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WSSU's 2019 graduates: Where are they headed?

Devin Rankin with students from his class
Devin Rankin, center, with students from Winston-Salem's Moore Elementary School. (WSSU Photo) 

Another Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) Commencement is upon us, as graduates depart to serve. Here's a glimpse of where a few students from the Class of 2019 are headed. 

Devin Rankin

This fall, Devin Rankin will become a third-generation educator, following in the footsteps of his mother, grandmother and grandfather. As a student at WSSU, Rankin was Mr. Junior, Mr. 1892 and a member of the Red Sea of Sound.

Major: Elementary Education

Hometown: Charlotte

How has WSSU prepared you for your ultimate goal?
“WSSU has given me the necessary skills I need to be successful in this forever changing world. I learned the importance of time management and working within my passion. WSSU also taught me how to be tenacious. Nothing worth having comes easy.”

Next Step: He will teach in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. Working at Moore Elementary as a student teacher this semester, he says he fell in love with the area. Within the next three years, he plans to have an after-school program in four different elementary schools to focus on mentoring, tutoring, and social and emotional growth. 

Greg Hughes flexes as he stands in cap and gown in front of the Winston-Salem State University sign on campus
Greg Hughes (WSSU Photo)
Greg Hughes

Greg Hughes took as many as 21 credit hours per semester while dedicating up to 40 hours a week to band practices and appearances as a drum major for the Red Sea of Sound marching band. As drum major, he performed on some of the biggest stages, including performing for a music video that aired on ESPN’s “First Take,” and in a promotional video for the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce. 

Major: Computer science

Hometown: Fayetteville

How did WSSU help make you the person you are today?
“WSSU didn't make me the man I am today, but rather it helped me morph into the man that I am, guiding me into the right direction and bringing more of the positive and helpful spirit out of me.”

Next Step: He will continue to run his six different businesses, which includes stocks, real estate properties, a car dealership and selling items over Amazon and eBay.

Forming a W with hands and blue lab gloves
Zakiyah Henry (WSSU Photo) 
Zakiyah Henry

Zakiyah Henry was part of the MARC U*STAR Program, which is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and designed to increase participation of students in biomedical/behavioral research. Through the program, she has been actively working in the lab of Dr. Tennille Presley, whose research focuses on Type II diabetes. Henry also is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and Beta Beta Beta, a national biological honors society.

Major: Biology, Chemistry and Physics minors

Hometown: Nashville, North Carolina

How has research helped you reach your goal?
"Research has been instrumental in my decision to want to go into the field of Toxicology. I have had two different research experiences in toxicology that helped me build my interest."

Next step: She will be attending Rutgers University in New Jersey to obtain a Ph.D. in toxicology.


China Brown

China Brown played tennis for three years for the Rams, earning all-CIAA as a sophomore. Brown, a first-generation college student, also completed internships at Durham Chiropractic Acupuncture Clinic and at Horizons Residential Care Center.

Major: Healthcare Management

Hometown: Kernersville

What’s will you miss most about WSSU?
“I will miss the culture and the people the most. Winston-Salem State University created such an open environment that allowed me to be myself and blossom into the professional I’m aspiring to be. I’ve also developed lifelong relationships that have woven into my support system that continuously encouraged me on this journey to graduation”

Next Step: She will work at Horizons Residential Center with the administrative staff where she completed her spring internship. She also plans to apply for graduate school.

China Brown in tennis uniform and graduation gown
China Brown (photo contributed)
William Crandell stands in graduation cap in front of clocktower
William Crandell (photo contributed)
William Crandell

William Crandell is a Division II basketball All-American. Crandell, a member of Delta Chi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, also was on the dean’s list each semester and a member of Beta Gamma Sigma business honors society. He’s graduating debt-free.

Major: Business Administration

Hometown: Bethel

How has WSSU prepared you for life after college?
“Winston-Salem State University has prepared me for life after college in so many ways, but the biggest factor in which I will take away from WSSU is learning how to be yourself no matter what because people are always going to accept you and to also network with anyone possible.”

Next Step: He will attend the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Bryan School of Business to obtain an MBA in finance.


Sisters in uniform near the archways on campus
Taneshia Poole (left) and older sister Tavoria Poole (WSSU Photo)
Tavoria and Taneshia Poole

Sisters Tavoria and Taneshia Poole, from Jacksonville, consider themselves more than just siblings, they are best friends. They are the oldest of seven children and the first to graduate from college. At the commencement on May 10, they walked on stage together to receive their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees.

Taneshia Poole

What has it been like to have your sister there with you through your time at WSSU?

“Having my sister with me during my journey at WSSU was amazing. I’ve always had someone I could talk to about any and everything, especially nursing. Just having her here with me made my college experience even better.”

Next Step: She will start her nursing career in the neuro-med surgical unit at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio,

Tavoria Poole

How did WSSU prepare you for your future?

“WSSU Prepared me for my future because it gave me opportunities that I didn't know I had. My nursing professors taught me how to be a competent caring nurse. I joined the WSSU Army ROTC that gave me the leadership qualities and characteristics that I am able to use as an officer and as a nurse. So, thank you WSSU for molding me into the woman I’m destined to be, I’m finally in a place to use what you all have taught me.”

Next Step: She has been commissioned into the U.S. Army Nursing Corps as an officer and will serve as a nurse at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.


Amber Romero

Amber Romero, one of five children, is the first in her family to graduate from college. She transferred to WSSU from Forsyth Technical Community College. At WSSU, she was a member of Beta Alpha Psi, an international honor society for accounting, finance and information systems students; the National Association of Black Accountants; and Tau Sigma National Honors Society. She also volunteered for the Center for Smart Financial Choices.

Major: Accounting

Hometown: Perth Amboy, New Jersey

How has WSSU prepared you for your ultimate goal?
“I have gained my educational foundation and the mentors that have helped guide me and prepare me for my future accounting career.”

Next Step: This summer, she will begin a third internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the Big Four accounting firms, with hopes of gaining a full-time employment offer. Romero plans to attend a master of accountancy program in the fall.

Amber Romero stands in front of the clocktower with WSSU sweatshirt and graduation cap
Amber Romero (Photo Contributed) 
Justin Hughes forms a W
Justin Hughes (WSSU Photo) 
Justin Hughes

As a student at WSSU, Justin Hughes battled through adversity as his mother passed due to cancer. At WSSU, he interned and volunteered in the Athletics Department.  

Major: Sport Management

Hometown: Weldon

How did WSSU prepare you for the future?
“WSSU prepared me for the future by giving me all the tools to be successful. The professors, staff members, everyone that I have encountered has done everything they could to help me get to where I’m trying to go. WSSU has helped me so much and I can’t thank them enough.”

Next Step: He will work for the NFL Houston Texans during the 2019-20 season as a member of the game day operations staff.

Miranda Legg at the community garden
Miranda Legg (WSSU Photo)
Miranda Legg

Miranda Legg is passionate about recycling. In 2018, that passion helped WSSU win $30,000 in a nationwide recycling contest from Garnier Rinse, Recycle, Repeat: College Competition. Legg, a Provost’s Scholar and member of the S.G. Atkins Honors Society, also received a $2,000 scholarship.

Major: Psychology, Spanish minor

Hometown: Lexington

What advice would you give someone thinking about attending WSSU?
“Attending WSSU was the best decision I ever made. When you attend Winston you’re not just getting an education, you gain a family.”

Next Step: She is moving to Costa Rica for a year to teach English. When she returns, she plans to attend graduate school.


Cherika Marks
Cherika Marks (photo contributed)
Cherita Marks

For Cherita Marks, who transferred to WSSU from Wake Technical Community College, being a Ram runs in the family. Marks’ mother, aunt, great-aunt, grandmother, and great-grandmother all are graduates of the university. Her great-aunt is a charter member of the Gamma Lambda Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, which she also pledged.

Major: Mass Communications

Hometown: Charlotte

How has WSSU helped you reach your ultimate goal?
“WSSU has given me the confidence and resources to reach my goal. I am forever grateful for the staff and faculty that has helped me throughout my time here.”

Next step: She is moving to Los Angeles to work in the public relations department for Freeform Studios (Disney) through the HBCU in LA internship program. She is the first WSSU student selected for the program, which is through the Entertainment Industry College Outreach Program (EICOP).

Chantell holds a director's clapboard that says: "Graduation - 2019 - WSSU - 4 - Chantell - May 10, 2019
Chantell Huell (WSSU Photo) 
Chantell Huell

Before coming to campus as a freshman, Chantell Huell wanted to know what to look forward to and what to look out for, but she couldn't find a lot of content online. As a freshman, she started vlogging to help future Rams learn more about the WSSU experience. As a junior, HBCU Buzz named Chantell Huell one of the top HBCU vloggers.

Major: Mass Communications 


What has your experience been like at WSSU?
“Vlogging has become a way for me to not only make a difference in the lives of others, but it has helped me to grow as a person and an artist. I have become more confident and able to take risks. It will also help me pursue my dream of becoming an actress.”

Next Step: She will be attending Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in the fall to pursue a master’s in performing arts.


Lamar Hardy

Lamar Hardy arrived at WSSU hoping to become the next Stephen A. Smith, but his plan quickly changed as he realized that acting was his passion. Hardy acted in 10 plays during his time at WSSU.

Major: Mass Communications, Theater minor

Hometown: Fayetteville

How did WSSU help you reach your ultimate goal?
“Mentors like Dr. Derick Virgil, Dr. William Boone and Mr. Andre Minkins helped me pave my way toward greatness. All three of these men have helped me flourish and have given me the tools and knowledge for myself and the generation after me.”

Next Step: In June, Hardy will portray Walter Lee Younger in "A Raisin in the Sun" at the D.C. Black Theatre Festival. This fall, he will attend the University of Louisville to pursue Master of Fine Arts on a full scholarship.

Lamar Hardy on stage
Lamar Hardy portrays Malcolm X in "When the Chickens came home to Roost," his senior project. (photo contributed)
Dynasty Parker in the lab
Dynasty Parker (WSSU Photo) 
Dynasty Parker

Dynasty Parker was a NIGMS-RISE Scholar during her time at WSSU while also completing extensive hands-on laboratory research. In February, she represented WSSU at the 2019 Emerging Researchers National Conference in STEM in Washington, D.C. 

Major: Chemistry

Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Next Step: Attend the University of Texas-Dallas to pursue a Doctorate in Chemistry.

This is one of a series of articles highlighting WSSU's Class of 2019.

Isaiah Green, a senior sport management major from Spring Lake, is an intern for Integrated Marketing Communications. Derika Reed, a senior sport management major from Newark, New Jersey, contributed to the article. 

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