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WCU Stories

Class Notes

Fall 2021
Savannah Arnold

Savannah Arnold '19 was recognized in the top 20 nationally in financial services by a Fortune 500 company review. Working with a leading investment management firm in Atlanta, she continues to pursue additional certification and qualifications, including recently having passed the Securities Industry Essentials exam.

“I started discussing my career path with Grace Allen, after deciding that I wanted to try and work for a top financial firm,” said Arnold. Allen was a longtime College of Business professor who passed away August 2020 after a brief battle with cancer.

Arnold had changed her major several times before making a final choice, well, choices, and graduating with degrees in business administration and marketing, as well as Spanish language and literature.

During her college years, when Arnold wasn’t in class, she was frequently outdoors. She also was active in numerous club sports, was a sweetheart of Alpha Sigma Phi and studied abroad in Valencia, Spain. She still plans to advance her career and “continue to learn the business from the ground up.”


Monica Henson ’84 has been appointed superintendent of schools for the Oxford Hills School District, the fifth-largest school system in Maine. Henson is a member of the WCU Alumni Association board of directors and the Madison Legacy Society.

Joanna Helms ’84 was named secretary/treasurer for the North Carolina Economic Development Association. She is director of Apex Economic Development for the Town of Apex in Wake County


Ryan Quillan ’92 was named the regional vice president of sales and service at OneAmerica. He oversees the sales teams and account managers in key offices in Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Michigan, Chicago and Colorado. He has more than 25 years of experience in the group insurance industry and is known for developing strong working relationships with customers and internal partners, building teams and driving growth for organizations.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Camille Coolidge Shotwell ’92 to Florida’s judicial nominating commissions. Shotwell owns a law firm, Coolidge Law Group P.A., which specializes in commercial real estate and family law in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She is appointed for a term ending July 1, 2024.

Richard Smith ’92 is the new planning director for the city of Kannapolis. In his role, he oversees the planning, zoning, GIS, and code enforcement services of the city. Smith has approximately 23 years of experience in planning and community development.


Darren Shell ’93 has written a book called “Three Seventeen,” about being a suicide-loss survivor. Shell tells the story of how God woke him up one morning and told him to write a book about bouncing back from the suicides of both his father and his best friend. The book was published last fall.


Ben Coulter ’94 joined Western Governors University as state director of WGU North Carolina and regional director of the Southeast. Coulter has more than 27 years of experience in higher education and served as an officer in the Army for 20 years. He has previously worked as vice president, global initiatives for QASPIR, a U.K.-based higher education company. Coulter also served in various capacities at WCU, including director of instructional technology and assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Foundations.


Gary L. Redwine ’98 joined business law firm HunterMaclean as part of its commercial real estate practice group. His practice focuses on commercial real estate, structured finance and environmental law.


Jacob Babb ’03 MA ’05 co-edited the publication of “The Things We Carry: Strategies for Recognizing and Negotiating Emotional Labor in Writing Program Administration,” which was published by Utah State University Press.


Alison Alexander ’04 MPA ’06 was hired as the assistant county manager for Catawba County where she assists with overseeing the administration of county government services for citizens. Before her appointment, Alexander served as the deputy county administrator for Lancaster County in South Carolina. She also previously served as town manager for Laurel Park, and as assistant town manager for Waynesville.


Julia Savoy ’16 ’19 recently become a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. In order to take the exam, Savoy had to fulfill several requirements, such as completing 1,000 hours of diabetes patient contact and two years of professional practice in her current discipline at the Medical Group of the Carolinas. She is now able to supply a variety of services to people with diabetes, such as health coping skills, problem solving, monitoring blood glucose, increasing physical activity, healthy eating behaviors, reducing risks of complications and taking medications.


Paul Farmer ’17 received an Artist Support Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council for his interactive photomontage series, “(G)LI(T)CHEN.” The series is an interactive macro photography project surrounding lichen and its environmental indicators.


Kirsten Bange ’20 saw her kindergarten class at Jonathan Valley Elementary School recognized in the news for its celebration of Read Across America. After reading the Dr. Suess book “Butter Battle Book,” the class made homemade butter. A contest was held between the boys and girls to see who could make butter the fastest. The boys won.

Kalliope Balastias ’20 was named 2020-21 Teacher of the Year at Simkins Elementary School in Greensboro. Balastias is an early childhood resource teacher.

Mike Swan EdD ’20 was named superintendent of Burke County Public Schools, starting the new role in July after serving as interim since April. Swan was promoted to assistant superintendent in December of 2020. Previously, he served as BCPS’ student services director for four years. Before moving to the central office, Swan was the principal at Freedom High School and Heritage Middle School, also serving as an assistant principal at both of those schools and Liberty Middle School. He joined BCPS in 1998 as a teacher at Chesterfield Elementary School, later moving to Ray Childers Elementary School.


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