YESICAN Program Touts Seizing Academic Opportunities
In 2004, Robyn S. Hadley ’ 85 took a sabbati- cal from her job in the busy world of imports
and exports to spend time with her parents in
She says she doesn’t expect every student in
Graham. She didn’t plan to do anything, but looking around at the young people in the community, she felt something was wrong.
Graham to win a bunch of scholarships, but she
does expect the adults in Graham to provide
them with an equal chance.
By the end of that summer,
there were 125 and their
parents. “I thought, one
summer and it would be
over,” Hadley says, laughing.
She had come out of this rural school district
to go to Carolina as a Morehead Scholar and
then to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. But “when I
came back to North Carolina, I saw some things
in my hometown that were not being addressed,”
“I want these kids to know that the kinds of
things I did were not a one-time thing. They could
do them, too,” Hadley says. “I tell students that
when I applied to Harvard there were none of the
current new initiatives. Now if you have less than
“Behold, at the last session, parents asked me,
‘Are we going to do this during the school year?’ I
thought I would only be in North Carolina for one
[year], but I realized they were serious.”
[$60,000] income, and you can get in, you will
be able to go.”
Hadley says. “There was this hopelessness, a
lack of curiosity. I was wondering why people
were not taking advantage of the opportunities
available to them.”
Hadley decided to bring some people together and see whether they could light a fire under
these young people, especially the African-
YESICAN is now a 501(c)( 3) nonprofit in its
fifth year. It was originally aimed at teens; eligibility now has reached into third grade. It’s not
only the children who are served; parents get
together to talk to education experts and to each
other. They learn how to use the Web to find
information and navigate financial aid applications.
American children. Hadley remembered how
much she had gotten from her mentors, such as
her guidance counselor, Doris Maxwell, who had
worked at the White House. And there was her
principal, Chuck Morris, now a retired superintendent in Guilford County schools.
COUR TES Y OF ROBYN S. HADLE Y ’ 85
“He asked me, ‘Have you ever thought about
going to Harvard?’ ” Hadley recalls. “I couldn’t
imagine why he asked. I had to look Harvard up
in the encyclopedia. But by my senior year I was
ready to apply.”
Hadley was accepted at Harvard, but that
turned out to be step one in another problem.
They trade ideas on how to address behavioral
problems and learn how to have more productive
parent-teacher conferences. Project sponsors
include UNC students such as sisters Tamryn
Fowler ’09 and Ly Tonya Fowler ’09, Johnston
Scholars who began working with Hadley when
they were in 11th grade; former UNC basketball
player Sam Perkins ’84, who is a member of the
GAA Board of Directors; Valerie Ashby ’ 88, Gordon
and Bowman Gray Distinguished Term Professor
of chemistry at UNC who also earned her doctorate from UNC in 1994; and the UNC American
Studies 057 service-learning seminar’s “Access
to Higher Education” project.
Robyn S. Hadley ’ 85, who came to UNC as a Morehead
“When I got the call from Harvard and financial
aid told me what I would need, I was dumbfounded,” she says.
Scholar and went on to be a Rhodes Scholar, gets students,
school and the community working together to take advantage of educational opportunities.
Hadley also formulated a program she calls
“What’s After High School?” and is executive
director of the program for the Burlington-
Hadley’s point is not about the money problem but that there were mentors who helped her
figure out how to navigate financial aid. She won
a scholarship to Harvard sponsored by author
Alamance school system. And she is a founding
member of the Light on the Hill Scholarship
Society, part of the GAA’s Black Alumni Reunion.
Hadley says she is ready to “scale-up operations” for YESICAN.
Alex Haley. She also was offered a Duke basketball scholarship. And she was invited to be a
Morehead Scholar at UNC (where she also played
basketball). “Morehead was king,” Hadley says,
“This is something that could be replicated
internationally,” she says. “We already have invitations to expand in Goldsboro, Durham, Alabama,
Washington, D.C., and Lesotho and Zambia.”
“and I wasn’t ready to go to Harvard.”
— Susan Simone
Hadley began to organize her church, the
Children’s Chapel United Church of Christ, and
set up a summer program, the Youth Enrichment
Series, or YESICAN. The goal was to help kids
academically and teach some etiquette, let them
meet people in a variety of careers and, above
all, wrap all this academic preparation in a program that was fun.
YESICAN was designed to serve 25 students.
parts for various industries. u J. Eric Eller (’ 81
BSBA), 50, of Hickory; Aug. 16, 2009. Eller was an
accountant for Hickory Chair Co. and Zenith Trucking
Co. u Kathy Lynn Holland (’ 81 AB), 49, of Troutman;
Aug. 22, 2009. Holland worked for Quintiles Inc.,
assisting in the development of medical drugs and
devices. u Ann Waybright Whitehead (’ 81 MS), 59,
of Conifer, Colo.; June 19, 2009. After teaching sciences in junior high school and junior colleges and
working as an environmental scientist, Whitehead,
along with her husband, became a consulting geolo-gist to the oil and gas industry. She volunteered to
take the weekly waterfowl, raptor and shorebird census in part of the National Wildlife Refuge in San
’ 82 Frank Moor Bedell (’ 82 AB) of Orlando, Fla., has been elected president of the Orange County (Fla.) Bar Association.
Bedell is a shareholder of Winderweedle, Haines, Ward
& Woodman, where he practices civil litigation. u
Malcolm David Griggs (’ 82 AB, ’ 85 JD) of Charlotte
has been elected chair of Risk Management Associa-
tion. Griggs is a managing director of Morgan Stanley
& Co. and a member of the management committee
of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. u F. Todd Johnson
(’ 82 AB) of Norfolk, Conn., appeared on UNC-TV’s literary series, North Carolina Bookwatch, in July to discuss his novel, The Sweet By and By. Johnson also
has created a blog at www.toddjohnsonbooks.com.
u Daniel Lawrence Ragan (’ 82 BSPHR) of Raleigh
has been named director of the food and drug protection division at the N.C. Department of Agriculture
and Consumer Services.
Susan Alleruzzo Joyner (’ 82 AB), 48, of Mount
Pleasant, S.C.; Aug. 5, 2009. Joyner was a community volunteer, devoting much time to her children’s
school and the Charleston County Medical Society
Alliance. u J. Timothy McKenzie (’ 82), 49, of Shannon;
Aug. 9, 2009. McKenzie owned a home restoration
and renovation company. He also founded McKenzie
Woodworks to build custom furniture. u Nancy Britt
Roberson (’ 82 BSBA), 48, of Raleigh; July 27, 2009.
Roberson was a counselor at Camp Crest Ridge and
earlier worked for Thalhimer’s of Raleigh.
’ 83 John Henry Gray Jr. (’ 83 BSBA) of Win- ter Haven, Fla., has been elected man- aging partner of NCT Group CPAs LLP. u
Barbara Rosser Hyde (’ 83 AB) of Memphis, Tenn.,
has been elected vice chair of the UNC Board of
Trustees. Hyde is president of the JR Hyde III Family
Foundation. u Anne Harris Lloyd (’ 83 BSBA) of Cary
has been elected executive vice president of Martin
Marietta Materials, where she continues as chief
financial officer and treasurer. u Jerold Robert
Mande (’ 83 MPH) of Hamden, Conn., has been
appointed deputy undersecretary for food safety at
the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Formerly, Mande
was associate director for public policy at the Yale
Cancer Center, where he developed a national model
to increase support for cancer prevention and control
that includes diet and exercise. u Lisa Gay Morgan
(’ 83 BSADJ) of Durham has been elected chair of the
board of directors of Legal Aid of North Carolina.
Morgan, a lawyer, serves as assistant dean of student affairs at N.C. Central University School of Law.