4 minute read

AWESOME ALUMNI: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Chaka Stewart '01

During my time at Guilford, I experienced growth, change, love, challenges and community. Guilford rewarded me with my wife, Stephanie Melesky Stewart ’01, as well as life-long friends and a top-notch education.

Since graduating from Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 2010, Chaka’s primary focus has been entertainment law, with clients including artists, musicians, music producers, filmmakers, screenwriters and authors. Additionally, he has been working with Guilford alums Pierre Cadore ’03 and Isa Stokes ’05 on building Isore Records, an independent record label based in Greensboro. Chaka loves what he does and enjoys being a part of the growing entertainment scene in North Carolina.

Mark Edwards '90

Guilford College was the perfect place for me to attend college. The small college setting with challenging and attentive professors served to encourage me and push me when I needed it. Now, Guilford has an even larger role in my life. This year, my daughter, Avery Edwards '23, is enrolled as a student. She had her choice of schools to go to, but she picked Guilford for reasons all her own. I couldn’t be more proud as a father, and as an alum, I’m excited that the Guilford family has added another amazing new member.

Mark serves as the Deputy Secretary at the North Carolina Department of Administration. In this position, Mark oversees the state’s catalog of real property, managing the State Property Office, the State Construction Office, State Facilities Management and the State Parking Office. He also serves on Governor Roy Cooper’s Climate Change Interagency Council and the Governor’s Task Force Connecting North Carolina. In addition, Mark is a member of the Department’s Executive Team and advises the Secretary on matters involving the North Carolina General Assembly, the Council of State and the media, among others.

Natalie Hodge '01

“Guilford introduced me to the power of possibility! During my time as a student, I was challenged to be a critical thinker and a creative doer. When those forces combine, anything can be achieved and a possibility becomes a project.”

Natalie is the CEO of Rudy's Girl Media located in Martinsville, Va. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Justice & Policy Studies and African American Studies from Guilford College and a master's degree in African American Studies from Cornell University. Natalie has over a decade of experience in the higher education field and entertainment industry and is currently a Project Director for Ross Innovative Employment Solutions. She oversees the successful administration of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity grant for the West Piedmont region of Virginia. The grant provides federal funding for individuals with barriers to employment including but not limited to Returning Citizens. Discover more about Natalie's multimedia offerings at nataliehodge.com.

Leon Pinkett '93

I’m grateful for my time at Guilford. The friends I made and the memories that I had will endure forever. I hope that I can be a part of carrying on the rich legacy of leadership established by generations of Guilford alumni who prioritized service, integrity and a genuine concern for the welfare of others over all else.

Leon studied Economics while at Guilford College and credits his education with helping him gain a deeper understanding of how economic systems impact communities across the nation. While he rarely finds himself discussing Keynesian economics, Leon says he finds himself “looking at the problems that face our city from the perspective of how economic opportunities or the lack thereof are a driver to much of the disparities that we see in urban centers, like Baltimore, throughout the nation.” Leon was elected to the Baltimore City Council in 2016 and currently serves as the Vice Chairman of the Budget and Transportation Committees. Recently, Leon announced his candidacy for Baltimore City Council President in next year’s election.

Nicole Zelniker '17

Guilford really prepared me for what I'm doing now. The Guilfordian has helped me a lot in my journalistic writing, but it also allowed me to explore different components of journalism. Through the Bonner Center, I developed a voice, became a leader and gained a community that has stayed with me past graduation. I learned so much through the folks there, and from the professors in the English Department, who encouraged me and taught me to think in new ways.

Nicole published Mixed, a non-fiction book about race and mixed-race families with The Nasiona, and is working on a podcast about the same topic. Her second book, a collection of short stories with Atmosphere Press, will be published in early 2020. Four of the short stories in the collection were written at Guilford with Professors Jennie Malboeuf and Mylène Dressler. Nicole is currently an editor at The Conversation US, an online outlet that commissions academics to write about their expertise for the general public. Nicole was a Rachel Lindner Leahy ’14 Award recipient as a Guilford student.