HPU honors outstanding alumni over reunion weekend
Each year, the Top 10 Under 10 Awards recognize 10 alumni who have graduated in the past 10 years. In the photo, from left to right: Dr Nido Qubein, president of the HPU; Rosana Filingeri, class of 2017; Chris Crawford, Class of 2014; Dr Jeffrey Berwager, class of 2016; Sarah Covington, class of 2014; Janay Whittaker, Class of 2013; Lindsay Scott, Class of 2013; Linda Poplawski, Class of 2013, Landon Harris, Class of 2013; and Adam Hatem, Class of 2011. Cydney Hamilton, Class of 2018 is not pictured.
HIGH POINT, North Carolina, November 5, 2021 – High Point University hosted the 2021 Reunion Weekend from October 22-24. Hundreds of High Point University alumni have returned to campus for various events.
The highlight of the weekend is the annual Alumni Awards ceremony. Hosted by the Alumni Association, the ceremony honored HPU alumni who have accomplished outstanding achievements and demonstrated their commitment to their communities and the university.
Lifetime Achievement Award – Gene C. Kester, Class of 1966
Kester was born in High Point and lived in a house on Fifth Street, which later became part of the High Point University campus. Cottrell Hall now stands in its place. Kester graduated from High Point College in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts in History. As a student he joined the Delta Sigma Phi Brotherhood and was a soloist in the university choir.
Kester began his career as a salesperson at High Point at Rose Furniture, the company owned and operated by his family. In 1974 he was hired as the first salesperson for a new furniture company, Council Craftsman. It began a 35-year career as an independent manufacturer’s representative for Councill, Southwood Reproductions, Yorkshire House and many other accessory lines.
Kester has served and participated in numerous community organizations and councils including the High Point Community Foundation, the High Point Rotary Club as a Fellow and Paul Harris Fellow for over 25 years, and as a member of the Board of Trustees of BB&T for 20 years. For 30 years he has been a member of the High Point Historical Society and served on the Board of Trustees for seven years. Kester received the Mary Lib Joyce Award in 2016 for his outstanding service, including his efforts during the campaign to relocate the Little Red Schoolhouse, where he attended first year, to the High Point Museum campus. Kester is an active member of the Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in High Point. He taught Sunday School and was a choir member for many years.
Kester is a strong supporter of High Point University and is a life member of the Board of Trustees, of which he served as chairman from 2010 to 2013. He also served as chairman of the High Point University Visitors Council. Thanks to his unwavering support and leadership, the university has named the International Walk for Kester and his wife, Jane.
Alumnus of the Year Award – C. David Smith, Class of 1981
Smith was born in High Point and received a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from High Point College. While complementing his teaching experience, Smith helped his brother coach the Ledford High School football team in Thomasville.
After college, Smith joined his father in the family business, Smith and Jennings, Incorporated, a High Point-based business founded in 1947. Today, it remains a family business, employing over 100 people and specializing in in all aspects of the filing industry and utilities. Currently, Smith is the owner and president. The company has helped HPU transform over the years, from helping build the Smith Library in the 1980s to the campus transformation that began in 2005 when HPU President Nido Qubein arrived.
Smith has remained active in the local High Point community by serving on various organizing committees and boards. He has worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Westchester Country Day School and the YMCA Advisory Board. Currently, Smith is president of the High Point YMCA Association, of which he has been a member for six years. In 1996, he was named YMCA Volunteer of the Year and was inducted into the YMCA Hall of Fame in 2002. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Communities in Schools and serves monthly with Feeding Lisa’s Kids.
Smith combines his passion for sports and his love for High Point University as an active member of the HPU Panther Club and a regular participant in sports games. The Smiths have supported HPU in a variety of ways, including through the Spirit Garden at the Millis Athletic Center and the annual HPU Prayer Breakfast.
In recognition of their most recent philanthropic gift, as well as their long-standing support and advocacy, HPU named the David and Amy Smith Hospitality Suite in the new Nido and Mariana Qubein Arena and Conference Center in honor of the the family’s success in business and its commitment to Groupe Hydraulique.
Alumni Service Award – Danita M. Harris, Class of 1999
Harris graduated from High Point University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in Home Furnishings Marketing. While at HPU, she worked in the campus bookstore. She continued her leadership with High Point University as a member of the Alumni Board. With High Point University Athletics, Harris volunteers as a financial consultant for student-athletes to guide them in their future athletic careers with the new era of name, image and likeness.
Harris began his career at High Point with a local furniture design firm as chief interior designer. After several years, she started a landscaping and design business. She later joined New York Life Insurance as an agent in New York. In his first year, Harris received the New York Life Career Life Success Award, one of the most coveted awards for new agents. Currently, Harris is the Managing Partner of GUICE Wealth Management in New York City, where she leads all day-to-day operations including creating and managing business development opportunities, customer retention and retention, recruiting staff and the long-term growth of the company.
In her community, Harris has been involved in various organizations. She has spoken at numerous events, conferences and for charities, including the Steve Harvey Foundation; Boys and Girls Clubs of America; Association of Women’s Basketball Coaches; St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York; Dallas Children’s Cancer Society; the YMCA; University of Granada, Spain; and much more. She actively works with many professional athletes and their foundations to teach financial literacy.
President’s Award – Megan E. Oglesby, Class of 2015
Oglesby graduated from High Point University with an MBA in 2015.
Oglesby began his career with Old Dominion Freight Line, a national leader in LTL freight and a global transportation company headquartered in Thomasville. After six years, she moved to Business High Point – Chamber of Commerce as Senior Director of Leadership and Events, where she was responsible for High Point Leadership, Robert McInnis Golf Tournament, Women’s Business Luncheon, as well as many other major Chamber events and sponsorships. .
Since May 2019, Oglesby has been the Executive Director of the Earl and Kathryn Congdon Family Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to invest in organizations in the greater High Point region that promote improved quality of life by reducing barriers to opportunity.
In the community, his service to others began early. Oglesby won her Girl Scout Silver and Gold Awards in 1999 and 2005, respectively. She is a 2016 High Point Leadership Graduate and received the YMCA Emerging Leader Award in 2018. Currently, Oglesby is a Board Member of Forward High Point, High Point Discovered, the High Point Community Foundation, the Greater High Point YMCA, High Point University Say Yes and First Generation Scholarship Committee, and High Point University Visitors Council.
Each year, HPU also honors 10 young graduates over the past 10 years. This year’s Top 10 Under-10s are:
- Adam J. Hatem, Class of 2011, Associate Director of Athletic Academic Services at Clemson University in Clemson, SC
- Landon C. Harris, Class of 2013, co-founder of Harris Family Holdings in Mocksville, NC
- Linda J. Poplawski, Class of 2013, Medical Physicist with West Virginia University Medicine in Morgantown, West Virginia
- Lindsay D. Scott, Class of 2013, Talent Development Manager for Coca-Cola Consolidated in Charlotte, North Carolina
- Janay M. Whittaker, Class of 2013, Associate Clinical Advisor for CHRIS 180 in Atlanta, GA
- Sarah N. Covington, Class of 2014, Physician Assistant with Duke University Health Family Medicine in Burlington, NC
- Chris M. Crawford, Class of 2014, sports reporter for Spectrum News One and radio host / producer for WDBO in Orlando, Florida
- Dr Jeffrey D. Berwager, Class of 2016, Resident in Anesthesiology with Atrium-Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
- Rosana K. Filingeri, Class of 2017, Vice President of Business Development for Cybersafe Solutions in New York, New York
- Cydney C. Hamilton, Class of 2018, Innovative Programs Manager for Heart to Hand in Largo, Maryland