The Strength of the Wolf is the ‘Park’: A Q&A with our own Wolfpack Alumni

In each class of Park Scholars, inevitably the wind softly blowing ‘o’er the fields of Caroline’ holds a distinct place in the hearts and minds of a select few. These few, whose passions and interests have extended to all corners of the globe, have eventually found themselves back in the place they first met: working at at NC State University – forging careers in scholarship, leadership, service and character.

We reached out to these Park Scholar alumni to find out a little bit more about who they are, what they do, and how their perspective has evolved as they’ve witnessed NC State grow over the years.

Illustrations by Lauren Caddick ’14

Amber Kendall '05

Name Amber Kendall
Department The Engineering Place in the College of Engineering
Job Title Coordinator of STEM Partnership Development
Park Class 2005
Undergraduate Major/Minors Physics (and I just finished my PhD in STEM Education at Tufts University)
Favorite Undergraduate Memory With Park Scholarships, my favorite memory would have to be our Learning Lab II trip to Washington DC. Seeing the Supreme Court, the Capitol, the Holocaust Museum, and meeting with Justice Clarence Thomas – it felt like a real privilege. Showing everyone how to use the Metro and traveling anywhere with Walt Wolfram is a hoot – it was cold and he had this huge fur hat (I have a picture) – and watching Associate Director Chaffee Viets dance with the belly dancers at the Moroccan restaurant were also enjoyable highlights.
Favorite Spot on/around Campus You guys don’t know how good you have it now with the libraries. I spent a fair amount of time studying in D. H. Hill, but if it had had ice cream and egg chairs when I was an undergrad, I would have never left. Also, Hunt Library is obviously awesome, and I recently took advantage of the individual study rooms as a quiet space to finish writing my dissertation.
Special interests/hobbies My husband and I fabricate costumes. We let our 7-year-old choose the theme, and pick characters for each of us that work together as a family. All of our skills have been self-taught (although I’ve been sewing for about 20 years) and we work with everything from 3-D printers, foam, and wood, to fabric, paint, latex, make-up, and wigs.
Biggest revelation/surprise since working at the university There were no smart phones before I graduated, and MP3 players were hardly a thing, so it’s a little isolating to see everyone walking around campus, staring down at a device.
Advice to current Park Scholars Stay in touch! With scholars and also with professors and mentors. Facebook had just become a thing right before my class graduated, so I’m lucky that many of us are still connected virtually, even as we’ve moved all over the country or the world (and sometimes back again). It’s good professionally to have this kind of network, but even more than that I love seeing all of the interesting lives that intelligent and motivated people my age are leading. Even if we weren’t that close during our time at NC State, I’ve had relationships grow since then. I miss hearing from those friends who dropped off the radar, so to speak.

Tim Boyd

Name Tim Boyd
Department University Advancement – Advancement Information Services
Job Title Lead Business Intelligence Analyst
Park Class 2008
Undergraduate Major/Minors Psychology Major – Biological Sciences Minor
Favorite Undergraduate Memory I’ll use an awesome Park-specific memory: When we went on our Senior Retreat together to Colorado, we went horseback riding through the mountains. My horse was named Bucket, and if I’m being honest, looked a bit decrepit. Looks can be deceiving however, as Bucket had some additional pace in mind for the trail. I spent much of our time together clutching him pretty closely as he passed several other horses in what was supposed to be a leisurely little jaunt. Despite being somewhat terrified, it remains one of my favorite memories.
Favorite Wolfpack Tradition Definitely running down to the Bell Tower after big wins!
Favorite Spot on/around Campus I always had a soft spot for the Court of North Carolina. I spent many days reading out on the lawn.
Special interests/hobbies I am absolutely in love with tennis, and I am a huge gamer as well (board, video, card, any really).
Biggest revelation/surprise since working at the university The unit in which I work is responsible for University fundraising. I was completely unaware of how many people are involved in this process, and how pivotal it is to the continued success of programs like the Park Scholars. NC State takes great pride in its University Advancement division, and we are in the midst of an amazing giving campaign.
Advice to current Park Scholars Enjoy every moment of your undergraduate experience, because it goes too quickly! You have a huge opportunity to investigate yourself and gain experience from interesting and influential people, so make great use of all the resources you have as a Park Scholar. I find myself in a fulfilling career that was not my original intended landing spot, but my experiences with the Park program helped me to learn how to be adaptive and flexible in my career endeavors. The ability to be forward-thinking and make decisions (career and otherwise) with an open mind and open heart is something that I credit in part to my Park Scholars experience. I hope that you will be able to say the same of yours.

Sara Lane '01

Name Sara Lane
Department CALS Academic Programs
Job Title Coordinator of Career Services
Park Class 2001
Undergraduate Major/Minors Agricultural Business Management, Double major in Extension Education
Favorite Undergraduate Memory When I told my undergraduate adviser where I was going to grad school, he asked how I liked the campus. I responded that I’d never visited, and his expression became a mix of shock and concern. He said, “Promise me that when you get your PhD, you’ll visit the campus before you commit.” I had never thought of getting a PhD, but he said it like it was a given, and that planted a seed in my mind that I should someday get a PhD. When I remember this moment, it reminds me how much the faculty at State care about their students, and what a great relationship I had with my adviser.
Favorite Wolfpack Tradition Hiding out in the stacks at DH Hill when I really needed to study for a test or work on a paper. I wasn’t the only one up there!
Favorite Spot on/around Campus 107 Patterson Hall. When I was a student, I was a Peer Counselor with the CALS Career Services office based there. Now, I’m working in that same office, in the same position my career coaching mentor once held.
Special interests/hobbies I recently bought a house and have discovered a love of working in my yard. It’s great exercise and makes me feel like I’m doing real work. I’ve been thinking about taking some horticulture classes at State to bone up on my plant knowledge. As NC State employees, we can take 3 courses a year for free!
Biggest revelation/surprise since working at the university Not necessarily a revelation or surprise, but certainly a pleasant discovery. Many of the people I knew as a student still work here, and they’re just as great as ever. NC State students are truly fortunate to have faculty and staff who care tremendously about the students’ success. Most colleges and universities aren’t like this.
Advice to current Park Scholars Visit your career office! When you get out into the working world, it will cost you $300+ to get your resume reviewed. You can do it today for free, plus learn a lot about managing your job search and career that will make a big difference for you in the future. When I was a student, I thought I knew a lot about job searching and careers, but now that I work in this field, I realize just how little I actually knew.

Kim Roberts

Name Kim Roberts
Department College of Engineering
Job Title Director of Recruiting, Enrollment Management & Educational Partnerships
Park Class 2001
Undergraduate Major/Minors BS – CHE & BA – Spanish
Favorite Undergraduate Memory This question is too tough! How can we be expected to choose?! Beating Florida State (#2 ranked; 47-1 at the time in ACC games since joining the ACC) was a pretty exciting time. I was too crowd-averse and definitely a rule-follower, so there was no toting field goals down Hillsborough Street for me, but it was fun to watch! The last season and game in Reynolds Coliseum were also pretty special. Maybe I lost a touch of my “rule-following” nature – I may/may not own a souvenir from the occasion.
Favorite Wolfpack Tradition Camp-out. I don’t know exactly how it goes down these days, but I do think there is something to be said for dedicating a couple of cold nights filled with camaraderie and shenanigans to earn your seat at a high-demand event.
Favorite Spot on/around Campus REYNOLDS! It was nostalgic when we were in school – the house that Case built. But, if you haven’t been recently, it’s magnificent now. They captured the history of the building while giving it the modern touches it so desperately needed (AC!). If you haven’t made it a point to visit, you should.
Special interests/hobbies I play lots of volleyball – less now that I have a daughter with another one on the way. Otherwise, I suppose the top activities are spending time with the family and trying to travel when we can.
Biggest revelation/surprise since working at the university  At every stage of your educational journey, you think you’re the primary focus. At least I did. I would say that, as I progressed along my journey from undergrad, to grad, to researcher, to administrator, I have realized that there are so many pieces to the puzzle. A lot goes in to creating the undergraduate experience, the graduate experience, etc. And, it is truly shocking to see how much we, as faculty/staff, accomplish with so few of us, relatively speaking. So many people are working to ensure the success of our students. I probably took that for granted at the time. On the bright side, I don’t begrudge students for not recognizing it in the moment either. It’s a gift and a pleasure to work at this university with our amazing student body.
Advice to current Park Scholars Two pieces of advice: 1) Cliche as it may be, enjoy the ride! You are the beneficiaries of some pretty generous people. Earn that gift. But, have fun while you’re doing it. Four years flies by! 2) Comparison is the thief of joy. Spend less time comparing your accomplishments/activities to your peer Parkies. I assure you, they are just as humbled by your achievements. Instead, focus on your strengths and what you want to contribute. There’s room for everyone to succeed in their own way!

published on 2017.10.31