William Peace University Announces the 2022 Alumni Award Recipients

May 2, 2022

The WPU Alumni Association is excited to recognize this year’s Alumni Award Recipients. Awards were given for the Young Alumni of the Year, Professional Studies Alumni of the Year, Distinguished Alumni of the Year, and Distinguished Service Award.

“We have so many outstanding alumni, it is an honor to recognize these individuals for their personal and professional achievements which exemplify the excellence of our University and our aspiration for all WPU graduates,” said Ellie Barker, Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving.

Award recipients were honored at Alumni Weekend 2022 on Saturday, April 23. 

Young Alumni of the Year: Taylor Shaw ’12

The Young Alumni of the Year Award recognizes a graduate under 35 for significant career, community, and family accomplishments. This year’s recipient is Taylor Shaw ’12.

Taylor graduated from what was then Peace College in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication. As a student, she was involved in several organizations, including serving as the editor-in-chief of The Peace Times. She studied abroad for a semester in Granada, Spain, and had other experiences in Doha, Qatar and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. One of her proudest moments at Peace was receiving the honor of “Miss Peace.”

In 2014, Taylor earned a master’s degree in Journalism from the American University School of Communication in Washington, D.C. For most of her career, she has worked in newsrooms, leading social media strategies. She also served as the social media director at the University of Virginia. Currently, she is an instructor at Shaw University, where she teaches mass communication courses. She is also a member of the 2017 cohort of the Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media.

Taylor is an active alumna serving as a member of the Alumni Board of Directors and as a guest lecturer and career mentor for current students.

In her free time, Taylor enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants around the Triangle, watching documentaries, and baking.

Professional Studies Alumni of the Year: Barbara “Barbi” Cox ’21

The Professional Studies Alumni of the Year recognizes the outstanding graduates from the School of Professional Studies for their personal and professional accomplishments. This year’s recipient is Barbi Cox  ’21.

Barbara “Barbi” Cox graduated from William Peace University’s RN to BSN program in the School of Professional Studies in December 2021. She is currently an Epic Optime and Anesthesia Analyst at WakeMed Health. Barbi has worked as an operating room nurse and as a nurse in the supply chain representing surgical value analysis to improve patient safety and reduce the cost of patient care. Additionally, she has served as an Instructional Designer, training surgical and anesthesia staff.

She is a Certified Perioperative Nurse and a member of the Association of Operating Room Nurses (AORN), and has been a chapter president, treasurer, board of directors, and member of the nominating committee for the Capital Area AORN. Barbi was the student representative on WPU’s Nursing Advisory Committee and will continue to serve as an alumni representative.

A mom of two, she was an active Boy Scouts of America volunteer and continues to be a member of the Advancement Committee of the Northern District of Eastern Carolina Council.

Distinguished Alumni of the Year: Solana Sparks ’10

The Distinguished Alumni of the Year recognizes a graduate over the age of 35 for significant accomplishments in career, community, and family. This year’s recipient is Solana Sparks ’10.

Solana graduated from what was then known as Peace College in 2010 with majors in Psychology and Leadership Studies and a minor in Theatre. She then went on to earn her master’s degree in Counseling from Liberty University.

Sparks is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist Associate. For the past 12 years, she has been dedicated to helping the Raleigh community by counseling men, women, and families dealing with addiction. Solana is the founder of Sparking Bodies which aims to empower others to a healthier self through movement and dance.

Her aspiration and desire in life are to empower others to discover their strengths and greatness. She is passionate about serving the community and helping others to accomplish their goals. She aims to leave a little sparkle wherever she goes through encouragement and mental health awareness.

In her downtime, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Terrell Tardy, and her two fur babies walking at Lake Johnson or playing in the park. She also enjoys watching local theatre.

Distinguished Service Award: Sarah Armstrong Barge ’79

The Distinguished Service Award is presented to an alumnus who has willingly and devotedly served William Peace University. This year’s Distinguished Service Award recipient is Sarah Armstrong Barge ’79

Sarah graduated from what was then Peace College in 1979 with an associate of arts degree. She then went on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics and her master’s degree in Education with a specialty in Foods and Nutrition from the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNC-G).

After UNC-G, Sarah married Shep Barge. For the next 26 years, she spent her time as a military spouse living in Hawaii, Germany, and other assignments. She also served as a Registered Dietitian for the military. Sarah and Shep settled in Virginia where she continued her work as a Registered Dietitian.

Sarah has volunteered and been in numerous leadership positions in organizations such as the Army Community Service Emergency Food Locker Program; the Southwest Missouri Dietetics Association; the Wives Club at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico; the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; the District of Columbia Chapter of Philanthropic Educational Organization; and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. In 2013, Sarah co-authored the book In the Company of Virtues: Eating and Drinking with Love.

At Peace, Sarah has served as an at-large Board Member, President, and Past-President of the Alumni Association. She is a STAR Alumni and especially enjoys her role as Pacer Partner Alumni Mentor.

In her spare time, Sarah enjoys hiking, biking, golfing, travel and Bible studies. The Barge’s daughter, Katherine, lives in Chapel Hill with her husband and children.


We are proud to recognize these individuals as examples of William Peace University’s outstanding alumni and thank them for their continuous contributions to our community and the University. 

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