Rocky Mount, N.C.—More than 100 alumni and friends of NC Wesleyan College gathered for the annual Celebration of Excellence dinner held during the recent Homecoming Weekend. President James A. Gray, III welcomed the group and presided over the festive evening.
Following the meal, Director of Development Eddie Coats announced the 2012 Alumni Awards. These prestigious awards are presented to Wesleyan College alumni, who have made significant contributions to their communities. This year’s distinguished recipients were Paul Bauer and LaNika Richardson.
Coats said, “We are proud to recognize these two fine individuals. They are outstanding members of the Wesleyan alumni family and serve as positive role models for all of us.”
Paul Allen Bauer from the Class of 1986 received the Distinguished Alumni Award, which is reserved for individuals more than 10 years beyond graduation. Bauer is a well-respected Rocky Mount businessman. After graduating from Rocky Mount Senior High in 1981, he enrolled at Lenoir Community College, where he played baseball for 2 years. He attended the University of North Carolina for a year then, transferred to Wesleyan to complete a Bachelor’s degree with a double major in History and Political Science.
Bauer began his professional career in banking with Planters Bank, which became Centura Bank. After 7 years, he launched a new career as an independent insurance agent, where he has remained for almost 20 years. He is a partner and vice-president of the John Hackney Agency of Rocky Mount, which specializes in property and casualty insurance.
Along the way, Bauer met and married his wife, Leslie, who is from Morehead City and a graduate of Meredith College. They are active members of the First United Methodist Church in Rocky Mount.
The Bauer family has provided strong support for NCWC for many years and Paul has carried forward that legacy. He has contributed consistently to the college since 1989 and has given countless hours as a volunteer in many capacities. He said, “Wesleyan has always been extremely important to our family. I have spent many hours at Wesleyan since I was a small child. There are so many people there that have positively influenced me over the years. I am grateful for the education I received and look forward to the College prospering for many years to come.”
Paul Bauer is a long-standing member of the Wesleyan Society and faithfully participates in the annual Days for Wesleyan fundraising event. He currently chairs the 25+ member Board of Visitors that lends valuable assistance to the college. He supports college athletics as a member of the Battling Bishops Club and has served on the Alumni Association Board.
In addition to supporting the college with his time and resources, Paul Bauer has served the community through the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way Tar River Region, and other agencies. In his limited spare time, Bauer enjoys duck hunting and fishing at the Alligator River or meeting friends for a round of golf.
LaNika Richardson from the Class of 2006 received the Alumni Achievement Award, which is given to alumni within 10 years of graduation. This Whitakers native earned a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. Committed to continuing her education, she is enrolled in the ASPIRE program working toward a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies, while pursuing a Master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Liberty University.
This highly- respected educator and mentor of youth and young adults inspires underachieving students to strive for goal attainment. She leads by example and provides support to all through encouragement, counseling, resourceful planning, and collaborating with her colleagues. She said, “My life’s mission is to make a positive and lasting impact on the world around me.”
Richardson began her professional career in 1999 as a chemical laboratory technician for Abbott Laboratories/Hospira, advancing to a senior position as coordinator of the API laboratory. She left in 2007 to work as an instructional assistant for the Nash-Rocky Mount Public School System. She was selected to help implement a new all-male redirection program to promote academic achievement and behavioral growth for high-risk students.
In 2010, Richardson joined the NCWC staff as a specialist in the Student Success Center. She has worked collaboratively in many capacities, including: the Freshman Advantage Program, the Bishop Benchmarks Committee, Orientation Committee, First Year Advising Team, Early Alert Response Team, Wesleyan Weekend Committee, and more. She said, “My journey from freshman to graduate was not an easy one. I personally understand the personal, financial and learning challenges that so many students at NCWC face on a daily basis. Every day when I drive onto campus, my goal is to be a source of light and motivation.
Richardson is an active member of St. Mark AME Church in Rocky Mount where she has attended since the age of 12. She serves as Director of Youth Ministries, co-advisor for the youth and young adult arts ministries and teaches Bible study. She organized the Making a Way Tutoring Program, back-to-school clothing drives, and social awareness programs for the community.
LaNika Richardson describes herself as a country girl, who treasures family time, especially with her husband, Christopher Barnes and their daughters, Jyazia (16) and Laila (9). In addition, she enjoys meeting new people, traveling, reading, and dabbling in the kitchen as an amateur chef.
Since the first class of students received diplomas from NC Wesleyan College in 1964, more than 10,000 graduates have joined the ranks of the loyal alumni.