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Class Notes

Fall 2022
Marty Ramsey

Homecoming at Western Carolina University will have a different feel this fall, as the individual who helped organize one of the biggest campus events for the past 19 years will no longer be serving as master of ceremonies. Marty Ramsey ’85, WCU’s director of alumni engagement, retired Oct. 1 after a career spanning more than 28 years at his alma mater.
Ramsey literally grew up on the university’s campus. His family moved to Cullowhee in 1964 when his father, Harry Ramsey ’59, who later directed WCU’s programs in Asheville, accepted a faculty position. His mother, Sue Ramsey, worked as a “dorm mother” in Robertson Hall, where he and his sister, Gina, lived during much of their childhood.
Ramsey worked in corporate sales and management for nine years with Roadway Services, a transportation and logistics company. He returned to WCU in 1994 to become director of the Catamount Club. In 2004, he was appointed director of alumni affairs, now called alumni engagement. WCU’s longest serving alumni director, Ramsey held the dual role of director of alumni affairs and the Catamount Club in 2003 and 2004.
Having spent more than 50 years of his life intimately associated with WCU, Ramsey possesses a vast pool of institutional knowledge that will be difficult to replace, said Jamie T. Raynor, vice chancellor for advancement. “The impact of Marty Ramsey and his family’s legacy on this university cannot be overstated,” Raynor said. “From a youngster who made the WCU campus his childhood playground to the man who has been the ‘go-to guy’ for thousands of members of the Catamount family, Marty has helped dramatically increase the involvement of alumni in the life of their alma mater over the past few decades. We are grateful for his leadership and celebrate his accomplishments.”


Chantilly, Virginia, resident Peggy Anne Pettit ’54 celebrated her 90th birthday in May 2022.


A retired teacher and counselor from Gainesville, Georgia, Bob Folsom ’66 MAEd ’68 stepped down from his part-time role in WCU’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions on May 30, 2021. Folsom had worked with prospective students from the metro Atlanta area since 1998.


John Helgeson ’69 has published a science fiction/fantasy novel, “Magique: The Otherland Chronicles.”

Ludy Wilkie ’69 won the Cherryville Little Theatre playwriting contest for his script “Lum and Abner,” based on a radio series that ran from the 1930s through the 1950s. The Hendersonville Theatre did a staged reading of his play “The Last Radio Drama” last October.


Donald S. Brady ’72 has been awarded the Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow Award in recognition of his work to eradicate polio around the world. Through Brady's efforts, American-based pharmaceutical companies have donated polio vaccines used in more than 25 developing countries. He currently serves as interim department chair for the Health Care Administration Program in the College of Health Sciences at Methodist University in Fayetteville.


The Junior League of Greensboro has named Rebecca Schlosser ’73 among the recipients of its Women of Distinction Award for the years 2020-22. Schlosser has served as president of the JLG Sustainers and was a founding member of Women to Women, Greensboro’s first permanent community grantmaking endowment for women and children. She is a member of the WCU Board of Trustees and has served on the university’s Board of Visitors and Foundation Board of Directors.


Margaret Jill King ’82 MAEd ’85 is serving as campus chaplain at Trinity Oaks senior living center in Salisbury.


The WCU Foundation Board of Directors welcomed three new members to terms beginning July 1, including Lisa Hill, co-owner with husband David Hill ’83 of Southern Hill Farms, a berry and agrotourism business in Apopka, Florida. Also newly named to the board are Asheville resident Michael A. Crawford ’87, chief operating officer at Forvis (formerly Dixon Hughes Goodman) since 2016, and Highlands resident Gayle Watkins, retired U.S. Army officer and co-owner of a Highlands-based golden retriever training and kennel company. Susan Pender Class NotesSgt. Susan Stephen Pender ’83 retired from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Clarksville, Tennessee, after 22 years of service.


Margaret Arrington Studenc ’85 MAEd ’90 retired Jan. 1, 2022, after 30 years as an educator in North Carolina, including teaching English and literature at Haywood Community College, where she also managed the Learning Support Services program.


Neal Andrews ’87 retired from the Guilford County School System in January 2022. During his 32-year tenure in the classroom, Andrews was awarded the school system’s Rookie Teacher of the Year and Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for North Carolina Teacher of the Year.


Waynesville resident Audrey Arrington Sanders ’88 was named business manager for the Americas in the Enka division of Freudenberg Performance Materials in February 2022, with responsibility for business operations in North, Central and South America.

Attorney Steven Sizemore ’88, a partner with the Asheville law firm Roberts & Stevens, has been recognized in the North Carolina Lawyers Weekly “Power List” for excellence in workers’ compensation law.

Weaverville resident Chuck Tucker ’88 began a new position as associate vice president of academic affairs and scholarship with the North Carolina division of the HCA Healthcare Center for Clinical Advancement.


Cullowhee Award Class Notes 2022A former student equipment manager for the Catamount athletics program who now serves as senior assistant athletics director at Indiana University, Marty Clark ’89 received a lifetime achievement award in June 2022 from the Athletic Equipment Managers Association. Clark is battling stage 4 glioblastoma. In February 2022, members of AEMA voted for Clark to receive the Tony Anderson Memorial Award. He also received an Honorary I from the Indiana athletics department, the highest award for a non-letter winner in the Hoosiers program, in December 2021.


Mike Cochran ’90 was named town manager of Abingdon, Virginia, after serving as town manager of Hanahan, South Carolina.


Asheville attorney and author William D. Auman MPA ’91 wrote a novel titled “If Trees Could Testify…” The book is based on the true story of Madison County’s infamous Gahagan murders in which Auman was the principal defense attorney in the actual case. The book is available in both print and e-book format from various retail and online outlets, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Walmart.

Former Catamount baseball player Grant Brittain ’91 has been inducted into the Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame.Irene Hamrick Class notes Irene Hamrick ’91 graduated from ELAM, a prestigious Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine fellowship. Hamrick is chief of geriatrics at the University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati VA


Catrin Berry Giles ’92 retired from the Winston-Salem Police Department as a sergeant-in-patrol after working in law enforcement for more than 28 years. She and husband James Alan Giles Jr. ’92 have started camping once a month.


Kerri Class NotesKerri Massey ’93 is the new chief executive officer of Holy Angels, a private nonprofit corporation in Belmont that provides residential services and innovative programs for children and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities and delicate medical conditions.


Nick Roberts ’94 was recently promoted to deputy chief information officer at Davidson College, where he has worked since 2015.


The Moore County Board of Education named Tim Locklair ’95 as the new superintendent of Moore County Schools. Locklair had been serving as interim superintendent and was chosen after a nationwide search. He has a career in public education that spans nearly 30 years in North Carolina. Prior to being named superintendent, he was the chief officer for academics and student support services for Moore County Schools.


After 20 years in admissions and enrollment management at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Kacy Seay McAdoo ’97 became director
of admissions at Wake Tech Community College in 2019. McAdoo was recently promoted to associate dean of admissions and outreach at Wake Tech.


Linda Venturo ’98 MPA ’00 received the 2022 Liberty University Award for Excellence in Teaching. Venturo is an assistant professor in Liberty’s Helms School of Government.

Gary Redwine ’98 was named partner at HunterMaclean, a business law firm with offices in Savannah and St. Simons Island, Georgia. Redwine’s practice focuses on commercial real estate and structured finance.


Scott D. Martin ’99 recently became senior vice president of Coterie Advisory Group in Phoenix.

Kimberly Mercy Myers ’99 was awarded second place for bathroom design in the 2021 Excellence in Design Awards by the Carolinas Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers.


Valerie Class NotesValerie Dobson ’00 MHS ’07 is the new dean of curriculum programs at McDowell Technical Community College. Dobson began teaching at McDowell Tech in 2001 as a faculty member in health information technology and was named program director/coordinator of health information technology in 2005, a role she held until her recent appointment, effective June 1.

Laura Alexander Page ’00 was recently promoted to assistant dean of the Graduate School at the University of Missouri. Micheal Class NotesMichael Taylor ’00 joined the music faculty at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville. Taylor also serves on the faculty at Anderson University, Lenoir-Rhyne University and North Greenville University, teaching tuba, euphonium, chamber ensembles and brass methods. He has served as principal tuba with the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra since 2002.


Laura Collier Darnell ’01 of Greer, South Carolina, celebrated nine months in remission in June 2022 after battling stage 4 breast cancer.

Kelly Williams Hogan ’01 relocated her business, My Zero Carb Life, to Sylva, after husband James Hogan ’03, formerly vice president for advancement at Mitchell Community College in Statesville, accepted the position of assistant vice chancellor for engagement at WCU.

After nearly 18 years in case management at the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Monica Bass King ’01 transitioned to the position of family partner coordinator for Alliance Health of Mecklenburg County in December 2021.

Kam A. McDonald ’01 of Wadesboro was promoted to lead school social worker for Anson County Schools in December 2021.


After teaching Spanish for 17 years and English as a second language for two years in North Carolina, Alison Yount ’02 recently completed her first year teaching English to speakers of other languages at Fairforest Middle School in Spartanburg, South Carolina.


A first sergeant at Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, Joshua W. Ginn ’03 received the Armed Forces Service Medal for contributions to COVID-19 operations and response for COVID-19 testing and vaccination roll-out.


Summerfield resident Lynette Bohn Wellons ’04 was recently promoted to assistant director at the Alamance County Department of Social Services.


Allison Bass-Riccio ’05, English Department chair and writing center coordinator at Cheshire Academy in Cheshire, Connecticut, was invited to speak at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, Connecticut, on Toni Morrison’s book “Beloved.” Bass- Riccio wrote her master’s thesis on the book. Her presentation was titled “Healing from Trauma – Exploring the Personal Grief Process Through the Lens of Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved.’” aloysius-class-notesAloysius Krieger ’05 was named the 2021-22 Ashbrook High School Teacher of the Year in Gastonia. Krieger recently received his master’s degree in special education from UNC Charlotte. Drew Class NotesDrew Lancaster ’05 is assistant baseball coach at Heath High School, which won the Texas 6A state championship in 2021 and headed to the state tournament in 2022, bowing out in the semifinals.

Riccardo McClendon ’05 MA ’07 was named assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students at New York’s Stony Brook University in July 2021. In September 2021, McClendon was appointed to the Sigma Chi International Fraternity’s chapter and membership accountability committee leading a restorative justice program focused on harm repair and rebuilding community. Brandon Class NotesBrandon Robinson ’05 MA ’10 of Durham is recipient of the 2022 North Carolina Bar Association’s William Thorp Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Service Award. Robinson began a two-year term as president of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina – the state's largest statewide land trust – starting Jan. 1. He also was recently elected president of the Durham County Bar Association and 16th Judicial Bar for the 2022-23 term, and in 2022 will conclude three years of service on the boards of the North Carolina Bar Association and North Carolina Bar Foundation.


Meredith Berger Franklin ’06 was recently promoted to supervisor of home/hospital services for Guilford County Schools, the third largest school district in North Carolina and among the 50 largest in the U.S.

Kelly Taylor Herr ’06 is marketing manager for ECU Health Bertie Hospital in Windsor and ECU Health Chowan Hospital in Edenton.


It was “baby makes five” for Gordon, Georgia, residents Matt Brigner ’07 MAEd ’09 and Claire Gilland Brigner ’09 when their third child, Charlotte Grace, was born Nov. 17, 2021.

Russell Conover ’07 MA ’09 has been employed as advancement records specialist at WCU since September 2021.

Now living in Merced, California, Tanisha McClain ’07 is owner of Quichey Creations, a farm-to-fork bakery business.

Brian Wood ’07 is working in the intensive care unit at Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva as he continues studying toward his master’s degree in nursing.


Winston-Salem resident Carla Catalan Day ’08 won the Democratic primary for N.C. House District 74 in May. If elected in November, she will be the first Hispanic woman to serve in the N.C. General Assembly, said Chris Cooper, WCU’s Madison Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs.

William Sult ’08 was part of the Charlotte Rugby Club that won the Division 2 Men's Club Rugby National Championship in May 2022, placing first out of more than 600 teams in the nation competing for the title.

Joe Wheeless ’08 MEd ’10 began a new job as director of fraternity and sorority life at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond in October 2021. Wheeless is working toward a doctorate in higher education from the College of William & Mary with a dissertation focused on the impact of the NC Promise tuition reduction program on student loans.


Mike Corelli ’09 was elected national president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Preston Class NotesPreston Jacobsen ’09 has been named executive director for Haywood Waterways Association. Jacobsen, of Waynesville, was known as the guy behind Local Yokel Weather, a meteorology site that aggregates and analyzes hyperlocal weather data.

Maria Aponte Zimmer ’09 recently made “a total career change” and started a new job with Hummingbird Insurance in Asheville.


Ashley Freeberg ’10 was awarded the Roane County Chamber of Commerce Paul E. Goldberg Young Professional of the Year Award for her volunteerism and leadership
in Roane County, Tennessee. After getting her degree in criminal justice from WCU, Freeberg moved to Kingston, Tennessee, where she currently works with the Roane County Anti-Drug Coalition as a prevention coordinator.

Outdoor Gear Builders, the first outdoor industry association of
its kind, appointed
Matt Godfrey MBA ’10 as its full-time executive director. Godfrey developed the Waypoint Accelerator, an outdoor entrepreneurship and innovation accelerator program for early-stage outdoor-focused companies, and he will continue to manage that program in his new role.

Katelan Suzanne Price ’10 MAcc ’12 of Brookhaven, Georgia,
was promoted to system and organization controls audit supervisor at Smith + Howard, a certified public accounting firm
in Atlanta.

Candler resident Anthony Michael Rendon ’10 was named operations manager at Advanced Composting Technologies in January 2021. In that role, Rendon managed the U.S. Department of Agriculture composting side of the massive avian influenza outbreak in 2022 that affected more than 20 million chickens nationwide.


Kevin A. Williams ’11 began a new position as SOAR’s director of North Carolina programs in April 2022.


Abi Whitt Class NotesAssociate director of residential education for living learning programs and academic initiatives at Dartmouth College, Abi Aparajithan France-Kelly MEd ’12 earned her doctorate in educational policy and leadership studies with a concentration in higher education and student affairs administration from the University of Iowa in 2022.

Stacy Green Van Buskirk ’12 recently completed her first year of teaching secondary English language arts at Murphy High School, her alma mater. Van Buskirk previously worked as a writer for the Cherokee Scout and Andrews Journal newspapers. She lives in Brasstown with her husband and three children.


Asheville resident Daniel Baker ’13 recently accepted his “new dream job” as a customer success manager at Corporate Traveler. 

The Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority named Angela Wagner MS ’12 as its director of administration and human resources. Wagner is a senior certified professional of the Society for Human Resource Management 


Jazmyne Baylor ’14 has returned to Cullowhee as the new education liaison for research and instruction services at Hunter Library.

Waynesville resident Heath Brown ’14 is working as convention services manager at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.

Ashley Berk Curry ’14 launched Down to Earth Services, a group mental health private practice, in early 2020 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Associate dean of academic affairs for student success at Brevard College, Joshua Wilkey ’14 MA ’16 recently earned his doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Alabama. Wilkey also is assistant professor of business and organizational leadership at Brevard.


Alexander resident Jake Barfield ’16 recently launched his own business, Asheville Capital Management.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation promoted Nicholas Goldy ’16 to technical leader of the chemistry section of the crime lab at GBI Headquarters. Goldy is responsible for the training of scientist trainees and the continued training of current scientists to keep them up to date in what is going on in vthe chemistry field. He began his career with GBI in 2017 as a scientist trainee. Ryan Class NotesCharlotte resident Ryan Hall ’16 is director of percussion and assistant band director at Clover High School in South Carolina. Hall’s indoor drumline won a Winter Guard International championship in April 2022, making South Carolina history as the first scholastic group from the state to take top honors at the competition. Spouse Kaitlyn Hall ’16 served as choreographer for the group’s championship performance.

Amanda Arrington Penland MBA ’16 and husband Jacob Penland celebrated the birth of their first son, Jeremiah James, on Dec. 31, 2021.

The past several months has been filled with life changes for Logan Morrison ’16, who got married in October 2021, became assistant director of Greek Life at the University of Georgia in January 2022 and earned his master’s degree in education in May 2022 from the University of Missouri.


Rachel Nicole Leichssenring ’17 welcomed her first son, Alexander Lane, on Sept. 1, 2021. She and husband Tristan Leichssenring, who serves in the U.S. Air Force, live in Lakewood, Washington.

William Coble Mauney ’17 was named deputy director of Alamance County Emergency Medical Services. Mauney has been with Alamance EMS for 15 years.

Casey Gerringer Nelson ’17 earned a promotion to senior digital marketing strategist at Vision Point Marketing, where she works with colleges and universities
from all over the country. Nelson lives in Yadkinville with husband
Joshua Nelson ’15 and newborn daughter Abigail.


Daisy Rodriguez ’18 of Denver, Colorado, credits her time in Cullowhee for showing her “how amazing the outdoors can be” and helping her land a new position with the U.S. Forest Service.

Heather Stanley ’18 MHS ’20,
who began her career in emergency medical services, recently transitioned into a new role with HonorBridge, an organ procurement organization that covers 77 counties of North Carolina. Stanley now works to educate EMS agencies across the state about tissue and eye donation.


Pete Acosta ’19 was named police chief for the town of Morrisville. Prior to that, he was a captain in the department. Acosta started his law enforcement career in Graham.


Micheala Class NotesMichaela Sue Ashe ’20 was promoted to account executive with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets in April 2022. Ashe resides in Columbus, Ohio, where she has worked with the Blue Jackets for a year.

Cassie Kirkpatrick Maynor ’20, of Waynesville, is celebrating her one-year work anniversary with Progressive Insurance.

Spencer McCoy ’20 began a managerial training program at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in April 2022.

Erin M. Pittman ’20, of Winterville, began a position in 2021 as a research and development scientist in the analytical development area of the ThermoFisher Scientific pharmaceutical services group.

After completing a first full year
of teaching,
Morgan Williams ’20 received the Beginning Teacher
of the Year Award at Stoney Point Elementary in Cumberland County.

Mike Cochran ’90 was named town manager of Abingdon, Virginia, after serving as town manager of Hanahan, South Carolina.


Holland Currie ’21 is working toward a master’s degree in social work at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and completed the first year of the program in the spring.

A resident of Harrisburg, Dawson Aro Haywood ’21 is marketing director for Transit and Level Clinic Inc., an engineering, land surveying, construction, large format and public safety supply company. Haywood also has launched his own sports and entertainment website,, which recently became a profitable business.

Formerly manager of communications, annual giving and special events at Brevard College, Tanner Norman ’21 began working at WCU as a communications specialist in the Division of Advancement in June 2022. He and wife Kaitlyn Norman ’21 live in Sylva with their German shepherd puppy, Athena.

Madi Rose ’21 is the new visitor services coordinator in the WCU Fine Art Museum at Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.

Crediting “Western’s amazing

education program,” Cameron Sanders ’21 is recipient of Concord High School’s First-Year Teacher of the Year Award for the 2021-22 academic year.


Not long after graduating, Greenville resident Latisha Rodman Gorham ’22 moved up to the position of quality enhancement specialist for Martin- Pitt Partnership for Children. In the new role, Gorham offers technical assistance to licensed child care facilities and family child care homes and helps them maintain or achieve higher ratings.

Whittier resident Madelyn Price ’22 obtained her license and certification in recreational therapy and recently began her first job as a recreational therapist at Asheville- based Mission Health.

Despite losing her mother to COVID-19 in February 2022 following the passing of her father when she was only 14, Waynesville resident Nikki Sutton ’22 was determined to make it to May’s commencement ceremony.

Abigail Waters ’22 is working in the entomology department at NC State University.

Wilson resident Gracyn Webb ’22 is working as a regional recruiting director for Chick-fil-A.

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