The Deacon Blog

A magazine staff blog with news of alumni and the WFU community

Charlotte

Good Work: Charlotte recognizes Phillips Bragg (’93)

Wake Forest Magazine is hardly alone now in recognizing the good works of Phillips Bragg (’93), who with his wife, Leslie McLean Bragg (’91), and children, shared a spotlight in the feature story “Lubo’s Dream” in the Summer 2011 issue. They are working with James Lubo Mijak, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan who became a cherished family friend, to fulfill Lubo’s dream of building permanent primary schools in the new South Sudan.

The Bragg family and Lubo in Huntersville, N.C.

Yesterday the Charlotte Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals gave Phillips its Outstanding Emerging Philanthropist Award at a luncheon at the Charlotte Convention Center. The award “recognizes an individual 40 and under for exceptional generosity and civic responsibility demonstrated through financial contributions and volunteerism to charitable organizations within the Charlotte/Metrolina Region. The recipient’s personal generosity and community leadership have motivated others to give and to become involved in philanthropy.”

On the run from marauding government militia and wild animals in the bush of Sudan during a civil war, Lubo was one of the 30,000 Lost Boys named after the band of orphans from “Peter Pan.” In 2001 he became one of the 3,800 Lost Boys the U.S. government invited to resettle in the United States. He landed in Charlotte and, eventually, through his church had the good fortune to be assigned the Braggs as his mentors. Of Phillips and Leslie, Lubo told me earlier this year, “I have been a witness to their love and care since I came.”

I can vouch for it. With the Braggs, the Pro Humanitate spirit is abundantly evident. And now Charlotte knows about Phillips’ devotion to his friend and the Raising Sudan project. Congratulations to a Demon Deacon whose generous spirit provides an example for us all.

The Wake Forest ‘mystique’

As an alum who worked on the Old Gold & Black when I was a student, I like to keep up with what the modern-day OG&B staff is producing in print and online. “Breaking the Wake Forest Bubble/Hamlin’s Ramblins” caught my eye in this week’s issue. Senior columnist Hamlin Wade of Charlotte addresses the question of what Wake Forest has to offer “in the sleepy town of Winston-Salem.”

He wrote days before the U.S. News and World Report announcement Tuesday that ranked Wake Forest once again 25th among national universities in its 2012 Best Colleges guide, a point of pride for many. Wade is interested in something else beyond metrics: “something perhaps intangible and undefined” about the University’s character. He recounts how student leaders last spring tried to come up with what composed the Wake Forest “mystique.” No one could pinpoint it.  There was no consensus.

“Wake is a place of reverence and passion, a place of community, and a place of individuality,” he writes. “The mystique of Wake Forest is its diversity and its layers. What may be mystical to one student may be completely common stance and mundane to another.” Take your pick: magnolia trees, bell tower, academic tradition, athletics, or, in Wade’s words, the university’s “long and storied history.”

What do you think? What is that mystique about Wake Forest that Wade urges us as individuals to define for ourselves? Send me an email, and I’ll share your comments: hensonm@nullwfu.edu

P.S. I, for one, can point to one element of the mystique: enduring friendships. You know who I’m talking about, fellow Deacons.

Party on! A WFU grad will help

The summer issue of Wake Forest Magazine closes with “The Artist’s Way of Metaphorically Seeking,” an essay by Charlotte entrepreneur Mary Tribble (’82) in which she writes about how she decided to sell her respected Tribble Creative Group after a U.S. Postal Service truck t-boned her car on the way to yoga class on Christmas Eve 2008.

“For five months after the accident, I tried to get my life back to normal,” she writes. “While I mended my body through rehab, surgery and more rehab, I virtually abandoned my company. The resulting drop in business, combined with the recession, brought the opportunity for change to a head. A key employee was ready to buy. And finally, I was ready to sell.”

The announcement about her decision made front-page news in The Charlotte Observer. In December the deal closed.

Her essay discusses how she has been exploring “the wide-open options” and how her education at Wake Forest as an art major has helped her remain flexible in thinking about possibilities.

“What’s next?” people wondered. The answer came this week. Dan Murrey, executive director of the Charlotte In 2012 host committee, named seven members of the committee’s leadership for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Tribble will be chief of event planning, an enormous responsibility for promoting Charlotte to the world and making sure the convention meets the Democrats’ expectations.

“It’s serendipitous,” she told me. “What are the odds that I would sell my company, be available and the DNC would announce Charlotte as the convention site?” Already she is waking up with ideas, intent on seeing the convention leave a long-term impact. “All the eyes of the world will be on Charlotte for those four or five days,” she says, “and we can create a lasting legacy for Charlotte and the state.” (Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said the 2008 Democratic National Convention had a $266 million regional economic benefit in direct and indirect spending.)

Tribble credits her good fortune to “totally being open. It’s another new chapter.”

Delicacies, deliciousness, perchance danger

Is this the start of Demon Deacon foodie nation? WFU students await a visit by “Ace of Cakes” co-star Geof Manthorne at 7 p.m. Wednesday night at Brendle Recital Hall and occasionally they line up for sushi-making lessons. Off-campus a couple of Wake Forest alums have a decidedly different notion of sushi capped by a sweet concoction.

‘Iron Chef’ meets ‘Survivor!’ ‘The Crocodile Hunter’ meets ‘Hell’s Kitchen.’ That’s how Dr. Terry Cronin Jr. (’86, MD ’92) touts his latest creation on iTunes. The dermatologist in Melbourne, Fla., (whose medical degree is also from Wake Forest), is the producer and host of a competitive cooking video blog called “Adventure Chefs,” in which two contestants “hunt, forage, cook, compete, survive.” They have 24 hours to collect enough wild food ingredients to prepare a three-course meal for three judges. The bass entrée sounds pretty good, but cattail roots, anyone?

“Live off the land in style!” Cronin told me.

He teamed up with Poteat Dorm roommate Frank Scibelli (’86, MBA ’88), who knows a thing or two about food, having established the highly regarded Mama Ricotta’s in 1992 as the first restaurant in his empire. Charlotte Magazine awarded him the 2008 title of Restaurateur of the Year. He has six restaurants and reportedly another on the way. Cronin said Scibelli is an executive producer of “Adventure Chefs.” He agreed to be a competitor in the first episode and a judge in the second. (“Be passionate about what you do, or do something else,” Scibelli told a “Restaurant Hospitality” reporter in the fall.)

Cronin calls himself a “student of the unusual (with) a keen appetite for delicious food and great fun.” His children love “Survivor,” and “I was taken by shows like ‘Hell’s Kitchen’” on the Food Network, he said. “We’re chasing down every lead we can” to market the concept, possibly abroad.

Cronin helped found the Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival; wrote a crime novel “The Skinvestigator: Tramp Stamp,” whose hero is conveniently a sleuthing dermatologist; and published a horror adventure comic series. You can check out the recipe for Coconut Panna Catta and more here.