Schooled in the Triad: Notable alumni

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NC A&T UNIVERSITY

Alma Adams, 1966-72

Currently representing Greensboro in the state House, Alma Adams has served on Greensboro City Council and what was known as the Greensboro School Board. She’s expected to easily win her bid for Congress this year to fill the vacant 12th district seat vacated by Mel Watt.

Joe Dudley, 1959-62

In 1961, Joe Dudley and his wife moved to Greensboro, where he had graduated from NC A&T. The couple launched Dudley Beauty products in 1967. Over the years, he opened Dudley Cosmetology University in Kernersville, along with four other schools. Labeled mentally retarded in first grade, in part, because of a speech impediment, Dudley parlayed his success in business into a second career as a motivational speaker, authoring the book Walking by Faith: I Am! I Can! & I Will! In 2009, Dudley and his wife were featured in Good Hair, a documentary by Chris Rock about the hair-care industry.

Ronald McNair, 1968-71

Ronald McNair graduated magna cum laude in 1971. After earning a doctorate in physics from MIT, McNair was selected as one of 35 applicants for the NASA astronaut program in 1978. He became the second African American to fly in space, but  was later killed in the 1986 Challenger accident. As a high school student, he refused to leave the Lake City Public Library without being allowed to check out his books. The library is now named after him, along with an elementary school in Guilford County.

WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Muggsy Bogues, 1983-87

At 5-feet-3, Muggsy Bogues is known as the shortest player in the history of the NBA. After playing for Wake, he went on to play for the Charlotte Hornets, Washington Bullets, Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors.

Charlie Crist, 1974-76

Future Florida governor Charlie Crist played quarterback for the Demon Deacons in the mid-’70s. Crist chose to run for US Senate in 2010 rather than seek reelection as governor. He lost his Republican primary to Marco Rubio, and two years later appeared at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte to endorse Barack Obama’s reelection.

Arnold Palmer, 1948-53

Arnold Palmer attended Wake Forest University on a golf scholarship. Regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of men’s professional golf, Palmer was the game’s first television superstar and is credited with democratizing the game’s image.

GUILFORD COLLEGE

Howard Coble, 1955-58

Howard Coble received a history degree from Guilford College after serving five years in the US Coast Guard. He was state secretary of revenue under Gov. James Holshouser and was later elected to the state House as a Republican. Coble has served in the US House since 1985, and is retiring at the end of this year.

Ernie Shore, 1909-13

East Bend native Ernie Shore graduated from Guilford College in 1913 and played Major League Baseball for the Boston Red Sox alongside Babe Ruth. Later he served as sheriff of Forsyth County, and the home field of the Wake Forest University baseball team bears his name.

HIGH POINT UNIVERSITY

Donna Fargo, ca. 1962-63

The former Yvonne Vaughn of Mt. Airy studied at High Point College for a period in the ’60s before heading to southern California, where she became a teacher. Her huge self-penned 1972 hit “The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA” was kind of a tonic to the counterculture, and once you’ve heard it you probably won’t be able to get it out of your head.

UNCG

Emmylou Harris, 1965-66

Emmylou Harris enrolled at UNCG in 1965, where pursued an interest in folk music and played in small venues on Tate Street. She didn’t stay long in Greensboro, and later met the legendary country-rocker Gram Parsons, with whom she cut some of the most memorable duets in the history of the business. Since that time, she has obstinately stuck to an individualist vision of country, often with a traditionalist approach and occasionally displaying flashes of innovation.

UNC SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

David Gordon Green, 1995-98

Since graduating from the School of the Arts, David Gordon Green has directed several acclaimed films, including George Washington and Pineapple Express.

Mary-Louise Parker, 1983-86

An Army brat who was born in South Carolina, Mary-Louise Parker majored in drama at the School of the Arts. She portrayed the pot-dealing suburban widow in the Showtime television series “Weeds.”

Jada Pinkett Smith, 1989-90

After graduating from the Baltimore School of the Arts in 1989, Jada Pinkett went on to School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. She didn’t stay long, landing in Los Angeles in 1990. The actor starred opposite Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor. She is married to actor Will Smith.

BENNETT COLLEGE

Carolyn R. Payton, 1942-45

A native of Norfolk, Va., Carolyn R. Payton graduated from Bennett College with a degree in home economics in 1945, and went on to serve as director of the Peace Corps under President Jimmy Carter.

GREENSBORO COLLEGE

Carolyn Maloney, 1965-68

Carolyn Maloney was born in Greensboro and attended Greensboro College. She visited New York City in 1970, and decided to stay. A variety of political jobs eventually led to a seat on New York City Council, and in 1992 the Democratic politician won a seat in the US House.

WINSTON-SALEM STATE UNIVERSITY

Stephen A. Smith, 1988-91

Stephen A. Smith played basketball on a scholarship under revered Coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines in the ’80s. As a member of the team, Smith wrote a column in The News-Argus campus newspaper arguing that Gaines should retire because of health issues. Smith has written for several newspapers, including the Winston-Salem Journal and News & Record. He co-hosts a show on ESPN Radio and is a commentator on “ESPN First Take.”

Louis Farrakhan, 1951-1953

The current leader of the Nation of Islam was born in the Bronx, NY and grew up in Boston, but attended Winston-Salem State, then known as Winston-Salem Teachers College for three years on a track scholarship. He was then known as Eugene Walcott.