Maryhelen Willhite Endowed Scholarship Established

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – Bishops are often asked, “What makes Wesleyan different?” or “Why Wesleyan?” The answer is simple. It is the people, the community. This is proven once again by another generous donor, Maryhelen Willhite Jones.

Maryhelen is the daughter of the late Dr. W. Lyle Willhite who was a professor at NC Wesleyan from 1976 to 1984. Her dedication and commitment to Wesleyan runs deep and in 1996, she was able to assist one of Dr. Willhite’s former students, Rick Bradham III, ’81, in establishing The Dr. W.L. Willhite Endowed Scholarship.

Maryhelen Willhite Jones

Because of her late father’s influence, Maryhelen made her first contribution in the spring of 2024 to establish The Maryhelen Willhite Jones Endowed Scholarship, her own Second Generation Legacy Scholarship. This award will be given to undergraduate students majoring in Marketing who have excelled in academic and extracurricular accomplishments at NCWU.

Dr. Willhite instilled in Maryhelen to be bold and give with purpose and passion. Now she has been able to “bring that ‘can do’ boldness to NCWU through another endowed scholarship with the Willhite name.”

Maryhelen says “I believe in not only paying things forward, but also paying them inward.”

Although her background is in the Arts, International Relations, and Information/ Library Sciences, she has a passion for all things Marketing: brands, products, companies, non-profits, social causes, innovations, and ideas. Maryhelen states, “If I had to do it over again, I would go into the field of Marketing. What I can do instead is to help support those who decide to do just that.”

Maryhelen knows that Wesleyan’s undergraduate marketing degree involves research skills, critical thinking, demographics, collaboration, creativity, communication, persuasion, information, observation, social, economic, and cultural considerations, and yes, sometimes playfulness!

“My ultimate focus is on the students, who no matter what their career fields end up to be, are ethically grounded and have a strong moral self-compass,” says Maryhelen Willhite Jones.

“The Dr. W. L. Willhite Endowed Scholarship has been financially supporting Wesleyan students for over 27 years. To have a scholarship established by his daughter, Maryhelen, that will impact lives in the same way is a grand gesture. We are grateful for the ongoing support from the Willhite family, which will continue to make a difference for future Wesleyan alumni. The relationship developed has been meaningful and of great significance.”

Khalil Robertson’s Leadership and Journey at NCWU

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – A true man of many talents, Khalil Robertson is a senior graduating from North Carolina Wesleyan University. Although he has a bright future ahead, he will be leaving NCWU with a touching and lasting impact. Robertson has been active on campus, supporting multiple student ministries, a leader for the Male Minority initiative developed on campus with NCICU, and has accepted a full-ride scholarship to Duke Divinity School where he will obtain a Master of Arts in Christian Practice (MACP).  

Recent graduate, Khalil Robertson, accepted a full-ride scholarship to Duke Divinity School.

Robertson is a prime representation of the personal, practical, and purpose-driven education that students receive at Wesleyan. He started attending NCWU in 2020, the first academic year held during COVID-19. This did not intimidate him from getting involved and engaged in the campus community as he tuned into Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) via zoom. During the spring semester, he began teaching Bible studies and attending Refuge Campus Ministry. He was instantly involved with campus ministries every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Robertson was Assistant Chaplain to Reverend Barry Drum in 2020 where he had the opportunity to conduct a baptismal service. Upon Reverend Ferguson’s hire, the two formed an immediate bond and Robertson shares, “If it wasn’t for him I can say I wouldn’t be as confident in myself and ministry without him”. The preaching led to counseling and taking part in the worship teams. Robertson expresses “As a graduating senior, I have really enjoyed the community that I’ve been a part of in all the ministries, it’s really been a life changing experience for me, and I thank God for the relationships built with the Moore family, Word Tabernacle Church, Presence Church, Connect YTI, and so many others.” Rev. Ferguson responds, “I am proud of Khalil and excited for his future. He will make a positive, lasting impact wherever he goes and I am grateful that God allowed our paths to cross.”

As a member of Wesleyan’s Black Student Association, Robertson shares, “I got into a community that felt like my family away from home.” He took this further his sophomore year by creating an organization for black male students. Sprouting from the Male Minority Initiative with NCICU, Robertson established a vision, a board of gentlemen, and an organization called Black Men Winning, with the assistance of Tim Carmichael, Giavonne Minns, Yutaka Bell, Jonah Purnell, Jaydon Denmark, Tim Willis, and leader Rev. Russell Rouse, initial advisor. 25-30 men were inducted during their first ceremony in 2022. In the second year, Dr. Spragley assumed the role of advisor where he and Robertson expanded this group beyond campus and into the Rocky Mount Community. Robertson said he was inspired by Rouse and Spragley to “take a holistic approach in developing and empowering the members in a spiritual aspect by having Bible study, traveling to other churches, counseling members individually, and ultimately helping students find outside grants to help fund their education.” Dr. Spragley worked with NCICU, making it possible for members to achieve an additional scholarship as being part of the organization. This extended to etiquette workshops, mental health workshops, hosting inspirational guest speakers, taking part in city-wide panels, retreats, community service projects with Ripple Effects and St. John AME Zion Church, study hall sessions, registration workshops to ensure being on the right track for graduation, and hosting events such as: Ebony Speaker Ball, 7V7 Football Tournaments, Game Night Tournaments, Love Day, etc.! Through all of that, Robertson believes “being intentional is the number one value that I believe carries the organization to new levels. It’s what brings guys closer, makes members stronger, and inspires others to be part of what we’ve built.” Their motto is “A successful black man is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks thrown at him.” He plans to remain involved in the ministry, but leaves the leadership to its current members and Dr. Spragley who states, “Mr. Robertson has proven himself to be a leader in the truest sense. His dedication to providing resources and opportunities to young men of color is an admirable skill set.”

Robertson’s future endeavors will be in the Master of Arts in Christian Practice Hybrid program at Duke Divinity where he looks to work as a high school social studies teacher for Wake County Schools, still actively preaching and pursuing to pastor in the CME Church. He concludes by sharing “I’m truly grateful for the support of my professors, the students, staff and faculty from the Wesleyan community, the many churches regardless of denomination, and my family for everything they’ve done for me the last four years; but most of all, I thank God for what he’s already done, what He’s doing right now, and for what He’s about to do!” 

The Dunn Center Announces The 28th Season Series

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – The Dunn Center at North Carolina Wesleyan University will kick off its 28th season series on Friday, September 13 with the family-friendly Fool of Illusion show performed by Reggie Rice. The 2024-2025 season will include seven shows from a variety of genres with season tickets on sale starting June 1 for $150. As a season ticket holder, you get a reserved seat and ticket for all seven shows. The price is right and the parking is free.

Rice’s show has been named the “Comedy Magician of the Year” for the last three years by the International Brotherhood of Magicians. He will combine magic and laughter to create Fool of Illusion. You have never seen anything like it. This is a 90- minute, family-friendly show that includes audience participation that will have you on the edge of your seat. Rice makes the adults laugh and the kids scream.

“The Dunn Center is a true gem in eastern North Carolina and I’m proud of the exceptional lineup that we have to offer this season,” stated Sheila Martin, Executive Director of The Dunn Center. “For those who have attended a show here in the past, we look forward to having you back for another exciting performance. For those who have never been to our venue, I encourage you to come check us out and witness all that we have to offer.”

Also joining the lineup is Departure: The Journey Tribute Band who will pay tribute to one of the greatest bands of all time on Friday, September 27. The group has been together for over sixteen years and is considered the most respected Journey tribute band in the nation.

John Floyd, a Rocky Mount native, will return to his hometown on Friday, October 11. Floyd is a comedian, speaker, and author. This particular show will be filled with clean, hilarious comedy. He has performed on the same stage with Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy winners such as Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx, and Dave Chappelle.

Friday, October 18 will feature the music of Cobain, Novoselia, and Grohl. A Nirvana Experience was formed in 2021 and performs the most accurate and captivating Nirvana live show since the real thing. They use vintage instruments and leave the audience satisfied, yet longing for more.

Larry and Joe come to The Dunn Center Friday, October 25 to present a little bluegrass, Latin grass, and folk music. There will be sounds of a harp, banjo, cuatro, fiddle, maracas, guitar, bass and whatever else the duo decides to bring along in the van. Joe Troop is a Grammy-nominated musician from North Carolina and Lairy Hails, from Venezuela, is a legend of Llanero music.

Friday, November 1 will be a night to remember as Damn Tall Buildings (DTB) will perform bluegrass with a little punch, attitude, grit and gravy. Assured is a love for the floor-stomping old-time music from the incredibly talented musicians.

The grand finale for the season will be The Prince Xperience on Friday, February 7, 2025. This group brings the most authentic production of Prince and Revolution in the world. Lead singer, Marshall Charloff, together with world-class performers, have entertained over 30,000 fans since the group formed fourteen years ago.

For more information on these season shows, as well as other cultural events and art shows, please visit All season shows are on Friday evenings beginning at 7:30 p.m.

About The Dunn Center
The Dunn Center is a premier venue for concerts, shows and conferences in eastern NC. Located on the campus of NC Wesleyan University, in the heart of Rocky Mount, The Dunn Center is proud to host the Wesleyan Season Series of cultural events and concerts. In addition to these world-class performances, The Dunn Center features a variety of campus and community events, including Wesleyan Players productions, concerts of the Tar River Swing Band and Orchestra and other various performances by nationally known artists. The Mims and Gravely Galleries, located within The Dunn Center, hosts a variety of exhibits, including paintings, drawings, and sculpture. The galleries are open weekdays from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., as well as during performances. To learn more, visit and follow on Facebook.

NC Wesleyan University Sends Off Class of 2024

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – On Saturday, May 4, North Carolina Wesleyan University held its annual commencement ceremony at the Rocky Mount Event Center. The University celebrated 300 graduates, marking its 84th graduation.

The event was open to graduates, faculty, the platform party and guests of graduates where over 2,000 were in attendance. University Chaplain, Rev. Edwin Ferguson, gave the invocation, followed by a performance of the Star-Spangled Banner by alumna, Ms. Latisha Scott ’06.

President Dr. Evan D. Duff welcomed the crowd to the momentous occasion and congratulated the graduates on their accomplishments noting, “Your degree is provided by an institution which seeks not only to dispense knowledge and develop the habits for lifelong learning, but also expects its graduates to be responsible citizens, contributors to the common good and individuals who care about others. As we celebrate together, we acknowledge the obligations all of us have to help bring about a better world.”

Keynote Address

The commencement address was given by Dr. Kara Renai King, Vice President and Site Lead for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals – Rocky Mount facility. Dr. King delivers value to organizations through her servant leadership style complimented by her strong foundation in science, strategic mindset, and the ability to create an environment that fosters joy, creativity and innovation. Hallmarks of her leadership are building high performing teams, elevating leadership capability, and delivering results.

black female executive
Keynote speaker for 2024 Commencement was Dr. Kara Renai King, Vice President and Site Lead for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals

Dr. King sits on the board of Eastern University and the International Leadership Association (ILA). She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Hampton University, a master’s degree in Cell Biology & Biotechnology from University of the Sciences, and a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Eastern University.

Dr. King addressed the graduates stating, “You, the class of 2024, have shown remarkable adaptability and perseverance in completing your studies amid these unprecedented challenges. You have demonstrated that you are not only ready for the future, but that you are also capable of shaping it. You have proven that you are not only scholars, but also leaders, activists, innovators, and changemakers. You have earned the right to celebrate your achievements today.”

She went on to offer the Class of 2024 two things to keep in mind “Life is about continually discovering and developing yourself. To reach your own version of greatness, you will need deliberate attention, deliberate actions and a deliberate attitude. So, activate your GRIT.” GRIT being an acronym for Greatness Requires Intentional Transformation. She also encouraged them to “overcome your inner war.”

Dr. King ended with “There’s no need to look to your left or to your right nor in front or behind you—instead, everything you need to activate your GRIT is already inside you.”

After Dr. King’s inspiring speech, Mark Hinson inducted the Class of 1974 into the Golden Bishops Circle. The Golden Bishops Circle, affectionately known as GBC, was started in 2021 by the Office of Advancement in collaboration with University leadership as a way to honor graduates that have reached their 50th year as Bishop alumni. In creating the GBC, Wesleyan aims to keep the history of Wesleyan and the educational journey alive … to celebrate its past, honor its present, and inspire the future.

Student and Faculty Awards

Dr. Patricia Brewer, Professor of Education and Coordinator of Special Education, 2024 Exemplary Teacher Award recipient

Dr. Patricia Brewer, Professor of Education and Coordinator of Special Education, was presented with the 2024 Exemplary Teacher Award. This award recognizes excellence in teaching and promotion of student learning, civility and concern for students and colleagues, commitment to value-centered education, service to students beyond the classroom and service to the larger community beyond campus.

Candela M. Diaz Babilani, Algernon Sydney Sullivan award recipient

Candela M. Diaz Babilani received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan award, which honors a senior who best exemplifies excellence in character, leadership, service to the community and a commitment to spiritual values. This humanitarian award is meant to recognize those who have selflessly given to others or served others in some way. 

Ms. Babilani is a Political Science graduate from Argentina who has distinguished herself on the Wesleyan campus and in the community by her leadership of the Worldwide Welcome Team for international students at North Carolina Wesleyan and by coordinating a number of Optimist International events on campus including a clothing drive to support families in crisis and efforts to provide supplies for the campus food bank.  She plans to work for a year before entering graduate school. 

Alexis May Reinert, President’s Cup Award recipient

The President’s Cup Award was presented to Alexis May Reinert, a senior who best exhibits those characteristics considered most desirable in a graduate.  Of particular importance is the attainment of the highest standards of academic performance as demonstrated by the overall grade point average at North Carolina Wesleyan University. The recipient is also chosen by the Honors Awards Committee.

Ms. Reinert is from Orrtanna Pennsylvania.  She graduated in December with a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science, and she earned the highest overall grade point average in the senior class while playing many roles on campus as a tutor, a leader in the Taylor-Crocker Honors Program, and a member of the women’s soccer team. 


Dr. Kara King was awarded a Doctor of Science Honorary Degree from NC Wesleyan University. This was presented to her from the graduating Pfizer interns, was recommended by the Honorary Degree Committee and approved by the Board of Trustees. In addition, NC Wesleyan’s ROTC program commissioned five graduates into the United States Army. These students took the oath of office from Major William Burgdorf. The newly commissioned Second Lieutenants include: Robert Augburn, Comaggio Brady, Cullen Davis, Joshua Denton, and Morgan Waters commissioned into the U.S. Army.

The event was live-streamed and recorded so family and friends who were not able to attend in person could celebrate with their students virtually. The recording can be viewed at and the University’s Facebook page.

NC Wesleyan Commencement 2024

Dr. Janice B. Howroyd Named as NCC Commencement Speaker

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – Dr. Janice Bryant Howroyd, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The ActOne Group and a native of Tarboro, will give the keynote address during Commencement at Nash Community College on Friday, May 10. To learn more about NCC’s Commencement, visit

Howroyd is a wonderful partner for both NCWU and NCC. She joined NCWU’s Boards of Trustees in 2020 and also established The Janice Bryant Howroyd Endowment that allows eligible students an annual scholarship opportunity. NCWU also established a partnership with Howroyd’s company The ActOne Group to provide extensive career development services for current students and alumni.

Through a partnership with NCWU’s Adult and Professional Studies Program, students who graduate from NCC have automatic acceptance and can take advantage of our transfer friendly policies, competitive transfer scholarships and tuition breaks, as well as the 2+ Wesleyan Grant Program.

Janice Howroyd

The ActOne Group is a multi-billion-dollar, award-winning, international talent and talent technology enterprise with multiple divisions that serve all areas of employment. Founded by Howroyd in 1978, it now operates in over 35 countries and offers staffing services via Apple One, A-Check Global and AgileOne, among other platforms. The organization also aggregates some of the world’s best technologies and systems that support worldwide staffing and HR needs.  

Her leadership style stems from her experience in a segregated educational system during her youth. Her leadership style is framed on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion values, while providing transparency and accountability for her organizational and philanthropic culture.

Howroyd is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including Black Enterprise’s coveted 2022 Woman of the Year award. She was the first-ever BET Honors Entrepreneur of the Year. She has been a presidential appointee to several committees, including Barack Obama’s Presidential Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, an appointment to the Federal Communications Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment (ACDDE), and continues to serve on the ITAC 10 (International Trade Advisory Committee – Professional Services). She is the newly elected Chair of the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University and supports inclusive programs for women and minorities as the first African American to gift $10 million to the University of Southern California, as well as millions to other institutions that include her Alma mater, the nation’s largest HBCU, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Howroyd uses her presence as an innovator and as a connector for humanity, saying, “Never compromise who you are personally to become who you wish to be professionally!”

NCWU Receives Grant for Digital Humanities Teaching & Learning

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – North Carolina Wesleyan University recently received a $60K grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities. Over the two-year grant period, NCWU will expand the Digital Humanities Lab, create a new course (Introduction to Digital Humanities), improve faculty knowledge of the digital humanities, incorporate local history into digital humanities projects, and promote undergraduate student research projects using digital humanities tools and methods. The proposed expansion of NCWU’s digital humanities programming is aligned with the institution’s mission and commitment to the eastern North Carolina region and its emphasis on innovative teaching approaches to use new information technologies.

Project co-directors, Dr. Jason W. Buel (Communication/Media Arts) and Dr. Shane M. Thompson (Religious Studies) established NCWU’s first Digital Humanities Lab as a physical space on campus to raise the profile of the University’s humanities, with the goal to make them more exciting, accessible, and modern to the general student population.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Joseph H. Lane, Jr., states “We are very excited that Dr. Thompson and Dr. Buel have received this grant. Their work in the area of digital humanities is the perfect example of the ways that North Carolina Wesleyan enriches our students’ lives with innovative teaching approaches that take advantage of the amazing new tools that can enrich our classrooms and our contributions to the community.”

The National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965 created the National Endowment for the Humanities as an independent federal agency. The law identified the need for a national cultural agency that would preserve America’s rich history and cultural heritage, and encourage and support scholarship and innovation in history, archaeology, philosophy, literature, and other humanities disciplines. The Endowment awards grants to top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers.

About The National Endowment For The Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:

24 Hours to Make A Lifelong Impact

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – On March 26, friends and alumni of NC Wesleyan will have an opportunity to show their Bishop Pride and support the University during its fifth annual, 24-hour day of giving campaign, A Day for Wesleyan. This is a day when all NC Wesleyan University supporters, particularly alumni, celebrate the University through donations to support its vision and its students. In a short period of time, donors to the campaign can help advance the educational experiences for all students, help invest in new technologies for learning, create more scholarship opportunities, allow students to grow into their purpose, and help build Wesleyan’s future in the region.

“The A Day for Wesleyan campaign this year is focusing on the emerging needs for the University. Supporting the Annual Fund, also known as the Wesleyan Fund, gives the university the flexibility to grant more scholarships and financial aid to students in need, create more internships within our business community, invest in relevant technologies for the library and classrooms, and provide more co-curricular activities for all students,” said Mark Hinson, Sr. Executive for Philanthropic Engagement. “All gifts on March 26, regardless of size, add up to make a huge impact!”

When asked about the importance of A Day for Wesleyan, NC Wesleyan President, Dr. Evan Duff, stated; “We hope that our alumni and the community will join us in showing their Bishop Pride and support this campaign on Tuesday, March 26. When alumni and friends of the University unite to share their passion for Wesleyan, amazing things can happen for this entire community.”

Help Wesleyan continue impacting this community while also providing its students with a personal, practical and purpose-driven education. Donors can learn more and participate in A Day for Wesleyan by visiting the secure giving website,, or by calling 252.985.5581.

NCWU Welcomes Ronald Cotton

North Carolina Wesleyan University will welcome Ronald Cotton of Burlington, North Carolina on Thursday, February 15 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Powers Recital Hall at The Dunn Center. Serving 11 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Cotton was falsely accused of raping Jennifer Thompson. At the time, Thompson was an Elon University student. Cotton’s wrongful conviction was largely based on faulty eyewitness identification procedures. Following his exoneration, Ms. Thompson and Mr. Cotton became friends and advocates for criminal justice reform.

Considered among the most famous DNA exonerations in U.S. history! Watch a two-part 60 Minutes episode about this case by clicking here.

Attendees of this event will witness the type of interaction an educated populace should demonstrate, but more importantly, how to engage in issues that sometimes divide us as a nation.

Open to the public. This event will provide students with the experience of interacting with their social community beyond what they read in textbooks. Discussing delicate issues of this type is both educational and engaging for our students and the community at large.

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet Mr. Cotton during a reception immediately following at 8:00 p.m. in the Powers Hall lobby.

Biancur Candidate for United Soccer Coaches Board of Directors Vice President

Beverly Biancur, NCWU Women’s Soccer Coach

ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA – NCWU Women’s Soccer Coach, Beverly A. Biancur was chosen as one of five candidates for the position of Vice President to serve on the United Soccer Coaches Board of Directors.

The United Soccer Coaches by-laws require all elections for Board of Directors positions to include two to five candidates on the final ballot. In this case, Biancur was incredibly honored to be one of five represented. To ensure integrity, voting was completed by the third-party service, Intelliscan. Personalized ballots were sent out via email to members of United Soccer Coaches beginning on Tuesday, January 2, 2024. Voting concluded on January 12.

While Biancur did not win, she felt incredibly appreciated stating, “I was honored to be nominated and hope to remain in consideration for future positions”. Winner, Nancy Feldman, was the former Head Coach of Women’s Soccer at Boston University. “Nancy will do an exceptional job on the Board,” Biancur noted.

Serving on the Board of Directors is the ultimate way for a coach to give back to the association and the game as a whole. Feldman will have a six-year cycle on the Board. During that time, she will spend four years as Vice President, ascend to President and then serve a final year on the Board as Past President.

Currently in her sixteenth year at the University, Biancur has been Head Coach of NCWU Women’s Soccer for twelve years. In all, she boasts over twenty-five years of coaching experience at the collegiate, high school and club levels. Her podcast has gained a lot of interest from the coaching body and is available on the United Soccer Coaches Podcast.