2012 Alumni Awards Presented During Barton’s Homecoming Weekend

Alumni Ashley T. Hooks, Mary E. Strickland, and P. Kelly Dawkins were recently honored at the Barton College Alumni Awards Brunch during the 2012 Homecoming Weekend.  Please take time to read individual articles about these three distinguished alumni…

Ashley T. Hooks Named 2012 Alumnus of the Year

For the many accomplishments within his professional career and community service, Ashley T. Hooks of Wilson, was recently recognized as Barton College’s 2012 Alumnus of the Year.

The Alumnus of the Year Award was established in 1968 to honor those alumni who have given outstanding service to Barton College and distinguished themselves in the area of civic, religious and professional life.

“I owe a big thank you to a number of special families who committed to support me along my journey, patting me on the back in the good times, kicking me in the butt when needed, and pointing me in a forward direction,” shared Hooks at the presentation.  He noted his immediate family, his BB&T family, his Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity family, and his A.C.C. and Barton families. “To my A.C.C. faculty and administration family, thank you for the one-on-one attention that this eastern North Carolina boy needed all four years,” he continued. “I had to be coached, and I played no sports! Alumni here today, you need to remember that 47 years later in 2012, Barton still has the right formula. We offer small classes, caring professors, and give personal attention to our students.”

A native of Greenville, Hooks earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1969. Upon graduation, he joined Branch Banking & Trust Company and was enrolled in the company’s inaugural Management Development Training Program in Wilson. That was the beginning of a successful 38-year career with BB&T. Hooks also completed the graduate program at the BAI Graduate School of Banking in Madison, Wis., as well as the Executive Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Now retired, Hooks served most recently as executive vice president of the Operations Division for BB&T Financial Corporation. Holding a number of management positions with BB&T during his four-decade tenure, a large portion of his career was focused on building, leading, and enhancing the BB&T Operations Division & Technology Center, which is still headquartered in Wilson.

During his introduction of Hooks, fellow alumnus and Alpha Sigma Phi brother Steve Williams shared, “While being committed to his profession, Ashley always found time to serve his community with a belief that helping others and helping to make Wilson a better place to live is a personal responsibility of those who can make a difference.”

In service to his alma mater, Hooks has served on the Barton College Board of Trustees since 2004, which has included leadership roles on the Trustees’ Executive Board, and a variety of trustee committees. He also was instrumental in helping Barton’s president, Dr. Norval C. Kneten, organize the Wilson-Barton Partnership of which Hooks has served as chair of the board for the past eight years. He and his wife, Diane, are devoted members of the Barton Society and the Barton College Bulldog Club.

Active in his community, Hooks has served as chair of the American Red Cross Board, as campaign chair for the Wilson County United Way Board and as a member of the American Heart Association Board. Hooks also served as an officer/director of numerous banking and information technology professional organizations throughout his banking career. The Hooks are longtime members of the First Baptist Church of Wilson.

In his closing remarks during the presentation, Hooks shared a very personal message to fellow alumni in the audience, “As an alumnus, I want to ask you to keep doing your part in promoting Barton College so we can continue to graduate well-educated and well-rounded students who are prepared for the real world of tomorrow.  This should always be part of our payback to Barton.”

Mary E. Strickland Recognized With 2012 Alumni Achievement Award

Mary Elliott Strickland, class of 1986, was recognized with the Barton College Alumni Achievement Award at the recent homecoming awards brunch on campus.

The Alumni Achievement Award was established to recognize alumni who have distinguished themselves as leaders in their chosen field of endeavor by demonstrating a high standard of performance over and beyond normal expectations and realizing exceptional achievement in that field.

Strickland earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Atlantic Christian College (now Barton) and continued her studies earning a Master of Science degree in Nursing from East Carolina University.

She has worked in a variety of healthcare settings that include nurse positions at Wilson Medical Center and Pitt County Memorial Hospital (now Vidant Medical Center), and also as an advanced staff nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery at Duke University Medical Center. Since 1996, Strickland has been employed by Nash Health Care Systems where she served earlier as nurse manager of the Women’s Center and currently serves as director of the Women’s Center. She is an ANCC Board Certified Nurse Executive through the American Nurses Association.

From 1991 until 1996, Strickland served as a full-time faculty member of the Barton College School of Nursing. And, since her appointment at Nash Health Care Systems, she has continued in an adjunct teaching role mentoring nursing students during their Barton experience.

Strickland is active in church and community programs as well as the Nash County 4-H program. She has been recognized with a variety of awards, including the distinguished North Carolina Great 100 Excellence in Practice Award in 2007.

Carol Ruwe, associate professor of nursing and director of general education, introduced Strickland at the awards brunch. At the end of the introduction, Ruwe concluded, “While the recitation of her professional achievements is impressive, it still fails to adequately capture Mary’s passion for nursing, for caring, for making a difference, and particularly for Barton College.”

During her remarks, Strickland noted several members of her family who also are A.C.C. and Barton alumni. “And, I am most excited that my daughter will be entering Barton in the fall,” she quickly added. “She will have the opportunity to experience what I experienced when I was a student here.”

As she ended her remarks, agreeing with Young Alumnus of the Year Kelly Dawkins, who was recognized just prior to her presentation, Strickland reiterated Dawkins’ sentiment about returning to Barton because of the relationships made. She emphasized, “It is about the people and the opportunity to come back, and visit, and share… I do love Barton College, and this [award] means more to me than you could ever know.”

Strickland and her husband, Mike, make their home in Nashville with their two children, Cole and Casey.

P. Kelly Dawkins Named 2012 Young Alumnus of the Year

P. Kelly Dawkins, class of 2004, was recently recognized with the 2012 Young Alumnus of the Year Award at Barton College during homecoming festivities.

The Young Alumnus of the Year Award was established to honor a graduate of 10 years or less who has given outstanding service to Barton College and who has begun to distinguish themselves as leaders in the areas of civic, religious and/or professional life.

Dawkins earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science (cum laude). He also was a standout on the College’s golf team, and a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. Following graduation, Dawkins continued his studies at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan, where he completed his law degree in the top one-third of his class. In 2008, Dawkins was hired by the North Carolina District Attorney’s Office where he served as an assistant district attorney in Carthage, N.C. In 2009, Dawkins was hired by the Possion, Possion and Bower law firm, and, in less than three years, he was invited to become a partner in the firm.

Presenting the Young Alumnus of the Year Award was Whit Coolbaugh, president of the Barton College Alumni Board and fellow Alpha Sigma Phi brother. Coolbaugh noted Dawkins’ continued participation and support of his alma mater as an alumnus, his professional success at his law firm, and his commitment to give back to the community through support of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters programs and by helping to educate students and other members of the community about the role of the justice system. Coolbaugh added that Dawkins’ “values and morals are at the level many of us strive for, and his passion for Barton College is as strong as ever.”

Upon receiving the award, Dawkins shared, “There are a lot of other homecomings going on throughout the country at this time of year. Folks come back for football games in big stadiums with tailgate parties. We don’t have that here. And, that’s OK, because the important thing to remember about Barton is that we come back for the people, for the friends. That’s what makes homecoming at Barton so special each year; that’s why I come back, and that’s why I am sitting at that table with my fraternity brothers. I’m proud to accept this award… and I’m proud of Barton.”

Dawkins and his wife, Jaine-Claire, make their home in Charlotte with their daughter, Mary Brittingham Dawkins, who was born in June.