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Beyond the Bell Tower – Season 3

Episode 28, Lilly Neal and Jess Errico

Jess Errico, first-generation college student and NC State Student Body President 2018-2019 and Lilly Neal, TRIO student and NC State Student Government Board of Elections Chair discuss how and why students need to be involved in student government and campus activities beginning in their first year on campus. How does a low-income first-generation afford to run for a campus leadership position – Jess shares what funding is available to you. The power students in leadership positions have to improve the lives of under-resourced students on campus is real! It was under the leadership of Jess that the university started the Pack Meal Share Program which students donate their guest meals for students experiencing food insecurity to access. The food was available in the dining halls and Student Government made sure the students in-need accessed it.

Jess Errico graduated May 2019 with a B.S. in Engineering. To learn more about Jess:…ng-and-advocacy/

Lily Neal will be graduating NC State in May 2020 with a degree in Psychology. Upon graduation she will be pursuing a master’s degree in counseling. Lily has been an active leader on campus involved with student government in various capacities, as an Orientation Counselor and work-study student for the Psychology Undergraduate Academic Advising Office.

To learn more about the Pack Meal Share program – NC State Pack Meal Share Program

Listen to Lilly and Jess’s Interview

Episode 29, Khalia Phillips

Kahila Phillips spoke with BTB in Summer 2019 before she left to begin her graduate career at George Washington University. She is pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Policy, with a concentration in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, that falls more in line with her political interests and Black feminist/womanist ideologies.

In May 2019, Kahlia graduated with a B.S. in Accounting. In this podcast she shares why and how she made such great leaps from Accounting to Gender Studies. Those of you conflicted between a “logical” major and a “passion” major will gain a great deal from how you can have both.

In the podcast, Kahlia also shares her scholarly research,”Jezebel, the Virgin: A Critique of the Sex Positive Feminist Movement”, was centered on the complexities of Black women, the social construction of virginity, and the concept of mainstream sex positivity. Essentially, it’s a literature review that looks at the socio-historical context that Black women’s sexuality is situated, a historical understanding of “virginity”, and the critical gaps within the mainstream sex positive feminist movement.

Kahlia Phillips is a Rocky Mount native and was active in TRiO Student Support Services and McNair Scholars Program at NC State.

Listen to Khalia’s Interview

Episode 30, Toinette Powers

In this podcast, Toinette, who is studying abroad Fall 2019, shares how she leads a life of purpose and serves others authentically, all while navigating the obstacles on the path to greatness. Toinette describes how positive affirmations have shaped her experience as a student leader, friend, and scholar at NC State. Toinette is a sophomore majoring in International Studies with a concentration in Global Relations with a minor in Spanish, and has activated her resources as a student at NC State to take advantage of opportunities, such as traveling the world, that may not have otherwise been available to her. Toinette plans to attend graduate school and obtain a doctorate degree and because Toinette is indeed “destined for success”, in the future she will own her own nonprofit organization, an international business, and assist and support homeless families and high school students. Toinette aspires to continue to meet new people, gain a variety of perspectives, and make a long-lasting difference in the lives of others.

Listen to Toinette’s Interview

Episode 31, Eric Graham Returns

In the Summer of 2017, Eric Graham shared on the podcast how he had managed personal, financial and academic hardships. In the Summer of 2019, Eric returned excited to share updates only a few days after receiving a job offer from SPX FLOW, Inc. as a Product Manager. Eric recently graduated from NC State with a B.S. in Textile Technology, Supply Chain Operations and shares with us how his NC State experience (serving as a Chancellor’s Leadership Scholar, working multiple part-time jobs, contributing to several campus leadership organizations, and much more) has allowed him to become a well-rounded individual. Eric also testifies that despite some of the challenges he faced in undergrad, he was able to design a unique professional education background in both engineering and textile technology. With lived experience in his toolkit, Eric is now an open-minded and adaptive individual as well as a modern day employee who is equipped to excel in a diverse environment.

Listen to part 1 of Eric’s InterviewListen to part 2 of Eric’s Interview

Episode 32, Dr. Mary Haskett

What many identify as the “housing situation” and the plague of financial instability on college campuses, has led to alarming high rates of homelessness and food insecurity, even at NC State University. Dr. Mary E Haskett, a NC State professor in the Department of Psychology and Co-Chair of the NC State Student Food and Housing Security Initiative, reminds us on this episode of Beyond The Bell Tower, that these issues are NOT inevitable. Dr. Haskett shares her passion behind the work that she does to raise awareness for homelessness and food insecurity, as well as expresses the urgency for systemic change in students’ support systems. Dr. Haskett shares her call to action for reducing the number of students that feel they must sleep in their cars in order to graduate or go without food to survive their college experience, but she also challenges faculty and students alike to take active roles in transforming campus culture.

Follow Dr. Haskett’s other work ,, and check out resources at

Listen to Dr. Haskett’s Interview

Episode 33, John Robinson Miller IV

Protests, parties, and petitions have all been the college trademark for many students, and on this episode of Beyond the Bell Tower, John Robinson-Miller IV, program coordinator for the African American Cultural Center, talks both systemic change and self-care. The burn-out in advocacy, as a young adult and especially as a member of a minority group, can have huge consequences on the social well-being of students. John Robinson-Miller IV, a self-identified queer,  an African American, a double NC State alumnus and staff member, speaks to the balance of fighting the long fights, addressing inequality in a way that is truly impactful, and remaining optimistic. John offers his perspective as a faculty member who is just as entrenched in student organization and student issues as students themselves.

Listen to John’s Interview

Episode 34, Citlali Rubio

Studying abroad can be expensive, it can be scary, and it can be life-changing; which is why it is only important that you do it ! On this episode of Beyond The Bell Tower, Citlali Rubio, a senior studying Political Science and International Studies, as well as French, describes what it’s like to be a globally conscious student. Citlali details how she managed to achieve a unique study abroad experience and even outlines the process for studying abroad for NC State students with tips and recommended scholarships. Citlali shares her best and worst memories of studying abroad alone. Citlali reflects on how her service break experience to an immigrant detention center challenged her personally and she encourages listeners to take advantage of all opportunities through the university to be socially active.

Listen to Citlali’s Interview

Episode 35, Ahmed Monley and Esmira Poladova

Live from the 2019 TRIO Fall Conference, NC State alumnus and economic intellectual, Ahmed Monley and senior undergraduate student, Esmira Poladova, talk financial investments, insecurities, and inspirations. Following Ahmed’s formal presentation, the two talk one-on-one with TRIO advisor, Sarah Wright,  to recap some major take-aways. They address the reality that there is no “get rich quick scheme” to sustain us all nor a single profession that can automatically grant us the wealth we wish to have. Ahmed and Esmira share some hard truths, as well as humourous adages, about managing the kind of money and financial stability that every TRIO student aspires to have. They also share how the TRIO Fall Conference itself, has given them the opportunity to reflect on similar experiences in their chosen career paths and given them a space to appreciate all that life has to offer as underrepresented individuals in the professional world. 

Listen to Ahmed and Esmira’s Interview

Episode 36, Jean Ferman

Jean Ferman, a third year student, double-majoring in Polymer and Color Chemistry and Human Biology with a minor in Nutrition, joins us right after the first general body meeting of his new student organization, F1RST. Jean describes existence on NC State’s campus for him thus far, how he got here, and the details of building a representative pool of resources for students. Jean uncovers personal struggles both with and beyond identifying as a first-generation college student, while also taking time to triumph on a few of his greatest accomplishments and memories as an engaged scholar. Despite discouragement, food insecurity, academic challenges, and often falling through the cracks of federal support systems, Jean has begun to pave the way for a successful future in dentistry with strong relationships, with familial values, and with the courage to learn from experience. Jean offers hope for helping other young trailblazers and inspiration for empowering under-represented students from the beginning of their college application process and throughout actual life on a large campus. 

Listen to Jean’s Interview

Episode 37, Esmira Poladova

Esmira Poladova joins Sarah Wright in this conversation, only a month after participating in NC State’s largest philanthropy celebration of the year. Esmira Poladova was one of the select TRIO scholars to share her story with NC State’s top donors. Beyond her role in this event, Esmira unfolds her life story from the lens of an immigrant refugee. She also talks about how she chooses to engage with the world and specifically other individuals on NC State campus, as an individual who has survived and witnessed things that the average person could not even imagine. From engaging in challenging academic conversations to humbly living in “the other world”, Esmira demonstrates that there is always more to an individual than their script, that she specifically is a human before she is ever an immigrant, and that all of her experiences have made for a resilient and wise graduate.

Listen to part 1 of Esmira’s InterviewListen to part 2 of Esmira’s Interview