Why Regular Joe’s (Jay’s)/Jane’s Need to Fight for Inclusion

One of the most common questions I have received since I took on my new role as Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Winston-Salem is: do you have a child with Down syndrome? When I say “no,” I’m then asked if I have a relative. It isn’t common for a regular Joe (Jay in my case) to leave their successful career in another field to take on a role of fighting for individuals with developmental disabilities and their rights to be included in society.

Inclusion means that all people, regardless of their gender, race, abilities, and disabilities have the right to be appreciated as valuable members of their communities.

Parents and family members of individuals with Down syndrome know way better than I ever will know what it’s like to raise a child with Down syndrome. We know they will fight for inclusion with all of their hearts. Politicians and the media will help with the fight for inclusion if it is timely and helps their cause. I don’t think our society will truly be inclusive until we have Regular Joe’s and Jane’s start to actively engage themselves in making our communities more inclusive for all.

Fighting for inclusion as a regular Joe/Jane doesn’t mean that you have to take a job at a non-profit like I did. Get involved with a local organization as a volunteer or a donor. If you are a parent, teach your kids to play with people of all abilities from a young age. If you are an employer, hire an individual with developmental disabilities to your staff.

Pictures of individuals with Down syndrome as models for big organizations are great and really help the cause. Yet, we need to strive for a world where these pictures aren’t just viral, they are common.

Until the day that it is frequent for regular Joe’s/Jane’s to be involved in supporting and fighting for individuals with developmental disabilities, our world will not truly be inclusive. I strive for the day when this regular Jay is no longer asked if I work for a Down syndrome organization because I have a family member with Down syndrome. In an inclusive society it shouldn’t matter.

 

 

 

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Ryan Odom: Famous Winston-Salemites

Winston-Salem is one of the greatest small cities in the world. Famous Winston-Salemites will feature some accomplished people that lived in Winston-Salem and now have moved on to do great things. All of the questions will be about their time in the Twin City.

Ryan Odom quickly became a household name across the country this March as he led the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) to the biggest upsetryan3 in NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament history. The Retrievers became the first sixteenth seed to defeat a number one seed when they upset the University of Virginia 74-54 on March 15th in Charlotte.

 

The victory quickly placed Odom on the map nationally as one of the top basketball coaches in the country. Though his national prominence happened rapidly, Odom comes from a well-known basketball family and a lot of his basketball background came from his time growing up in Winston.

ryan4Odom first moved to Winston in 1976 when his father, Dave Odom, was an assistant for Wake Forest. After attending pre-school at First Christian, his family moved to Greenville, NC and then Charlottesville, VA while his dad was an assistant at East Carolina and Virginia. In 1989, the Odom’s moved back to Winston for his dad to become the head coach for the Demon Deacons.

While his dad was building Wake into a national powerhouse, Odom was making a name for himself as a guard for the R.J. Reynolds Demons. He played three years for Coach Howard West, before heading to Hampden Sydney where he served as a team captain and finished his career as the NCAA DIII program’s all-time three-point leader.

Odom spent time as an assistant at UNC-Charlotte, Virginia Tech, American, UNC-Asheville, and Furman from 1997-2015. In 2015, he was hired for his first head coaching ryan5job at Lenoir-Rhyne in Hickory, after being an interim head coach at UNCC the previous season. Odom led Lenoir-Rhyne to the NCAA DII Regional Finals for the first time ever.

He was hired at UMBC the following year (2016) and quickly turned the program around. The team won the 2018 America East Conference championship, which earned them a NCAA Tournament automatic bid and the chance for their historic win over UVA. Odom was quickly awarded by UMBC when ryan7he agreed in principle to contract amendments. The Retrievers and Odom were also honored in Annapolis by the Governor of Maryland.

Odom and his wife, Lucia, have two kids, Connor (16) and Owen (11). You can read a remarkable story about the family’s and Connor’s battle and success dealing with OCD by clicking here. His parents recently moved back to Winston, after Dave retired from coaching, and they live in Buena Vista.
Below Odom answers questions about his time in Winston-Salem:

Winston-Salem Questions

Where did you live in Winston?
I lived right off Country Club on Fairfax. I still consider Winston and Charlottesville home.

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Who were some of your favorite teachers?
I loved both principals at RJR, Mr. Deaton and Mr. Elrod. I got a little bit of both worlds with those two. I had a great coach in Howard West, and a great mentor in my assistant coach, Mike Muse. Mrs. Deal was another favorite teacher of mine.

ryan9What are some of your favorite restaurants in Winston?
The Halfway House at Forsyth Country Club. I loved to go to the Soda Shop at Reynolda Village for a hot dog and orangeade. The Village Tavern was another favorite and BLL Rotisserie is a favorite of my parents.

Would you ever consider moving back to Winston? 
Yes, definitely. I love Winston. It has always been great to my family. It is a great spot.

Where is your favorite place to go in the NC mountains?
I loved Asheville when I coached there. My wife went to school at Appalachian State. We still love to go to Boone and to Blowing Rock.

What about your favorite NC beaches?
Our family goes to Emerald Isle. We also love spending time at Wrightsville and Figure Eight.

If you could get one right now, which would you choose: Krispy Kreme doughnut, Moravian sugar cake, or Bojangles biscuit?
I would get in trouble if I didn’t say a Krispy Kreme doughnut. I have a friend from up North that swears by Dunkin Doughnuts. We definitely take the title on that one though.

Did you ever go to Ziggy’s? If so, what was your favorite band to see there?
Absolutely. I used to love seeing Jackopierce there. My friend, John Kenneth Moser, and I used to go there to see them. It actually was named after a former Wake Forest ryan10basketball player, John ‘Ziggy’ Ziglinski.

What was your favorite game at Wake Forest when your dad was the coach?
It was when we beat Duke at the Joel. Duke and Grant Hill tried to run the same long pass play they ran against Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament, but it didn’t work. I think it was the first signature win for my dad at Wake.

The Birth of The Man Van

The physical birth of the man van happened in a factory somewhere near the Great Lakes. You would think since the man van is a Volkswagen that it was physically built in das Deutschland. Actually, the Volkswagen Routan is just a Chrysler Dodge with a VW logo on the front and back of the van instead of a ram or wings . Who knew? I didn’t manvan2until two months after we bought it on a whim.

Some could argue that the ideological birth of the man van happened at a restaurant with some friends. We ate, we had drinks, and we talked about Uber. I went home, signed up, and the rest was history.

I would argue that the birth of the man van happened circa 2005, seven years before the VW minivan was even manufactured. One reason that the man van’s charity of the month for this April, ABC of NC Child Development Center (websitmanvan1abcofnce), is so important to me is because there most likely would not be a Callahan Clan (at least in its current form) without ABC of NC.

 

At that point, my mid-twenties self, was a part-time head soccer coach at Salem College manvan3(Go Spirits), and I needed another job. I spent my first two years out of college as an autistic assistant at Jefferson Elementary, while I was coaching soccer at local high schools. With my autistic classroom experience, I found out about this new school that offered autistic tutoring near my Ardmore condo that would fit perfectly with my soccer schedule.

Luckily Selene Johnson, who is still the Executive Director, hired me. I had been working a couple weeks when a tutor walked in one day who had been on vacation my first couple weeks. The minute she laid eyes on me she fell head over heels, and would not leave me alone (just kidding, more like the other way around).

We dated the next several months while we both worked at ABC of NC together. Eventually, I got a full-time job and Katie went to nursing school, but without ABC of NC we would have most likely never started dating. FINAL ubberingthroughwinston V1We were married a couple years later and started our family a couple years after that in 2010. So, in my mind, without ABC of NC, there would be no family, and hence there would never be a need for a minivan. `

I’m very lucky that I got that job at ABC of NC for obvious reason: a great wife and great kids, and this new man-VANing hobby I have. Winston-Salem is lucky to have a great organization like ABC of NC helping children and young adults on the autism spectrum reach their full potential.

Why I am Uberring in 2017

2016 was a great first year for my blog, and I thoroughly enjoyed doing Famous Winston-Salemites and Local Difference Makers, plus my blogs about family and friends. I love Winston-Salem and its people, and I wanted to add another dimension to my blog that incorporated more about our city.

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Just in the two short weeks I have been Uberring, I have received a lot of questions, specifically: why I am doing this? A lot of these questions are less like: “Why? That sounds great,” but more like “Why in the world would you do that?” Or another one I have been getting is “what does your mom or your sister or Katie think about you doing this?”

My short answer to this “why?” question is: “Because it is great!”

My long answer is much more detailed. I love meeting with people that are doing great things in our city or have moved onto do great things outside of Winston, but I was missing something with these blogs and I felt I needed to search for the missing piece. Katie and I were at dinner one night with some couple friends, and somehow Uber came up. In all honestly, at that point I hadn’t even been in a car as an Uber rider and knew very little about it.

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I got home that night, and it came to me that there would be no greater way to travel around Winston and to meet more of a diverse crowd besides uberring around the city as a driver. It would give me a path to meet people from all backgrounds and drive down more roads in the Dash than any other option I could imagine. Politicians travel around and meet lots of people, but I am not sure that they always listen. As an Uber driver, I have nothing else to do but listen.

The biggest obstacle to Uberring this year was making sure that it didn’t cut into any family time. The good thing is that Katie has to be at work at 5:30 in the morning so she typically goes to sleep with the kids. I don’t really sleep that much, and I have never been a great sleeper. So I usually am twiddling my thumbs after 8:00, watching television or playing games on my computer. Heck, three years ago, I wrote a book late at night (shameless plug; buy it at the top of this page). I was able to mentally clear that obstacle that I could definitely do this without missing out on my family.

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After getting the whole Uber thing down, I realized that I could flip it on after I dropped the kids off for a bit in the morning or on my way home from work in the evening, and give some new friends a ride. I have met a man from Detroit in barber school here; a man from New York City living here to get cancer treatment; a woman who was on her way to Forsyth Hospital to pick up her baby in the NICU; found out there is another Jigar in Winston besides my brother-in-law; a couple from South America that spoke no English; a drunk guy; a movie star; a kindergartner who likes Paw Patrol; another drunk guy; a high school girlfriend of two weeks; lots of Wake students; a group that talked twenty more minutes about the Kardashians than I ever want to hear again; and many other Winston-Salemites. And the great thing is that I have only been doing it for two weeks!

I have people ride in my man van of all ages, races, backgrounds, orientations and most of them have great stories to tell. If they don’t want to talk that is fine too, they can just listen along to my music as we ride. Winston-Salem is a diverse place with a lot of history and I get to explore unknown territories (to me) of our city every time I turn on an app. Our family also has trips to Spain and Disney World this year, so the extra pocket change isn’t a bad thing!

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Hopefully throughout the year, some of my riders will try my Uber challenges, I will be able to raise a lot of money for various Winston-Salem organizations through donations, and I will meet a lot of great people. This is just a trial a lot like my blog was just a trial last year. I have never done anything like it, and I am not sure anyone else really has either.If you do everything in life worrying about what others might think, you might not do much that you really want to try. There might be some missteps  along the way of these adventures, but I wouldn’t want people from any other city to join me for the journey.

 

Letters from Dad:McKinley’s 6th Birthday

Dear McKinley,

Don’t ever change! You will always be my favorite little princess!

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Five was another great year for you and I can’t wait to see you continue to grow this upcoming year. This is going to be a huge year for you, since you start kindergarten just a week after your birthday. I look forward to seeing you continue to grow into a young lady. Right now, your favorite music is the Dixie Chicks, you really like Popeye, and playing with your dolls.

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I have always heard that time goes by too fast with your kids, and this is definitely true. I can’t believe you are six already! Below I will share some things that make you such a special person and some reminders for the future:

You are a friend to everyone, keep it up!

For your pre-K superlatives, you were awarded the “easiest to make a friend.” You have always been very social with your peers. You will play with anyone that is willing to play with you, and you need to keep doing that. The only reason you should stop playing with somebody is if they are mean to you or others.

Keep being a hero to your brother:

Hudson is a wild and crazy dude, but he loves you to death. If some of your friends want to play without him, you already tell them no and try to include him as much as possible. Keep doing that. You two play awesome together and you are a great big sister. Keep looking out for Hudson and he will keep looking up to you!

Family makes you happy, and keep looking up to your mom!

Whether it is your cousins or grandparents, you love being with family. You also really look up to your mom. Keep doing that! She is a great role model.

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You love our pets:

Just like your brother, you love our pets: Owen, Crosby, and Flo. The first thing you do when we get home is look for Flo so you can pick her up and hold her.

 

You are my little entrepreneur and chef:

At the age of five, you were already trying to make money and willing to donate it to charity. Whether it was a popcorn stand in front of our house or a vegetable stand on Fourth Street, you love to make food and sell it. You made a lot of money this year, and donated half of it to the Humane Society, where we got Crosby and Flo.

Just remember to keep being you and don’t let anybody change that. Love your family and pets, be a hero to your little brother, and do what you enjoy doing. You are already a great young lady, but you will always be my little princess.

Love,
Your daddy

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Garner Foods: Created in Winston

There are a lot of local difference-makers in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and a lot of Famous Winston-Salemites that have moved out of our great city to do extraordinary things in other places. Along with great people hailing from Winston, there are also a lot of businesses developed here. In Created in Winston, I will focus on these businesses and what Winston means to them.

 

When Thad Wilson (T.W.) and the Garner Family started making barbecue sauce in 1929 in Winston-Salem, they probably never would have imagined their family recipes would be such a hit. Eighty-seven years later, the Garner family is hoping to make more of an imprint on Winston-Salem as they move their corporate offices from 4045 Indiana Avenue to the heart of Downtown Winston at 614 Fourth St. in the second floor of the Nash-Bolick Building.
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A rendering of the Nash-Bolick building
 
T.W. Garner Food Company might be most known for Texas Pete Hot Sauce, but Chief Operating Officer Heyward Garner wants people to know that “the company is working to reinvigorate our name in the community of Winston-Salem.” Garner said, “it is time to step-up to 2016 and maintain a fresh image, while being a part of the phenomenal revitalization of Downtown.” Their current operations are on Indiana Avenue and were originally part of the family farmland. 
It just so happens that the Nash-Bolick Building was built the same year that the Garner family started their company in 1929.  The building originated as a car dealership for the Nash Automobile Company. That same year, Wilson started T.W. Garner and employed several of his siblings and his parents, who are the great-grandparents of Heyward. The business started out of the Dixie Pig Barbecue stand on Liberty Street, where the Smith-Reynolds airport is today.

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In the 1930’s, the company moved to the Lawrence Hospital, which is currently the Rescue Mission. During that time they bulldozed their farm and built their original factory space on Indiana Avenue, which the company moved back to in 1942 (they have added on three times in the last sixty-plus years).
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Photo courtesy of texaspete.com
When the family first started with barbecue sauce, hot sauce was not part of their vocabulary. Customers were asking for a hotter sauce and the family developed a hotter style sauce, which they named Texas Pete to differentiate it from their barbecue sauce. In the early years, they also made syrups, jams, jellies, and even Garner’s Hair Tonic. “I never saw the hair tonic, but I don’t think it is a joke,” said Heyward. 
Through the last nine decades, T.W. Garner has always been a family-run business. After Wilson, Heyward’s dad, Reg Garner, took over the company in 1994. He had control of the business until he passed away in 2009, and his sister Ann Riddle took over as Chief Executive. She is currently the only third generation Garner still actively working, while her cousins Hal Garner and Frank Sherrill, still are on the board.
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Photo courtesy of texaspete.com
There are currently several fourth generation family members working in the company. Heyward’s brother-in-law (married to Dorothea), Matt McCollum, is the Chief Financial Officer,  and their cousin, Glenn Garner is also a part of the administration.
A major part of the new image of the company is the move downtown and focusing on the brand-name, Garner Foods. “If you talk about only Texas Pete then you are only talking about half of our business,” said Heyward. “We want to let the area know about Garner Foods. Today if you walk around here, nobody knows about us. I am on a personal crusade to get our name out there.” The company also purchased Green Mountain Gringo out of Vermont in 2004, which makes salsas and tortilla strips.
Three years ago, T.W. Garner started the Texas Pete Culinary Arts Festival on Trade Street, and they are thrilled with its growth and the upcoming September festival. The company is also involved with the local Habitat for Humanity, Arts Council, and Second Harvest Food Bank. Heyward said, “our community involvement is understated. We have a lot of great stuff going on.”
The family hopes to be moved into the Nash-Bolick building within a month or two. The building will feature offices for the finance, accounting and executive staff; a war room, a board room, an outdoor patio, and a demo kitchen. The demo kitchen is an addition to the old building and will be used to bring in customers to sample the Garner Food products, and will also be visible to all on Fourth Street with a glass front. “It will give outsiders a peak behind the curtain, Willy Wonka style,” said Heyward. 
The move has been four years in the making. They looked at over twenty properties, and really focused on three of them before making their final decision. “We were sitting on top of each other on Indiana Avenue, but we had been doing that for years,” said Heyward. “I personally love that we get sunlight in all places since there is a cut-out in the middle of the new building.”
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Sam Garner (photo courtesy of texaspete.com)
Sixty-five employees in the operations department will remain in the Indiana Avenue facility and the company also employs fifteen sales staff that live and work in their territories. “This building is part of our effort to step up community relations. We want the community to be involved and know we have been here since 1929,” Garner reaffirmed. “This is also for our employees who all rock. We look forward to letting them walk to work and enjoy the Downtown restaurants.” 

 

Do you know somebody that goes out of their way in Winston-Salem to be extra nice and helpful? If so read my Winston Giveback: Unsung Heroes post to see how to nominate this person by September 15, 2016. Click here for nomination

 

Laurel Holloman-Notable North Carolinian

Writing about famous Winston-Salemites and local difference makers has been a great experience. Now I am ready to expand the blog to the great state of North Carolina to talk to some North Carolinians who have gone on to do extraordinary things. Notable North Carolinians will focus on these individuals favorite parts of the Tar Heel State.

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Laurel Holloman (website) grew up in Greenville, NC and attended school in Raleigh and Chapel Hill, before going on to become a very successful actress and artist. Her most notable roles include a six-year stint starring with Jennifer Beals on Showtime’s The L Word and in the hit movie, Boogie Nights.

Holloman went to St. Peter’s Catholic School in Greenville, and then to EB Aycock for middle school, and Rose for high school for a year. She finished high school at St. Mary’s boarding school to in Raleigh. “I liked boarding school and wanted to go even though it was a tougher school,” said Holloman. “I thrived there and it made college seem easier.”

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She went on to study at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she took an improv class during her freshman year. She took summer school at UCLA, and through those two classes she realized she wanted to pursue acting.

She also got into art during her time at UNC. “I took a sculpture class and made an A and the art teacher said, ‘you really think out of the box,’ maybe consider switching your major,” said Holloman. She was very focused on acting, and art was more on the back burner.

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Holloman started painting more when she moved to California.  She painted to keep herself “sane” when she wasn’t acting.  “Painting made me feel more in control,” said Holloman. “Acting is all about getting hired to be creative and painting is basically having complete control of your creativity everyday.”

She has starred in several additional shows and movies (full list), and her art is now featured all over the world. She is known for her “vibrant use of color and large scale pieces,” which often capture “stirring emotions with movement in three dimensional effect.” She has an upcoming exhibit at the Museum Jan van der Togt coming this summer.

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Holloman currently lives in Los Angeles with her two daughters, Nala and Lola. Below she answers questions about her favorite things about North Carolina:

North Carolina Questions:

Do you still have family in NC? 
Yes, both my parents and my two brothers and many cousins!!

Do your two children get to visit North Carolina very often? 
About once a year.  I love the beaches there and I love Asheville, NC.  It is a really great state.

Do you prefer Eastern NC barbecue or Western NC barbecue? 
Eastern!!!!

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Do you have a favorite museum in North Carolina?
Yes, the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.

What is your favorite beach of North Carolina?
Cape Hatteras because it is so natural still and untouched. I have gone every summer as a child and I  really love Ocracoke Island (I have camped there), and Beaufort. Oriental is another favorite, which is really sleepy, but fun.  I took my kids to Oriental last summer and they loved it. We went fishing and wake boarding. We caught a puppy drum and a local restaurant cooked it for us. We caught a Red Drum but he was huge so we put him back.

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What about a favorite place in the mountains of NC? 
I love Asheville for the friendly people and the food. One of my  best friends just got married there.

What are your top three all-time restaurants in North Carolina?
Crooks Corner in Chapel  Hill  (I was a waitress there in college!!).  Fearrington House is another favorite for something special.  My dad loves ON THE SQUARE in Tarboro, NC and is a regular there, where he drives over from Greenville and it is really a special place for wine and food. I also like any oyster bar anywhere!! I love oysters and  grew up eating them because we had a second home on the Pamlico Sound and it had an oyster bed. Most people don’t know that they are a really healthy and a nutrient dense food.  I love Parker’s BBQ. Okay, I have to stop!

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What do you miss most about living in North Carolina?
I miss the friendly people and how time slows down a bit. I love the beaches in the summer because the Pacific in California is so cold to me, and I miss the Atlantic Ocean. I also had a horse there, so I miss riding through the woods on a cold day!
I would say I miss North Carolina more than than ever now that I am raising kids. I remember wanting so badly in college to get out and get to NY or LA, but now that I live a very busy urban life, I appreciate what my North Carolina childhood offered. It offered me such an appreciation of nature and also the appreciation of family. My dad worked in apparel (and real estate investments), and he had summers off so we spent time at our house on the Pamlico Sound. We were free to run around and catch snakes, catch crabs from a crab pot, go skiing or tubing, and play with all with any of the kids nearby. There was no such thing as a scheduled play-date, we just walked over and played with nearby kids.
We all learned to drive cars or trucks on country roads at an early age. My brothers  and I could drive the two boats we had once we were old enough.  We also mostly ate what we caught. If we were in Greenville, we were at my brothers baseball games…… always  as a family.
As I got older, the summers were filled with horse shows. I showed North Carolina Hunter Jumper and Eastern Hunter Association.   My mom learned how to pull a double horse trailer for all of this.
This is what I miss the most as I raise kids that sit in LA traffic and have phones and iPads and scheduled play-dates and sleepovers.  I live near the beach in Los Angeles now, and I am very lucky in that regard, but I still live in a very large city. I miss the small town feeling  the most, and the friendly people that come with it.

Do you have a favorite concert you saw growing up in North Carolina? 
I dated a musician all through college so there were a lot! He took me to Neil Young, and I remember seeing Joe Satriani at the Rialto in Raleigh. I basically watched The Connells and Superchunk on a regular bases because most of the bands knew each other.  Frank, my college sweetheart played in Mary on the Dash. Chapel Hill was a big music scene at the time and full of lots of creative people. It was a fun time. I also went to  see Echo and the  Bunnymen at Duke and remember that being a really great concert. I think I wrote a paper on “The Killing Moon,” one of their songs. I really loved Chapel Hill and the  professors  I had. I credit that time in my life as a big creative exploration.

If you could only have one for the rest of your life, which would you prefer: a Bojangles biscuit or a Krispy Kreme doughnut? 
I’m a savory girl, so a Bojangles biscuit with ham.

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What about sweet NC iced tea or Cheerwine? 
I’m addicted to iced tea, but I don’t like it sweet. I think I did when I was about nine though.

Did you grow up a UNC fan? Who are your favorite UNC athletes of all time? 
Yes I did!!! I would say Michael Jordan and of course Mia Hamm for soccer. They are examples of amazing athletes.