College Honors Outstanding Alumni and Students

College of Sciences Award Winners pose with their awards.

The College of Sciences honored outstanding alumni and students at its 2018 Awards Dinner. From left are Tashni-Ann Dubroy, Outstanding Young Alumnus; Kaylie Kirkwood, Student Excellence Award recipient; Sherice Nivens, Zenith Medal for Service recipient; and Dean Bunce, Distinguished Alumnus. Not pictured is Jason Thompson, another recipient of the Student Excellence Award.

At the annual College of Sciences Awards Dinner on Wednesday, Dec. 5, the college recognized five alumni and students for their extraordinary achievements and contributions to the college. Read on to learn about these outstanding individuals.

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 university-wide awards dinner, The Evening of Stars, that is held each fall.

This year, zoology alumnus Dean Bunce was honored for his extraordinary support and leadership for the college. He is executive vice president of global regulatory affairs for the biotechnology company United Therapeutics Corporation, where he founded and has led the regulatory group for the company for more than 20 years. He’s credited with being a key player in getting lifesaving pulmonary hypertension drugs to market.

Bunce has also helped build a strong partnership between the college and United Therapeutics that has led to the company supporting the college philanthropically, hosting a site visit for our administration and faculty, participating in NC State events for faculty and students, providing graduate traineeships within the college and collaborating with college faculty on research.

Bunce serves as the college’s Think and Do the Extraordinary campaign chair and is a member of the College of Sciences Foundation Board of Directors, where he serves on the Executive Committee. He has been involved in many college programs, including the Student Networking Lunch Program, alumni panels, the campaign working group and campaign events. In 2015, he and his wife, Gail, endowed a scholarship in the college, and they are consistent members of the Dean’s Circle leadership giving society.

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.

Sherice Nivens was honored for her many contributions to the college, including her time, leadership, energy and financial support. She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from NC State and a master’s degree in chemistry from UNC-Chapel Hill. Since 2005, she has held positions of increasing responsibility at Intuitive Surgical, which makes the da Vinci robotic device that helps doctors perform complex operations with just a few small incisions. She is now group cardiothoracic marketing manager for the company.

Interested in providing the same type of support that made it possible for her to attend NC State, Nivens established the Arnater and Viola Nivens Scholarship Endowment for College of Sciences students in 2008 and has been a longtime member of the college’s Dean’s Circle leadership giving society. She serves on the NC State University Foundation Board of Directors and also served on the College of Sciences Alumni Advisory Board. She also won the Medal of Achievement from the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and served as a 2009 graduation speaker.

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 Tashni-Ann Dubroy, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Howard University.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Shaw University and a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from NC State in 2007, Dubroy began her career in the business world, holding several positions of increasing responsibility at BASF. She also cofounded Tea and Honey Blends, a hair care company that manufactured and retailed natural hair care products, and co-owned downtown Raleigh’s Element Beauty Bar.

Later, Dubroy returned to Shaw and held the positions of associate professor of chemistry and chair of the university’s Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. In 2014, she was named to Shaw’s administrative team as special assistant to the president. A year later, at age 34, she became the second-youngest president in the university’s history. While president, she reversed enrollment declines and made big gains in fundraising, efforts that prompted the Triangle Business Journal to honor her with its 2017 CEO of the Year award. Last year, she moved to Washington, D.C., to join Howard’s leadership team.

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:

  • Kaylie Kirkwood is a senior majoring in chemistry. She is an award-winning undergraduate researcher who has already coauthored a paper published in an academic journal. She is also a College of Sciences student ambassador, an event coordinator for the North Carolina Science Olympiad and a writing intern in the college’s marketing and communications office.
  • Jason Thompson is a senior majoring in statistics and applied mathematics. He has been president of the Sports Analytics Club for three years, and active membership has more than doubled under his leadership. He is also a College of Sciences student ambassador and an active member of the NC State Chorale.

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