A group of recent graduates is helping to shape the NC State Wilson College of Textiles as they give back to their alma mater. The Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council was established with 12 members in 2017; over the past year, members have worked to support the College in myriad ways, from volunteering their time at events to creating internship opportunities for current students.

“Shortly after being appointed the interim dean for our College in the summer of 2014, I attended some alumni events in North Carolina and New York,” said Dr. David Hinks, dean of the Wilson College of Textiles. “I was inspired by the positive energy and especially our recent alumni’s interest in staying engaged with our College.”

When Michael Ward joined the North Carolina Textile Foundation (NCTF) as senior director of development in 2016, the two began contemplating how best to engage recent graduates in maintaining and strengthening their connection to the school.

“We realized that alumni that have been in the workplace a relatively short time would have a very important perspective on how their College could be improved to support future young alumni like them,” said Hinks. “They have a clear memory of the College and some experience with the workplace and can share feedback as to how the College has prepared them for the challenges and opportunities they now face as young professionals.”

In the fall of 2016, they met with alumni Chad Seastrunk (B.S. Textile Engineering ‘04; M.S. TE ‘05) and Mike Ferguson (Textile Chemistry ‘04), members of the first class of Centennial Scholars.  

“As we discussed the options, we became excited about a broader approach to engage a diverse group of young alumni to support the College’s strategic priorities by giving back in various ways: volunteering their time organizing alumni events, providing new opportunities to our students such as offering internships with the companies in which they worked, and through personal philanthropy,” said Hinks. “In addition, they would be a group that would be able to give advice to the dean. During that meeting, we developed a rough framework that soon became the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council, or DYALC.”

On November 8, 2017, 12 young professionals came together to officially form the DYALC. One year later, a new cohort has joined the inaugural class, expanding the council from 12 to 23 members, including two student representatives.

“I like to say that our College punches above its weight as we are one of the smallest colleges at NC State, but we are one of the most impactful,” said Hinks. “The impact that the DYALC is already having shows that, when it comes to service and giving back, our young alumni punch above their weight, too.”

Read on to learn more about the members that make up the DYALC.  

If you are an alumnus or alumna of the Wilson College of Textiles and are interested in serving on the DYALC, please contact Latasia Priest at lepriest@ncsu.edu.

Members of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council


Chad Seastrunk '04 '05 headshot

Chad Seastrunk

Degrees: B.S. Textile Engineering ‘04 (concentration in Information Systems)  and M.S. Textile Engineering ‘05

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

Current City: Durham, North Carolina

Profession: Vice President, Emergency Services and Patient Flow at Duke University Hospital

Council Position: Co-chair and DYALC co-creator (along with Mike Ferguson, Dean Hinks and NCTF staff)

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

NC State gave me the foundation, drive and skills needed to go out and work in any industry. I cannot thank my professors and the College enough for everything they gave me in the years I spent at NC State.  

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

It has always been a dream of mine to be a part of a council like this. For many years, I have wanted to find a way to give back — not just monetarily, but with my time to the College that gave me so much. I view the council as the least I can do to help support such a great place. I also feel it is in part my duty to make sure that the experiences I had and were able to do are available to future students so the Wilson College of Textiles can continue to produce the amazing talent it does.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

Nothing but continued growth and success under such great leadership like Dean Hinks and the NCTF leadership team in place.  Getting to work closely with them over this past year in getting this council formed, it’s clear that the direction the College is headed in is not only the right one, but a bright one.


Mike Ferguson '04 headshot

Mike Ferguson

Degree: Textile Chemistry ‘04 (now Polymer and Color Chemistry)

Hometown: Hickory, North Carolina

Current City: Raleigh, North Carolina

Profession: Director of Business Development, Barnhill Contracting Company

Council Position: Co-chair and DYALC co-creator (along with Chad Seastrunk, Dean Hinks and NCTF staff)

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

The College is a family within a huge university — you get the benefits of both. The College best prepared me for my career by validating that relationships matter. A technical background is a great foundation to have for any career, but the lessons on soft skills are what put me on the right path.  

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

The dean was my professor during my time at NC State. Like everyone who took his classes, I loved the way he taught and cared for each of his students. I have been involved with the NCTF since graduating. Chad and I were in the same class and had been brainstorming what we could do to help the College and the Foundation endure. I think that I can speak for both of us when I say that it is difficult to calculate all of the benefits that College provided for us. When the dean was given the nod as interim and then the full position, Chad and I were ecstatic and we had a couple of conversations with him about his vision. His vision aligned with what Chad and I had been discussing for months — and here we are with the DYALC.

The College and the Foundation gave so much to me that I have this desire to give back. Time and treasure are the most difficult things to give and my family and I want to make sure that we give both. The Council is vital to the continual improvement of the College, the Foundation and the University. Engagement is more important than fundraising; when you have engagement, the funds follow. Having an audience with the dean and then having an avenue to help him achieve his vision gives me pride and a sense that I am helping the College endure.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

I see it sustaining its prestige and boosting its reputation as the very best in the world. We need the engagement of both our young alumni and our older alumni to balance the responsibility of growing the Wilson College of Textiles. We need that engagement so the College can continue to be on the cutting edge of innovation and collaboration with other industries and within the university, other colleges.


Jeremy Wall '14 headshot

Jeremy Wall

Degree: Fashion and Textile Management ‘14 (Fashion Development and Product Management concentration)

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

Current City: Los Angeles, California

Profession: Founder, wearable technology company Lumenus

Council Position: Events Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

I actually did my senior thesis, undergraduate research grant and senior studio collection on integrated lighting in clothing. This was the foundation of my company, Lumenus, which has advanced the concept significantly since its humble beginnings at the Wilson College of Textiles, but gave me the foundation that created the opportunity to start my own business.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

For me it’s really important to foster the community of the Wilson College of Textiles; we have such an AMAZING alumni base, which I didn’t fully understand until after graduating. Being able to tap into this is a seriously invaluable resource — so by starting the alumni community as young as possible, it set a strong foundation (for me to make) future connections. I’m proud to be a founding member, alongside some other great alumni, and look forward to seeing the council flourish in coming years!

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

I’m a bit biased, but as someone in the wearable tech/e-textiles space, I know that nowhere else in the world is poised to have as big of an impact as the Wilson College of Textiles in the near-future of this burgeoning industry. The industry partnerships are amazing and a key aspect of future growth for both our research and commercial development of these technologies. The future is bright for the Wilson College of Textiles—but I know that we need to focus on helping empower students to create and follow their dreams as early in the process as possible.


Wesley Horne '04 headshot

Wesley Horne

Degree: Textile Apparel Management ‘04

Hometown: Wadesboro, North Carolina

Current City: Charlotte, North Carolina

Profession: President, Hornwood, Inc. (a manufacturer of knitted fabrics for many markets including athletic/activewear, outdoor, automotive, medical, footwear, aerospace, reverse osmosis filtration and more)

Council Position: Recruitment Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

NC State, having the world’s best college of textiles, surrounded me with the most accomplished professors, most talented students and most impressive facilities. This gave me the confidence to excel. I know the resources at the Wilson College of Textiles have prepared me to succeed in any aspect of the textile field.  

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

NC State, specifically the Wilson College of Textiles, has given so much to me, so I always strive to give back any way I can. The DYALC allows me to connect with other young alumni while advising the Dean on any issues facing the Wilson College of Textiles. Through many avenues, we engage other alumni and try to highlight the many wonderful things going on at the Wilson College of Textiles.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

The Wilson College of Textiles has been on the forefront of the industry because of the college’s ability to adapt. Change has been the only constant in the industry over the last 100+ years, and the College has done an exceptional job evolving the curriculum to meet the needs of the students to ensure they will be the most prepared people entering the workforce. I don’t know exactly where the Wilson College of Textiles will go next, but I am certain it will continue to adapt. If I had to guess, I see more and more manufacturing coming back to this hemisphere, so I would anticipate a stronger focus around manufacturing technology.


Monica Warsaw '12 headshot

Monica Warsaw

Degree: FTM ‘12 (Product Development and Design concentration)

Hometown: Cary, North Carolina

Current City: Ventura, California

Profession: Product Developer — Technical, Patagonia

Council Position: Recruitment Committee Co-Chair

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

NC State was the perfect launch pad for a career in Product Development. My degree program touched on all facets of the manufacturing process from pattern making and textile design to assembly and order of operations. I had a strong understanding of product creation before taking on my position at Patagonia.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

The Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council is a mutually beneficial cause that promotes welfare within the College, but also networking between members working in textile industry. The committee fosters connections between students and the industry while encouraging continuous improvement of the Wilson College of Textiles.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

I would like to see the Wilson College of Textiles deepen its connection with industry. The college is a great resource for innovation and research. Brands and industry partners could greatly benefit from partnering with the College to push boundaries. Particularly in areas of 3D printing, whole garment knitting, and alternative bio-based fiber sources.


Sarah Jane Simpson '11 headshot

Sarah Jane Simpson

Degree: Polymer and Color Chemistry ‘11

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

Current City: Raleigh, North Carolina

Profession: Sales Manager, DK Headwear

Council Position: Secretary, Main Council; Events Committee Chair

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

NC State provided a wealth of knowledge in the textile field. It allowed me to communicate articulately with the overseas factory on a regular basis. I also made meaningful relationships and connections while at the Wilson College of Textiles which has proven to be valuable.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

It is such an honor to serve on the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council. I am passionate about creating and maintaining an alumni network that will support the Wilson College of Textiles for many years to come. It’s extremely important to continue to foster meaningful relationships with our former classmates and I’m excited that we will be able to do that in a fun way. I am also looking forward to meeting alumni from other classes and sharing our Textiles memories.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

I’m excited to see how the Wilson College of Textiles continues to lead the way for further innovation in the textile field! I know that we will continue to recruit top students who will blow us away with their research projects, creativity and other contributions to the textile field. The Wilson College of Textiles will continue to grow and thrive.


Jasmine Flood '12 headshot

Jasmine Flood

Degree: Textile Technology ‘12 (Design concentration)

Hometown: Greenville, North Carolina

Current City: Raleigh, North Carolina

Profession: Owner of RIADA ADAIR

Council Position: Events Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

As a designer and a business owner, I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to not only take classes in the design field but also in marketing, branding, quality control and many others. This knowledge, as well as the relationships made with faculty, staff and other students, has helped make a world of difference.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

Simply put, NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles have played a major role in where I am today. Attending the College was one of the best decisions I’ve made thus far. Being a member of the committee has afforded me the opportunity to give back to a program that has provided me with a top-of-the-line education and continued outstanding support. I strive to make sure that the same warm culture and support is available to current students and alumni for years to come.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

Each year that I return to a Centennial Finalist Weekend or another event at the College, I’m blown away to hear about what students are creating with innovative technology. In the future, I expect to see continued growth that has no boundary as we continue to “Think and Do the Extraordinary.”


Caitlyn Holt ’12 ’13 headshot

Caitlyn Holt

Degrees: B.S. Fashion and Textile Management ‘12; Master of Textiles ‘13  

Hometown: Greensboro, North Carolina

Current City: Greensboro, North Carolina

Profession: Merchandise Planning Manager, Cone Denim

Council Position: Communications Committee Chair

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

The Wilson College of Textiles prepared me for my career in (many) ways. Aside from the obvious courses I took on yarn formation, polymer and color chemistry and global marketing (which I use every day), I also learned invaluable interpersonal skills, the value of networking and how integral textiles are in our daily lives! The Wilson College of Textiles also gave me a “family” inside a larger university. When I was looking for full-time employment, I knew I needed that in a company as well. That “family” experience has shaped my entire career. It is also always fun to run into fellow alums in the industry! Textiles is such a small world!

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

It is a huge honor to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council. My time at the Wilson College of Textiles exceeded all expectations. It still feels like coming home every time I set foot on Centennial Campus. If I can help alumni find that feeling, on campus or in their own community, I will consider this Council a huge success. Keeping young alumni engaged in the college and the NCTF is important not only for our own personal networks, but also for the quality of experience that current students receive. I want everyone to have as great of an experience as I had at the Wilson College of Textiles…if not better! If I am able to be a small part in making that happen, I will consider it a success.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

I see the Wilson College of Textiles continuing on the path that it is on. Since graduating five years ago, I have been back to campus recruiting at career fairs, speaking on Real World panels and leading career development workshops through the Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management (TATM) Student Advisory Board. The Wilson College of Textiles never fails to impress me with its high caliber of students and engagement level. I think that comes from having the best professors, the most cutting-edge equipment and a super passionate dean leading the way.


Emily Rose Walch '13 headshot

Emily Rose Walch

Degree: Fashion Textile Management ‘13 (Brand Management and Marketing concentration)

Hometown: Villa Grove, Illinois

Current City: Seattle, Washington

Profession: Product Creation Process Manager – REI Corporate Headquarters

Council Position: Communications Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

My role is nearly 100% dependent on my cross functional partners. The Wilson College of Textiles emphasis on group work really gave me the foundation I needed to successfully operate within teams with very different needs. My fiber and fabric classes gave me a great base that allows me to communicate more effectively with my Product Development, Material and Design teams. While I don’t handle these operations directly, I’m able to create better timelines for those partners because of my educational background.

The Wilson College of Textiles was also able to provide me with an amazing student exchange opportunity at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. This experience has been applicable to every moment of my career as I’m regularly working with Asia-based manufacturing facilities.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

The Dean’s Young Alumni Council is a great opportunity for me to get reconnected with recent graduates and to encourage other young alumni to do the same. We have such a strong alumni base across the Wilson College of Textiles who have taken many different paths with their degree in Textiles. It’s an incredible network for us all to utilize. Our goal is to bring that network together and promote engagement across the NCTF, students and the industry. As part of the Council, I’ve had the opportunity to host an event in my local area (Seattle) and meet Textiles grads who are doing everything from buying in major department stores to technology marketing in video gaming. Events like these prove you can truly do anything with a degree from the Wilson College of Textiles.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

As a Seattle resident, technology is always top of mind when I think about the future. The Wilson College of Textiles’ future will be in innovation. Innovation can be in the form of curriculum that teaches topics like social media marketing, 3D body scanning, pattern making and printing, or the advancements in supply planning that allow retailers to optimize their inventory. Innovation can be direct research to develop new fibers, new polymers finishes and new ways of breaking down the materials in our supply chain to better recycle them. All of these is what will give Wilson College of Textiles students the competitive advantage in the marketplace. The speed of technology will continue to push us to be leaders in innovation.


Michael McDonald ’10 headshot

Michael McDonald

Degree:Textile Management ‘10 (also scheduled to graduate with a Ph.D. in Textile Technology Management in 2019)

Hometown: Greensboro North Carolina

Current City: Raleigh, North Carolina

Profession: Executive Director of the Sewn Products Equipment & Suppliers of the Americas (SPESA)

Council Position: Co-chair, Recruitment Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

While the educational and academic aspect of the Wilson College of Textiles gave me the baseline knowledge and skill sets to succeed, I would argue that everything that the Wilson College of Textiles provided me outside of the classroom eclipsed anything that could be learned in the classroom. From being able to visit factories in El Salvador and Honduras with Doing Business International to connecting directly with companies like Cotton Inc. and VF Corporation on competitions. The network I was able to build as an undergraduate student is unlike anything you can get anywhere else.

I have my entire career thanks to the connections I made through the Wilson College of Textiles — first, meeting Matt Priest of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) on the TATM Industry Advisory board. He introduced me to the association side of the industry which lead to my career at the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA). During my time at AAFA, Bill Harazin asked me to guest lecture on labeling; over the course of three years, I returned to the College every semester, giving up to seven different lectures. I realized then that it was probably time for me to return full time in pursuit of my Ph.D. After returning to the Wilson College of Textiles, I was introduced to SPESA by Dr. Trevor Little — which eventually lead to me becoming the executive director of this amazing association.

The opportunities outside of the classroom presented by the Wilson College of Textiles are numerous and invaluable for anyone who is willing to take advantage of them.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

I have always been a staunch supporter of the Wilson College of Textiles throughout my career, both academically and professionally. One of my main drives is to continue to build the connections between the College and the industry. Those connections are never more stable than when built through alumni. Participating on the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council gives me the opportunity to help reconnect with Alumni in many different industries and lay the foundation for long term relationships between the College and those alumni and the companies they work for.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

The textiles industry is going through one of the most significant changes in recent history. Through automation, innovation and entrepreneurship, the industry itself will look significantly different 10 years from now and the Wilson College of Textiles must as well. The College must work with its industry partners to identify the most significant areas of need for employment and skill sets. From design to engineering to manufacturing, the jobs in the industry are rapidly evolving; in order to stay relevant to the companies looking to hire its graduates, the Wilson College of Textiles must work with them every step of the way to make sure they are training students in relevant skills and encouraging critical thinking abilities.


Jenna DeCandio '17 headshot

Jenna DeCandio

Degree: Fashion and Textile Design ‘17 (Textile Design concentration; Business Administration minor)

Hometown: Cary, North Carolina

Current City: Monroe Township, New Jersey

Profession: Knit Programmer, R&D/production department, Shima Seiki USA

Council Position: Events Planning Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

Without the Wilson College of Textiles, I would have not even known about Shima Seiki and their unique knitting technique known as WholeGarment. The Wilson College of Textiles offered many classes focused around utilizing Shima Seiki machines. It is here that I learned how much I enjoyed knitting – specifically WholeGarment – and that I wanted to pursue it when starting my career.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

The Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council is a collective of recent graduates who have joined together to increase College alumni engagement and assist in raising funds that support Dean Hinks through the NCTF. However, to me it is more than just raising money; I am honored to be able to work alongside fellow Textile alumni to give back to the College that not only gave me the best four years of my life, but an amazing platform to start my career.  

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

I can only see the Wilson College of Textiles growing and improving more and more as each year passes. I hope to continue to see more industry coming to the College and providing support to students through industry-funded projects and competitions. The Wilson College of Textiles is an amazing place filled with opportunity, support and pure innovation and I am sure that is not going to change anytime soon.  

 


Rede Wilson '16 headshot

Rede Wilson

Degree: Polymer and Color Chemistry ‘16

Hometown: High Point, North Carolina

Current City: High Point, North Carolina

Profession: Technical Sales Representative at Piedmont Chemical Industries

Council Position: Development Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

The Wilson College of Textiles taught me the fundamentals of textile wet processing that I use on an everyday basis to help our customers. I learned everything from dye/fiber interaction to finishing fundamentals to fabric construction at the Wilson College of Textiles. If I had chosen a non-textile related degree field (general chemistry, for example), I would have been totally unprepared for and overwhelmed by my job.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

Being a member of the council is an absolute honor because it is a great way to continue a meaningful relationship with the College after graduation.  In addition to staying in touch with the College, it’s been great to meet my fellow council members and learn more about them and their careers in the textile industry and elsewhere.  We have a worthwhile mission, and I’m confident the council will be able to continue to improve young alumni engagement as we go forward.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

The Wilson College of Textiles has a bright future. As the United States textile industry continues to recover and grow, the Wilson College of Textiles will have a pivotal role in meeting demand for a talented textiles workforce.  I have no doubt that the College will rise to the occasion and continue to be the premier textiles education institution in the world.


Sarah Hoit '11 headshot

Sarah Hoit

Degree: M.S. Textiles ‘11

Hometown: Gainesville, Florida

Current City: Plantation, Florida

Profession: Material Researcher at Magic Leap

Council Position: Events Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

The Wilson College of Textiles allowed me to take the sharp left turn I needed to change career paths in a dramatic way. My undergraduate studies are in design for theater and film from New York University. After a few years of working the industry, I continued to come across interesting material and fabric questions that I couldn’t find answers to. Realizing my own interest level in these engineering and science aspects of my craft, I decided to pursue formal education on the topic. NC State’s Wilson College of Textiles was the turning point.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

Being a member of the DYALC for me is about supporting the school that supported me. There are, of course, hundreds of ways to support an academic institution; however, it is the interpersonal connections and building of community (especially for those of us that are no longer nearby) of the DYALC that resonates with me. DYALC can be nucleation point for NC State to continue to support young alumni, and alumni to support each other.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

I continue to be excited by work that pushes the edges of what the average person understands a textile to be. There is a huge gap between textile technology, chemistry and engineering as we know it and public perception. Let’s continue to support and develop the extremes of what textiles can do — from catwalks to spacewalks.


Courtney Musciano '13 headshot

Courtney Musciano

Degree: B.S. Textile Engineering ‘13 (Graphic Communications minor)

Hometown: Cary, NC

Current City: Atlanta, Georgia

Profession: Product Development Engineer for the military markets, TenCate Protective Fabrics

Council Position: Communications Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

The Wilson College of Textiles has prepared me for my career in several different ways. Of course, the courses I took at NC State have provided me with the practical knowledge I needed to successfully start a career in the textile industry. Just as importantly, if not more so, the College also helped me to establish a great network within the textile industry by the time I graduated college.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

I am really excited to be a part of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council! This council is a group of young alumni who are working to encourage alumni involvement and fundraising amongst recent graduates and young alums. I benefited so much from my time at the Wilson College of Textiles, so it is wonderful to now have the opportunity to stay connected and give back to the College that gave me so much!

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

I think this is a very exciting time for the Wilson College of Textiles and the textile industry in general. As the textile industry continues to grow and evolve, I see the Wilson College of Textiles driving innovation in the industry. I think that both the research and the talent coming from the Wilson College of Textiles will help the textile industry continue to grow and progress rapidly. It is amazing to see how much the Wilson College of Textiles has grown and changed even since I graduated five years ago, so I can’t wait to see how it continues to grow in the coming years!

 


Guan Wang '15 headshot

Guan Wang

Degrees: M.S. Textile Chemistry ‘12; Ph.D. Fiber and Polymer Science ‘15

Hometown: Huzhou, China

Current city: Newark, DE

Profession: Textile End-Use Researcher, INVISTA

Council Position: Recruitment Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

I learned advanced textile science and technology through the courses offered at the Wilson College of Textiles. During my master’s and doctoral study, I was able to work with HBI, Cotton Inc. and Nike on different R&D projects. It provided me the opportunity to work with industrial partners and gain project management skills; with such experience, I am able to quickly adapt to the industrial R&D environment.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

It is great to have this council to connect young alumni and provide a channel to contribute back to the college. It will also provide opportunities to the current students to interact with young alumni and get advice for career development.

It is my pleasure to serve on the council. As a former international graduate student, I would like to utilize this different aspect from other members in the council to connect the young alumni who used to be international students like me and also provide my experience to the current international students at Wilson College of Textiles.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

The opportunity for the Wilson College of Textiles is huge if it continuously concentrates on research and education for textile industry in all dimensions.


Kyle Blakely ’07 headshot

Kyle Blakely

Degrees: B.S. Textile and Apparel Management ‘07 (Entrepreneurship minor)

Hometown: Raleigh, NC

Current City: Clarksville, MD

Profession: Vice President, Materials Innovation at Under Armour, Inc.

Council Position: Recruitment Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

The Wilson College of Textiles prepared me for my career in many ways, but the primary impact was their willingness to let me craft and mold my classes and minor to fit my interests. This enabled me to focus on areas I was passionate about that have subsequently helped me the most in my career. This support of entrepreneurial spirit is extremely important to college students and has certainly helped propel me in my profession.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

I’m extremely honored to be a member of this distinguished group and see it as a significant opportunity to help re-brand the textile industry and how existing and potential students can participate. We should be attracting the smartest, most creative, most entrepreneurial students high schools have to offer and to do that we need to do a better job of articulating the type of opportunities in the industry as well as the depth and reach textiles have globally.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

I expect the Wilson College of Textiles to be on the forefront of many industry initiatives such as virtualization, sustainability, and human performance.  The industry is at a crossroads on many fronts and the College is in a unique position to drive many of the conversations — perhaps we can through this Council. We, as a College, should be driving.


 

Zain Khan ’10 ’16 headshot

Zain Khan

Degrees: B.S. Textile Technology ‘10; Master of Textiles ‘16 (also MBA from Wake Forest University ‘17)

Hometown: Cary, NC

Current City: Charlotte, NC

Profession: Technical Sales and Marketing, Stein Fibers

Council Position: Fundraising Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

The Wilson College of Textiles did an excellent job preparing me for industry. My course curriculum was geared towards technical, practical and real world applications. My professors instilled the value of hard work, attention to detail and critical thinking. During my time at the College, I was fortunate to be able to attend networking events and seminars with industry professionals. The transition from college to the workplace was smooth due to the foundation I was given by the faculty, staff and my peers at the Wilson College of Textiles.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

As an undergraduate student at NC State, I bled red and white. Eight years after graduation, nothing has changed. I still bleed red and white. The education I received from NC State was second to none. As an undergraduate student, it’s hard to see the big picture and the overall impact of the college. Upon graduation, I entered the workplace and really began to understand how incredible an education I received and the impact of NC State in the industry. I decided to earn my Master of Textiles to further my knowledge while working full time. So many of the opportunities I have been given in my career have been due to the experiences and skills I gained at NC State. The opportunity to serve on this council and give back to the college is humbling. I want to be able to make an impact and improve the experience for current Wilson College of Textiles students as well the future leaders of our Industry.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

In the past five years we have seen our business grow. Textiles are not just what they used to be; there are many new applications in automotive, geotextiles, and nonwovens.   I believe the College has the industry connections needed to mold and cater the coursework to the needs of the industry. Dr. Hinks has a vision that will lead NC State into the future.


Andrew Hicks ’10 ’11 headshot

Andrew Hicks

Degrees: B.S. Textile and Apparel Management ‘10; Master of Textiles ‘11

Hometown: Raeford, North Carolina

Current City: Dallas, Texas

Profession: Account Manager, International Textile Group

Council Position: Fundraising Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

The Wilson College of Textiles is a special place for me, and allowed me to find that unique blend of business and science. I sought this same balance when seeking out a career. The textbook material provided a foundation I still rely on today, from fiber science to material sourcing; above all, the interaction with industry and international travel afforded by the College tremendously prepared me for my journey — both professionally and personally.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

I spent countless hours on campus, in the common areas and classrooms, with peers and professors alike. I always felt invested in the College and, likewise, felt the College strongly supported me. Being a member of this Council, I have the special chance to pay it forward, to contribute ideas and actions to aid the young people roaming the same halls I did. Also, it allows me to influence other young alumni to remember their time at the College and what it did for them.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

I see a College continuing to thrive on the forefront of an industry. The programs offered by the College will continue to evolve to meet the needs of a rapidly changing global supply chain and marketplace. I foresee a growing imperative for all young people at the College to gain international exposure, and for the College to grow its partnerships with peer institutions everywhere. The textile and apparel complex isn’t going anywhere, and the Wilson College of Textiles will continue to lead the way in preparing its future leaders.


Joe DiCesare '14 headshot

Joe DiCesare

Degree: Textile Engineering ‘14 (Product Engineering concentration)

Hometown: Goldsboro, North Carolina

Current City: Portland, Oregon

Profession: Footwear Material Developer, Nike

Council Position: Communications Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

The Wilson College of Textiles taught me how to be a valued contributing member of a high functioning team, specifically in the textile and materials industry.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

The Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council will allow me to stay in touch with the College while providing insight and ideas for how to connect with alumni around the world.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

I see the Wilson College of Textiles as more than a four-year program. The college will provide its students a lifetime system of support through career services and a strong network of alumni who are there to help each other out.


Ashley Ferguson ’09 ’11 ’14 headshot

Ashley Ferguson

Degree(s): B.S., Polymer and Color Chemistry ‘09; M.S., Textile Chemistry ‘11; PhD, Fiber and Polymer Science ‘14 (Toxicology minor)

Hometown: Dunn, NC

Current City: Kernersville, NC

Profession: Senior Chemist, Highland Industries

Council Position: Events Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

A Wilson College of Textiles classmate introduced me to the company and career that I have today. The network that I obtained at the Wilson College of Textiles played an essential key in my career, but my education is what prepared me to meet the challenges of working in research and development. While at work, I draw on what I learned from the Wilson College of Textiles every day. I am confident that the network and education I obtained will continue in helping me reach my future career goals.

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

I am very grateful to the Wilson College of Textiles for providing me with the skills and connections necessary to have a successful career. Now that I have graduated, I am looking forward to working with the DYALC to give back to the Wilson College of Textiles and continue to build relationships. I believe keeping alumni engaged with each other and the Wilson College of Textiles is a great way to make the industry stronger, support innovation and provide opportunities to mentor the next generation of textile graduates.  

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

I believe the future of the Wilson College of Textiles will involve innovation in sustainable and smart textiles. The extensive knowledge base at the Wilson College of Textiles in fabric formation, engineering, chemistry and management will continue to help bring textile jobs back into the US and boost the economy. The College has the advantage of having all these areas of study (under one umbrella) and collaborations between the departments will bring a bright future for the Wilson College of Textiles.


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Name:  Molly Hanes

Degree: B.S. Textile Technology ‘11

Hometown: Glendale Springs, North Carolina

Current City: Raleigh, North Carolina

Profession: Public Defender with the Wake County Justice Center

Council Position: Communications Committee

How did the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for your career?

The Wilson College of Textiles prepared me for my career by training me up professionally. Being a student at the College means you get the opportunity to communicate not only with your professors and peers, but also with industry leaders. I was treated with respect — as a colleague — by my professors, and that gave me the self-confidence I needed to succeed as an attorney. I deal with clients, I deal with other lawyers, I deal with prosecutors and I deal with judges. Many different personality types are present within that group; the Wilson College of Textiles helped prepare my communication skills to propel myself forward in an environment where people are paid to disagree.  

What does it mean to be a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

I am honored to serve on this Council and to give back to NC State. As a Centennial scholar, I had so many opportunities placed in my lap; I remember thinking, “I’ve got to do something for them, too.” Just like I did when I was in college, I consider myself a steward of the College, and sing its praises everywhere I go. Interestingly, this exchange usually starts with someone complimenting all the wonderful things they hear about both NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles, so being a steward is not really a difficult job —  it comes naturally. I am pleased to consider the other incredible council members my peers and colleagues, and look forward to helping the group achieve both the short and long term goals we set.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

I wish to see continued dedication from fine young people in the future of the Wilson College of Textiles. I wish to see the enthusiastic “vibe” continue from the students (be it through in-person visits, social media posts or enthusiasm for fashion shows, extracurricular activities, etc.). I wish to see the College continue to grow and maintain its reputation as the best in the world.


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Ashish Kapoor

Degree: Ph.D. Fiber & Polymer Science ‘19 (minor in Electrical Engineering)

Hometown: Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh (India)

Current City: Raleigh, NC

Profession: Research Assistant, Wilson College of Textiles  

Council Position: Graduate Student Representative on Communications Committee

How is the Wilson College of Textiles preparing you for your career?

Career success is directly dependent on one’s ability to work in an interdisciplinary team; interest, flexibility and passion to continuously learn new things to stay up to date and competitive; offering new ideas and perspective to one’s team; and leadership quality.

The Wilson College of Textiles has given me interdisciplinary research opportunities in my Ph.D. (as well as) multiple leadership roles and platforms for giving ideas towards a objective. I believe that my Ph.D. journey in the Wilson College of Textiles has strengthened my academic career profile along with extracurricular profile while developing my overall personality.  

What does it mean to you to be a member (and graduate student representative) of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

As a graduate student representative of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council, I feel really honored to be a part of a great alumni network and serving in this role is an opportunity to direct my current efforts in representation, participation and outreach within the College to serve the council’s primary goals which is to support the Wilson College of Textiles and the North Carolina Textile Foundation by fostering relationships between students, alumni and industry partners.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

I think the future of the Wilson College of Textiles is bright, exciting and full of surprises. In the coming years, with the induction of new faculty and leaders in various fields, more interdisciplinary research collaboration will flourish, the number of investors will increase and more students will take up leadership roles.


Ellen Shook '19 headshot

Ellen Shook

Degree: Fashion and Textile Management ‘19

Hometown: Raleigh, NC

Current City: Raleigh, NC

Profession: Student

Council Position: Undergraduate Student Representative on Events Committee

What does it mean to be a member and student representative of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council?

I’m so honored to be a member of the DYALC. To me, this means I can serve the Wilson College of Textiles and all that it has done for me, while helping to foster relationships between the school and the industry. In addition, I hope to continue to strengthen the College and its resources through the remainder of my school career and professional career.

What do you see in the future for the Wilson College of Textiles?

The Wilson College of Textiles future looks so bright! With the fast-changing industry, our faculty and students are committed to keeping the curriculum and relevancy of the program up to date and futuristic.  I think that the Wilson College of Textiles will continue to be notable as one of the top textile schools in the country, with its diversity in majors and students!

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