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Norfolk State Honors 2020 Alumni Award Recipients

Norfolk State University honored four of its alumni during the afternoon commencement ceremony for the 2020 graduation class on Saturday, May 15, at William “Dick” Price Stadium.  The ceremony was one of two on campus since the pandemic and featured NSU Board of Visitors Rector Joan G. Wilmer ’99 as the keynote speaker.

Each of these graduates have demonstrated exemplary leadership and community service. They personify the mission and goals of the University.  The 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are:

Dr. Byron Cherry photoColonel (Retired) Byron L. Cherry, PhD is a 1982 graduate of Norfolk State University earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting.  Dr. Cherry began his professional career as a United States Army officer, serving 26 years of active service and later founded Succeed to Lead, LLC in June 2007; where he currently serves as President & Chief Executive Officer.  He is responsible for corporate, strategic, and business planning, financial management oversight, and corporate business outreach.  In 2012, he was appointed to serve as a member of the Norfolk State University’s Board of Visitors, where he was later selected as Rector. 

Mr. Earl Lee photoMr. Earl Lee, MBA is a 1984 graduate of Norfolk State University (NSU) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronic Technology.  Since graduating from Norfolk State University, Mr. Lee had a professional career with IBM for more than three decades, retiring as a Program Director in 2015. During his IBM career, he was responsible for the hiring and placement of more than 30 NSU graduates.  He also honorably served 43 years in the United States Army Reserves, retiring as a Command Sergeant Major. Currently, Mr. Lee is the president and owner of JaNay’s Cleaners operating in Chesapeake, Virginia.  In 2020, he was appointed to serve as a member of the Norfolk State University Foundation Board.

Mr. Challis Purrington, Sr. photoMr. Challis Purrington, Sr., is a 1974 graduate of Norfolk State University (NSU) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics.  Immediately after graduation, he joined IBM where he served for 40 years and retired in 2014 as a Senior Design Engineer and Master Inventor.  While at IBM, Mr. Purrington received many awards throughout his longstanding career. In 1984, he was recognized as IBM’s #1 performer and in 2012, he received the Outstanding Technical Achievement Award. Over the span of his career, he received 19 patents and has been published in more than 15 technical publications.

The 2020 Graduate of the Last Decade (G.O.L.D.) Award was awarded to:

Doreen O. Jackson MAJ, MC, USAF (MD) photoDoreen O. Jackson MAJ, MC, USAF (MD) is a 2009 graduate of Norfolk State University earning a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. Currently, Dr. Jackson serves in the United States Air Force (USAF) as a medical officer, obtaining the rank of Major.  She is currently the only African American female Colon and Rectal Surgeon in the USAF.  She has completed research focusing on the development to vaccines to prevent the recurrence of breast, endometrial and/or ovarian cancers, obtaining multiple publications in this area.  She provides excellent surgical care to our Active-Duty and retired military members, along with their families at the largest USAF medical center in the United States, David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, CA.  She is also a part of the Colon and Rectal Surgery department at the University of California Davis Medical Center.