WPU Alumnae Impact Alma Mater as Employees
Since its founding in 1857, William Peace University (WPU) has been the home for thousands of remarkable women.
Each woman has courageously carved her own path forward, confidently making her mark on the world. Many of these women have been trailblazers in politics in the early 1900s or in nonprofits in the 2020s.
Numerous stories of courage could be shared to celebrate Women’s History Month. We want to share stories of two alumnae who have come back to their alma mater to make a difference as employees:
Kathy Lambert ’79
WPU Chief Human Resources Officer
When Lambert was a high school senior, she was unsure what undergraduate school was right for her. Her high school counselor recommended she look at what was then known as Peace College.
“I was quite nervous when I arrived on campus but my meeting at Peace was very welcoming and encouraging,” the Apex native said. “Before I knew it, I had been accepted and was on my way to a great college experience.”
Lambert attended as a commuter student and drove to campus every day. She remembers how once she took an exam in a professor’s office because a snowstorm kept her off the roads during the normal exam timeslot.
She loved being a student at Peace — the small class sizes and caring professors enabled her to thrive and find a tight-knit community.
After Peace, Lambert went on to have a more than 36-year career in Human Resources at North Carolina State University. She always told her N.C. State colleagues that the position that she would leave for was a job at her alma mater or in her hometown. When she retired from N.C. State in July 2017, roles at both places opened up a month later.
Lambert carefully considered both career opportunities and decided to pursue a job at WPU. “Everyone that I met in my on-campus interviews was engaging and passionate about working here and supporting the students. It reminded me of my time as a student and made me want to be a part of the team,” she said.
Now, Lambert has been on campus in her role for five and a half years and appreciates how she can support WPU employees through HR’s services, events, benefits, or just by being there for any questions.
“Human Resources work makes a difference. It motivates my team and I to do our best for the employees,” she said. “The University is a great place to work; I hope more alums will consider joining us in the future!”
Dawn Dillon ’86
Director of Retention & First Year Experience
Dillon heard about Peace College at a recruiting event in her hometown of Southern Pines, North Carolina. The staff there encouraged her just to check out the campus and see what she thought. Once she stepped foot on Peace’s campus, she knew she found her school. It immediately felt like home.
Dillon loved the beautiful campus and the community. As a student, she lived on 3rd Main and served as Resident Assistant, Admissions Ambassador and staff member at The Peace Times.
Dillon was unsure of her major going into school — she changed her major what felt like every semester, she explained with a laugh. She finally found a love for psychology thanks to her professors.
After Peace, Dillon attended N.C. State and roomed with three Peace friends. Her experience in student leadership roles at Peace piqued her interest in a career in higher education. So, she pursued a master’s in it and then worked for several years at various schools.
In 1999, Dillon was called back to her alma mater. The Dean of Students, who as a student, Dillon knew as the Director of Student life, asked her to come back to campus to serve as the Director of Residence Life. She was excited at the prospect of working at Peace.
She remembers when she first came on staff it took time for her to get used to calling former professors by their first names.
While employed at WPU, Dillon has worked in several roles, from student life to housing to academic affairs.
“Since returning to my alma mater, I have grown so much as a student success professional. WPU has allowed me to dream, create and execute many, many programs in the various areas I have worked,” she said. “The courageous confidence I have built at Peace, both as a student and employee, has taught me that failure is not always a bad thing as long as I learn from it.”
Dillon has loved getting to see traditions continue at WPU, such as the Red Rose Ball and the graduation roses. She’s even helped to bring back traditions to campus, like the student Traditions Dinners.
The variety of experiences and continual growth she’s found as an employee have kept her here for more than 24 years, making her the second longest current working staff member.
“Peace was super influential in my development. People at Peace took the time to learn about my skills and strengths and grow me,” she said. “It’s really unique to be able to give back to the institution that has given so much to me. I love being able to pour into students.”
These are just a few of the many courageous stories of WPU Alumnae — there are countless more that could be shared. If you know of a story of an alumna that should be shared or want to share your own story, submit your suggestion here.