Since the first graduates received their diplomas in 1893, generations of students have been transformed by their experience at NC State. Through two world wars, the Great Depression, the Cold War, the space age and the digital revolution, NC State’s alumni have led the world in seeking practical solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.
Among NC State’s most distinguished alumni are leaders of extraordinary vision and energy. H. Hugh Shelton graduated in 1963 and then went on to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. James B. Hunt Jr. earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in the 1950s and 1960s before leading the state of North Carolina as its only four-term governor. The late William C. Friday, who earned a bachelor’s degree in textile manufacturing in 1941, led the state’s university system for three decades through a period of unprecedented growth and innovation. Rajendra K. Pachauri completed his master’s degree and Ph.D. in the 1970s before leading the global effort to combat climate change.
Many alumni are not recognized as household names today, yet they inspired their contemporaries by breaking down the barriers of race, gender and class that historically limited access to higher education. Charlotte R. Nelson became the first woman to earn a bachelor’s degree at NC State in 1927, three decades before Irwin Holmes became the first African-American to achieve that distinction. Remarkably, the university’s first Asian alumnus, international student Teisaku Sugishita, graduated in 1898.
These leaders and thousands more have carried NC State’s mission of education, research and outreach to all fields of inquiry and every corner of the globe.
Today NC State has more than 195,000 living alumni, including 120,000 in North Carolina who collectively invest more than $5.6 billion in the state’s economy through their work in business, industry, education and public service.