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210 Pittsboro Street, Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
(919) 962-2091   FAX: (919) 962-2279


For immediate use

May 11, 2000 -- No. 280


Local angles: Chapel Hill, Durham, Greensboro, Henderson, Hillsborough, Jacksonville, Raleigh, Red Springs, Reidsville,
Southern Pines, Winston-Salem; Williamsburg, Va.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will hold commencement at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, May 21, in Kenan Stadium. Following are human interest story ideas connected to this year's ceremony, with local angles in bold and contact phone numbers for pursuing each one:

LIKE DAUGHTER, LIKE MOTHER: Lots of graduates marching in Kenan wave signs reading, "Thanks, Mom and Dad." But when Nancy Cameron of Southern Pines earns her bachelor's degree in nursing with honors on May 21, she may hoist a sign that says, "Thanks, kids!"

That's because all five of them have done everything they could to help their mother -- who worked full time and commuted to school in Chapel Hill -- complete her degree this year, realizing a dream she's had since she was 18.

"When I first got there, I didn't know anything about computers," says Cameron, 54, grandmother of seven. "It was awful. I was just sick. Kim was the one I called."

Kim Cameron preceded her mother through the UNC-CH School of Nursing, earning her bachelor's degree in 1991 and her master's in 1996. Personal reasons took her to Houston, where she's working toward a doctorate in nursing at the University of Texas at Houston.

Nancy Cameron's children not only taught her to use computers, they bought her one. They knew that, since a serious illness had put her in Moore County Hospital for four months at age 18, their mother had wanted to be a nurse. But she was married then, and babies had started coming. "I wanted to be a nurse, but I wanted to stay home with my children more," she says.

Divorce prompted her to seek income when the youngest child was 16. Cameron began work full time at the same hospital whose nurses had inspired her dream, now First Health of the Carolinas Moore Regional Hospital. She also began school part time at Sandhills Community College, where she earned an associate nursing degree in 1992.

Now, Cameron aims to take a break from school, then seek her master's in nursing. She'd like to teach nursing at Sand Hills someday. For more information, call Nancy Cameron, 910-692-1870; Kim Cameron, 713-723-2168; or Lisa Mincey Ware, School of Nursing, 919-966-1412.

THEY WERE MERELY FRESHMEN: And women, at that -- the first ever admitted en masse to Carolina as freshmen. They were the university's first nursing class, beginning when the School of Nursing opened in 1951. Until then, Pamela Dean wrote in her research pamphlet "Women on the Hill," "the only freshmen and sophomore women who could attend were those who lived in Chapel Hill."

This commencement weekend at Carolina, members of that first class, of 1955, will return to celebrate their 45th reunion and the nursing school's golden anniversary. Festivities will include lunch at Carrington Hall, the school's home, with the class of 2000, and tea with dean Dr. Linda Cronenwett, reminiscent of customary teas with the late dean Elizabeth Kemble when the school opened.

"We have tons of old pictures of the young first class having tea with their dean 45 years ago, graduating, and wearing their starched white uniforms and caps," says Lisa Mincey Ware, the school's associate director of public relations. "Also, there was a great deal of press about their arrival at the university in 1951. We have loads of newspaper clippings." For more information or to cover events, call Ware at 919-966-1412.

GOWNS GALORE: Among all the proud parents at all the school and department ceremonies the weekend of May 21, Sharon and Dick Coop of Chapel Hill will have double the pleasure, double the fun. In Kenan on Sunday morning, daughter Kristina Coop Gordon, 30, will pick up her Ph.D. in clinical psychology. In Memorial Hall at 5 p.m., daughter Kelli Coop, 27, will get her medical degree.

Their dad, education professor and nationally known sports psychologist Dr. Richard Coop, also will march in cap and gown, in the traditional faculty procession in Kenan.

Of the bunch, only Kelli was true blue all through, earning her undergraduate and medical degrees at Carolina. Kristi went to Wake Forest University for her bachelor's degree but completed her master's and doctorate at UNC-CH. Son Daniel is now completing his sophomore year in Wolfpack red.

Kristi finished her degree work last July and now teaches psychology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. "I don't know how many families will have two sisters getting two doctorates from the same institution on the same day," says their mom -- but only when prompted. She doesn't like to brag. For more information, contact Kristi's faculty adviser, psychology professor Dr. Don Baucom, at 929-1298 or 962-5082; Dr. Dick Coop at 962-9189, or the Coop family at 942-7219.

BLESSED EVENTS: That's blessed times five for Mike Wilhoit, who will receive his doctorate in educational leadership on May 21 AND is the father of quadruplets -- three boys and a girl -- who celebrated their first birthday April 28. They were born about the time that dad was proposing his dissertation. "Talk about overcoming challenges in completing your degree," says Linda Baucom of the UNC-CH School of Education. "He had parenthood times four!" Not to mention that he worked full time throughout as principal of Orange County Charter School in Hillsborough, where the staff answering the phone seem to think he hung the moon. Wilhoit will march in the university-wide ceremony in Kenan and the School of Education doctoral hooding and reception at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (May 20) at the Kenan Center. For more information, call Wilhoit at the school, 644-1965, or his faculty adviser, Dr. William Malloy, 962-2510.

SUCCESS AND A SCOOTER: Neither rain nor snow nor a rare neuromuscular disorder could keep Stephanie Harper of Raleigh from completing her bachelor's degree at Carolina in the usual four years -- and the university's required swimming test, albeit a modified version. "I can't tread water," says the psychology and communication studies double major, but that's about all she can't do.

Harper tools around in a wheelchair, an electric scooter, leg braces and a specially-equipped SUV. Friends describe her as funny, diligent, smart and not about to ask for any special favors.

The child of a Navy man, Harper grew up in numerous locations, graduating from high school at Northwest Guilford in Greensboro in 1996. She was a Muscular Dystrophy Association poster child twice, in Virginia at ages 4 and 5 and eastern North Carolina at ages 10 and 11. Her continued volunteer work with the association helped win her this year's Lucia Morgan Memorial Award from Carolina's communication studies department, for using communication to help make the world a better place.

Harper serves on the student government disability issues committee and the university痴 Americans with Disabilities Act advisory committee. This fall, she値l start graduate school in speech and hearing at Carolina. But first, she値l be in the big ceremony May 21 in Kenan. "I知 not sure if I値l use my scooter or how I値l do it, but I値l be there." Harper can be reached after May 17 at her parents home in Raleigh, 919-554-4020. Education professor Dr. Bobbi Lubker at 962-9367 knows Harper well.

BRIDGING GENERATIONS: Carolina痴 dental school has seen plenty of father-son graduates through the years. But when Nanci Locklear of Red Springs gets her D.D.S. on May 21, she値l complete the school痴 first mother-daughter pair. Her mom, Cheryl, earned her dental degree from Carolina in 1979 and practices in Red Springs, in Roberson County. She値l be proud to attend Nanci痴 dental graduation at 3 p.m. May 21 in Memorial Hall. "That痴 where I graduated," she says.

After her graduation, Cheryl Locklear worked as a public health dentist in Bladen and Roberson counties while completing a master痴 degree at Carolina痴 School of Public Health in 1980.

Nanci went to UNC-CH for a bachelor痴 degree in psychology, attending on a coveted Morehead Scholarship, a full four-year merit award. After dental graduation, she値l practice in her mom痴 office. And guess who sometimes answers their phone, at 910-843-4262? Nanci痴 sister, Sarah, a sophomore at UNC-Pembroke, who helps in her mom痴 office after her classes. Might there someday be another dentist in the family? Too early to tell, Sarah says. Through commencement, Nanci can be reached at 967-9730 or 260-7930.

IS THERE A DENTIST IN THE HOUSE?: Dr. Ted Roberson (Theodore M.), on the UNC-CH dental faculty since he graduated from dental school here in 1968, has two daughters, two sons-in-law and one son who also have graduated from the dental school. On May 21, a third son-in-law will do same.

The entire family of dentists will be in the audience when Mark Hill, husband of Roberson痴 daughter Kimberly, gets his dental degree at 3 p.m. May 21 in Memorial Hall. They include Roberson痴 daughter Tiffany Roberson and her husband, Scott Vines, who both graduated from the school in 1996 and practice in Reidsville (home phone 336-342-2620); daughter Tara Roberson Tiffany痴 identical twin who graduated last year, but isn稚 practicing just now because she痴 pregnant, and her husband, Eddie Mooring, who graduated in (1997 or 1998) and practices in Jacksonville (home phone 910-989-0809); son Theodore M. Roberson II, known as Deuce, who also graduated last year and now practices in Henderson (phone number 252-430-1299).

Hill will practice in Durham. The Hills and Dr. Ted and Brenda Roberson can be reached at home in Durham at 919-489-4357.

NYPD BLUES: As an undercover narcotics officer for the New York City police, Thomas Michell (mi-SHELL) had a few bad experiences on the job. "After seeing all the drugs, I decided I didn稚 want my kids growing up in New York," he says, fast enough to still be there. "My wife decided it was time for me to find a new career. She had a cousin down here."

They visited Chapel Hill, and loved it. "My boys were 4 and 2 when we moved." Michell was a security guard, did electrical work, almost every sort of pick-up job you could imagine until he met Sherry Salyer, a lecturer in physical education, exercise and sport science at Carolina. She introduced him to other faculty members, and to opportunities at UNC-CH.

"After about a year here, I started back to school part-time," in 1994. In Kenan on May 21, he値l earn a bachelor痴 degree in exercise and sport science, in the athletic training program, with highest honors. Michell has been accepted into UNC-CH痴 athletic training graduate school, which he値l attend full-time, helping train three different teams, earning a stipend for teaching and "living off my wife," he laughs. Patricia Michell is a nurse at UNC Hospitals. Eventually, he壇 like to teach in his newfound field in high school or college. "I finally came back to school and found something I love," he says. "I致e been very lucky." Michell can be reached at 919-967-2283.

EDUCATION DAYS: When Beth Day-Hairston marches in Kenan for her doctorate in special education, she'll nab the fifth graduate degree in the field earned by women in her immediate family.

Day-Hairston, who coordinates the special education program and teaches at Winston-Salem State University, followed in the footsteps of her mother, Olivia Day, a retired special ed teacher in Raleigh. Meanwhile, Day-Hairston's twin sister, Norma Day-Vines, went after her master's degree at the education school at N.C. State University.

That seemed like a good idea to their mom. She joined Norma, and both completed master's degrees in counseling. Norma went on for a doctorate in education at NCSU. Now she lives in Severn, Md., near Baltimore, and commutes to Williamsburg, Va., to teach counseling at The College of William and Mary. (True-blue faithful, rest assured, her undergraduate degree was in English at Carolina.)

As of May 21, both Day sisters -- both graduates of Raleigh's Broughton High School -- will be doctors of education. Day-Hairston completed her doctoral classes in education as a full-time Carolina student from 1993-95. Since then, she's been working on her dissertation, working full-time at WSSU and co-parenting a son, 11.

With school finally behind her, she finally can turn to family a little more. Her baby is due in October. For more information, call Day-Hairston at 336-750-2387; Olivia Day at 919-755-0262; or Norma Day-Vines at 757-221-2328 (William and Mary) or 410-519-4450 (home).

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Commencement web site:

Contacts: Print: L.J. Toler, 919-962-8589,; broadcast, Karen Moon, 919-962-8595,