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Local United Way President to Keynote SOC Recognition Ceremony
Craig Wagner

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The keynote speaker for the School of Communication spring graduate recognition ceremony hasn’t had his ECU bachelor’s degree for long, but in that short time, he has made a real impact on the lives of the less fortunate in Eastern Carolina.  The School of Communication is honored to have Craig J. Wagner ’09, president of the Onslow County United Way, speak at its spring 2012 graduate recognition ceremony on May 4 at 8 p.m. in Wright Auditorium.


Wagner graduated in 2009 from the ECU School of Communication with a degree in communication and a concentration in public relations, taking with him the Elite Pirate Award and the Servire Society medal for community service.  As an undergraduate, Wagner became heavily involved in volunteerism, honing his skills and paving the way to his future career with the United Way.


“Through the nonprofit, I became involved with the chamber and local civic clubs, making presentations during their regular meetings of what my charity did and why we needed their help (most volunteers don’t have to beg and grovel as much as we did).”


That presentation was a life-changing event for Wagner.


“My soon-to-be boss literally knocked over a chair to get to me after the meeting requesting an interview—I was hired two weeks later as the communications/marketing director, nine months prior to graduating,” he added.


Wagner walked from the East Carolina graduation stage to the helm of the Dream Factory of North Carolina, an all-volunteer organization that grants dreams to children with chronic and terminal illnesses. The organization was on the verge of closing when Wagner brought them back into compliance and made them a viable charity for Eastern North Carolina once again. His success with the Dream Factory made him a perfect choice for the Pitt County United Way’s Director of Community Development & Media Relations position. Wagner developed a strategic media plan for the organization as well as establishing communications with local media. 


For recent graduates, according to Wagner, volunteer opportunities abound, and it’s time well spent. After graduating, students should avoid complacency and get busy job hunting. If the job hunt is taking awhile, grads should consider volunteering to keep up their skills and do some valuable networking.


“Just a few months ago, I didn’t offer a job to a very bright and experienced candidate because she couldn’t tell me anything that she’d done since graduating,” Wagner said.


Craig Wagner now lives in his home community, Onslow County, serving as the president of the Onslow County United Way. He was the youngest United Way president to be hired in the United Way system and is happy to be back in his hometown. 


The commencement ceremony will begin at 8 p.m. Students should arrive at the auditorium at 7 p.m. to sign-in and line up for the ceremony. Each student will be allotted five graduation tickets for guests attending the ceremony. Tickets are available in the School of Communication’s main office. A waiting list will be available to students who request additional tickets. These additional tickets are limited and are available on a first come first served basis.