The Park Scholarships Diversity Student Task Force has compiled profiles of Park Scholars, Park Faculty Scholars, and Selection Committee Members designed to give prospective students insight about the Park Scholarships program, the selection process, and how scholars made the decision to join the Wolfpack.
Name: Nancy A. Ridenhour
Title: Retired, former computer programmer and business mentor
Roles within Park Scholarships: Selection Committee member for 25 years, Regional Selection Committee Leader for the Piedmont region
1. Tell us a little more about who you are, your background, and your identity.
I grew up in Kannapolis, North Carolina, and graduated from A.L. Brown High School in 1972. I then went to NC State and graduated with a B.S. in statistics in 1976.
There was a bad recession at that time. I found a computer programming job in my hometown at Cannon Mills. In 1978 I moved to Riegel Textile in the small town of Ware Shoals, South Carolina. In 1980 I accepted a job in Charlotte as a programmer/analyst at First Union National Bank. Over the next nine years, I learned more about consumer lending and merging banks than I ever planned to know.
In 1989 I left the bank for a California Savings and Loan that was opening a backup location in Charlotte. I tell people that was a great job — it was four months in southern California with most expenses paid, four months in Charlotte in a new building, and four months on plant shutdown while they moved back to California. I started contracting in 1990 and began my independent consulting business in 1993. I subcontracted in large corporations and worked independently with small companies. I retired at the end of 2011.
During these years I also served on various boards for NC State, including the Alumni Association Board, the College of Sciences Foundation Board, and the College of Sciences Board of Advisors.
In 2012 I completed the training to become a SCORE mentor. I love helping people start companies and continued to do this until June 30, 2020.
2. What initially attracted you to being involved with the Park Scholarships program?
I was raised to always give back. While serving on the NC State Alumni Association Board, I began interviewing candidates for the Caldwell Scholarship which at that time was the 4-year NC State main scholarship. When the Park was created, I began interviewing Park Scholarships candidates.
3. Why do you continue to be involved with our program?
Students keep me thinking about the future. They are optimistic, and I learn so much talking with them. I especially enjoy hearing about the activities that they have participated in and the ideas for the future.
4. What do you seek in a Park Scholar?
I look for someone who is always looking to learn more about themselves and give back at the same time. I want to hear about their strengths and weaknesses and how they need others to help with the weaknesses.
5. What advice might you give a high-schooler who is considering applying for the Park Scholarships program?
I tell students to understand the purpose of the scholarship. After reviewing the purpose, decide what you want to get from it, but more importantly what you plan to give to the program.
6. Is there anything else you might like to share about yourself, the Park Scholarships program, and/or your involvement in it?
I have had the opportunity to meet interesting people who are interviewers and helpers during the interview process. I find out a lot just chatting on the interview day and especially with the people who are my co-interviewers.