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LumineersAlumna Tours with Grammy- Nominated Band, The Lumineers

Neyla Pekarek (BME-10) and the band she joined after graduating, the Denverbased indie group The Lumineers, were nominated for two 2013 Grammy Awards.

The group performed their hit song “Ho Hey” live Feb. 10 during the TV broadcast of the awards presentation, where they were up for Best New Artist and Best American Album categories.

The Lumineers are touring in the United States and abroad in front of sellout crowds and have enjoyed multiple television appearances over the past months including on Saturday Night Live.

Watch a video of a recent performance of “Ho Hey.”

Coming next issue: Pekarek will be featured in the fall/winter edition of Northern Vision.

google glassesWeb Designer Wins a Pair of Google’s Coveted Glasses

As the tech world anxiously awaits the release of Google Glass later this year, Chris Pezza (BS-12) was selected by the company to test the futuristic eyewear that performs like a hands-free smartphone.

During a team competition at a Google developer’s conference in San Francisco, he was on one of four winning teams whose members will now receive a free pair of the Google Glass device, valued at $1,500.

“I was thrilled to be one of the few chosen to participate,” says Pezza, who majored in Computer Information Systems at UNC’s Monfort College of Business. “I never would have been afforded the opportunity if it weren’t for my time at UNC. My Web-design skills are what saved [me] at that event.”

Pezza, a marketing and Web designer who works with several Bay Area startups and nonprofits, can’t say much about his experience using the glasses outside of information Google has publicly posted.

“We had to sign crazy a non-disclosure agreement before we could participate,” he says.

As for managing to walk without running into anything, he says: “The glass device is actually not in your line of sight. They did this very purposefully so that people don’t walk out into the street. You have to look up and to the right to see the screen.”

— Holly Bea-Weaver

Google created a video of what it feels like wearing the device.


Avery AmayaJoin Founder of UNC LinkedIn Group on Social Media

As a senior at UNC, political science major Avery Amaya (BA-98) ran for the Greeley City Council. He won. He also worked in Venezuela and played lacrosse while at UNC, a combination that landed him in the paintball arena — as a professional paintball player. He won again, both as a player and as an executive for a paintball supplier expanding operations throughout Europe.

Next, Avery landed in Philadelphia, where the winning streak continues and he is leading the sales and marketing team for WebLinc, an e-commerce developer. In each of those defining situations, Avery has seen the potential for growth, challenge and success. As he did when he decided to start a LinkedIn group for UNC alumni.

“It is invaluable to stay connected,” Avery says. “The way we find business partnerships and satisfying jobs is through personal connections. I’ve definitely seen that in my experience.”

Avery started the UNC alumni group with eight friends and family members in 2008. Today it has grown to more than 2,700 members posting jobs, career resources, discussions and networking opportunities daily.

— Amy Dressel-Martin

Join the UNC Alumni Association LinkedIn group


Hamlett and HoustonLongtime Friends Creating Mentoring Program

Gayle (Banks) Hamlett (BA-65, MA-68) and Celeta (Hunter) Houston (BA-65, MA-68) arrived at UNC in 1961, having lived together on the same street in Denver since teenagers.

Seeking to get involved, they joined Tani Ecru, the first UNC social service club started by African-American women, along with the civil rights movement.

They knew they chose the right school when they landed teaching jobs right after graduation. A few years later, they were roommates again when they both returned to earn master’s degrees.

“We were so well-prepared,” Celeta says. “I got a Ford Mustang just by showing the dealership the contract for my first teaching job.”

But the alumnae agree there is something that would have made their UNC experience even better — mentors with cultural backgrounds similar to theirs.

Gayle and Celeta are working with the UNC Alumni Association to establish an alumni-student mentoring program for African-American students. They want to improve African-American graduation rates. They have formed a committee and surveyed students about which services to offer — networking opportunities came out on top, followed by job search and interview skills. The two envision an active pool of alumni mentors to guide individual students based on common interests and career goals.

“Each culture is unique. It’s important to focus on cultures individually in order to give students the best support,” Gayle says.

— Amy Dressel-Martin


Degree Decoder: B.A. - Bachelor of Arts; B.S. - Bachelor of Science; B.M. - Bachelor of Music; B.M.E. - Bachelor of Music Education; M.A. - Master of Arts; M.S. - Master of Science; M.M. - Master of Music; M.P.H. - Master of Public Health; Ph.D. - Doctor of Philosophy; Psy.D. - Doctor of Psychology; Ed.D. - Doctor of Education; D.A. - Doctor of Arts; D.N.P.-Doctor of Nursing Practice; Ed.S. - Educational Specialist


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