Meet the 2020 Watauga Medal winners

Group of Watauga Medal winners giving Wolfpack sign at dinner event.

Three alumni who have passionately supported NC State for decades earned the Watauga Medal, the university’s highest nonacademic honor, at the Founders’ Day Dinner on March 5. The Board of Trustees presents the annual award to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of NC State.

Nancy Ridenhour graduated from NC State in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in statistics. After 17 years in the textiles, financial and computer consulting industries, she went into business for herself in 1993 as a business technology analyst.

She has provided many years of volunteer service to the College of Sciences, the Alumni Association and the Park Scholars selection committee. Among her many volunteer efforts, she supported the renovation of the Cox Hall lobby and spearheaded a student recruitment and alumni outreach event near her hometown of Kannapolis, North Carolina.

Chancellor Randy Woodson noted that Ridenhour is a longtime supporter of Wolfpack athletics.

“Her extraordinary generosity to NC State crosses all of those interests, with support for everything from experiential learning and professorships in the College of Sciences, to scholarships to sports,” he said.

Kady Gjessing graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1994 and then embarked on a successful career as a small animal veterinarian and a partner at Quail Corners Animal Hospital in Raleigh. She has been giving back to the college ever since.

Gjessing has been a committed and enthusiastic volunteer board member and an innovative adjunct faculty member. She has also advised NC State’s veterinary hospital about hospital policy and veterinary services.

Gjessing made the largest donation to CVM by a graduate to establish the Dr. Kady M. Gjessing and Rahna M. Davidson Distinguished Chair in Gerontology, named for Gjessing and her mother. The gift enables NC State to provide even greater service to the veterinary profession and to people and animals throughout North Carolina and beyond.

Steve Angel graduated from the College of Engineering in 1977 with a degree in civil engineering, fully embracing his college experience as a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. After earning an MBA from Loyola College in Baltimore, he went on to work at General Electric and Praxair Inc. Angel was named CEO of Linde PLC, the largest industrial gas company in the Western Hemisphere, after it merged with Praxair.

Now a resident of Connecticut, he brings years of business experience and wisdom back to his alma mater on a regular basis. Not only is Angel a generous donor to NC State — supporting scholarships, faculty and facilities — he has provided guidance and support to various campus groups, including the Fitts-Woolard Hall fundraising committee.

“He’s passionate about serving as a global advocate for the next generation of leaders in STEM and helping young people achieve their potential,” Woodson said. “At NC State, he is a strong supporter of our women and minority engineering programs.”

Angel enjoys speaking to NC State students and encourages and nurtures their talents, serving as a role model and mentor as he shares his expertise on critical topics such as sustainability.

This post was originally published in NC State News.