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August 2022

 

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Aug. 26, 2022

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Hundreds of first-year students throw colorful paper airplanes in Wait Chapel during an orientation eventNew students “launch” their journeys by turning worksheets of their skills and career interests into paper airplanes during orientation with the Office of Personal and Career Development. Photo by Ken Bennett.

EDITORS’ PICKS

Move-in Memories

They rolled up, just like old times. Parents inched toward “Freshmanland” with their car trunks overflowing with their first-year students’ bins, mirrors, pillows and clothes. SOTOGAB played with extra vigor to enliven the scene. The Deacon mascot made the rounds. Student-athletes and staff members were quick to lend a hand for the trips up and down steps.

I couldn’t help but smile upon seeing the renovated Bostwick and Johnson dorms. When my friends and I arrived at all-female Bostwick, our parents helped us unload, gave us a hug after inspecting our dorm rooms and said, “Good luck. Love you.” We cranked up our window fans, decorated our bulletin boards and thought about the upcoming dinner with our “brother hall” at The Pollirosa: Home of Grandma’s Country Kitchen. We waited in line for the hall phone to call our parents and tell them how things were going those first few days. Parents these days stick around a lot longer and exchange minute-by-minute texts with their students about what’s next for orientation.

No matter the era, though, the excitement about the start of the fall semester crosses generations. You can see that in our magazine story about alumni who returned with their children for move-in day on Aug 17.

This week I thumbed through a Wake Forest Magazine from my first semester and realized these words of Provost Emeritus Ed Wilson (’43, P ’91, ’93) ring true today. He hoped Wake Forest in 1978 would be what it was when he first saw it: “a place where reason, imagination, and faith flourish, a place eternally and fearlessly in pursuit of truth; a place which is open, hospitable, generous, loving and free.”

Here’s to the start of a great year,

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

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July 2022

 

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July 29, 2022

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Photo by Ken Bennett of the arch on the Quad with the sun shining behindPhoto by Ken Bennett

EDITORS’ PICKS

Rethinking a cultural touchstone

Summer is the best time to savor a few moments to relax and catch up on reading. These days the books on my list also need to make room for podcasts, and I have one to share with you today.

Have you ever thought about the line “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” Kanye West sings about it, and so does Kelly Clarkson. Movies about superheroes only reinforce this American cultural touchstone. But NPR’s “Hidden Brain” podcast a few weeks ago made me stop and question the “superhero trope” that suggests if something bad happens to you, something good is going to come out of it and you’ll be better than ever.

The podcast featured Eranda Jayawickreme, the Harold W. Tribble Professor of Psychology and the senior research fellow at the University’s Program for Leadership and Character. His insights challenge how post-traumatic growth has been measured and how the research has caused us “to jump ahead” to conclude that trauma is an automatic catalyst for positive personality changes. Jayawickreme argues for a nuanced view of how someone emerges from adversity. There might be an increase in compassion or creativity, while simultaneously there might be mental health challenges. He’s already won multiple awards for his research, and my bet is there will be more to come as he works on developing interventions to help people manage and recover from different types of adversity.

Here’s to our professors and their groundbreaking research.

Sincerely,

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

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May 2022

 

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May 27, 2022

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

A graduate raises her diploma above her head at commencement 2022.Photo by Ken Bennett

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An end is the beginning

Here’s to pomp and circumstance! The big news in May was that Wake Forest conducted its array of Commencement events right on time and with all the ceremonial, in-person joy we should never take for granted. Blue skies. Sunshine. Chairs aligned with precision. The Quad abuzz.

When I looked out over Hearn Plaza on Monday, May 16, and at the photos afterward, I saw the graduates in goofy sunglasses, some wearing bedazzled mortar boards, some wearing chucks, one wearing a kilt. All were beaming. I saw parents sporting Panama hats, at least two waving huge “faces on sticks” and all looking proud.

It’s the first Commencement I remember that can boast this singular tweet: “Louisa and Summertime Graduate College!” Louisa is wearing her cap and tassel as she poses near a barn with a horse. Summertime, I presume? Congrats!

Take a few minutes to peruse photos from Commencement 2022. You are bound to appreciate those whose journeys are just beginning.Go Deacs!

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

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April 2022

 

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April 29, 2022

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Eric Olson, Donna Boswell and Rodney Rogers.Award winners to be honored tonight are Eric Olson, Donna Boswell and Rodney Rogers.

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A celebration delayed but not forgotten

Amid the pandemic’s myriad effects since 2020, certain Wake Forest traditions were canceled or delayed in the interest of public health. One of those beloved events was the in-person dinner to honor three of Wake Forest’s finest graduates.

Tonight, if all goes as planned, we will gather, finally, to celebrate the Distinguished Alumni Award winners named in 2020. We will pay tribute to Donna Boswell (’72, MA ’74), the first female chair of the University Board of Trustees and a constant and true presence for the betterment of Wake Forest; Eric Olson (’77, PhD ’81, D.Sc. ’03), a groundbreaking scientist who leads the Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine in Dallas; and Rodney Rogers (’94), one of the most gifted athletes to ever play at Wake Forest and someone who has exemplified Pro Humanitate in his endeavors despite an accident that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. Read about them here.

I don’t know about you, but for me the gatherings after the isolation of the pandemic have been more vibrant, more meaningful and more cherished. It seems there is a stampede to the dance floor at weddings. Hugs last longer. Enthusiasm abounds at concerts, and on campus I can’t help but notice how students are fervently back to ticking off items on their senior bucket lists.

I am expecting tonight’s celebration to reflect the appreciation not only of our honored graduates but also of our good fortune to be together again. Wake Foresters understand the value of community. Wherever you live, I will lift a glass of the finest to you in that spirit.

Here’s to our Distinguished Alumni Award winners –

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

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March 2022

 

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March 25, 2022

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

President Susan R. Wente joins attendees as they gather for tea and cookies on the Quad before the Lovefeast ceremony. Photo by Ken Bennett

EDITORS’ PICKS

A historic day

I wish you could be here today to see the campus adorned for a major event in the life of Wake Forest. Susan R. Wente, Ph.D., will be installed officially as the 14th president. The inauguration ceremony promises pomp and circumstance with faculty in regalia and alumni representatives from classes dating back to the original campus on hand to witness the event. You can watch it here at 3 p.m. by livestream.

While Wente has been on the job since July 1, the inauguration ceremony serves as the official installation, a celebration and an opportunity for the president to share her story. The biomedical scientist talked with me last year about how one adviser in college changed the course of her life. She has made it clear she wants Wake Forest students to feel safe in discovering their full potential.

For context, before today only seven Wake Forest presidents had official inauguration ceremonies, beginning with Thomas H. Pritchard in 1879. His inaugural address was titled “A Plea for Higher Learning.” He delivered it at our original campus, founded in 1834, in Wake Forest, North Carolina. A train of 150 people chugged along from Raleigh to the event, attended by the governor. Think how far we have come. To witness history you need only click the link above!

All best wishes,

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

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February 2022

 

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February 25, 2022

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Yo-Yo Ma raises his hands as he plays cello with a student quartet at Joel ColiseumPhoto by Ken Bennett

EDITORS’ PICKS

Balm for a weary world

Last week Grammy-winning Yo-Yo Ma spoke and played for our community at an event that drew young musicians from across Winston-Salem. He appeared as part of the University’s Face to Face Speaker Forum, and Wake Forest students were welcomed for free. The event exemplified what many of you will remember at Wake Forest when you happened upon a speaker, a play or a musical performance that shaped the way you wanted to live your life, open to art and possibility.

 

The conversation with Ma had many moments of beauty, but one in particular will stay with me.

 

A string quartet played to open the event. Three were our students. At the end of the evening, they were invited back onstage. Ma was going to play with them, an unexpected turn of events. To the student cellist, Ma asked, “Would you like to play my cello?”

 

He gently handed over his cello and carried the student’s cello back to his own chair. As they tuned up, you could feel the electricity. Together the quartet began to play “Salut d’Amour” by Edward Elgar.

 

Sitting next to Ma was the violinist, senior Uzo Ahn of Cleveland, Ohio. His eyes above his COVID mask flashed joy and wonder as he played and glanced to his right at Ma, a global star who has been offering #SongsofComfort to those on the front lines of the pandemic. That look of joy and wonder in the student’s eyes? It seemed to me, in LJVM Coliseum, it went viral.

 

The next day I asked Ahn if I had interpreted his look correctly. “It was joy unlike any I have felt in my life,” he said. “I’m still trying to process a lot of what just happened.”

 

I am, too, left with a memory of generosity of spirit on display.

 

May you find unexpected joy today,

Maria Henson

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

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January 2022 

 

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January 28, 2022

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Photo of Maya Angelou in chair in Wait Chapel smilingPhoto by Ken Bennett

EDITORS’ PICKS

Maya Angelou (L.H.D. ’77) makes history again

If you are like me, in the next couple of weeks you’ll be checking with a local bank to collect a keepsake: a Maya Angelou quarter.

The U.S. Mint announced the first batches of new quarters shipped on Jan. 10 as part of a four-year program featuring coins with the reverse (known as tails) designs honoring accomplishments of trailblazing American women.

The Mint lauded the late Angelou, named the University’s first Reynolds Professor of American Studies in 1982, as a “celebrated writer, performer, social activist.” Not only is she the first Black woman to have her likeness on a quarter, but she also ranks first in line among the trailblazers on the quarters. In 2022 quarters will later recognize astronaut Sally Ride; Wilma Mankiller, the first woman elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation; Nina Otero-Warner, a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement; and Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood.

“These inspiring coin designs tell the stories of five extraordinary women whose contributions are indelibly etched in American culture,” said the Mint’s then-Acting Director Alison L. Doone last fall. “Generations to come will look at coins bearing these designs and be reminded of what can be accomplished with vision, determination and a desire to improve opportunities for all.”

Read more about the Mint’s program and selections here. If you know students in the Maya Angelou Residence Hall, urge them to tuck a quarter into a special spot in the dorm to remind others one day of a gifted honoree who has made Wake Forest proud.

 

All best wishes,

Maria Henson

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

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November 2021 @WAKE Newsletter

 

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November 26, 2021

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Pitsgiving 2021Pitsgiving 2021 drew crowds of students embracing a treasured tradition. Photos by Ken Bennett.

EDITORS’ PICKS

From Pitsgiving to Thanksgiving

Before class last Thursday, my journalism students were buzzing about Pit strategies. Someone’s friends had started lining up at the cafeteria at 6 a.m. Others discussed plans to “hand off” tables throughout the day. Pitsgiving’s official start was 11 a.m., and these students were at the ready, despite dutifully attending my 11 a.m. class where, for the next 75 minutes, I stood between them and the mashed potatoes.

I launched into my old-timer routine. Going to the Pit in my day was never about the food, I told them. One friend of mine existed on cheeseburgers, fries and “Polar Bear” ice cream bars for every lunch and dinner from October through finals. No one praised Pit food. And the only reason anyone anywhere might line up at 6 a.m. was to snag ACC basketball tickets.

I got a kick out of the students’ excitement about what is now an established  Wake Forest tradition. Pitsgiving marks a day for gathering friends to dine on turkey and the fixings, a preview of the Thanksgiving holidays. Pit food is considered truly tasty now — I’m serious, old-timers — and the turkeypalooza of main events is Pitsgiving.

Today, as you rest from yesterday’s Thanksgiving feasts, know that for students the festive gatherings around food and friends started a week ago at dear old Wake Forest.

All semester, students have been reclaiming traditions shelved a year ago at the height of the pandemic. They’re cheering on our teams in record numbers. They’re rolling the Quad like crazy. For me, to see that kind of school spirit is another reason to be grateful.

Enjoy those leftovers,
Maria Henson

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

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October 2021 @WAKE Newsletter

 

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October 29, 2021

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Members of the Wake Forest community participate in the annual Hit the Bricks for Brian cancer research fundraiser on Hearn Plaza 9/30/21.

EDITORS’ PICKS

Traditions return

Today is a huge day on campus. We are welcoming back graduates for Homecoming weekend to cheer on the Demon Deacons and expecting to see signature dancing and swaying at Party So Dear with The Commodores on Manchester Plaza. Fall semester is in full swing — as much as possible — as we continue to navigate COVID-19.

Seeing these traditions reemerge for in-person events after 2020’s challenges makes them even sweeter. They are proving more popular, too, when we have chances to high-five each other in real life rather than give each other a Zoom wave.

Hit the Bricks once again brought out the crowds to thunder around the Quad. A record 1,693 participants logged nearly 5,700 miles and raised more than $202,000 for the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund.

I find it uplifting to see how the campus community continues to honor the memory of Wake Forest football legend Brian Piccolo (’65, P ’87, ’89) with sustained, impressive fundraising for cancer research through Hit the Bricks and other student-led events. Piccolo died in 1970 at age 26 of a rare form of cancer, but his legacy lives on as students put their hearts into honoring him and other loved ones who have had cancer. Have no doubt that the Pro Humanitate spirit on campus this fall is alive and thriving.

Go, Deacs! Beat Duke!
Maria Henson

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

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September 2021 @WAKE Newsletter

 

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September 24, 2021

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

2020 commencement, held 16 months later in September 2021 because of COVID-19

Graduates toss their caps during Commencement 2020, which was delayed 16 months due to COVID-19.

EDITORS’ PICKS

Live in hope

We are accustomed to stories having a beginning, a middle and an end. Members of the Class of 2020 built the chapters of their story upon arriving in August 2016. They began in a circle on the Quad with the provost and their parents. They hummed the alma mater when they didn’t know the words. They wrote their first papers, cheered their teams’ victories, nursed pangs of homesickness and looked around at some point to recognize that these buddies of theirs might indeed become friends for life. They went abroad. They assisted refugees and tutored little kids. They talked smack in the dorms. They learned to speak other languages. They noticed — maybe without stopping in their tracks — how the bells of Wait Chapel rang every day at 5 p.m. And then, in March 2020, they went away for their final spring break only to receive a warning, a dire interruption: There’s a global pandemic. Don’t come back.

But that didn’t stop their senior year. Alone, they kept studying and attending class remotely. To mark completion of their academic work, they watched a virtual program to mark the passage from students to official graduates. Perhaps they were with their loved ones who toasted their achievement. But they weren’t on campus with the friends, faculty and staff who had walked beside them.

For their story, in such unfamiliar terrain, there was no true sense of an ending.

That changed — dramatically, joyfully, tearfully — last weekend. More than 700 of the members of the Class of 2020 returned with family members in tow. They ran across Magnolia Patio to embrace each other. They gathered outside the food court. “What’s up?! Everybody got haircuts!” they shouted. They danced to the band on Manchester Plaza.

And then they arose on Saturday, bleary-eyed, and, in full regalia, took their place in line on the Quad. And their parents beamed as each name was called for their children, who were grownups now, in grad school or working in their second year as Wake Forest graduates. No matter about the technicalities. As if in a time warp, they were marching on a sunny day to the stage in front of Wait Chapel to shake the hand of President Emeritus Nathan O. Hatch (L.H.D. ’21) and to receive a diploma.

“Take joy in doing the right thing even when the future is unknown,” Hatch told them.

And so their story ended; and while their (and our) futures remain as uncertain as ever, for a few hours at home at Wake Forest, their future (and ours) was brighter on such a very fine day.

Here’s to the powerful Class of 2020,
Maria Henson

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

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August 2021 @WAKE Newsletter

 

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August 27, 2021

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Images of Move-in Day 2021

ABOVE: Move-in days highlights, including a signed welcome from President Susan R. Wente.

EDITORS’ PICKS

They’re back!

The beat of the drum. The shout of “Go, Deacs!” The sight of tubs, wagons, trunks and comforters on parade. Move-in days last week brought a cheerful arrival, including for the Class of 2025 that was 1,400 undergraduates strong.

I sat in the lobby of Benson University Center last Thursday, where I looked up to admire the flags representing our students from around the world and thought about how grateful I was that students were moving to campus to begin or renew friendships in person and engage with professors again.

Soon my reverie was broken. Parents were stopping by to ask questions and write post cards for their new Demon Deacons. I asked most of them why their children chose our alma mater. Wake Forest “set the bar” during college visits, and no other school met it, one answered. Wake Forest “scored 10” on the visits. A daughter knew right away this was the one. A son wanted to come South, where he liked the idea of being outdoors much of the year and prized the University’s academic reputation. The size was right. The campus was beautiful. For another couple’s son, it seemed “meant to be” when a student tour guide turned out to be a graduate of the same Massachusetts high school.

They had flown or driven from Minneapolis, Boston, Atlanta, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, to name but a few of their homes. They were wearing masks, but their eyes beamed when they expressed their delight about their children’s college choice.

All of us who are alumni remember those move-in days, how transformative they are for students and parents. To all in the Class of ’25 and to their older classmates, I wish them an academic year filled with happiness and rich memories that start the minute one walks in the dorm room door. Take it from me, those Demon Deacon memories last a lifetime.

Here’s to Deacs, new and old!
Maria Henson

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

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