If 1962 was a watershed year for Pembroke State College, the year had a larger significance for the class of 1962, which held its 50th reunion on October 25 at what is now The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
During homecoming week, the class served as grand marshals of the Homecoming Parade and engaged with concerts and athletic contests. At the reunion, the class shared stories of college and of their lives. And, they launched an endowed scholarship so that others may have the same opportunities they had.
In welcoming the class to the University Center Annex, Chancellor Kyle R. Carter talked about 1962. It was the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the year English E. Jones became interim president of the university, which was poised to prosper under his leadership.
More than 400 first year students started college with this class and 97 finished. College, especially for first generation students, is a difficult proposition - ask Emma Locklear or Nell Skinner Lyon.
“My father died when I was seven,” Locklear said. “My mother carried herself with dignity and pride as she provided for us.”
Like many students of her generation, Locklear toiled in tobacco and cotton fields, and it motivated her.
“My job was to sucker the lower leaves,” she said. “It was a lot of bending down in the hot sun. I thought there has got to be a better way to make a living.”
Locklear spent her career educating others as did Nell Skinner Lyon.
“I spent two years at Flora MacDonald College, but my father got sick, and I got at job at Southern National Bank,” Lyon said. “With two children, college was not easy.
“I met with Dr. Herbert Oxendine (dean of students) who was the loveliest man,” she continued. “He worked it all out so I could attend classes three days a week. He was my mentor and my inspiration.”
Lyon returned to the university to earn her master’s degree in education from UNCP. Noah Woods, also a career educator, earned two graduate degrees from East Carolina University.
“I would say the education I received here held up pretty well in my graduate studies,” Woods said. Woods worked in the cafeteria during college.
“I was the very first operator of the new dishwasher in the cafeteria,” he said. “I got free meals and they paid me too. Thank god for PSC.”
Tuition was $87 per semester at Pembroke State College in 1962, and as Chancellor Carter noted, “it’s a lot more now.”
Locklear made a pitch for the Class of 1962 Endowed Scholarship.
“I worked hard and did well, but I always made sure that the door I walked through offers the same opportunity for someone to follow me,” Locklear said. “Those were the values I taught, and this what the scholarship means.
“Each of us had someone to lift us up and inspire us,” she said. “I hope the blessings we received, we can give back to help others”
To learn more about the Class of 1962 Scholarship, please contact the Office of Advancement at 910.521.6252 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.