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A Year in Review: Our Top Stories of 2022

Students make their way to class near Caldwell Hall on a sunny fall morning.

2022 was a year of new beginnings, New knowledge and new partnerships. We salute our community for all they’ve accomplished and look forward to what’s to come in 2023.

Here are a few highlights from the past year.

A New Compass for Our College

Two students talk outside of Caldwell Hall

Shape the conversation to build a better future. That’s the message at the heart of the college’s new strategic plan, launched earlier this year.

Co-created by faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders, the five-year plan is a compass for seizing opportunities for innovation, bringing critical questions to grand challenges, and confronting inequities in the college and beyond.

“As a humanities and social sciences college at a STEM-focused university, we are in a unique position to affect scientific and technological advancement, political complexity, social injustice, and many other areas,” said Deanna Dannels, dean of the college. “And this plan calls on us to do just that — to center ideas, values and perspectives from our disciplines in important conversations on campus, across North Carolina and society at large.”

Alumni Play Key Roles in Police Program Supporting Individuals in Crisis

Christopher Reed, Renae Lockhart and Paige Moore talk on NC State's campus
Christopher Reed, Lt. Renae Lockhart and Paige Moore.

Three NC State alumni are applying their social work backgrounds to help the Raleigh Police Department respond to individuals in crisis.

Alums Paige Moore (B.A. in Political Science ’14, MSW ’20), Lt. Renae Lockhart (BSW ’02, MSW ’11), and Officer Christopher Reed (B.A. in Criminology ’16) are all key facilitators of a program called ACORNS, or Addressing Crises through Outreach, Referrals, Networking and Service.

Through the program, they’re helping connect those experiencing mental health concerns, substance use disorders and homelessness with the services they need.

Exploring the Social, Ethical Sides of Microbiome Engineering

Light streams through stained glass blocks

Public administration professor Jennifer Kuzma will play a key role in a new National Science Foundation center by examining the societal, ethical and policy implications of microbiome engineering advancements.

Kuzma, the Goodnight-NCGSK Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs and co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center, serves as associate director of the NSF’s Engineering Research Center for Precision Microbiome Engineering. Announced in August, the center is led by Duke University with partners at four other North Carolina universities – including NC State.

In her leadership role, Kuzma will head efforts to explore and consider public attitudes, risks and multi-disciplinary perspectives related to the research.

New Leaders Join the College

2022 continued to be a year of transition for college personnel. This past year, we announced new leaders for several academic and administrative units:

  • Stephanie Carter, Assistant Dean of Human Resources
  • Nash Dunn, Director of Communications and Marketing
  • Yarneccia Dyson, Head of the School of Social Work
  • Robert Hawkins, Associate Dean of Academic and Faculty Affairs
  • Sharon Herring, Assistant Dean of Financial Administration
  • Susanna Lee, Interim Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary Affairs and Partnerships
  • Carol Ann Lewald, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs
  • Julia Rudolph, Interim Head of the Department of History

Celebrating Our Graduates

Anna Jump, wearing her red graduation cap and gown, stands with her husband outside of Talley Student Union.
Anna Jump.

More than 1,600 Humanities and Social Sciences students earned their degrees in 2022. Among them was Anna Jump, the Spring 2022 student commencement speaker.

Jump, a graduate of the leadership in the public sector program, encouraged her fellow graduates to “dare to dream.”

“Deep in your heart, you know the person you are meant to be,” Jump said in her speech. “I challenge each of you to support and lift up others so they can also reach their hopes and dreams.”

Congratulations, again, to all of our outstanding graduates. We look forward to seeing how you think and do in communities near and far.

Philosophy Student Helps Develop Critical Thinking Course

Sophie Korenek in front of a sunflower field.
Sophie Korenek.

Sophie Korenek, a senior double-majoring in philosophy and biochemistry, led a cohort of students who developed an online course that teaches critical thinking skills.

Working as an undergraduate researcher with philosophy professor Gary Comstock, Korenek helped develop lessons and short lecture videos to deliver the course in bite-size pieces.

“Critical thinking is rarely taught directly, and contrary to popular belief, it’s not an intuitive skill,” says Korenek, a Jefferson Scholar. “We want to teach students how to evaluate complex arguments on their own and to recognize when an author’s reasoning for their claims falls short.”

Humanities and Social Sciences Donors Contribute Record 627 Gifts on Day of Giving

Day of Giving logo over a photo of the 1911 Building.

Humanities and Social Sciences donors resoundingly answered the call during the university’s 2022 Day of Giving, contributing 627 gifts to college, department and unit funds. That’s the highest gift total for the college in the four-year history of the 24-hour fundraising event.

Donations totaled $339,298 — crucial funds that will aid students in need, boost experiential education opportunities, and support research and engagement activities.

Developing Responsible AI Courses

photo looking up inside Talley Student Union's technology tower

English professor Huiling Ding will represent NC State in a new National Humanities Center (NHC) program to develop college-level courses designed to address ethical questions about the role of artificial intelligence in our world.

Ding joins faculty from 14 other colleges and universities across the country selected to participate in NHC’s recently launched Responsible AI program. The work will include discussing and developing descriptions, learning goals and syllabi for courses focused on developing responsible AI technologies.

Man on a Mission

Kevin Cabral poses in front of a starry background.
Kevin Cabral.

For the past two summers, communication major Kevin Cabral has embraced his inner Buzz Lightyear as a NASA intern. 

Working with the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program, the former aerospace engineering student has been charting his career path by learning to communicate the future of space exploration effectively to the public.

Cabral spent 10 weeks this summer creating and lending his voice to videos as well as conceptualizing, producing and publishing an educational video series about quantum science. He says the series, intended for college-aged and younger students, is part of NASA’s effort “to bring quantum science to the U.S. education system in a way that is exciting and accessible.”

Researching, Sharing Histories of Marginalized People in the South

Sarah Waugh in front of The Burwell School
Sarah Waugh.

At heart, public history graduate student Sarah Waugh is a storyteller. She is putting her skills to work collecting resources to tell the histories of marginalized people in the South. In the process, she is adding their voices to the historic narrative and presenting a more comprehensive portrayal of the past.

Waugh is examining the lives of enslaved and freed Black people in the 19th century while working as a docent at the Burwell School Historic Site in Hillsborough, North Carolina. She is also studying southern African Americans during the Jim Crow era while interning with the Behind the Veil Collection at Duke University Libraries, where she is digitizing their oral histories. And she is researching bilingual education for Spanish speakers in the North Carolina Migrant Education Program from the 1970s to the 1990s.

How We’re Studying Climate Change

A seagull stands next to an ocean at sunrise

In the global effort to understand and reduce climate change, where do the humanities and social sciences come in? What do our disciplines have to do with weather patterns, warming oceans and sustainability, anyway?    

As our scholars continue to underscore, the study of human thought and action can tell us a lot about how we got here — and where we’re going.

The Sprawl of Y’all

Brody McCurdy stands in front of a mural. The word "y'all" can be seen in the background.

While y’all may be a word as Southern as grits and gravy, its use is extending beyond the Mason-Dixon Line. That’s the theme of Brody McCurdy’s research.

McCurdy, who recently earned an M.A. in English with a concentration in linguistics from NC State, says one of the reasons for what some have labeled the “sprawl of y’all” is its inclusivity. The pronoun also has emerged as a gender-neutral, progressive and all-encompassing alternative to you guys.

Alumnus Sean Langston, Jr. Keeps Employees Focused at Reddit

headshot of Sean Langston

What can you do with an NC State degree in communication? Ask Sean Langston, Jr., manager of global internal communications at Reddit.

“I am responsible for developing, delivering and optimizing the flow of information across our global workforce, so they can effectively further our mission,” says Langston, whose studies focused on public relations and organizational communication. 

His job requires him to keep a pulse on what’s happening at his organization, react quickly without sacrificing quality, and become an informational jack-of-all-trades.