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Beyond the Bell Tower – Season 6

Episode 52: Mike Ferrell

Listen to this great episode where we sit down with Mike Ferrell of Ferrell 27 Creative Media to talk about his journey as an entrepreneur. Mike, an NC State alum, talks about his time here at NC State and his transition to the professional world. He also mentions the challenges that he overcame when it was time to start his own business while giving advice to any young mind who is interested in going down a similar path. Finally, Mike and Josh hit on an important topic in today’s world when they talk about mental health. Listen to how Mike takes care of his mental health and how he overcomes the stigma associated with it.

Listen to Mike’s Interview

Episode 53: Morgan Alexander and Mya McDowell

Morgan Alexander and Mya McDowell are both seniors at NC State. They discuss their college experiences here at NC State and how they found themselves in leadership roles. They also discuss tips that help them to be effective leaders as women. Mya talks about her experience as a Goodnight Scholar and how she has managed balancing her academics with her social life. Morgan talks about the pressures behind being the President of the Uninhibited Praise Gospel Choir here at NC State, and how she finds pleasure in building relationships with the people that she leads in the choir. Lastly, find out what they look forward to in terms of their futures as graduating seniors, and where they see themselves in the coming years. You don’t want to miss this episode!

Listen to Morgan and Mya’s Interview

Episode 54: Tirrezz Hudson

Tune in to this episode where we hear from NC State alum, Tirrezz Hudson. Tirrezz is currently pursuing a PHD at UC San Diego. While Tirrezz was here at NC State, he was a McNair scholar and he also studied abroad. Hear how Tirrezz navigated his undergraduate years while being involved in many different clubs and organizations. Also, hear what inspired him to go after a doctorate degree. Tirrezz gives insight on how he adjusted to moving so far away from home and how important it is to build a sense of community wherever you are. Lastly, Tirrezz and Josh talk about the importance of internship and research experience as an undergraduate student, and he tells us how to look for these opportunities.

Listen to Tirrezz’s Interview

Episode 55: Dr. Rupert Nacoste

Please note that the following episode contains language that people may find offensive or inappropriate for certain audiences.

Happy New Year Everyone! What better way to start a new year than with the one and only Dr. Rupert Nacoste, a distinguished faculty member here at NC State. Dr. Nacoste is a social psychologist in the psychology department at NC State and has been here with us for almost 35 years. In this episode, you will hear about his experiences growing up in the deep south. You will also hear him reflect on his time in the US Navy and how his upbringing prepared him for the racial tension he endured on the Navy ship. Finally, Josh and Dr. Nacoste dive into his experiences teaching at NC State. They talk about the importance of Black faculty members on PWI campuses, his passion for exploring the experiences of his students, and how he feels about being seen as an encouragement to many who have taken his courses.

Listen to Dr. Nacoste’s Interview

Episode 56: Dr. Dennis Floyd Jones

Content Warning: Racism, Gun Violence, Death, Sensitive Language
In this episode, Dr. Dennis Floyd Jones shares his lived experiences ranging from tragedy to the overwhelming power of mentoring and education. Dr. Jones and his siblings were the first African-American students to attend integrated schools in West Virginia following the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954. This time was fraught with trauma but his family persevered and since then all his siblings have earned graduate degrees. Dr. Jones himself went on to become a tenured faculty member at West Virginia University where he became a lifelong mentor to Sarah Wright, a former student and now TRIO staff member. Currently, Dr. Jones is the Executive Director of the non-profit he founded, Youth Enrichment Services. YES empowers youth through mentorship, education, advocacy, and exposure. Dr. Jones has learned throughout his life that young people believing in themselves leads to immense transformation for the individual but also for communities large and small.

To learn more about the history of Brown v. Board of Education in Greenbriar County West Virginia, please visit…_reader_stack/
To learn more about Youth Enrichment Services, please visit

Listen to Dr. Floyd Jones’s Interview

Episode 57: Shaquilla Hamlett

Shaquilla Hamlett is an NCSU TRIO alum who just received a graduate degree in Marine Sciences. Her claim to fame during her graduate work was in octopus research – a true “My Octopus Teacher” the award winning documentary. While at NC State she participated in many clubs and activities that included writing and study abroad. She even founded The TRIO Peer Mentor Program that we still know and love today. Her love and passion for NC State shines throughout the entire podcast. In the interview, she discusses her research, her struggles getting into graduate school, and so much more! She also tells us about what helped her to make the most out of her college experience, making sure that she took time to give attention to her passion. She even gives us tips on how we can win the lottery. Shaquilla is a jack of all trades and you don’t want to miss this one!

Listen to Shaquilla’s Interview

Episode 58: Krupa Bharodiya and Kelis Johnson

Catch this episode with Krupa Bharodiya and Kelis Johnson as they discuss their internship experiences and their time as Obama-Chesky Voyager Scholars. Krupa and Kelis talk with Josh about how they went about looking for their internship experiences and why it is important to make connections. Kelis also mentions what it was like studying at Columbia University over the summer in New York City, and how she found herself at such a prestigious university. Krupa tells us about her experience interning at the White House and how studying abroad helped her as a student. Finally, Krupa, Kelis, and Josh get into breaking down imposter syndrome and the importance of being confident enough to achieve such ambitious goals.

Listen to Krupa and Kelis’s Interview

Episode 59: Timothy Reid

Check out this episode with Student Body Vice President, Timothy Reid. Timothy and Josh discuss Timothy’s interests and path to NC State student government. He also shares how students can get involved with student government and why you should, too! Timothy also talks about his experience as a Park Scholar and how having this scholarship has developed him both academically and as a future professional. Lastly, Josh talks with Timothy about his experience as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and what it means to him to be a part of such a prideful and historic fraternity. Timothy mentions what it means to be part of a Greek organization and how important it is to have a commitment to serve in the community. Listen for Timothy’s announcement as he launches his campaign for Student Body President next school year! There’s no way you want to miss this one.

Listen to Timothy’s Episode

Episode 60: Etienne Phillips

Mathematician | Student | Philosopher. Etienne Phillips has great patience breaking down his research related to Multivariate Fibonacci-like Polynomials and other aspects of mathematics which fuel his passion for the subject matter.
Etienne is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar at NC State TRIO Collegiate Programs. The McNair program provides Etienne with connections and support to be accepted into a Ph.D. program which will allow him to achieve his goal of becoming a mathematics professor.
Etienne has gained national recognition “Etienne has gained recognition at NC State for his involvement in the math department, running clubs like the Society for Undergraduate Mathematics, and earning university awards like the Levine-Anderson Award for a top 3 score on the Putnam Mathematics competition at the university both years he participated in the exam. He has since gained national recognition for his research and academic efforts by winning the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship.
Etienne also shares his personal experiences as a homeless and housing-insecure college student, as he has already done for television and print media. Etienne’s strength to open up his home to television crews and be vulnerable in sharing very personal stories has impacted the local and national communities in their efforts to put an end to college student homelessness. He has played a crucial role in the development of the Housing Options for Students Today (HOST) program providing short-term housing and wrap-around services to college students in Wake County. To learn more about Etienne’s experiences as a homeless student and the HOST program:…ng-insecurity-

Listen to Etienne’s Interview

Episode 61: Rachel Mathis

Tune in to this episode where Josh talks with Rachael Mathis, an MEd student here at NC State. Josh and Rachael talk about her experience as a first generation college student and the challenges she had when knowing how to handle the college application process. She also talks about her appreciation for her hometown and how it inspired her and her love to travel. They then discuss her experiences traveling abroad while both being a student, and eventually a teacher. Rachael and Josh also discuss her role as a graduate assistant in advising those who are interested in studying abroad. Lastly, Rachael mentions her future plans within higher education administration and her mission of making the college transition easier for both first-generation students and transfer students. She also voiced the importance of applying the diversity, equity, and inclusion principles to first generation-students and how she seeks to dismantle systemic barriers limiting students’ ability to succeed and thrive.

Listen to Rachel’s Interview

Episode 62: Jose Garcia Gonzalez

Check out this episode where we talk with Jose Garcia Gonzalez about an idea of the future: Artificial Intelligence. Jose is a computer science major here at NC State and he talks about his research within artificial intelligence and how there are benefits and drawbacks in this unique field. Jose and Josh also talk about the difficulty Jose had getting accepted into the computer science program. Also, the guys talk about the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers and how this organization bridges the gap between Hispanics and STEM. Next, Jose talks about the JUNTOS organization here at NC State and he mentions how he enjoys contributing to younger high school students as he encourages Latino students to consider NC State for their future. Lastly, tune in to hear Jose’s pitch to high school students, in Spanish! Don’t miss this one!

Listen to Jose’s Interview

Episode 63: BJ Durham

Tune in as Season 6 comes to a close where we have a discussion with doctoral candidate BJ Durham. BJ is a doctoral student in the Counselor Education program here at NC State. His focus and interests involve counseling and being a therapist for athletes. In this episode, BJ talks about his time as a college athlete and how this experience inspired him to transition into the career he has today. Josh and BJ also talk about the challenges that he faced as an athlete transitioning from high school to college. BJ then goes on to talk about his research within athlete identity transition and why it is important to help eliminate the current stigma that is present when it comes to athletes seeking mental health counseling. Finally, Josh and BJ talk about the challenges associated with being a counselor, the challenges of being a PHD student, and the parts of the job that excites BJ the most. You don’t want to miss this episode!

Listen to BJ’s Interview