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College Honors 5 Extraordinary Alumni and Students

College of Sciences award winners for 2019
The College of Sciences honored outstanding alumni and students at its 2019 Awards Dinner. From left are Natalie Truby, Student Excellence Award; Maggie LaPlante, Zenith Medal for Service; Nancy Ridenhour, Distinguished Alumnus Award; Jamal Moss, Outstanding Young Alumnus Award; and Grant Barkley, Student Excellence Award.

At the annual College of Sciences Awards Dinner on Thursday, September 26, the college recognized three alumni and two students for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the college. Read on to learn about the honorees.

Distinguished Alumnus Award

This award honors alumni whose exceptional achievements in business, education, research or public service have brought honor and distinction to the college. Recipients of the award are also recognized at a universitywide awards dinner, The Evening of Stars, that is held each fall.

This year’s winner, Nancy Ridenhour, has been an extraordinary supporter and leader for the College of Sciences. She received her bachelor’s degree in statistics from NC State in 1976. Her statistics education helped her develop an analytical perspective for her career, and she spent the next 17 years in the textile, financial and computer consulting industries before going into business for herself as an independent business technology analyst, providing expert advice and computer solutions to the likes of Bank of America and Duke Energy.

Ridenhour is now retired from her industry career, but not from her service to NC State. She has served on the board of the NC State Alumni Association and served three terms on the board of the NC State College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Foundation. She was also a longtime member of the college’s Alumni Advisory Board, including a period as board chair, and has served on the Park Scholars Selection Committee. To honor her unwavering service, she was awarded the college’s Zenith Medal for Service in 2008.

Ridenhour has also been a generous financial supporter of the college and a longstanding member of the college’s Dean’s Circle. In 2018, she made a substantial planned gift to the College of Sciences and the Park Scholarships and Caldwell Fellows programs. The gift will include funding for professorships, scholarships and experiential learning opportunities like study abroad. She also teamed up with other alumni in 2003 to provide funds to refurbish a lobby in Cox Hall.

Zenith Medal for Service

This award honors alumni or friends for distinguished contributions or advocacy that significantly advance the college’s ability to make powerful impacts on science, the economy, the environment and the quality of human life.

This year, Maggie LaPlante was honored for her many contributions to the college, including significant time, leadership, energy and financial support. She was a Park Scholar who received a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from NC State in 2001 and went on to receive a master’s degree in mathematics from Tufts University in 2008. She was a mathematics teacher for several years and is now self-employed as a private math tutor.

LaPlante’s record of service and leadership at NC State started when she was an undergraduate, and as an alumna, she has been one of the college’s most energetic and valuable supporters. She was a member of the Alumni Advisory Board for 10 years, including four years as board chair. She has been a mainstay at student recruitment and alumni activities and brings a spark and energy that enlivens those important events. She has also been a longtime donor to the college and the university.

Outside of the college, LaPlante has served as an application reviewer and interviewer for the Park Scholars program for nearly 20 years.

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award

This award recognizes accomplished early-career graduates who have excelled in their chosen professions or through public service. This year’s honoree is Jamal Moss, a medical student at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.

Moss earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from NC State in 2015, becoming the first person in his family to graduate from college. He went on to earn a master’s degree in bioethics and science policy from Duke University and expects to earn his M.D. from Meharry in 2023.

Since graduating from NC State, Moss has immersed himself in the worlds of health and health policy, working toward his goal of attending medical school. He has worked as a clinical research coordinator in the North Carolina Heart and Vascular Research practice of UNC Rex Hospital and as a health equity and policy specialist with the Durham-based nonprofit Talk Health with Frankie. He also chaired the Health and Environment subcommittee of the City of Durham’s Racial Equity Task Force.

Moss keeps in close touch with NC State. He serves on the college’s Alumni Advisory Board, avidly promotes the college on social media, moderated a panel at our annual student recruitment event, spoke to NC State’s Society of Multicultural Scientists and worked in the Office of Academic Affairs. He also served as the keynote speaker at the Department of Biological Sciences December 2018 commencement ceremony.

Student Excellence Award

The Student Excellence Award honors a senior who is considered a student leader and actively pursues leadership roles within the college and across NC State through community service, philanthropy, campus involvement, research or in the classroom. This year’s award was presented to two students:

  • Grant Barkley is a senior majoring in mathematics and physics, and he’s known for being one of the best undergraduate students in these fields at NC State. He is the president of the Student Undergraduate Mathematics Club and has been a guest speaker at other clubs in the College of Sciences. He also takes the time to help other students with their math assignments in a passionate and real way, and many have praised him for his supportiveness.
  • Natalie Truby is a senior studying microbiology. When she learned that a South Carolina college student was killed by someone impersonating an Uber driver, she took it upon herself to contact state legislators to lobby for a law that would increase safety for rideshare vehicles. One of the legislators she worked with eventually introduced the Passenger Protection Act, which ended up being one of the state legislative session’s few significant bills to pass the House and Senate with no dissenting votes.

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