Five exemplary Elon alumni were honored with the 2015 Alumni Awards on Oct. 16 during a ceremony that kicked off a weekend of events as part of Homecoming.
Surrounded by friends, family members and faculty and staff who guided their collegiate journey, five alumni were honored Friday night with the 2015 Alumni Awards during the Welcome Home Reception & Opening Ceremony, which kicked off the Homecoming 2015 festivities.
Igor Pavlov ’94, Tracey Walser Nugent ’84 P’15, Matt Belanger ’05, Melissa Taylor Duncan ’06 L’09 and Darryl Smith ’86 were praised for their service, professional acumen, strong leadership and contributions to their alma mater.
“Elon is about preparing the ethical, resilient, ambitious and kind leaders the world needs,” President Leo M. Lambert said during his opening remarks, pointing out that the award winners embody these qualities of leadership.
Earlier in the evening, reunion volunteers were honored for their work in raising funds for their class gifts. Representatives of the Classes of 1965, 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015 presented checks to Lambert, raising a total of $882,499 for the university. “I want to thank you for the incredibly important job you have done,” Lambert said. “Your role is very important for the future of this university.”
The 2015 Elon Alumni Award Recipients
Igor Pavlov ’94
Distinguished Alumnus of the Year
This award is presented to an alumnus who has distinguished himself in a profession and in the community and brought honor to Elon.
A seasoned professional with remarkable financial expertise, Igor Pavlov has distinguished himself as a leader in his field.
A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Igor graduated from Elon in 1994 with degrees in mathematics and physics. He later earned a master’s degree in business administration from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. As a financial adviser for Jefferies & Company in New York, a global leader in providing insight, expertise and execution to investors, companies and governments, he leverages more than 15 years of experience to better serve the diverse needs of his clients.
Prior to his current role as managing director at Jefferies, he was managing director for PNB Paribas Bank, the largest global banking group in the world. He has also held positions at Citadel Investment Group, Morgan Stanley, Bear Stearns and JP Morgan Chase.
Upon his arrival at Elon, Igor was “adopted” by Elon Life Trustee Dusty Rhodes and his wife, Peggy, whose only request in exchange for their support was that Igor support the next generation of Elon students. In 2007 Igor and his wife, Mia, honored that request by creating the Pavlov Endowed Scholarship for international students at Elon. The latest recipient of the scholarship, Toorialey Fazly ’14, is an international studies graduate from Afghanistan.
Grateful to Elon for placing him on the path to success, Igor serves on the President’s Advisory Council and is a former member of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business Advisory Board.
Tracey Walser Nugent ’84 P’15 (in absentia)
Distinguished Alumna of the Year
This award is presented to an alumna who has distinguished herself in a profession and in the community and brought honor to Elon.
Tracey Walser Nugent is a strong advocate for making education accessible to all people.
A resident of Naples, Florida, Tracey graduated from Elon with a degree in business administration in 1984. She served for years as a buyer and an executive for Garfinckel’s in Washington, D.C., before she decided to be a full-time, stay-at-home mother to her two children, James, a 2013 graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Andrew, who graduated from Elon University in 2015 with degrees in entrepreneurship and finance.
Always passionate about philanthropy and the power of education, Tracey was involved with the Center City Consortium, a group of 12 elementary and middle schools that serves at-risk children in the Washington, D.C., area by giving them the opportunities and tools necessary to break the cycle of poverty and deprivation that defines many of their lives. She also served as a fundraiser for Episcopal Senior Ministries in Washington, D.C., and from 2001 to 2010 sat on the board of the Nugent Family Foundation, whose primary mission was supporting educational causes for at-risk children.
A long-time supporter of Elon University and an active member of the university community, Tracey has served on the Elon Alumni Board and Parents Council, and has volunteered as part of her class reunion. During her undergraduate years, she held several leadership positions. She was active with the student government association as a class officer and served as coordinator of student orientation. Besides her son, the following family members are also alumni: brother Chuck Walser, a member of the Class of 1983, sister Pam Walser Kleindienst, a member of the Class of 1988, and two nieces. Two additional nieces are currently attending Elon.
Inspired by this strong family connection to Elon, Tracey and her husband, Jamey, and their family made a major gift toward the construction of the Inman Admissions Welcome Center, which opened earlier this year. The two-story Nugent Atrium, which serves as the building’s main gathering space, is named in their honor.
Matt Belanger ’05
Young Alumnus of the Year
This award is presented to an alumnus who has graduated within the past 10 years and distinguished himself in a profession and in the community.
For the past 10 years, Matt Belanger ’05 has been fine-tuning his storytelling skills by covering myriad topics, from presidential visits to natural disasters.
As an undergraduate broadcast communications major at Elon, he was involved with ESTV and The Pendulum. After graduating in 2005, he served as weekend anchor, producer and reporter for KELO-TV in Sioux Fall, South Dakota, where he interned as a student. During his time there, he contributed to several newscasts honored by the Associated Press and earned a regional Emmy Award for his role in live coverage of a special event.
After three years with that station, he moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and joined WGAL-TV as an investigative reporter and fill-in anchor. It was there he earned two additional regional Emmy Awards, one in 2011 for exposing the practice of “ghost voting” in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives and a second one the following year for a report about state welfare fraud. He was also named the 2011 Peter Jennings Project Constitutional Fellow.
Earlier this year, after spending two years as weekend evening anchor and reporter at WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, he joined WSB-TV—the most-watched station in Atlanta, Georgia, and the highest-rated ABC affiliate in the nation—as weekend evening anchor and reporter.
At his alma mater, Matt has served a term on the Young Alumni Council. The first recipient of Elon’s D’Angelo Family Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a broadcast communications major in the School of Communications, he is a loyal Elon supporter who desires to give future students the same life-changing opportunities his alma mater afforded him. He credits his education for giving him the foundation he needed to succeed and is grateful to the Elon donors who made it possible for him to attend the university.
Melissa Taylor Duncan ’06 L’09
Young Alumna of the Year
This award is presented to an alumna who has graduated within the past 10 years and distinguished herself in a profession and in the community.
An accomplished attorney, Melissa Taylor Duncan ’06 L’09 serves as the associate director of student and professional life at Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Melissa graduated from Elon University in 2006 with a degree in psychology. She went on to earn her Juris Doctor as a member of the Elon University School of Law’s Charter Class in 2009. As a student, she was instrumental in creating Elon Law Reaches Out, an annual day of service designed to cultivate lawyers who understand the service responsibilities of the legal profession. She is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association and the Greensboro Bar Association, where she serves as community service co-chair.
A leader in her field, Melissa was recently featured in “Marketing Success: How Did She Do That? Women Lawyers Show You How to Move Beyond Tips to Implementation,” a book published by the American Bar Association that outlines best practices in the legal industry through interviews with female attorneys on how they successfully attracted new clients using the most current approaches to marketing and business development.
An active Elon alumna, Melissa served as the inaugural president of the School of Law’s Alumni Association, of which she is still a member. She also served on Elon’s Young Alumni Council. In her current role at Elon Law, Melissa assists students with student life and professional development, and works with employers to post jobs and internships for Elon Law students. Before joining the law school, she practiced consumer bankruptcy law for five years at Duncan Law, a firm she established with her husband and fellow alumnus, Damon Duncan ’06 L’09. During that time, she assisted hundreds of clients in the Triad, representing many of them in Federal Bankruptcy Court. She and Damon live in High Point, North Carolina, with son Brooks.
Darryl Smith ’86
Distinguished Service to Elon Award
This award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding service that promotes the advancement of Elon.
Darryl Smith has a passion for mentoring young people. Shortly after graduating from Elon in 1986 with a degree in business administration, he joined United Parcel Service as a driver and has now been with the company for almost 30 years. He presently serves as vice president of sales for UPS Capital and often works alongside Elon students interested in pursuing a career in sales.
During his time at Elon, Darryl continued the work of trailblazers before him, making it easier for black students who followed. He played football for four years and was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s Sigma Mu Chapter, the first historically black Greek fraternity on campus. He fondly remembers dormitory custodians, cafeteria cooks, coaches and others who pushed him to pursue his dreams for the future.
Darryl was instrumental in the creation of the Black Alumni Scholarship, which he and alumna Priscilla Awkard ’95 established in 2007. Awarded annually to a black student with demonstrated financial need and academic merit, the scholarship was fully endowed and awarded for the first time in fall 2011.
Throughout the years, Darryl has been an active liaison between his alma mater and UPS, encouraging collaborations such as the creation of scholarships for UPS dependents and internships for Elon students. He often works with the Office of Alumni Engagement and the Student Professional Development Center to empower alumni and students to achieve their career and professional development goals. For his dedication to his alma mater and the advancement of black students on campus, he was honored with the Elon Black Alumni Network’s 2013 Eugene Perry ’69 Distinguished Alumnus Award.
An Elon ambassador in his community, Darryl regularly volunteers with the elderly and at-risk youth and is actively involved with his church. While he gives freely of his time and efforts to benefit others, he remains steadfastly devoted to his family, particularly his wife, Kimberly, and their two sons, Kyler and Colton.