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April 2021 @WAKE Newsletter

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April 30, 2021

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Signs of spring

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Suddenly spring

I took a stroll on campus last week and exhaled. Yes, it was through my mask but still…. Campus exploded in color, from the light pink and deep-purple tulips to the full blooms adorning pink and white dogwoods. There was a vitality reminiscent of pre-COVID days. Over in Davis courtyard, students were studying and laughing at the outdoor tables. On the Quad, students were lying on blankets to enjoy the sun. Others were snoozing. At Kentner Stadium, runners circled the track. Under a tent behind the Sutton Center, a full class of exercisers burned up their spin cycles. On Poteat Field, despite a chilly breeze, students in shorts were painting desks for local schoolchildren in need of workspace in their homes. It was the 22nd year of the Discovering Education through Student Knowledge, better known as the D.E.S.K. program. The tradition, as is only natural during these Pro Humanitate Days, carried on.

Wherever you are, you no doubt remember spring at Wake Forest, the beauty and the momentum that propels everyone toward finals and farewells. We missed that experience last year, and at times I worried that with virus surges we might miss it this year. It has been a tough year on everyone.

On this spring day, I appreciated how far our students and campus community have come. Traditions have reappeared, finals are upon us and we expect proper farewells at semester’s end. Flowers are in bloom. There is laughter in the air. Plans are underway for graduation. The Wake Forest home remains home in so many ways that you and I remember. And that feels good.

Enjoy a glorious spring,
Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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March 2021 @WAKE Newsletter

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March 26, 2021

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

The WFU women's basketball team reacts as they are selected to the 2021 NCAA TournamentThe women’s basketball team reacts as they are selected to the 2021 NCAA Tournament, earning a No. 9 seed. It was the team’s first appearance in the tournament since 1988.  KEN BENNETT PHOTO

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Celebrating Wake’s Women

Last Sunday had its ups and downs for Wake Forest women. In San Antonio that afternoon, it was a tough loss for the women’s basketball team against Oklahoma State in the NCAA Tournament. No matter the score, though, Deacs everywhere felt that sense of pride that comes with an NCAA appearance. It was 1988 when the women’s team last played in the contest, so there was pent-up demand for loud cheering.

In the evening, Julie Hatch, the University president’s wife, kicked off Wake Women’s Week, a time for the community “to grow” and “to share experiences.” Typically, the gathering is on campus during a weekend, but this year’s program was virtual with over 31 events. They ranged from charting a career path to cultivating your Wake Forest women’s network and organizing your home office — even brewing beer (though probably not during office hours). Check out wakewomen.alumni.wfu.edu for updates and photos, so you can consider joining the fun in the future.

As we end this official Women’s History Month, designated by Congress in 1987, I urge you to thank the wonderful Wake Forest women in your life and celebrate the friendships. And stay tuned to news about our women’s sports teams. From tennis to golf to soccer to field hockey and volleyball, to name a few, these female student-athletes remind us: “Proud to be a Deacon.”

Happy spring,
Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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February 2021 @WAKE Newsletter

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Feb. 26, 2021

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Images of new WFU President Susan WenteSusan R. Wente, who will become the University’s 14th president on July 1, meets with Dr. Julie A. Freischlag, CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Health, dean of the medical school and chief academic officer of Atrium Health, and Herman Eure (PhD ’74, P ’23), trustee and professor emeritus, during a recent tour of Wake Downtown.

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A rare day in Wake Forest history

Wake Forest Institute — today Wake Forest University — was founded in 1834, and what happened a few weeks ago had happened only 13 other times since the founding. The University community learned who would be its 14th president: Susan R. Wente. She is the first female on our presidential roster.

While she won’t begin her new job until July 1, she certainly made the rounds in a lightning-quick visit from Nashville to accept the appointment. The Quad. The football stadium. Farrell Hall. Wake Downtown. The renowned biomedical scientist, provost and vice chancellor at Vanderbilt University had a full day of greeting new colleagues as best and safely as she could during a pandemic.

“Dr. Wente is highly experienced and down to earth — approachable and personable, honest and ethical,” said Gerald Roach (’80, JD ’82, P ’09, ’12), chair of the board of trustees and chair of the presidential search committee. He wrote to the University community that she is “noted for her dedication to the success of the institution above her own personal achievement.”

This is an exciting time, one for me filled with gratitude for the leadership of President No. 13 Nathan Hatch, who retires in June, and with admiration for incoming President No. 14 Susan Wente for accepting Wake Forest’s trust and confidence in leading our alma mater onward. In case you missed it, read about her and watch the video. You will see what I mean.

Best Wishes,
Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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January 2021 @WAKE Newsletter

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Jan. 29, 2021

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Hanes Gallery photos

LEFT: Student curator Regine Boykin viewing works from “Explorations of Self: Black Portraiture,” on display until March 28 in Hanes Art Gallery. CENTER: Student curator Lynn Huffard hangs a painting for the exhibit. RIGHT: Wes and Missy Cochran, with intern Sarah Comegno (right), visited this fall. (Those outside the campus community can arrange to see the exhibit by emailing wolfke@nullwfu.edu)

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Lights, firepits, learning

Campus last week buzzed with workers repairing steps, tidying up landscaping and creating comfortable places to gather, safely, around firepits on Magnolia quad. Winter nights will be cozier under the strings of lights, and the twinkling beams will illuminate the back and forth of students from south campus.

By the time you receive this, Wake Forest students will be starting their first classes of the semester. I cannot wait to see them because it’s lonely here without them.

I have high hopes they will make the most of the semester despite our ongoing pandemic. Look no further than the impressive work students did in John Curley’s art history seminar class for proof. They studied and curated an exhibition of Black artists that runs through March 28 in Hanes Art Gallery. They relied on the collection of Wes and Missy Cochran in Georgia and reveled in the Cochrans’ storytelling that recounted how each piece came to be in the collection. Watch this video to see how the beauty of learning at Wake Forest continues to shine amid decidedly difficult days for our world.

Best Wishes,
Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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November 2020 @WAKE Newsletter

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November 27, 2020

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Leaves falling on campus on a misty fall morning (Nov 2020)

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Gratitude in spite of it all

Chances are, yesterday’s Thanksgiving celebrations might not have looked like those of recent years. Maybe you opted for simple turkey breasts instead of a 13-pound bird glistening with mahogany skin because you had fewer guests around the table. Maybe you chose not to fly to visit relatives or friends. Maybe your biggest holiday adventure was the longest nap of your life.

For most of 2020, COVID-19 has challenged us to change our routines and expectations, including at Wake Forest. Who could have imagined that keeping Wake Forest humming for residential life until Thanksgiving week would be a mighty goal in 2020? But it was. And, despite upticks in positive COVID tests and the changes in rules that were needed to better protect the campus community, Wake Forest and its people met the goal. Students finished their on-campus classes earlier this week, as planned. Coursework moves online for the rest of the semester.

Faculty, staff and students pulled together to “keep college at college,” as the signs around the Quad urged. I am grateful for the amazing collaboration in the face of this 2020 bear of a year, and I remain grateful for a Wake Forest community whose caring extends beyond the campus, across class years and across the miles. May the remainder of your holiday be restful and peaceful.

Best Wishes,
Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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October 2020 @WAKE Newsletter

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October 30, 2020

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Dr. Hatch walks with students during Hit the Bricks on the Quad

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With ‘a grateful spirit’

International and U.S. news filled the airwaves and our inboxes in October, but Wake Forest had its own major headline in the mix. President Nathan O. Hatch announced he would be retiring June 30, 2021, “with a grateful spirit for all that we have done together.”

His 15 years at Wake Forest had myriad highs, from leading on test-optional admissions; a retooling of college-to-career opportunities; an expansion of Wake Forest’s presence from Charlotte to D.C. to Silicon Valley; an emphasis on character and leadership in the curriculum and community; and unwavering devotion to the liberal arts and residential college experience. There is much more to consider in assessing his legacy; the news story will give you a sense of his accomplishments.

I’m one of the people who says about Dr. Hatch, “Don’t go. Can’t you stay longer?” I’ve been inspired during my 10 years back at my alma mater by his leadership and encouragement. There’s no doubt, though, he has earned the opportunity to retire and enjoy time with his wife, Julie, and their children

Meanwhile the search for the University’s 14th president is underway. I hope you will visit the presidential search website and share your thoughts with the search committee by filling out the survey.

Best Wishes,
Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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September 2020 @WAKE Newsletter

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September 25, 2020

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Wake Forest students demonstrate a socially distanced and properly masked campus.

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College al fresco

Writing from my home office early this week, I looked out the window to the blue sky and shimmering leaves. It was another day to feel grateful for living in Winston-Salem, and I extended that gratitude to the setting for our Wake Forest campus. I relished how on this glorious day on the cusp of autumn Wake Forest students have options that their peers on campuses in cold or stormy or smoky places were missing this week. The campus has tents galore for take-out dining, classes, studying or meetings with professors. With all the challenges that the pandemic poses, our students’ ability to be outside as often as possible, from running the trails to rambling past flowers in Reynolda Gardens, is a solace.

Inside Higher Ed this month featured a round-up of how colleges are seeking to promote lower-risk social opportunities and provide a semblance of normal college life. Wake Forest and its tents got a mention. Every day that is sunny and 70 degrees in Winston-Salem is a day to think of Wake Forest students on the lookout for their special campus niches outdoors to study and be with friends. It’s not the same experience the rest of us alumni had, but my hope is that the connections forged in this time of stress will provide the strong bonds for the future that Wake Foresters across the years know well. And to our alumni living in the places where fires are burning and the winds of tornadoes and hurricanes have turned worlds upside down, know that we hold you close in our hearts. Deacons stand together.

Sincerely,

Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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August 2020 @WAKE Newsletter

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August 28, 2020

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Move-in day 2020

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Back to school

Remember move-in when you arrived at Wake Forest? This one, the occasion in this epochal 2020, looked different. Sure, you would have noticed similarities when the parade of cars and SUVs arrived: the big haul of boxes and rugs; the sweaty brows of poor moms and dads; and the no-holds-barred thrill of “I can park anywhere I want” on move-in days.

What was missing — by necessity — were those wide smiles denoting recognition, first greetings and shy passing on the Quad. If Wake Foresters were doing what they were supposed to do, they had their masks on. You had to look closely for the twinkles in the eyes. But they were there. Students’ excitement at being on campus couldn’t be contained, and my excitement couldn’t, either. “Want to meet up for dinner?” I heard one first-year, masked student ask another. Others tapped furiously into their phones to capture their new friends’ contact info. Those moments felt refreshingly normal.

Seeing students back on campus, meeting new friends, reuniting with old pals and carrying books to prepare for classes renewed my hope during this time of worry, which, as President Nathan O. Hatch has written, calls for perseverance and agility. I can assure you that Wake Forest team members have given their all for months to try to prepare for the fall semester. In this video you can catch the flavor of what it was like when, finally, move-in day arrived.

Here’s hoping for a healthy and safe fall semester,

Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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July 2020 @WAKE Newsletter

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July 31, 2020

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Comet Neowise just after sunset on July 13 in New Canaan, CT.

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Astro event with a Deacon twist

July 2020 will be remembered as the month faculty and staff jumped to an all-hands-on-deck mode to prepare for a fall semester unlike any other because of the pandemic. Normal routines of midsummer have fallen away. Gone are the local baseball games, the swim meets, big cookouts and academic conferences in European capitals. In their place emerged a new spectator sport: stargazing.

As I write this, I am one of the unlucky ones who cannot claim to have seen the space iceball named Comet Neowise that is streaking across night skies in the Northern Hemisphere. NASA says Comet Neowise made its “once-in-our-lifetimes close approach” to the sun on July 3 and will make its way outside Earth’s orbit back to the outer parts of the solar system by mid-August. (There’s still time to see it, maybe with binoculars.)

If you go online, you can peruse stunning photos of the glowing comet hurtling above hay bales in France, past onion-domed churches in Russia, past the peak of Mount Hood in Oregon, past the mighty rocks of Stonehenge in England. And — here’s our Deacon angle — past a park in New Canaan, Connecticut.

I was delighted to see the photo (above) taken in New Canaan by a recent graduate, Connor deMayo (’20). He took three nights to get the picture, and his work wound up in the news. That’s where it caught my eye and led to a chat with this young man of interests that range from science to the humanities to photography. Check out how he got that shot, and keep your gaze heavenward.

Best Wishes,
Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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June 2020 @WAKE Newsletter

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June 26, 2020

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Buildings along an empty Manchester Plaza are reflected in a pool of water this Summer

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Examining history, looking forward

June is normally a quiet month on campus after Commencement, but this year the situation is beyond otherworldly. Most of us who relish working in our campus community are still required to work from home because of COVID-19. Summer school students study remotely. Scenario planners who were assigned from the University’s administration, staff and faculty puzzle over variables amid pervasive uncertainty as they seek to prepare for the opening of campus Aug. 26. The opening, however, won’t be business as usual. The puzzle pieces are coming together with care and countless Zoom deliberations, and you can see the results take shape at ourwayforward.wfu.edu. COVID-19 defines our collective history but won’t deter all of us who want the Wake Forest experience to emerge this coming year, modified but strong, from a commitment to take care of one another in challenging times.

For Wake Forest, like the rest of the country, June also marks a continued period of intense examination and reflection of the University’s ties to slavery. The University released two important publications at community.wfu.edu that had been underway for many months: The President’s Commission on Race, Equity and Community report and “To Stand With And For Humanity: Essays from the Wake Forest University Slavery, Race and Memory Project.”

“Recognition of our past is a necessary step toward continuing our current work to dismantle the lingering vestiges of slavery, racism and inequities that undermine our community,” President Nathan Hatch said. I urge you to take time this summer to review these publications. They are meant to help the University and its people plan for a better future elevating the humanity of all.

Sincerely,
Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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May 2020 @WAKE Newsletter

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May 29, 2020

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

The Quad at Commencement 2020

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Congratulations, graduates!

This month was anything but normal for pomp and circumstance on the Quad. There were no 13,000 chairs aligned with precision by our facilities staff, no nail-biting over whether it would rain, no big screen projecting #WFU20 tweets and Instagram posts, no parade of graduates across a massive stage. The only constant was the campus itself, tranquil, verdant and at the ready with magnolia buds bursting to blossom on schedule for the spectacle.

In this time of COVID-19 and with advice from graduating seniors, the University needed a different plan. Students, after all, had earned their degrees and were due to be recognized and honored. Commencement, it was decided, will be postponed until the fall. On May 18, a first-ever (may it be the only) “Virtual Conferring of Degrees” was livestreamed. Wake Forest officials awarded the degrees, and the rest of us welcomed our newest alumni by watching our phones, laptops and iPads and applauding from our couches. It’s worth seeing the 20-minute video. It has a few fun surprises and reminds us to stand proudly with this Class of 2020. These new alumni, having been challenged to deal head-on with loss these past few months, may well become our latest, greatest generation.

With all best wishes,

Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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April 2020 @WAKE Newsletter

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April 24, 2020

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

reynolda gardens

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Nature is not sidelined

The photo above of Reynolda Gardens is emblematic of spring this year in Winston-Salem. The flowers appear more vibrant than ever, the sky bluer, the Quad greener. Birdsong chimes with insistence. Bunnies are munching on grass all over town. At dawn a fox hurried past me on Runnymede Road.

Maybe it’s because the usual frenetic 9-to-5 world is on pause that I’ve had more time in my front garden to nurture appreciation for the natural beauty of my city and our campus. During April I’ve gained permission to drive past secured gates onto campus only once. There I witnessed an unfamiliar quiet and felt a yearning for the familiar hum of student life. The separation pained me. And yet there was a paradox: the Quad’s serenity was worth noticing for its own sake.

There is no mistaking that April — all of spring — has invited us to contemplate the strengths of community and our pain of separation, wherever we live. But it also invited us to remember the persistence of nature. One way was noting the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Our Wake Forest sustainability crew had big plans for the commemoration. Remembrances had to move online, so we point you to its ongoing work. And never forget that the natural splendor of the Wake Forest campus is intact.

Sincerely,
Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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March 2020 @WAKE Newsletter

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March 27, 2020

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Spring tulips bloom along Hearn Plaza on a misty March morning.

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A March turned upside down

The streets through campus look the same, but the sidewalks don’t. The bustling stream of students is missing. Only now and then do you see a few runners, a dog walker, a married couple ambling along on a welcome sunny day. The backdrops are the same. Tribble. Reynolda. Taylor. ZSR. In mulched beds out front, tulips are popping up red, yellow, peach and plum, as they do every year. Trees are blossoming in pink and white, as we have come to expect.

Wait Chapel stands sentry to orient us, but most of us are not on campus to look up to the steeple. We staff members are working from home in makeshift offices erected on dining room tables or in basement rumpus rooms. Professors are home, too, diving into their first days of teaching remotely. Our students, like alumni now, are spread across the globe, Demon Deacons dispersed.

The COVID-19 pandemic is raging as I write this. Our hearts are hurting, and we have no idea when things might return to normal. But I find comfort in what I see in emails and social media groups with the offers of assistance and collaboration for teaching, research and teleconferencing. Let there be no doubt. This Wake Forest community is rallying to cooperate in daunting times. A message from President Hatch echoes what I am seeing in our community — virtual, ever connected and strong.

Sincerely,
Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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February 2020 @WAKE Newsletter

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February 28, 2020

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Wake Forest's first black women residential students were honored during an event at Byrum Welcome Center on Jan. 31, 2020

African American women who first moved into a women’s residence hall on campus joined friends and other trailblazers for a host of events at Wake Forest in February. Photo by Ken Bennett.

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Honoring courageous women

February marked an extraordinary occasion. Wake Forest commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first African American women moving into a women’s residence hall on campus. Five trailblazing African American women, one of whom was a day student in 1969, were welcomed back for a host of events. Some of the black alumni present for the events had not been back in 40 years.

Discussions were not without straight talk about old wounds (and current ones for some of today’s students), but one of the trailblazers, Beth Norbrey Hopkins (’73, P ’12,) summed it up this way: “Black alumni departed from the events filled with joy and high expectations for moving forward in the area of diversity.”

Malika Roman Isler (’99), assistant vice president of inclusive practice, emphasized Wake Forest has been on a continuing journey to be more diverse and inclusive. “This weekend is an opportunity for an underrepresented part of our community to be uplifted.”

I hope you will take a few moments to read the story of the weekend devoted to “Strength, Resolve and Legacy,” and also watch the four-minute video, which is sure to inspire.

Sincerely,

Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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