BETHANY - Paulo Nzambi, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Manchester Bidwell Corp., addressed Bethany students Thursday at the college's 2013 Fall Convocation in Commencement Hall.
Throughout his childhood, Nzambi 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 United States, where he is now an accomplished businessman and playwright.
Nzambi earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1993, and in 1996 he earned his law degree from Duquesne University.
Paulo Nzambi, senior vice president and COO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, addresses Bethany College students with his speech, 'What Will You Contribute,' at the College's 2013 Fall Convocation. -- Contributed
During his address, "What Will You Contribute," Nzambi discussed Manchester Bidwell CEO William E. Strickland Jr.'s life.
Nzambi described Strickland's childhood as one of poverty. However, Nzambi said, Strickland rose above the challenges in his life, and now Manchester Bidwell Corp. and its affiliate organizations impact thousands of lives every year through arts education and adult career training.
Strickland's book, "Make the Impossible Possible," is this year's first-year Bethany students' Common Reading. In the book, Strickland discusses how art shaped his education.
"Bill Strickland's contribution?" Nzambi asked. "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."
"So today at this convocation, I stand before you and respectfully ask, as you embark on these years at Bethany College, what will be your contribution?"
"The job that you may find upon leaving this place is work that you have to do but it very well may not be the work that you were called to do. Somewhere beyond the day-to-day may lie your contribution - your calling," Nzambi said.
"When I look at the august company of youthful minds, when I behold this accomplished faculty and staff, and when I am reminded of the motto of this institution, this 'Small College of National Distinction,'" Nzambi said, "I leave here confident that your contributions - whatever form or shape they may take - I leave here confident that they will be many and that their significance will be great."
During the ceremony, the college also recognized achievements from the spring semester.
President Scott D. Miller announced that Harald Menz, professor of world languages and cultures, director of international studies and director of interdisciplinary studies, has received the International Association of College and University Presidents Faculty Achievement Award, which recognizes an individual who works tirelessly to further global understanding inside and outside the classroom.
David R. Black, interim provost and Sarah B. Cochran, visiting executive in residence, announced that Menz also received the John R. Taylor Memorial Award in Liberal Arts.
Kathy Shelek-Furbee, professor of social work, program director and chair of the Department of Social Work, accepted the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll award for Bethany's support of volunteering, service learning and civic engagement.
"Kathy has been the driving force behind our community service efforts, Miller said.
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.