BETHANY - An immigrant who grew up amid civil war in his native home but went on to lead a U.S. corporation encouraged Bethany College students and guests to seek ways they can bring about positive changes in their lives.
Paulo Nzambi, senior vice president and chief officer of operations at the Manchester Bidwell Corp., was guest speaker at Bethany College's Fall Convocation Thursday.
Nzambi recalled that throughout his childhood, he faced many hardships in his home country of Angola, where a civil war led to the death of millions.
After leaving the African nation, Nzambi made his way to the U.S., where he is now a successful businessman and playwright, sharing his experiences in Angola in his latter role.
After coming to the U.S., Nzambi earned a bachelor of arts degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1993 and a law degree from Duquesne University in 1996.
Nzambi, who spoke at the college's Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration in January, discussed the life of William E. Strickland Jr., chief executive officer of Manchester Bidwell and author of "Make the Impossible Possible."
Nzambi said Strickland rose from a childhood in poverty to lead Manchester in positively impacting many through arts education and adult career training.
"Bill Strickland's contribution? To change the way society views and treats people with backgrounds of poverty. His is the contribution of a poor African-American youth born into poverty in a working class neighborhood in Pittsburgh," Nzambi said.
During the ceremony, college officials also recognized achievements from the spring semester.
President Scott D. Miller announced that professor Harald Menz, director of international studies and interdisciplinary studies, received the International Association of College and University Presidents Faculty Achievement Award.
David R. Black, interim provost, announced Menz also has received the John R. Taylor Memorial Award in Liberal Arts.
Professor Kathy Shelek-Furbee, chairman of the department of social work, accepted the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll award for support of volunteering, service learning and civic engagement.
Dean of Students Gerald Stebbins announced the recipients of the Anna Ruth Bourne Award, the W. Kirk Woolery Award and the Richard B. Kenney Freshman Leadership Award.
The Anna Ruth Bourne Award is given each semester to the women's social group maintaining the highest scholastic standing. This semester's award went to Alpha Xi Delta.
This semester's W. Kirk Woolery Award, given to the men's social group maintaining the highest scholastic standing, was presented to Phi Kappa Tau.
The Richard B. Kenney Freshman Leadership Award went to sophomore Anne Taylor. It is given annually to a student who has demonstrated outstanding scholarship, leadership and character at Bethany.