Welcome to the Pack, 2023 Class of Centennial Scholars!
By Cameron Walker
We are thrilled to introduce you to the 2023 class of Centennial Scholarship recipients.
This year’s class of scholars have all worked hard to get where they are, and every one of them hopes to make the world a better place. Join us in welcoming them to the Wilson College of Textiles family.
The Centennial Scholarship program was established by the North Carolina Textile Foundation (NCTF) in 1999 as a part of the Wilson College of Textiles’ Centennial Celebration. The Centennial Scholarship provides each student a minimum of $15,000 per year for four years. These scholarships are awarded to incoming freshmen in both the Department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management (TATM) and the Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science (TECS) on the basis of academic achievement in high school, proven and potential leadership qualities, extracurricular activities and unique life experiences.
The scholarship also provides $7,500 as a special enrichment fund that may be used for study abroad, leadership programs, career explorations or other approved enrichment activities.
The Wilson College of Textiles is proud to say we have the largest per-student college-based scholarship program at NC State. Learn more about the Centennial Scholarship program and all of our scholarship opportunities.
Reagan Dunnam is from Florence, South Carolina, where she attended West Florence High School. She has been awarded the Dickson Centennial Scholarship. She plans to study Fashion and Textile Management (FTM), because the major combines her interest in business and marketing with her passion for fashion.
“My mom was a graduate of the Wilson College of Textiles, so it has always played a part in my life. I love NC State as a whole, but what drew me to the Wilson College of Textiles was the variety of options in one college, so I have options if I want to change my path.”
She was also drawn to the family feel of the college.
“I already feel included after attending the Summer Textile Exploration Program [STEP] and Centennial Weekend,” she said.
In high school, Dunnam was involved in both sports and civics. She was a starter on the varsity tennis team for six seasons, ran track for two seasons and served as chair of the Student Facilities Committee, which was created her junior year to help the Florence One School Board create cleaner and safer learning environments.
“In presenting to the [school board] and seeing the changes that my group and I brought about, I learned that what I say matters,” she said. “I have the confidence to speak up for what is important to me.”
After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Dunnam plans to pursue her master’s degree in Luxury Brand Management. She hopes to remain in the state, working to give back to NCTF, the Wilson College of Textiles and NC State.
“Receiving the Centennial Scholarship made NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles accessible to me,” she said. “I qualify for the top lottery scholarship in my home state of South Carolina, which made it difficult to look at out of state schools. However, I am so grateful for this opportunity that made it possible for me to attend NC State!”
Eelya Sefat is from Charlotte, North Carolina, and graduated from Marvin Ridge High School. He has been awarded the ITT Roger Milliken Centennial Scholarship and is pursuing a degree in Polymer and Color Chemistry (PCC) with a concentration in Medical Sciences.
“The college contains many very knowledgeable professors and students performing cutting-edge research that will be of significance to the world — and I want to be a part of that,” he said.
After graduation, he hopes to attend medical school or work on research in the hopes of benefiting humanity.
“I am pursuing my major because I wish to make a difference in this world,” he said. “I feel like I can make the biggest difference by helping others…The most appealing aspect of my major is the amazing applications of all the information included in PCC. You can branch out into numerous fields and research [many] different ideas with the diverse nature of the degree.”
In high school, Sefat played varsity football and was a member of the wrestling team.
“These sports taught me the true definition of hard work and taught me to always appreciate any opportunity I receive and to make the most of it,” he said. “They taught me what teamwork involves and the true benefits of a team working in unison.”
He also volunteered weekly at a retirement home.
“Spending one to two hours a week with the folks who reside there gave me a true appreciation for life and a desire to make a difference,” he said. “Hearing the life stories of all the individuals and what they did with their lives inspires me everyday to want to do something with my own life and positively impact the world.”
Sefat believes that the Centennial Scholarship is the first step on his journey to effect positive change in the world.
“I am beyond grateful for receiving such an honor and am truly humbled,” he said. “The scholarship provides me an opportunity to pursue what I love and to learn something new every day without the worry of finances. It also means there are people in the Wilson College of Textiles that believe in me and my ability so much that they are willing to invest in my future so that I can help others and become a force of good in this world. The opportunities provided to me by this scholarship — and the support and trust that comes with it — are the things that make me truly grateful and this gratitude can not be done justice with mere words.”
Sarah Jarrell is from Kernersville, North Carolina, where she attended the North Carolina School of Science and Math. She has been awarded a Park Centennial Scholarship and plans to study Fashion and Textile Design (FTD) with a concentration in Fashion Design.
She found out about the Wilson College of Textiles when researching summer programs during her junior year
“I had been interested in fashion design since competing in a reusable materials event in Technology Student Association in ninth grade, but was never able to follow up on that passion,” she said. “The STEP program gave me the opportunity to do so…Additionally, I was accepted into the mentorship program at my high school and reached out to Wilson College of Textiles professor Dr. Cynthia Istook and asked her to be my mentor. Because of these two, non-related occurrences, I fell in love with the Wilson College of Textiles.”
Jarell has a strong STEM base, and admits that making the choice to pursue a career in fashion was not an easy one. However, her experiences here cemented her decision to attend the Wilson College of Textiles.
“The STEP program opened my eyes to a future where I was not a traditional engineer, but instead an engineer of design, creativity, and fashion,” she said. “I was further exposed to this understanding when I delved into research in fashion at the Wilson College of Textiles during my senior year mentorship experience…I went through the Centennial Scholarship interviews and knew that this is where I wanted to study. STEM had always been a huge part of my life and is something that I am still fascinated with. However, I also know that fashion is my passion and is something I could do for hours on end. Every person I talked to during my interviews encouraged me to look into combining a fashion design major with another STEM major at the Wilson College of Textiles. The support and advice I received from the faculty members, even before I was a student, made me want to be a student.”
For Jarrell, fashion goes far beyond clothes.
“To an overweight, acne-ridden middle school girl, fashion was a means of self-empowerment and confidence,” she said. “Universally, fashion reflects culture, ideas, thoughts, and feelings. It instills a sense of worth and allows us to paint a picture of ourselves for others to see. By majoring in fashion design, I strive to make a mark on the world by instilling that sense of confidence in that girl that was me. I love how fashion gives people the confidence they need to secure the partnership, run the marathon, or even survive their daily lives. The process of making people feel good through what they are wearing combines everything I have ever been interested in: psychology, technology, math, science, design and creativity. Truly amazing things can be accomplished in the fashion industry and I want to be part of it.”
Throughout middle school and high school, she participated in the Technology Student Association, a national organization for students engaged in STEM.
“It exposed me to fields, such as fashion design, that I would have never considered otherwise,” she said. “Through my involvement in the club, I realized that I was good at engineering, but passionate about design. This organization made me the person I am today and encouraged me to dream of a future where I designed for a living. It also exposed me to various leadership roles and enabled me to grow as a leader as I fulfilled the duties each position required of me.”
After graduation, Jarrell hopes to utilize STEM to “design clothing that will make a difference” in some way.
“Whether that difference is on the environment, dedicated to people with unique bodies, or instilling confidence in that one girl, I will make a difference,” she said.
Jacob Haddock is from New Bern, North Carolina, and he attended The Epiphany School of Global Studies. He has been awarded the CC Lee Centennial Scholarship and plans to study Textile Engineering (TE).
He discovered the Wilson College of Textiles through the Summer Textile Exploration Program (STEP), and is proud to attend “the best school for textiles in the nation at the best university in the nation.” He is pursuing a degree in TE because the field is wide and ever-evolving, with myriad applications.
His interest in engineering was sparked by his participation in the Science Olympiad while in high school.
“It showed me my love for engineering, and it helped make me a confident person who doesn’t fear doing things in different and unorthodox ways,” he said.
He describes himself as outgoing and charismatic, and is a team player who enjoys connecting with other people.
“I’m looking forward to being a representative of the Wilson College of Textiles and promoting all of the amazing programs and accomplishments of the college,” he said.
Haddock believes that receiving the Centennial Scholarship is his greatest achievement so far.
“It rewards my hard work in high school and it helps my family get my sister and I through college with little to no stress,” he said.
After graduation, he plans to make E-textiles more useful and accessible to the general public.
“I see myself with a job that helps me do my part in improving the world for the better,” he said. “I hope to work with E-textiles and assist in growing the field and its products to a point where they are a helpful commonality in the everyday lives of most people.”
“The first words that come to mind when I think of receiving the Centennial Scholarship is appreciation and gratitude,” she said. “This scholarship will afford me the opportunity to blossom through retreats, networking with industry partners, professional development initiatives and study abroad. I am thankful to be taking on this distinguished responsibility. I hope to serve my community and act as an honorable leader. Within the fashion and textile industries, I aspire to create solutions and develop innovations that will assist the environment, human working conditions, and transition communities. The Centennial Scholarship is giving me a platform that will launch my future success!”
She plans to study Fashion and Textile Management (FTM) and complete the Accelerated Bachelor’s Master’s Program (ABM), which she said would both fulfill her educational goals and jumpstart her career.
“The Fashion and Textile Management major fuels my interest because it combines visionary expression with global business opportunities,” she said. “Through interdisciplinary studies, the major pieces together intention and innovation, allowing students to thrive in a progressive atmosphere that is both supportive yet creatively and academically stimulating. The major appeals to me, as I hope to find more sustainable solutions to textile byproducts, as well as open my own clothing company. I want to be the beginning of a change that has no end and I feel that this major will give me the tools I need to make this contribution to society.”
In high school, Stevens served as National Honor Society president, editor-in-chief of the yearbook and co-founder and co-president of the Equality and Empowerment Club. She wrote and secured a government grant and became head coordinator for the Dental Project, which educates underprivileged elementary school students on the importance of oral hygiene. She also served as her school’s liaison for Project 150, which serves homeless high school students in Nevada, and she was awarded 320 community service hours after working as a volunteer counselor at Camp Alonim.
“These activities taught me invaluable lessons about thoughtful leadership, responsibility, organization and putting others before myself,” she said.
Stevens did a lot of research before choosing the Wilson College of Textiles. She began her search online and followed up with an in-person visit to get a feel for the college.
“Important factors in my college decision-making process included performing undergraduate research, studying abroad and assuming leadership positions in educational and extracurricular activities,” she said. “My initial visit to the Wilson College of Textiles exceeded all my expectations as I felt invited into a ‘family’ that would provide me with a platform for growth and engaged learning that [would make] the world my classroom.”
After graduation, she hopes to launch her own company with the skills she developed at the Wilson College of Textiles.
“I intend to establish my own entrepreneurial venture of a young professional clothing company using sustainable textiles,” she said. “My store will be free of prejudice and represent a diverse accumulation of models wearing clothing that makes them feel at the peak of their confidence and authenticity.”
Reid Barnett is from Newton Grove, North Carolina, and attended the Wayne School of Engineering in Mount Olive, North Carolina. He has been awarded the Brawley Centennial Scholarship, and intends to study Textile Engineering.
He knew about the Wilson College of Textiles through his aunt, an alumna of the college, and his interest grew after attending both STEP and Polymer Camp.
“I found the environment to be inclusive [and] conducive to innovation, and I am extremely interested in the interdisciplinary nature of the college,” said Barnett. “I am pursuing a textile engineering degree because I have always wanted to become an inventor, and I believe that the interdisciplinary nature of the major will allow me to follow diverse paths and improve my problem solving skills.”
For Barnett, receiving the Centennial Scholarship felt like a vote of confidence.
“This scholarship means so much to me because it helps to ease the financial burden on my parents and me, and perhaps more importantly it shows that someone believes in what I can accomplish,” he said.
Barnett was active in a mix of extracurricular activities throughout high school, and believes the knowledge and skills he obtained along the way will help him in college — and beyond.
“Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout taught me honor, integrity, and ingenuity,” he said. “Football taught me perseverance, grit, and strategy. Quiz Bowl challenged me academically and [helped me] gain confidence. Golf taught me independence and control.”
After graduation, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. and start his own company.
Madi Jenkins is from Charlotte, North Carolina, and is a graduate of Marvin Ridge High School. She has been awarded the Kimbrell Centennial Scholarship and plans to study Fashion and Textile Design. She attended STEP, and decided to attend the Wilson College of Textiles due to its interdisciplinary curriculum.
“I love that the curriculum allows students to collaborate between the majors to simulate a more realistic flow of the textile industry, as I believe this will inevitably put us ahead of graduates from other colleges when entering the industry,” she said. “While there are many amazing opportunities offered by the Wilson College of Textiles, my favorite is that it offers a strong sense of community and support. From my experience during the STEP program, all the way to my scholarship interview and beyond, I have been welcomed by the college. I know that through all of the ups and downs I may experience during the next four years, I have a home and family in the students and staff of the Wilson College of Textiles.”
Jenkins was interested in fashion from a young age, but became passionate about making her own clothing in high school.
“Throughout the typical turmoil of high school life, making clothing was my escape,” she said. “I loved it and it came easily to me. Each time I finished a garment, I was filled with pride and felt a sense of self-fulfillment that I could not achieve from anything else. As I learned about the fashion industry, I became more aware of the work conditions, waste, and sustainability issues prevalent in the industry. When it came time to decide what I wanted to focus on in college, I knew it had to be fashion design. Not only did I enjoy designing clothing and learning about the fashion industry, but I had also found an issue in the industry that I could contribute to solving. A major in fashion design will help me achieve a fulfilling career because I can create and explore something that I am passionate about, while simultaneously making our planet a greener place.”
Receiving the Centennial Scholarship helped Jenkins believe that she has what it takes to build a successful career in fashion design.
“I am completely humbled and extremely grateful for being awarded this scholarship and will not take for granted the confidence and opportunity it will allow me,” she said. “There were times [in high school] when I doubted my own ability and wondered if I could realistically pursue my passion and make the changes within the industry I wanted to see. This scholarship has truly encouraged me and validated that I can do it — if I work hard and smart. I am excited to work hard the next four years to take advantage of all the opportunities this scholarship will allow me, so that I can make my dreams come true and help to inspire the industry I love so much.”
She is no stranger to hard work. In addition to her high school studies, she worked part time, played hockey for her school and for a club team, participated in Girl Scouts and interned for [fashion week producer] Charlotte Seen and Farah Usmani Hand Embroidery. After graduation from the Wilson College of Textiles, Jenkins plans to secure a position with a company that will allow her to learn and grow; she hopes to eventually launch her own brand, which will combine her “love of exploring and understanding other cultures with a sustainable business model.”
Reagan Kurtz is from Noblesville, Indiana, where she attended Noblesville High School. She was awarded the Lineberger Centennial Scholarship, and intends to study Fashion and Textile Management.
“NC State was my dream school and the Wilson College of Textiles made me feel part of the family,” she said.
For Kurtz, receiving the Centennial Scholarship will enable her to attend her dream school without financial anxiety, allowing her to focus on her education. She is drawn to the creative aspect of her major, and hopes to one day own her own business within the fashion industry.
In high school, she served as executive chair member of the Riley Children’s Hospital Dance Marathon, was on the varsity dance team, was competitive cheerleading captain, and served other students as a peer tutor.
After graduation, she wants to begin her career and quickly make an impact in the fashion industry.
Daryn Wilkerson is from Durham, North Carolina and attended Leesville Road High School. She has been awarded the Park Centennial Scholarship, and plans to major in Fashion and Textile Design with a concentration in Textile Design.
“I’m pursuing my major because it’s a passion of mine to create clothing, and I’ve found ways to help my community and other communities around the world through design,” she said.
Through STEP, Wilkerson was able to learn more about the college.
“The Wilson College of Textiles provides a family atmosphere in a big university, and also leads in the textile industry in sustainability while maintaining art and creativity,” she said.
In high school, in addition to excelling at her studies, Wilkerson was drum major of the Leesville Road High School Band and volunteered at both Brides Against Breast Cancer and Little Dresses for Africa.
Receiving the Centennial Scholarship “means I’ll be given the resources to fully activate my potential at such a young age,” she said. She believes she is bringing to the Wilson College of Textiles “ a strong set of leadership skills for someone my age, and unique experiences from my previous leadership roles and volunteer work that can allow me to interact with people from different walks of life.”
After graduation, she hopes to work at a fashion house in the design capital of New York City, and one day start her own company.
“I hope to create my own fashion business that provides contemporary clothing that won’t harm the environment, help the people wearing it live their lives with more joy and confidence, and bring attention to important issues in the world,” she said.
Noelle Arpea is from West Chester, Pennsylvania, where she attended Archbishop John Carroll High School. She is a recipient of the Murata of America Centennial Scholarship and intends to double major in Textile Engineering and International Studies, and complete the Accelerated Bachelor’s Master’s program.
“I was researching the textile engineering major and looking for colleges that offered it,” she said. “The Wilson College of Textiles was at the top of every list I read…After researching and comparing my interests with textile-related programs, the Wilson College of Textiles seemed like the clear choice that would ensure I would reach my goals and discover new and exciting things.”
Above all, Arpea said, she wants to help others.
“I believe the best way to do that is to use something you are passionate about,” she said. “I love the organization of science and the creativity that is a part of the study of textiles. My major appeals to me because it will allow me to study an area that stimulates both of my interests. It is also a constantly growing industry, which means there is no defined path that I will have to travel. Instead, I can explore and discover new things.”
Receiving the Centennial Scholarship reinforces her belief that she can change the world.
“To have received the Centennial Scholarship means that I may pursue my higher education knowing that I have a network of support that believes I have the capability to leave the world in a better place than when I started,” she said. “It also means I have an extra source of motivation to work hard and make those who support me proud.”
In high school, she volunteered with The Emergency Aid of Pennsylvania and was a leader in her high school’s theater program. She also participated in cheerleading and tennis, which taught her to work as part of a team.
After graduation, she hopes to start working in the field immediately, and then take some time to travel the world.
“It is important that I experience the different cultures the world has to offer, so that I can start to form the foundations of…my own company — focused on providing for those who lack fundamental necessities in developing countries,” she said. “I believe the background in both engineering and humanities will give me the ability to fulfill those needs in a way that is sustainable, ethical and practical.”
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