Gale Wilkins ’11 advocates and impacts NC youth

Apr 12, 2022

WPU Advancement Communications Coordinator Liz Rieth sat down with Gale Wilkins ’11, a William Peace University (WPU) School of Professional Studies alumna, to learn how Wilkin’s courageous story began. Wilkins is currently the Executive Director of the afterschool program Project Arrow. In 2021, she was chosen as the WPU School of Professional Studies Alumni of the Year. 

Gale Wilkins ’11 welcomes me into her bright home. Two-story high windows stream the afternoon sun while she shows me to her glass kitchen table. She’s invited me over for a midweek lunch. 

Powerful abstract art decorates the walls, and a tall orchid sits on her coffee table. Wilkins, who is wearing a vibrant green dress to match her alma mater’s colors, has bought us sandwiches and salads. She clicks around the kitchen floors on her four-inch heels as she plates our food.

The mother of two is now a successful William Peace University (WPU) School of Professional Studies alumna. She works both as the Executive Director of the afterschool program Project Arrow and the founding director of the nonprofit Family Education Initiative. Previously, Wilkins served the Executive Director of North Carolina Council for Women and Youth Involvement.

Her service for youth and families garnered her recognition as the 2021 School of Professional Studies  Alumni of the Year. The Professional Studies Alumni of the Year, awarded by the WPU Alumni Association, recognizes an outstanding graduate from the School of Professional Studies for their personal and professional accomplishments.

But Wilkins’ story has humble beginnings.

Humble beginnings

Wilkins grew up in rural North Carolina. Every day after school, she would work in a factory. However, she felt she was not a good fit for the job as she struggled to keep up with quota. “I always dreamt of getting a degree and widening my opportunities,” Wilkins said. 

When she was preparing to graduate high school, Wilkins received a full ride scholarship to a nearby college. She was excited for the opportunity, but ultimately declined. Wilkins had a young daughter that she needed to care for. Wilkins instead worked.

Wilkins’ interests in community service first started through volunteering at her church where she worked with middle and high school students. Additionally, Wilkins and her husband served as youth pastors at their church.  She saw the change that her involvement could bring to the students and these experiences cultivated a passion in Wilkins for serving youth.  

“I wanted my daughter and other kids to have a different kind of life than I had as a kid,” Wilkins said. “We would take the youth group kids to new places and experiences to show them what’s available.” 

That was the start of Wilkins’ career in service.

Pursuing her career and education

“I want to help change the communities I am in for the better,” Wilkins said. “I especially want to help young people.”

To do this, Wilkins started to volunteer at countless church and school boards, councils and committees.

In 2002, Wilkins’ experiences in these volunteer roles gave her the opportunity to work in Washington D.C. Her expertise on youth and churches was used as she served as a Program Assistant for the Presidential Advisory Council for HIV/AIDS in the White House Office of National AIDS Policy.  She assisted the Council by providing knowledge on how church youth groups could influence the AIDS epidemic. “Every year I go to visit the White House to thank God for this opportunity,” Wilkins said. 

After serving in the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, Wilkins founded the nonprofit Family Education Initiative in 2007. Today, she still serves as the Founding Director of this organization that serves youth, families, and communities through prevention strategies and leadership development

Six years later, Wilkins had the chance to serve as the Executive Director of the North Carolina Council for Women and Youth Involvement within the N.C. Department of Administration. There, she oversaw a council that impacts all 100 North Carolina counties by providing funding and resources for their domestic violence and human trafficking programs . 

Additionally, Wilkins has served on the Governor’s Crime Commission, Wake County Commission for Women, City of Raleigh Human Relations Commission, N.C. State Government: Smart Start Pre-school Advisory Committee and the SafeChild Abuse Advisory Board Chairperson. 

Throughout all these opportunities, Wilkins still dreamed of earning her degree. She had taken courses on and off at several universities but had never finished a program. That was, until she heard of WPU’s School of Professional Studies (SPS). SPS is the non-traditional, accelerated degree program to serve adult students through evening and online classes.  

The WPU SPS allowed Wilkins to transfer her previous credits and gain a bachelor’s degree in Human Services in three years. 

She took five-week courses that fit her schedule as a mom, and she received academic support through the SPS. Tutors and professors helped Wilkins navigate the course materials. 

“Nothing was missing while I was at Peace. It was support unlike anything else,” Wilkins said. “Peace gave me the confidence to earn my degree and then go for my Master’s Degree.” 

After Peace, she went on to become a Certified Life Coach through the graduate program at North Carolina State University and receive her Master of Arts in Liberal Studies in Women in Leadership from N.C. State University.

Gale & Carl Wilkins

Life-coaching for youth

Now, Wilkins is the Executive Director of Project Arrow, an evidence-based Life Coaching and Leadership program for middle, high school, and first-year college students. It’s the first program of its kind.

“The program provides coaching to prevent students from experiencing the effects of violence related actions and harmful addictions from crises,” Wilkins said. “It creates empowered leaders who are able to advocate for themselves and their peers.”

Project Arrow uses life coaching to teach students how to develop healthy responses to trauma and stress. This model seeks to prevent students from reacting negatively to their experiences, but rather process them healthily. 

Since its implementation in 2018, over 700 students have participated in Project Arrow.

The idea to start a program providing students with life coaching came from Wilkins’ own experiences.  Peace provided her the opportunity to have a life coach while she was in the SPS. At first, Wilkins was hesitant to take advantage of the chance, but her life was changed when she decided to give it a try. 

The life coach asked Wilkins powerful questions that gave her tools to set and shape her goals. Her coach then helped her find the confidence and courage needed to attain them. 

“I don’t want kids to be unsure how to navigate the problems facing them. Life coaching gives kids the tools to make better decisions and navigate the future,” Wilkins said. “It unlocks their potential.”

To learn more about the Project Arrow program, visit To learn more about how you can support current and future students in their journey to earn their degree, visit

Give Courageously to Peace

Thanks to the generosity of William Peace University supporters, current and future WPU students have access to the resources needed to learn through immersive experiences, build upon their courage and develop the confidence needed to turn passion into purpose.
Roses float in the campus fountain after an alumni event.
a student uses a laptop on a green bench at William Peace University

Give Now

Support future Pacer success. 


Become a Corporate Partner

Find out how your organization can collaborate with Peace.


Whether you’re hoping to attend WPU or hosting an event, you’re welcome to visit WPU! 

Wedding at WPU
Phantom in downtown Raleigh

Conferences and Events

Host your conference, event, or wedding at WPU.

Location and Directions

Get directions, our address, a campus map, and hotel discount information.


Learn about WPU and all it has to offer so you can guide your students to the best fit for their next step. 

Admissions Info

Meet and connect with our Admissions team.

Schedule a Visit

Learn about our processes and schedule a visit.


Our success as an institution has always been rooted in the strength of our community. As an integral part of that community, we invite alumni to stay informed and connected. 

Alumni outside at WPU
Roses float in the campus fountain after an alumni event.
Building at WPU

Get Involved

Stay connected to Peace.


Contribute to the success of future Pacers.

General Info

Read about alumni benefits.


Families are an integral part of a student’s path to WPU. Find answers to your questions here. 

Two WPU students work together on a project during class

Student Success: Why Choose WPU?

Learn about the value of an education at WPU.

Billing and Due Dates

Questions about your student’s enrollment or billing? Start here.

Current Students

Already a Pacer? Here’s your quick path to information, links, and other useful stuff.

Group of students talking
Students high-fiving each other

Current Students

Missing something? Can’t find a link? Start here.

Current Parents and Families

Is your student a Pacer? Here’s where to get information and contacts.

Future Students

Welcome to William Peace University! We offer programs for both traditional undergraduate students and online/hybrid classes through our School of Professional Studies. Find your path to WPU here.

Three WPU students walk through a brick archway on campus.
Three students discuss their work during class.
Older gentleman at a computer

First Time in College

Your WPU education will help you build practical skills for your future.

Transfer Students

Transfer up to 90 credit hours from any institution. 

Working Professionals

Enhance your existing career.

A WPU student works on a video game in the new esports and gaming lab on campus.
Woman in army green typing at computer
Two female international students


If you previously attended WPU and are ready to return, start here. 


Learn more about how to apply the GI bill.

International Students

Find out how to attend WPU.

Student Life

Whether you want to know more about on-campus events or see our residence halls, get a sense of what life is like as a student at WPU.

WPU Student on bouncy slide
A WPU student sits with his friends while eating at Belk dining hall.
WPU Safety Officer

Clubs, Activities and Events

Discover what’s fun at WPU.

Housing & Dining

When people say that WPU “feels like home,” we think that’s the ultimate compliment.

Safety & Security

The Office of Public Safety is committed to providing a community-friendly approach to enhancing campus safety for students, faculty and staff.

Dining room at Peace
A WPU student sits with his friends while eating at Belk dining hall.
Health and wellness at WPU


Cheer on your Pacers at their next home game.

Student Support Services

Find out how the WPU team supports the whole you.

Health and Wellness

Learn about physical and mental health services available to students.


WPU offers a mix of more than 30 degree programs and additional minors. Our courses are four credit hours each, and every course features immersive learning experiences.

A student in WPU's online School of Professional Studies works on her homework.
2023 Internship Showcase

Immersive Learning

Find out about WPU’s unique approach to learning.

Center for Student Success

Peer tutoring, a first-year success program, and an internship program are just part of why Pacers succeed. 


Start here to find out how to apply, visit, and learn more about WPU.

Before you apply:

Admissions team
students walking on campus
A student reviews scholarship and payment information in the financial aid office.

Connect with an Admission Couneslor

They’ll be your guide through the process.

Visit Campus

Get a feel for campus life.

Understand Costs

Find out about Financial aid and other options to pay for college.