PEMBROKE — Dr. Jeff Collins, Dorothy Blue and Ashley Berdeau were awarded The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s most prestigious alumni honors during the 45th annual Alumni Awards and Hall of Fame Ceremony in October.
In welcoming guests, Chancellor Kyle R. Carter called it a “special evening to honor some very special people.”
“I continue to be impressed with the accomplishments of this entire university community,” he said. “Their personal achievements and outstanding accomplishments have helped the entire university achieve a higher level of success. In this room are more reasons to take pride in UNCP.
“Athletically, the university is shining,” he said. “Academically, UNCP students are performing better than ever. It’s a great time to be a Brave.”
Dr. Collins was part of the first wave of UNCP graduates to become health-care professionals and return home to practice. Goerres and Robisch continue to be engaged in professional sports. Blue exemplifies the meaning of being an involved alumnae.
A native of the Prospect community, Collins was a Chemistry major who graduated from Howard University’s College of Dentistry. He returned to Robeson County as a public health dentist and then opened a private practice in 1980 that now has six dentists, three of them his children: Benjamin, Jessica and Tyler.
“Dr. Collins is committed to serving this region,” said Wendy Lowery, vice chancellor for the Office of Advancement. “He is also committed to this university. Dr. Collins remained loyal to his roots.”
The Hydrotherapy Room in the Athletic Training Center is named for Collins-Lowry Dentistry. Dr. Collins is a lifetime member of the Chancellor’s Club, UNCP’s elite society of contributors. His wife, Sybil, was a member of UNCP’s board of trustees for eight years.
Dr. Jessica Collins Sampson accepted the award on her father’s behalf. Reading from his prepared speech, she said: “UNCP gave me a solid foundation for dental school,” Dr. Collins wrote. “It is a privilege to give back to the people who assisted me. It’s humbling to be honored by a university that I sincerely love.”
Dorothy Blue regularly attends university events at the Givens Performing Arts Center and football games, and she contributes to both. A 1955 graduate, she was a career teacher. Her late husband, Adolph, supervised building and grounds at the university, and her son, Randall, is a supervisor in Facilities Maintenance.
Blue’s connections to the university run very deep. Her grandfather, Anderson Locklear, is the namesake of Locklear Hall. Recently, she served on the university’s 125th Anniversary Celebration Committee.
With her family, she established the Dorothy L. and Adolph Blue Endowed Scholarship. She was instrumental in initiating three other scholarships at UNCP — the Pembroke Business and Professional Women’s Club, the Class of 1955 fund and the Robeson County Retired School Personnel Scholarship.
“Dorothy Blue has developed a legacy as a faithful daughter of the university and is bound by ties of love,” Lowery said. “She is truly a loyal alumnae.”
Many of Blue’s large group of loyal friends came to celebrate with her, including family, high school and college classmates, fellow teachers and students. After introducing her friends, she said: “Tonight, I am very thankful, and I thank you all.”
An art teacher, Ashley Berdeau was described by one of her students as “one of the hardest working teachers at Fairmont High School. It didn’t matter to her if you weren’t the best artist, but how hard you worked. I was lucky to sit in her classroom.”
Established in 2010, the Young Alumnus Award is relatively new to the awards ceremony, Lowery said.
“Ashley, who is from St. Pauls, was an outstanding student at UNCP,” Lowery said. “She was a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority and worked part time as she earned her K-12 teaching certification. She brought a lot to this university, and she is one of the people who make this a special place.”
Berdeau, who is Fairmont High School’s Teacher of the Year, said UNCP is special to her for many reasons.
“This is where I met my husband,” she said. “I would like to thank everyone at the university for helping me be successful.”
For information about the Alumni Awards and Hall of Fame at UNCP, please contact the Office of Advancement at 910-521-6252 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott Bigelow is the public information officer at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.