UNCG Magazine

Spring 2021

Seize
the day


A Blue & Gold Scholar takes us on his journey

Spring 2021

UNCG Masthead

Seize
the Day

Seize

the Day

From small town and limited means, to blue & gold scholar and now the marines

By Mike Harris ’93 MA • Photography by Martin W. Kane

It’s 7 a.m., and Joshua Hodge courses through campus. Running gives him time to think of his day ahead and far-off plans. He considers himself blessed, with a package of scholarships, and a will to excel. Reporting to Quantico following May commencement, he’ll give back through national defense. Then dedicate himself to educating the next generations. His key message is one he’s learned through good times and bad. Carpe Diem.

Asheboro is his home, he’s proud to tell you. At the edge of the Uwharrie Mountains, its economy continues its transition from a reliance on furniture and textiles. His family had very limited means, but all eight kids were taught to aspire. “My mom really taught me the value of going to school and getting a college education, not just for a job but just really pushing your family,” he says. “I think a college education really liberates you, especially a small town kid like myself.”

Between evictions and foreclosures, they never stayed in one place long. As she took realtor coursework and transitioned to a home-selling career, her new job meant the family could move into an actual house – till the housing market collapsed and the Great Recession hit. Most of the 15 places his family – mom and his seven siblings – lived have been leveled, he says. But one remains, much like it’s been for a hundred years. It’s where he and cousins and friends fished, hunted, rode ATVs. It’s his grandpa’s farmland, with a well dug by hand, the old home still heated with a woodstove. Up on a rise, it tops a grassy valley with hardwoods and beech trees all the way to the Uwharrie River.

It’s quiet, here in March. The crows of a Rhode Island Red rooster next to the woodshed. A chainsaw in the distance, and a hint of his grandpa’s radio from inside. High in the sky, contrails. Those planes and all those people are going somewhere. Joshua is too.

‘Acquire what you admire,’ that’s the quote I like.

One thing you learn really quickly, when spending time with Josh: He is highly motivated. In FFA with meat grading and evaluation? He took prizes at state competitions. Clay pigeon shooting, on his grandpa’s farm? He took regional awards in his age division. Baseball? He learned to lay off curve balls and pounce on the fast ones, earning a .500+ batting average his senior year, the top on his team. At graduation, he was first in his class at Wheatmore High School in Trinity, with its motto “Honor. Pride. Valor.”

He got acceptance letters from Ivy League schools, UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, and NC State. Pfeiffer College offered him a full scholarship for baseball. His eye, though, was on UNC Greensboro.

“I really loved this area, and I really love the people around here, and the connections that I’ve gained,” he says. “So UNC Greensboro was always at the top of my list because of those reasons, and you know, struggling with money.”

Did You Know?

Joshua says he chose UNCG for its great reputation. Fact is, the academic excellence at UNCG is remarkable. You could go on and on, but here are a few examples the average person may not know…

  • Counseling and Educational Development This graduate program in the School of Education is rated in the top 3 nationally by U.S. News and World Report.

  • Music Education A high number of music teachers in the state’s public schools are UNCG graduates. The program has a national reputation. This year, two Grammy finalists for music education were alumni. In 2016, graduate Phillip Riggs ’98 MED received the Grammy.

From

‘The G’

to

SNL

Lauren Holt ’13 joins the cast of “Saturday Night Live”

Interviewed by Brittany Cameron • Illustration by Ash Mohan ’19

Q What’s it like being a new cast member?

When I first started, I wanted to do everything right. I’m a perfectionist to my very core. I put a lot of pressure on myself. But I had to snap out of that quickly because things move too fast there to dwell. I think (new cast members) Punkie, Andrew, and I were lucky, in a way, that we started during the pandemic. We’ve been learning the ropes while everyone else has been getting used to the new COVID protocols. So it’s kind of like we’re all newbies together. 

What’s made it special is how lovely the cast and crew have been. So many people have gone out of their way to check in and make me feel welcome. I just can’t wait until we can all finally hang out! There’s only so much you can talk about six feet apart and with masks and shields on. 

The writing and performing side is a whole different world as well. You must have a strong sense of self and be willing to put yourself out there. It’s a self-propelled system, and it’s up to you to make your voice heard. It’s daunting to pitch a silly idea you had in the shower to some of the greatest comedic minds in the world. But you’ve got to do it if you want to get your material on the air.

From

‘The G’

to

SNL

Lauren Holt ’13 joins the cast of “Saturday Night Live”

Interviewed by Brittany Cameron • Illustration by Ash Mohan ’19

Q What’s it like being a new cast member?
When I first started, I wanted to do everything right. I’m a perfectionist to my very core. I put a lot of pressure on myself. But I had to snap out of that quickly because things move too fast there to dwell. I think (new cast members) Punkie, Andrew, and I were lucky, in a way, that we started during the pandemic. We’ve been learning the ropes while everyone else has been getting used to the new COVID protocols. So it’s kind of like we’re all newbies together. 

What’s made it special is how lovely the cast and crew have been. So many people have gone out of their way to check in and make me feel welcome. I just can’t wait until we can all finally hang out! There’s only so much you can talk about six feet apart and with masks and shields on. 

The writing and performing side is a whole different world as well. You must have a strong sense of self and be willing to put yourself out there. It’s a self-propelled system, and it’s up to you to make your voice heard. It’s daunting to pitch a silly idea you had in the shower to some of the greatest comedic minds in the world. But you’ve got to do it if you want to get your material on the air.

Q Have you helped write any sketches – or develop your characters?

I’ve helped write/written lots of sketches that haven’t made it onto the show. But I’m still new to the game, and I fully expect it to take a while before I can get things on air. I’m learning so much every week, though, and getting better at writing sketches for television. It’s different from writing for the stage, which was the bulk of my experience before SNL.

Q You joined the show last fall as they did six straight weeks, during the pandemic?

Those first six weeks were crazy. Not only was I adjusting to being on the show, but I was also adjusting to being around people again. I hadn’t been around anyone since the initial lockdown in March. So it was pretty wild being thrown into the deep end, especially when my heroes and idols were swimming around me. My social skills were rusty, and I was just hoping everyone didn’t think I was a total weirdo. Overall that first block of shows was incredible and overwhelming, and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.

Q So how did you come across this opportunity?

After a few years of taking improv classes and performing at the Upright Citizens Brigade (in Los Angeles), I had the opportunity to do the theater’s showcase for performers without agents or managers. From that performance, I landed some managers who had me put together a tape to send to SNL. 

From that tape, I was invited to do an SNL showcase – essentially an audition to audition. That showcase was …dun dun dun … the very next day. About a month later, I found out I was moving on to the next round. They flew me to NYC to do the big audition, called a “screen-test,” on THE STAGE … you know the one.

Later that year, they flew me out to screen-test again with all-new material. On that trip, I met with some writers, producers, and Lorne. But it wasn’t the right time yet.

The following summer, I submitted another tape, did another showcase in LA, flew to NYC to test for the third time, and had more meetings.

Q Tell about those auditions in front of Lorne Michaels for SNL.

The first time was a blur. But I remember the feeling I had when I walked into Studio 8H and stepped on the stage that first time. I’ve never experienced anything like that moment. And I got a few laughs, so I felt great about that. The second time was less scary since I’d been there before, and I was excited to do some new characters and show what else I could do. The third time was different again because it felt like it was all or nothing. 

Q When did you get the call?

In the fall of 2020, my number came up, and I got the call from Lorne. I had been dreaming of this day since the first time I got to stay up late and watch “Saturday Night Live” … live. I sobbed tears of joy and was on a plane to New York a couple of days later.

Woman’s
College

Celebrating the excellence of WC

By Brittany Cameron • Photography by Martin W. Kane and courtesy Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives

The worst days for America gave it perhaps the most outstanding public college for women.

Woman’s College (WC) was established as the Great Depression entered its third, horrible year. More and more men were becoming unemployed and marriage rates continued to decline, leaving young women urgently seeking ways to sustain themselves. At this campus, many found not only that, but also a pathway to empowerment.

Building on the legacy of the Normal School, the Normal College, and the North Carolina College for Women, WC provided many women across the state affordable access to higher education. They whole-heartedly committed to the College’s motto of “Service,” and did so on their own terms – spurring an extensive impact on education, health care, and administration, across the state.

Harriet Elliott, who would serve in several national roles under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, exerted a major influence over Woman’s College. As a faculty member in the Department of Political Science and History, she introduced into her classroom concepts of responsible freedom, women’s rights, an informed electorate, the democratic way, and what she called the dead weight of uniformity. In 1935, when she became Dean of Women, she carried her ideals up the administrative ladder.

Building on the foundation

“Harriet Elliott helped make Woman’s College what it is,” said alumna Alice Irby ’54. “And she died just two or three years before I started as a freshman. So that was the foundation and the environment in which I entered WC, and it was life changing.”

Alice arrived in 1950 as a young woman from the rural, eastern part of the state. She had felt the effects of the Great Depression and WWII growing up, and the Korean War then filled the headlines.

But none of that was on her mind as she stood in line in the gymnasium to sign up for classes. WC had a liberal arts core curriculum, which was a feature she relished. All freshmen and sophomores – with the exception of music majors – had to take math, science, English, history, a foreign language, physical education, and health. So she chose her courses accordingly.

Alice was now a part of one of the largest colleges for women in the country. In her freshman year, WC had just opened Jackson Library – a major upgrade from the tight quarters of Carnegie Library. The Home Economics building was being reconfigured, and Walker Avenue was officially closed off as a through street, making it safer for students to travel across campus. Essentially, the heart of the College was under renovation.

bigpicture

This year has been called historic, unbelievable, wrenching, inspiring, hard – all of them true. We see better days ahead. We plan to hold multiple May Commencement ceremonies in person, with graduates walking across the stage to receive well-deserved recognition. Our Fall 2021 will be much more like Fall 2019, with full residence halls, in-person classes, live performances, and fans at the games. Face coverings and some social distancing may still be a way of life in the near future, but as always we will follow all health protocols to ensure the well-being of our community.

We are appreciative. Our students, faculty, staff, and alumni came together this year in a tremendous way. We cared for one other, helping to ensure we all could not only bear this challenge, but perhaps in some ways thrive. “Service” to each other and our larger community wasn’t just a motto, but a true call to action. We learned some things about ourselves – as individuals and as a University community.

I expect those lessons may be the ones most meaningful for years to come.

Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. Chancellor
Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.
Chancellor

newsfront

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  • Principal Kevin Wheat cultivates an environment of care

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  • School principal Ashley Westmoreland and those a-ha moments

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  • Superintendent Aaron Woody, a chief cheerleader for students

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  • Oakley Family Reception Room

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Outtake

WHAT DO YOU SEE? Malanah Hobgood ’21 volunteers at the Weatherspoon Art Museum. An art history major minoring in art administration with a concentration in museum studies, she is also a McNair Scholar and a member of the Lloyd International Honors College’s Disciplinary Honors track. “I value the Weatherspoon and its collection because it allows UNCG students to experience the artworks and concepts discussed in class firsthand. As a teaching museum, this provides a unique experience and supplements my learning exponentially,” she said. She also noted the importance of showing works with broad representation. “The Weatherspoon does an extraordinary job at including students’ voices in their exhibitions, programming, and events.”

Photograph by Martin W. Kane
“Every canvas is a journey all its own.”
– Helen Frankenthaler

thestudio

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Simon says: Spartans have got talent

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They made it through round after round on television’s “America’s Got Talent” – receiving standing ovations from the judges and audience for largely a capella versions of songs they love. It was pure coincidence that College of Visual and Performing Arts students Tavis Cunningham, Christoff Hairston, and Julian Kennedy sat at the same table one […]

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UCLS spring season

The university concert and lecture series offers a particularly strong spring line-up, with artists appearing on stage in UNCG Auditorium: • Jan. 14 – Kelli O’Hara• Feb. 6 – Margaret Atwood• Feb. 26 – Geena Davis• April 23 – Malpaso Dance As a special offer, you can get a 10% discount if you purchase tickets […]

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Power of dance

This fall’s biggest dance day in Greensboro was led by Spartans. The National Dance Day celebration kicked off with the premier performance of “A Wicked Silence” from Alexandra Joye Warren ’06 MFA. Warren and dancers from her JOYEMOVEMENT Dance Company explored, through their “choreoplay,” the consequences of the eugenics program in North Carolina, which promoted […]

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