Chowan Announces This Year’s Distinguished Alumni and Community Service Award Recipients

During halftime at the Homecoming game Saturday, October 26, 2019, the Community Service Award and Distinguished Alumni recipients were recognized.

During halftime at the Homecoming game Saturday, October 26, 2019, the Community Service Award and Distinguished Alumni recipients were recognized. There were two recipients of the 2019 Community Service Award and three individuals honored as Distinguished Alumni. 

Robert Earl and Carolyn Early Brinkley, both Ahoskie NC natives, were presented as this year’s Community Service Award winners. They both graduated from Ahoskie High School and were married in 1951. Robert Earl was drafted in 1952 during the Korean Conflict and was stationed in Germany. From 1963 until 1990, he was employed by what is now Centura Bank in the Trust Department specializing in Farm Management. After retiring from the bank, he opened his own farm management business known as REB Farms, Inc. which remains operational today.  

Carolyn Brinkley also provided for her family by working several different jobs. She worked for the Hertford County Tax Assessors Office for over 45 years. During this time, she was also the Office Manager for Farmers Tobacco Warehouse for over 33 years. 

The Brinkleys have always believed in Community Involvement. Robert Earl was President of the Ahoskie Lions Club and instrumental in the creation of two scholarships at Chowan. He also served on the NC Peanut Growers Association, the NC Society of Farm Managers for twenty years, the US Farm Service Association for 42 years, the Hertford County Soil and Water Conservation Board for 41 years, and the Hertford County Farm Bureau for 35 years. He is presently a member of the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce and a Board Member of the Ahoskie Rural Fire Department where he was Treasurer for over 37 years.

Mrs. Brinkley has been a member of the Ahoskie Woman’s Club for 44 years, which also provides a scholarship for Chowan. She has served as President and was chosen as Clubwoman of the Year in 1986 and 2011. Carolyn has volunteered at Vidant Roanoke Chowan Hospital for over 45 years in various positions and recently received the Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service. The Brinkleys actively participate in the Chowan University Christian Service Association. They are both active members in many capacities at Early's Baptist Church which Carolyn’s family founded. Married for 68 years, they have three sons Bob, Don, and Doug; seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Ben B. Ussery Jr., Tom Ballance, and Chinedu Iwuora were recognized as Chowan’s 2019 Distinguished alumni. Ussery, a Wilmington NC native, graduated from Southampton High School in 1966 and then entered Chowan where he played football for Head Coach Jim Garrison. He graduated from Chowan in 1968 and transferred to the University of Richmond Robins School of Business. Mr. Ussery graduated with his BS in Business Administration in 1970. While at the University of Richmond, he was a member of their Southern Conference Championship Football Team which won the 1968 Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Florida. Ben’s entire 27-year career was with Philip Morris USA.  He climbed the corporate ladder to various senior management positions primarily located in Richmond. Ben is married to Carol Birkhead whom he met while they both attended Chowan. On November 7th, they will celebrate 50 years of marriage. They are members of the Second Baptist Church in Richmond and live at Westminster Canterbury in Richmond.

Tom Ballance is from Norfolk, Virginia and graduated from Chowan in 1969. He is a graduate of Granby High School in Norfolk and was active in several service organizations. While at Chowan, Tom, because of his respect for many caring professors, decided to become an educator. After Chowan, he graduated from Atlantic Christian College where he was president of the dorm council. Tom taught school in private education for over 40 years. He is currently a member of the Chowan University Alumni Council and has a passion for the University. He is married to the former Patsy Simms and they are active members of Central Baptist Church in Norfolk. Tom considers Chowan as the place where he grew in character and in his endeavor to pursue his degree in education.

Representing the young alumni this year is Chinedu Iwuora. Iwuora, a native of Lagos, Nigeria, graduated from Chowan in 2010, summa cum laude with a BS in Business Administration and a concentration in Accounting. While attending Chowan, he was a member of the soccer team and won the academic award for Best Overall Student in Economics in 2009 and 2010. Following Chowan, he received an MBA with a concentration in Finance from UNC-Greensboro, magna cum laude. Iwuora landed an audit position with the prestigious Big 4 firm, Deloitte & Touche, LLP in Chicago after graduate school. During his six years with the firm, he has served financial services clients ranging from midsize private companies with assets under management of $50 million to large, publicly-traded entities with assets under management of $8 billion. He is a licensed CPA in the State of Illinois. Outside of work, Iwuora is very passionate about his community and helping others. He is the immediate past president of the board of the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants.

Please join Chowan University in congratulating this year’s Distinguished Alumni and Community Service Award winners.

University Relations| Grace Arredondo |

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