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UNC Pembroke senior Daniel K. Locklear was elected Junior National Student Representative to the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Board of Directors.

Locklear will serve a year in the junior student post before becoming the senior representative. A national organization with 3,000 members and more than 10,000 alumni, the AISES mission is to increase the representation of American Indians in engineering, science and related fields. Locklear’s role on the board will be to represent the interest of its student members.

The Pembroke native is the first UNCP student elected to the position during the annual conference of college chapters. UNCP’s AISES chapter, which is celebrating its 20th year this fall, is co-advised by Valerie Deese, who attended the conference with Locklear.

“Because the conference was in Albuquerque and that region had a strong candidate, I didn’t think we had a chance,” Deese said. “Then Daniel made his speech at the opening Spirit Stick ceremony.”

Politicians everywhere should take a page from Locklear’s playbook on making first impressions. “I told them ‘I am Daniel Locklear from the home of sweet tea, southern charm and true hospitality.’”

“The woman next to me laughed out loud, and everybody broke into applause,” Deese said. “After that, Daniel was a celebrity.”

The win was not lost on Jackie Clark, UNCP’s vice chancellor for Enrollment Management, who sat in on the interview. “I know from my daughter’s experience how powerful the AISES connection can be,” Clark said. “This is a great thing for Daniel and for UNCP. Daniel has remarkable leadership skills.”

Locklear said membership in student organizations beginning in high school has helped him. “For the state FFA (Future Farmers of America), our advisor told me I was in the extemporaneous speaking competition. I didn’t speak in public before that, but I did well.”

Locklear was later elected vice president of the state FFA. He is currently a member of the Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department and Epsilon Chi Nu fraternity and leader of an after-school program with Communities in Schools. He’s also active in his church.

Locklear believes it is important to be well-rounded. “Family, church and community are important, but it’s important to get away from home, too,” he said.

He knows when to come home, too. His first three years of college were spent at NC State University, but an illness in the family brought him home again.

“AISES is the type of organization that is very valuable for making connections,” Locklear said. “I’ve made a lot of friends. When my grandmother, who raised me, was in the hospital, I had calls from all over the country.”

Jackie Clark listened that those comments intently. “Daniel is a wonderful example of an engaged student,” she said. “I would like to talk with Daniel later about helping other local students have similar experiences.”

Daniel agreed, “When you are from this community and commuting, it’s natural to go home to dinner and be engaged with your home community. You can do both.

“I would like to see more American Indian students take advantage of the college experience at UNCP,” he said. “The college experience is important, and it only comes along once in a lifetime.”