Life Together: Part 2

Photography by Ken Bennett

Spring 2018


1. Ashby Cook (’71, P ’01) of Winston-Salem
Can often be spotted at basketball games cheering on the Deacons wearing his signature gold fedora

“Wake Forest has a closeness, uniqueness and spirit of connection that is so unusual. I ‘caught’ it when I stepped on campus, and it is stronger today. I moved on campus on Faculty Drive 10 years ago to experience our community in a greater way. Living here has been wonderful, and Katherine and I are blessed to be here. We are involved in many ways that have enhanced our life. The friendships throughout our community have been long-lasting and enriching. I have great satisfaction in giving back to our community.”

2. Regina Lawson
Chief of Police

“I came here in 1989 for five years, and it’s 2017. It’s because you do immediately begin to feel a part of the community. Community is important at Wake Forest, and it’s a community that’s hard to leave. You do feel the family atmosphere, the connections and the relationships and the partnerships. Although you have a sometimes challenging responsibility, you know you’re not alone at Wake Forest.”

3. Roger Beahm
WestRock Executive Director of the Wake Forest School of Business Center for Retail Innovation and a marketing guru-turned-teacher who is enjoying his career now as never before

“To me, community at Wake Forest means a feeling. It’s not a location on a map or a list in a directory. Rather, it’s a place inside people’s hearts … a place defined by compassion and caring. It doesn’t matter who you are with, what you are doing or even where you are in your journey. You will still find it. You will still feel it. Rooted in our history and manifest in our spirit, Wake Forest University is a community where people feel compassion toward others, and where you know others care about you. So don’t look for community on a map or in a directory. No, the place you’ll find what community means at Wake Forest is in the feelings of compassion and caring, found in the hearts of the people!”

4. DeDee DeLongpré Johnston
Chief Sustainability Officer

“The more our students are able to understand what community means from a biological perspective and the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem resilience, the more they can … really understand why seeking empathy with others … makes us more resilient, really allows us to understand each other’s values and to act on those values in a way that might actually make it possible for us to be sustainable as a human community.”

5. Joe Sposato (‘20) of Peoria Heights, Illinois
Instructional coordinator for the woodwind section and member of the Spirit of The Old Gold and Black marching band
Wake Forest tour guide

“The community is one of my favorite things about Wake Forest, because unlike so many other schools we’re just such a cooperative community. We are a very select and intimate group of people. We all work very hard to be here, and we all understand that to excel here we need each other. … You’ll see students always studying together and not competing with one another. We sort of understand as a group we need each other to succeed and we don’t need others to fail for ourselves to succeed.”

6. Anne Boyle
Professor of English
Founding director of the writing program, also served as director of academic and community engagement and associate dean

“Arriving in 1986, I was immediately invited to (politics professor) Don Schoonmaker’s (’60) home, where I met and made lasting friends with a diverse group of faculty across disciplines. Taking Don’s lead, I wanted a chance to create community, too, in my traditional and service-learning classrooms, across the University and in Winston-Salem. Community may be harder to get right now, but we can create multiple spaces where we listen, analyze and interpret evidence, and do just work.”

7. Reid Morgan (’75, JD ’78, P ’13, ’14, ’19)
Senior Vice President and General Counsel
He’s worked with three Wake Forest presidents — James Ralph Scales, Thomas K. Hearn Jr. and Nathan O. Hatch — dating back to 1979.

“A community exists within a narrative.Wake Forest’s narrative of ideals, values, relationships and affections was born on the Old Campus and continued here, carefully transplanted through the leadership of President Tribble, Ed Wilson (’43), and faculty and students. As the spirit of Pro Humanitate came to animate the college in Winston-Salem, our community broadened its vision to welcome diverse people and traditions. A true community, like a person, is always in the process of becoming. As our narrative continues to unfold, Pro Humanitate will remain a touchstone for who we are to become.”

8. Edwin G. Wilson (’43)
Provost Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of English
Known as “Mr. Wake Forest,” he’s spent most of his life at the University since first arriving on the Old Campus in 1939

“Community is all around us. When I sit on a bench in front of the library, waiting for a ride, I chat with a retired physics professor on his way to Olin, a circulation-desk librarian taking a short break from work, an alumnus from in town come to borrow a book from the library, a little cluster of students who want to talk. We are all together: in diversity, yet in harmony. And I also see the future: high school students and their parents following a tour guide, looking around to see if Wake Forest is the future they want. I know that, if they want an education of quality in a community of friendship, Wake Forest is the place to be.”

9. Bill Faircloth (’64, P ’89, ’90, ’93)
Known as “Big Daddy”
Retired in 2017 after 42 years, first as assistant football coach, then as assistant athletic director for football

Of the football players he’s known through the years at Wake Forest, he says, “They get friends other than football. They get friends for life.” Of his experience: “This place did a great job for me in giving me a chance to get an education, and I just feel very fortunate to give back to it. That front gate at Reynolda Road? I usually average (passing through) about twice a day, sometimes three times a day. I know I’ve been in that front gate more than anybody ever at Wake Forest. That means I love this place, and, you know, really, it might be my first home more than my second home.”

10. Shayla Herndon-Edmunds
Director of Diversity Education in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and a licensed professional life coach certified in emotional intelligence, unconscious bias and intercultural development

“Community at Wake Forest means so many things to so many people based on their identities and experiences. From my experience and observation, living in community at Wake is complicated, beautiful and challenging. We are both connected and disconnected, affirming and polarizing, innovative and traditional. Our community is in many ways a reflection of our society and in other ways a model for the society that we wish to create — for humanity.”

11. Minta Aycock McNally (’74, P ’02, ’06)
Associate Vice President in the Office of Family Engagement, who grew up in the town of Wake Forest across the street from the Old Campus, and has been employed at the University since 1978

“I feel fortunate that Wake Forest has been my ‘home’ for nearly all my life. When I think about the word ‘community’ as it relates to Wake Forest, I am reminded that the physical landscape has changed over the years but the ideals we share that make Wake Forest distinctive have endured. This is a place for me of genuine friendship, collegiality and hospitality. I can’t imagine a better ‘home’ than this.”

12. Antionetta “Netta” Richardson
For 22 years a familiar face in The Fresh Food Company, aka The Pit, famous for her made-to-order omelets and big hugs

“It’s a place of coming together and helping one another. The students have good days and bad days, but we’re there to put smiles on their faces.”

13. Hu Womack (’90, MBA ’00)
Associate Librarian, Instruction & Outreach
Has served as a faculty fellow in a freshman residence hall and brought “Humans vs. Zombies” and “Capture the Flag” activities to the library

“Friends, faculty and staff helped me find my way when I was a student. That sense of community is what kept me at Wake and still keeps me here today. I want to give back to students what the community gave to me. I’ve read that one measure of success is reaching back and helping the people who come up after you. Wake Forest encourages that. In today’s world, social media, with its extreme focus on the individual, makes it more challenging to feel like you’re part of a community. Building community isn’t easy; as a nation we’re still struggling with issues of race and inclusion. It’s important that we acknowledge that and continue to do the hard work required.”

14. Megan Schmit (’18) of Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Communication major with minors in journalism and art history
Former Wake Forest Magazine intern
Aspires to be a journalist

“I think community is best when you’re at your lowest point, not necessarily rallying around someone when they’re at their highest point. That’s what’s great about Wake. We’ve had low moments. We’ve had a lot of speak-outs that have had support. We’ve had organizations that have formed to support groups that may be marginalized in the greater community. There’s an attempt to make you feel empowered at Wake. … I think it’s definitely a place that I’m going to credit in building the person I am today. There have been high moments and low moments, but in both instances I’ve been able to find people who have been able to give me what I need and help me through periods in my life I probably wouldn’t have been able to get through in any other sort of community. Even when I felt like I was having struggles with belonging, I always found some sort of niche here at Wake.”

15. Peter Kairoff
Professor of Music
Director of Casa Artom, the Wake Forest campus in Venice
Performed as pianist and harpsichordist from Rio de Janeiro to Berlin to Shanghai and many other cities

“When I think of all the wonderful and varied activities taking place on campus at any one time — all that assiduous study, dedicated teaching, all that laughter and all those discussions taking place at once — sometimes I think of it all as one giant symphony orchestra, with each of us — staff, students, faculty — playing our part to create the beautiful harmonies and thrilling melodies that make up the music that is Wake Forest.”

16. Mia Harris (’17)
Biology major with minors in neuroscience and psychology
Wake Forest Fellow, Office of the Provost

“I start off by saying it’s like moving away from home, away from your family, but then also moving into this gigantic 4,000-plus family where you know everyone. Truly you walk across the Quad and you smile and you wave and you ask someone how their siblings are doing, how their parents are doing, because it’s just that type of family environment.”

17. Provost Rogan Kersh (’86)
Professor of Politics & International Affairs

“At Wake Forest this academic year, we are ‘rethinking community.’ Through six dozen panels, performances, World Cafes, deliberative dialogues, local and national speakers, reading groups and class discussions, our community is exploring — and modeling — what it means to live in meaningful interaction with others today. Our students graduate into a society that is more diverse, polarized (politically, ideologically, culturally), global, and virtual (lives lived digitally) than ever before. The hope animating our Rethinking Community effort is that each of us at Wake Forest becomes more intentional about our own multiple memberships … and more willing to reach across our myriad divisions.”

18. Rose O’Brien (’18) of Winston-Salem
Politics and international affairs major with a minor in Italian and cultural studies
President of the Student Association for the Advancement of Refugees
Aspires to work with refugees or for humanitarian causes after college

“As a ‘townie’ I expected my experience at Wake Forest to be very comfortable and that I would never expand my idea of community or even culture because I grew up here. But I knew I wanted to have a global experience in college so I sought that out. … I can have breakfast with a family from the Congo and then have lunch with a family from Syria and then go over to a Persian family’s house for dinner. It’s enriched my life. … Everyone here is treated as an equal, whether you’re a professor or a freshman. I can’t believe some of my friends are in places where their professors don’t know their names. That’s been such an integral part of my experience.”

19. Tatianaide Medina Nieto (’18) of Valledupar, Colombia, and Charlotte, North Carolina
Psychology major with a minor in neuroscience
President of Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS)
She likes to invite the whole Wake Forest community to OLAS events such as Soulfood Fiesta and ZSR en la Noche

“When I started college, I had a goal. I still have the goal of taking advantage of every opportunity, because when my mom and I came here when I was 9 years old I saw the sacrifice she did for me to come here and leave our entire family back home in Colombia. … Luckily, when I got here to Wake everyone was so welcoming and they said, ‘You want to do something? We are going to help you — whatever you want to do.’ So, for me my passion was in science, and I made the most of it by getting into research.”

20. Maria Difazio
Born in Colombia
Beloved by students as the hostess in the Magnolia Room

“I have two children and when they left my house to start college I start(ed) to work here and see all the students like my children. And I want to take care like (I do with) my children. I worry when they are sad and worry when they are sick, and I’m so happy when they have their birthdays. … I know they work very hard and they are stressed, and … many come from other countries. I know how it feels. I am an immigrant. I know how it feels when you don’t have your family close to you. They look at me like another person in their family. I want to take care like a mama.”

21. Lily Walter (’19) of Franklin, Tennessee
Sociology major with a minor in journalism
Member of Friendships Beyond Borders, trying to foster connections between U.S. and international students

“After the election, there was a big protest on campus where people from different backgrounds came to voice their opinions and share their frustrations and I think that was cool to see that people — coming from all of these different walks of life — could come together and talk about things and that we might not have that much that we agree on, but we still had this space where we could share that.”

Her favorite aspect of community at Wake: “The relationships that I’ve formed with my professors. … I’ve been over to professors’ houses for dinner and can call some of them by their first names and I think that is a really unique thing Wake has to offer, the closeness between students and faculty and how that can carry over beyond your four years here, on to the future, having them as mentors or people who are in your corner.”

22. Ryan Johnston (’18) of Richmond, Vermont
Communication major with minors in Latin-American & Latino studies and journalism
Online Managing Editor, Old Gold & Black

“I think the Wake Forest community’s strength is offering an opportunity for anybody that chooses to take it in terms of building their relationships, their skill sets and expanding their horizons intellectually. I think in the future Wake Forest … will have to adapt their community to a changing world.”

Life Together: Part 3

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by Carol L. Hanner

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