Top Scholars Celebrated at Virtual NCCU Honors Celebration

Posted April 09, 2021, 10:29AM

Alumnus and Black Scientists Matter Inc. CEO to address scholars

North Carolina Central University will recognize the academic excellence of its students at the 72nd Annual Honors Convocation, beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, April 9, 2021. The ceremony will be held virtually on the university’s website, as well as its Facebook and YouTube channels.

NCCU will confer commendations to students in numerous categories, including the university’s top honors - the Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence and the University Award for Academic Excellence. The university also will honor students receiving deans’ list recognition, departmental academic honors and membership in professional and academic honor societies.

Senior mass communications major Brittany Cowan has been named recipient of the 2021 Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence, the university’s top academic award. To merit the award, a student must have completed at least seven consecutive full-time semesters at NCCU, taken a minimum of 15 semester hours each term, and earned at least a 3.8 GPA. The award also takes into consideration students’ who have demonstrated the capacity for real service to the nation.   

A first-generation college student and aspiring storyteller, Cowan is a member of the Campus Echo newspaper and has been co-editor-in-chief since her junior year.

She has also been an active member of the creative arts organization, Nothing But the Arts and served as a digital communications intern in NCCU’s Career and Professional Development Center. She holds membership in the University Honors Program, Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society and Lambda Pi Eta National Communication Honor Society.

Cowan says she plans to build a career in storytelling, whether that be as a print journalist, in a communications department helping companies build their brands, or as an entrepreneur.

Senior business administration major Brian Bullock, senior hospitality and tourism major Heather Leonard and senior business administration major Hollan Strepay, will receive the University Award for Academic Excellence, which recognizes students who attended NCCU for at least four consecutive regular semesters and earned a cumulative GPA of 4.0 while carrying a minimum load of three courses or nine credit hours.

Bullock, a Chancellor’s Scholar and member of the Eta Sigma Delta International Hospitality Management Honor Society and University Honors Program, plans to pursue a career in the restaurant industry post-graduation. 

Leonard, also a Chancellor’s Scholar and member of the University Honors program and Beta Gamma Sigma Financial Honor Society, will enter into N.C. State University’s MBA program in fall 2021. 

Student-athlete Strepay, who is a member of the men’s golf and track and field teams, will begin his career with Amazon as a program manager with the OpsTech IT Team in summer 2021. Strepay has also held leadership positions as treasurer with the Student Government Association and vice president of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society. He has also served on the Student Athlete Advisory Council and School of Business’ Grade Appeals Committee, and participated in the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Leadership Institute.

The honor students will be addressed by Michael Hopkins, ’18, CEO of Black Scientists Matter Inc., a nonprofit organization that aims to empower the Black community through science education. He is a third-year doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins University studying biochemistry with a focus on the molecular mechanisms that underlie protein degradation in the brain. 

Hopkins founded Black Scientists Matter in 2017 while an undergraduate at NCCU. During his tenure, he was Student Activities Board president and Student Government Association president, becoming the first student leader in the history of the university to serve in both capacities. Additionally, Hopkins was a member of the University Honors Program, a Chancellor’s Scholar, a member of 100 Black Men and of the Gamma Beta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

Prior to pursuing his Ph.D., Hopkins conducted scientific research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of California Berkeley and Harvard Medical School. 

Hopkins holds a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical science with a double minor in chemistry and biology from NCCU. 

A list of honorees is available here.  

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