Dr. Medwick V. Byrd, associate teaching professor and undergraduate coordinator for the paper science and engineering program, has been announced as the recipient of this year’s George H. Blessis Outstanding Undergraduate Advisor Award, given by the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University.
The award, announced during the College’s spring faculty meeting, recognizes faculty members who consistently and willingly give their time and effort to advising, counseling and mentoring students and assisting student groups. It is also a continuing memorial to George H. Blessis, a faculty member whose interest in undergraduate education and advising serves as an example today.
Candidates are nominated by their department and are selected by the College of Engineering Teaching and Advising Awards Committee. The awardee receives $1,000 and a certificate, and the recipient’s name is engraved on a permanent plaque displayed in Page Hall, the administrative building for the College of Engineering.
Byrd has been a faculty member at NC State for 17 years. Many of his students say Byrd is the reason they’ve succeeded in their degrees, and he is well known for his tireless work ethic and dedication to students.
One former student said that Byrd helped them realize their full potential: “He helped me get on track to graduating and finding a job while keeping me motivated to continue to work hard and not sell myself short. As a Hispanic student who is financially independent and the first to go to college in (my) family, Byrd was a vital part of my success in the program.”
Many students also have said that Byrd had the greatest impact on their college career and was willing to help solve any problem, even when a student wasn’t quite sure what they were asking. “Dr. Byrd is an amazing advisor and creates a very welcoming environment for his students. Even when I go to his office with very little idea of what I am even asking for, he talks things out until we solve whatever issue I have,” one student shared.
Byrd’s belief that advising is one of the most intimate and important ways that professors interact with students drives his dedication to providing the best possible academic and life guidance to his students, especially when they are just starting out in the program. He teaches multiple courses in the department, helps students through the internship process and plans an international trip every other year so students can see paper operations in other countries. His fellow professors say that Byrd always goes above and beyond for his students, and he recently endowed a scholarship for the program.
One of Byrd’s colleagues shared: “Med has a special heart for those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds or who are dealing with mental or financial distress, and he often extends second or third chances (with accountability) to those who might just need that extra chance to make it. I have seen him in tears over the plight of a student in need. Almost always they do make it, and I’m confident that no one is happier or prouder at their graduation than Med.”