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Alumnae smile in a group.

Alumnae Reunion Weekend photos by Michelle Renee Photography.

Classes Gather for Alumnae Reunion 2023

By Emily Parker

Classes Gather for Alumnae Reunion 2023

By Emily Parker

Meredith College alumnae gathered on campus May 19-21, 2023, for Meredith Alumnae Reunion Weekend. More than 600 people were in attendance for the weekend of events. Alumnae traveled from 22 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, representing 39 class years ranging from 1948-2023. All alumnae are invited back to Reunion Weekend each year, but classes ending in a three or eight celebrated a special class reunion.

The Class of 1973 celebrated its 50th reunion, and members were inducted into the Golden Oaks Society at a luncheon on May 19. Friday evening all classes celebrated in the Johnson Hall rotunda and courtyard and enjoyed music from the BOUNCE! Party Band. On Saturday, in Jones Auditorium, current Alumnae Association President Courtney Allen, ’10, ’22 (MBA) welcomed all the attendees and announced the 2023 alumnae award winners. President Allen gave a State of the College address and honored philanthropy award winners. A luncheon was held along with class meetings that afternoon, and Saturday evening individual classes held activities throughout Raleigh. The weekend concluded Sunday with a worship service in Jones Chapel and a brunch. 

Congratulations to the following 2023 alumnae and philanthropy award winners.

Alumnae Award Recipients

Quintala Parham, ʼ08 | Distinguished Alumna Award

Quintala smiling.

After serving as director of Word of God Christian Day Care Center for 17 years, Quintala Parham completed her undergraduate coursework and earned a Bachelor of Science in child development from Meredith College in 2008. In 2009, she fulfilled her dream of starting her own preschool and opened her first childcare center, Creedmoor Christian Daycare Center, in 2009. Creedmoor Christian was the first five-star center in Creedmoor, N.C., and the first childcare center in Granville County with NC Pre-K (More at Four) Preschool Programs. After three years in Creedmoor, Parham moved her business to Raleigh and started Arrow Christian Preschool where she serves as owner and CEO. Parham continues to grow Arrow Christian Preschool. After purchasing land in Wake County and working with architects to design and build, a new Arrow Christian Preschool is expected to open in late 2024.    

Parham’s experience as an alumna of Meredith College has been one of service and dedication. She has served in various roles on the Alumnae Association Board of Directors, including member at large, Wings representative, president-elect, and president. 

During her service as Wings representative, Parham worked to engage more Wings alumnae in the life of the College. Through her support, the Wings On Board endowment, a scholarship to support current Wings students, was created, and she continues to engage fellow alumnae in supporting this scholarship.

In 2017, 2018, and 2020, Parham served as a mentor and judge for the School of Business Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, a business venture idea competition modeled after Shark Tank. Alumnae who are entrepreneurs and/or active within a family business served as mentors and judges throughout the competition, which was open to all Meredith undergraduate and graduate students in any academic discipline.

Currently, Parham serves the College as a member of the Board of Trustees. In addition to supporting the College with her time, Parham is a member of the Iris Society – President’s Circle, Onyx Society, past member of the Ivy Society, and donor to the Beyond Strong Campaign, the largest fundraising campaign in Meredith’s history.

While she is a business owner, board member, and volunteer, Parham says her most treasured roles are wife to Keith Parham and mother to Keith Parham, Jr.

Judy Yates Siker, ʼ73 | Distinguished Alumna Award

Judy smiling.Judy Yates Siker graduated magna cum laude with a degree in religion from Meredith College in 1973. Siker then taught elementary school for several years before starting a family. Once her children were school ages, Siker pursued graduate education, going on to earn a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1989. She returned to the classroom again and graduated in 1993 and 2000 with an M.A. and Ph.D. in religious studies, both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Siker notes that “teaching is what I love, and over the course of my career, I was fortunate to teach at the university level and in seminaries.”  Throughout her academic career, Siker served as professor, dean, and vice president at various institutions, including UNC-Chapel Hill, Meredith College, Loyola University Chicago, Loyola Marymount University, University of Denver, American Baptist Seminary of the West, Graduate Theological Union, and San Francisco Theological Seminary. She has been published 54 times and served as a presenter or guest lecturer on 69 occasions.

After many years living in Los Angeles and Berkeley, California, Siker and her husband returned to the East Coast and retired in Raleigh, N.C. in 2018. Since retiring, she assumed a new role as parish associate with White Memorial Presbyterian Church and serves as a national consultant of Theological Education Funds Development for the Presbyterian Foundation. Living in Raleigh and only two miles from their three grandchildren, Siker notes that she and her husband “have happily traded titles from Professor Siker and Professor Siker to Nonna and Gramps.”

Laura Jane Williams Ferguson, ʼ13 | Recent Graduate Award

Laura Jane smiling.Laura Jane Williams Ferguson graduated cum laude with a B.A. in psychology and French from Meredith College in 2013. Ferguson then earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in industrial-organizational psychology from NC State University in 2018 and 2020.

Ferguson has been employed with Modern Hire since 2016 and currently serves as a senior product manager. In this role, she is dedicated to the design, development, and validation of science-based, ethically supported selection technologies that help millions of job candidates understand and engage in the roles for which they are candidates. Modern Hire supports the majority of Fortune 100 organizations to identify and hire their most qualified and reliable candidates. Over the past eight years, Modern Hire has been recognized with seven Human Resource Management (HRM) Impact Awards, the most recent of which was awarded based on one of the products Ferguson spearheads.

Within the professional community, Ferguson has been a member of the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology since 2014 and became a Certified Scrum Product Owner in 2021. During the development of Meredith’s program for the Master of Arts in I-O psychology, Ferguson advised the College’s faculty on appropriate coursework. She has served as a guest lecturer for graduate and undergraduate level courses at both Meredith College and NC State.

Mitchell Brown, ʼ93 | Career Achievement Award

Mitchell smiling.After graduating from Meredith College in 1993, Mitchell Brown earned a Master of Arts at George Washington University in 1996. Her studies then took her to the University of Maryland, where she earned an M.A. in 2001 and Ph.D. in 2005.

Since 2006, Brown has served in various academic roles at Auburn University and is currently a professor in the Department of Political Science, an associate editor of the Journal of Political Science Education (Science of Teaching and Learning), and a founding editor of the Journal of Election Administration Research & Practice. In 2022, she was named the Curtis O. Liles III Endowed Professor within the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University and will serve in this role through the 2027 academic year.

Her broader research focuses on the empowerment efforts of marginalized communities, which she pursues through applied research. She is the author of numerous books, research articles, and reports, including How We Vote: Innovations in American Elections, with Kathleen Hale, The Future of Election Administration, with Kathleen Hale and Bridgett King, Administering Elections: How American Elections Work, with Kathleen Hale and Robert Montjoy, and Applied Research Methods in Public and Non-Profit Organizations, also with Kathleen Hale. 

She has been recognized for her contributions both in and outside of the classroom. In 2021, the Auburn University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors recognized her with the Glenn Howze Academic Freedom Award. She has twice received the Student Government Association Outstanding Faculty Award for the College of Liberal Arts in 2016 and 2013. The Research Initiative for the Study of Diversity under the Office of the Vice President for Research at Auburn University Government Association recognized Brown in 2009 with the Distinguished Diversity Researcher Award. 

Brown’s research has appeared in Public Administration Review, Politics and Policy, and the Journal of Conflict Resolution, among other venues. She currently serves as a board member of the National Association of Election Officials and founding editor for the Journal of Election Administration Research & Practice. Previously, Brown served as an editorial board member for Journal of Politics and Journal of Political Science Education, council member for Southern Political Science Association, president of the Auburn University Chapter of American Association of University Professors, president of the Alabama Political Science Association, and a gubernatorial board member appointment to the State of Alabama’s Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board.

Philanthropy Award Recipients

Kathryn Booth Butler, ʼ68 | Reunion Philanthropy Award

Kathryn smiling.Kathryn Booth Butler graduated from Meredith College in 1968 with an English and theology degree. At Meredith, she found compelling theology instruction, a literary treasure trove in “the Big Three” English professors, a call to social action, and an awareness of a world far beyond what she had known.

Butler wrote for the Oak Leaves, helped with the Twig, and spent a summer on the Baptist Student Union’s work camp project in Cherokee. During her junior year, she chaired the Meredith Christian Association’s Religious Emphasis Week. Following graduation, her love of education continued at NC State University, where she earned a master’s degree in English.

Butler taught high school English and at junior colleges in Connecticut and South Carolina. A move to Norfolk for her husband’s career fueled a career switch to IBM’s office product sales, where her communication skills gained from Meredith’s liberal arts education were very compelling. What followed was a 35-year career in technology marketing for IBM, Xerox, Borg Warner Industrial Products, and vice president of sales and marketing positions with a number of startups. Along the way, she assisted her father in his land and timber acquisition and management, retiring from IBM in 2010 to manage J E Booth Farms full-time.

Through the years, she has joined the College for seven international trips offered through the Meredith Alumnae and Friends Travel Program. Doing so led Butler’s contributions to the College to focus on international programs and study abroad. She appreciates the efforts of Dr. Roger Crook and the continued focus of Dr. Betty Webb and many others in the development of the Sansepolcro study abroad site. Butler says, “The value of this program at Meredith in educating young women for global awareness cannot be minimized both as a recruiting tool for the College and a life-changing experience for the students.”  Her gifts ensure the fiscal viability of this program for the long term and are given in honor of Webb and her husband, John Rose, who have, for so many years, been the designers, drivers, and ambassadors of this program.

Mary Ann C. Bacon, ʼ01 | Meredith Philanthropy Award

Mary-Ann smiling.Mary Ann Bacon, ‘01, earned her degree in interior design later in life thanks to the support of her husband and her determination, which led her to Meredith College in 1994 as a Re-Entry student. Bacon grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and attended the Institute of Notre Dame, an all-girls high school in Baltimore City. After graduating in 1974, she hoped to continue to college, but because of financial difficulties, was unable to fulfill her aspiration of higher education. For the next ten years, Bacon’s work provided a lifetime of skills and she acquired a keen business sense. Bacon married at age 21 and started a family. While her husband worked 60 hours a week and with two toddlers by the age of 25, enrolling in college was not viable. 

Bacon and her husband, Rob, had a friend who attended Meredith College as part of the Interior Design Program. Bacon’s husband recognized that she wanted to earn a college degree and soon asked their friend to attend an informational meeting with Bacon at Meredith. In August 1994, Bacon registered for one interior design course. With both the staff’s and her husband’s encouragement, she continued to pursue her dream. 

As a Re-Entry student, Bacon was motivated and determined to do her best, not only for herself but for her family. When she began her studies at Meredith, her children were 12 and 15 years old; family life and school life were all about balancing both. After a seven-year journey, Bacon graduated in 2001 and started her interior design business in 2002. Bacon notes that would have never happened if not for the one apprehensive step she took into the classrooms of Meredith College in the fall of 1994. 

Several years ago, the Bacons discussed the blessing of attending Meredith. They witnessed their daughter, Lisa, who graduated last weekend, take the same journey. Bacon and her husband endowed the Mary Ann C. Bacon Wings Scholarship to help adult women in the Wings program, formerly the Re-Entry program, strive for their dreams and aspirations. At Meredith, Bacon made many friends among Re-Entry and traditional students and professors who she will cherish for life. 

The Bacons have met several of their scholarship recipients and were so impressed with their stories and success that they are committed to enhancing the scholarship to help more amazing women.

Carolyn Murray Happer and Leonard Shaw Graham | Meredith Philanthropy Award

Carolyn and Leonard smiling.Carolyn Murray Happer was born in Winston-Salem, N.C. and grew up in Durham, N.C. She attended Duke University, where she received her undergraduate degree and Ph.D. Happer began teaching at Meredith in 1964; she taught off and on in the 1970s and 1980s while raising a family. She became a full-time faculty member in 1990 and retired in 2015. 

At Meredith, Happer mainly taught Western Civilization, Holocaust Experiences, Women’s History, and Social Studies Methods. In 2013, she married Leonard Shaw Graham, a former Duke classmate. Since then, Happer and Graham spend six months of the year in Canada, where they are primarily gardeners, and six months of the year in Raleigh.

Graham was born in Raleigh, N.C., and attended Broughton High School and Duke University, where he majored in civil engineering. After a stint in the Navy, Graham moved to Canada and established a construction company that specialized in building the foundations for large buildings in Toronto and Ottawa. Since retirement, Graham has moved to a rural area in Quebec and enjoys gardening, tending orchards, and playing with machines.

In 2022, Happer and Graham created the Happer-Graham History Scholarship and the Happer-Graham History Program Fund. These gifts will help support history students who aspire to become teachers and create enhanced learning opportunities by funding research, summer study, and conference attendance. Their generosity will impact history majors at Meredith for generations to come.

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