enter to learn and depart to serve”. The hard work that Mr. Atkins put into making a foundation for mankind has much to be recognized. He is truly an” unsung hero” that is among his very own. Reading these passages inspires me to put the Staff Senate hat on and create an opportunity for staff to be transformed. While we are employees or staff members, we can learn more and improve our service to the university."
Thanks to those who responded to the request to share your “Life Stories.” Here are excerpts from several of these. See wssu.edu/anniversary for the full comments provided by these and other alumni.
“My fondest memory of my life while matriculating at Dear old ‘TC’ was the supportive and dedicated teachers who exhibited positive expectations. They wanted you to be the epitome of what you could be and they gave unselfishly of their time and talents. Who cannot say that they were the best at ‘Old TC?’”
Gwendolyn Wallace Terrell ‘60
Ft. Washington, MD
Following a successful teaching career spanning 34 years, she was awarded the “Scottish Rite Elementary Educator Excellence Award,” given for outstanding service to the Washington, D.C. School System.
“During my first semester at WSTC, I was not a basketball student-athlete. I was an athlete! After receiving a long talk from the Men’s Basketball Coach, Mr. C.E. Gaines, about basketball eligibility rules and WSTC’s safeguards against graduating incompetent teachers, I started trying to become a student-athlete. I selected the right college coach; I selected the right college….”
Cleo Hill ‘61
Described by “Bighouse” Gaines as “one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached,” Hill became the school’s first NBA professional basketball player when he joined the St. Louis Hawks following graduation.
“Attending WSS was not a big deal for me. Why? Because State was known as THE choice for top high school graduates from Charlotte. I was honored to be awarded the RJ Reynolds Scholarship for all 4 years and learn, explore and serve along with other top students. We had serious fun together – just as soon as we finished our class work.”
Gloria R. Reese ‘72
"Thanks to WSSU. I am forever Ram Tough!!"
I entered Winston-Salem State University in August of 1981. I was a homely, country girl from Statesville, North Carolina who wanted more out of life than what was offered me in Smalltown, USA. When I entered WSSU I was shocked and excited at the same time. I had never experienced so many people who looked like me in one setting before. During my four years at WSSU, I found 'ME' ... that is the person I am today. I also formed relationships with people that help mold a part of me. I found out who I am as a Black female in a White male dominated world. Since leaving WSSU in May of 1985, I have attended three other colleges and have received three degrees. However, no college has educated me as well as WSSU. No other college assisted with my social and emotional growth as well as my 'first love...Winston-Salem State University'. I am forever grateful for my four year journey through WSSU; and I would not trade my experiences (good or bad...most were GREAT) for anything.
Sheila Y. Ijames, Ed.D
Class of '85
Former Class (1982-83) and Student Body President (1984-85) WSSU
RAM Tough (1981-Forever)
“In my life there are some things that just cannot be ranked. My experiences at WSSU fall into that category …. I will always remember fondly the experiences, people and places that helped shape my life. I know for certain that I am richer because of each of them.”
CeCe Ava Byers ’73
“My fondest memory of my time at Winston-Salem Teachers College is grounded in the interpersonal relationships I developed which ultimately became the building blocks for my life. Additionally, I remember the broad range and depths of academic experiences leading to my graduate studies.”
Dr. Calvert Smith ’59
My dad, Nathaniel Hayes Sr., graduated from TC in 1950 and I didn’t think of going anywhere else. Not only did my sister, Claudia Hayes Skinner’74, her husband, Linwood Skinner Sr.’73, and their son Linwood Jr.’01 graduate, the greatest day was when my daughter Staci ’07 graduated 30 years to the date of when I did. We are a family that has been Ramitized for a long time. Go WSSU.”
Marsha Harris ’77
“[One] of my fondest memories about Winston-Salem Teachers College was seeing a small Teachers College grow and blossom into the great university it is today. I learned to sit and listen to teachers like ‘Papa Clark,’ Mr. James, Dr. Dillard, Jack Atkins, his brother and many others. We had good teachers and great learning experiences.”
Gloria DeVane Coleman ’59
“As I embark on a life of semi-retirement … I am proud to say it all began for me at Winston-Salem Teachers College. I learned about people. I learned about expanding my horizons. I learned about education. All of these lessons have consumed and indeed defined my personal and professional life for half a century.”
Dr. Betty Nyangoni ’62
Dr. Nyangoni has taught African Studies in a number of colleges and universities across the nation. Her full “Life Story” posted online includes descriptions of the professors and experiences who attracted her to this field of study.
In response to the request for my fondest memory. When I attended WSSU from 92' to 96', "non-traditional" students were not a mainstay at the University. As such under the direction of Blanche Stevens, the Archway did a story on my daughter, and I. While the story at time was a "big deal" to both my daughter, who was around 8 years old at the time and I, the story itself is not what makes this a fondest memory but that my daughter is now a "non-traditional" student at WSSU, scheduled to graduate next December- -just like her mother. At one point the University was responsible for educating 3 generations of my family - me as an Alum, my daughter as a current student, and my grandson, who was enrolled in the WSSU Early Childhood Center.
Dr. Amber M. Baker’ 96
Dr. Baker is Principal of Kimberley Park Elementary School.
“As a white student at WSSU, I may have a different perspective. I felt completely accepted, had wonderful professors who encouraged me, as an older returning student, to pursue my dreams. As an education major, I received extraordinary training which propelled me as a teacher and now as an administrator. My training lead me to a position at a world renowned prep school where I had the ability to help future leaders gain acceptance to top Ivy League universities. I am so thankful to WSSU for the training, and the doors they opened for me.”
Pat Cheney, M.Ed. ’88
It is “Family Affair”
Submitted by: Christa Flood-Class of 1996
“Congratulations! You have been accepted to attend Winston-Salem State University.” These same words have been repeated five times to family members from a small, rural and poverty stricken town, Rich Square, located in North Carolina. According to recent statistics, Northampton County is the second poorest county in North Carolina. However, these five family members have vowed to defy the negative statistics by attending a Historically Black College/University, in pursuit of furthering their education and adding value to their neighborhoods, community, and the world.
“If better is a possibility, then good is no longer an option,” stated Christa Flood. Christa was the first out of her family to enroll into Winston-Salem State University and the only one from her graduating high school class to attend the institution. She recalls the drive to WSSU, which took almost five hours, wondering “What was I thinking about? My family’s car will not be able to make the trip to visit me and how will I see my two-year old daughter, Tyra.” Christa was a teenage mother who vowed that she made one negative statistic, but she would not be on the list of drop-outs and one living off the welfare system. She went on to graduate with honors and a degree in History and English from Winston-Salem State University in 1996. Currently, she serves as Assistant Principal at Garinger High School, where she encourages students and hundreds more to attend WSSU.
“Auntie, I’m going to WSSU too!” bellowed Brooks Williams. “YES,” replied Christa. Brooks Williams admitted that his aunt “bragged” so much about the university and how important “family” is to the staff and students. She stressed to him that the faculty will help you, but you have to want to be successful. He graduated in 2003 with a degree in Social Work and currently lives and works in Washington, DC.
“Mom, I’m going to Winston-Salem State University,” screamed Tyra Flood, the same little girl who visited the campus when her mother was a sophomore. It was a dream come true for Christa Flood, the teenage mother who brought her daughter to visit WSSU when she was only two years old. Tyra is currently a junior who is majoring in Physical Education and plans to seek out employment for a sporting franchise upon completing graduation. Tyra admitted that you can’t help but love WSSU…it’s in our family blood line…A Ram until we die….
“Aunt... Chris…I got accepted to WSSU and I will be in the Honors Program,” stated my nephew. In 2011, Keon Artis was elated to find out that he would too continue on the legacy and become a Ram just like his previous family members. He is currently a rising sophomore, majoring in Business Management, who knows the value of education. Keon is very active and involved on campus. When he’s not busy completing class assignments, he’s out engaged in various on-campus organizations and volunteer opportunities.
In 2012, Christa’s great niece received her acceptance letter and decided she would attend the prestigious university to major in Political Science. Her goal is to live in Washington, DC to work on policies that impact the education system. Her dream is to make enough money to help her single-mother and younger sister. She will also be a student in the Honors Program alongside her favorite cousin, Keon. He has shared with her the benefits of being in the program, such as the support and mentoring by current students and advisors.
I first attended WSSU in the fall of 1977 and lived in the “old” Atkins Hall Dorm. I became friends with Karen Sue Parker (alumnus) and we are still very close friends today. Neither of us can recall how our friendship started, but by the grace of God. I was unable to return after my freshman year, but the Class of 1981 has always included my in their activities. Because of these close bonds, I set a personal goal to return and complete my degree at WSSU. I reapplied to WSSU through the Evening/Weekend program and graduated with a degree in Political Science in December 2011. From the friendships made in 1977 and the encounters of new friends and faculty staff (Dr. Donald Mac-Thompson, Dr. Shaw, and many others), being a part of the WSSU family is incomparable to other colleges/universities. “I’m so glad to be a RAM”
There are so many wonderful times that I shared at WSSU but I one time I will always remember is when 9/11 happened. That morning rattled me to know that life could be gone in an instant blink of an eye and that no one is safe from hate crimes. I remember it most because of the unity we all shared on campus. Students and faculty both consoled each other and reached out to help one another. Whether it was helping to make a phone call home to check on loved ones, a ride to the bus station/ airport to get home, or a community prayer, everyone tried to help in some way form or fashion to unite. Faculty were understanding and allowed for class time, if they did not cancel, to be used as time of reflection and information. It is a day that shook our Country's history but heighten our Campus' faith in God and one another.
Nebra N. Bess, MA, CWC
Class of 2005/ Miss 1892
I was a non-traditional student from 88' to 92'. During my time there, I had many professors who took the time to personally advise and encourage me in my journey. One particular time was my mother was on her deathbed and I was going through a divorce. Dr. May comforted me as she shared how she got through the death of her own mother. Even though that was in 1992, I remember her sincere concern like it was yesterday.
Joyce Tyler Irby (It was Davidson then.)
92' Education Grad
Summa Cum Laude