2022 UNCP Alumni Award Winners


Dr. Ethan Sanford

Ethan Sanford, one of the youngest graduates in UNCP history, completed his Ph.D. in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology from Cornell University in May 2022. At 19, he earned a degree in Biology and a minor in English from UNCP in 2016. Upon receiving his Ph.D., Sanford has accepted a job offer for a senior scientist position at Q2 Solutions, a leading global clinical trial laboratory services company in New York.

Dr. Kennedi Stewart Henry

A native of Hamlet NC, Kennedi became a student at UNC Pembroke after graduating from Richmond Senior High School in 2013. After obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry in 2016 (Summa Cum Laude,) she attended the ECU School of Dental Medicine. Following her dental school graduation in 2021, she completed an Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency at ECU with distinction. She now practices in her hometown of Hamlet with Dr. Marshall Brown.   

Hampton & Pattie Brayboy

Mr. Hamp, a 1964 UNCP graduate, was an educator in Robeson County for 30 plus years as a high school math teacher. Mrs. Pattie, a 1967 UNCP graduate, a guidance counselor for almost 20 years in the same high school, provided her students with opportunities that set them on a trajectory of realized potential. The establishment of the Hampton and Pattie Brayboy Endowment Scholarship in 1991 has created a multi-generational ripple effect in our community.

Paul Willoughby

Paul Willoughby, former Board of Trustee at UNC Pembroke (2007-2015), is married to Pat Townsend Willoughby and is the father to Rex Willoughby and grandfather to Ty, Lead and Reese. Mr. Willoughby graduated from Lumberton High School in 1969 and Pembroke State University in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education. He was the head football coach at West Brunswick High School in Shallotte NC (1974-75), head football coach at Lumberton High School (1976-1981), West Point Pepperell Personnel & Safety Director (1981-1985), and Owner and Operator of 6 McDonald’s stores (1986-2019). Mr. Willoughby is a long-time support and advocate for UNC Pembroke.

Vanessa Gonzalez

Vanessa Gonzalez is an immigration attorney and the President of The Law Office of Vanessa A. Gonzalez PLLC, an immigration law firm with offices in Wilmington and Raleigh, North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in both Political Science and Spanish from UNCP (2007). She was encouraged by her UNCP professors to apply to law school, and ultimately obtained a Juris Doctor from UNC Chapel Hill School of Law (2011). She has been selected by her attorney peers on multiple occasions to be recognized as North Carolina's "Legal Elite" in the field of Immigration Law and was recognized as one of Wilmington's "40 Under 40." On a personal note, she is a single mother and was a first-generation college student.