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UNCW Announces Alumni Association Distinguished Awards Recipients

Distinguished Alumni Awards winners  from left to right (top) Linda B. Sayed, Sergio Madera-Garcia, James Stasios  and Dr. Melissa Batchelor
Distinguished Alumni Awards winners from left to right (top) Linda B. Sayed, Sergio Madera-Garcia, James Stasios and Dr. Melissa Batchelor

The University of North Carolina Wilmington has announced the recipients of the 2024 UNCW Alumni Association Distinguished Awards. The distinguished awards are presented to individuals in recognition of their extraordinary achievement, outstanding character and exemplary service to the university and community.

 The announcement comes at the start of the university's Homecoming celebrations slated for Feb.15-18. The awardees will be acknowledged during the festivities; however, a formal celebration will be held later in the year. 

UNCW's vision is to transform lives, and this year's recipients are a testament to the outstanding quality of alumni produced by the university, said Lindsay A. T. LeRoy, UNCW Alumni Association Executive Director.

"Our honorees not only recognize and are grateful that UNCW has transformed their lives, but they are giving back and setting the stage for future Seahawks to have their turn," said LeRoy. "Each recipient's personal and professional success has been intentionally intertwined with the university to ensure a better UNCW, community and world. Hand in hand with UNCW, these four individuals have, and continue to push their alma mater to new heights. On behalf of over 100,000 alumni globally, it is an honor to recognize their contributions to a place we all love." 

This year's recipients are: 

Linda B. Sayed
Linda B. Sayed

Linda B. Sayed '78, '85M, Distinguished Alumna of the Year, is a North Carolina Certified Family Law Specialist. Since 2005, she has been a partner at Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed, LLP, with an office in downtown Wilmington. She previously practiced as an associate attorney with Ward & Smith, P.A. Before becoming an attorney, she taught chemistry at John T. Hoggard High School and UNCW and worked as an assistant principal with New Hanover County Schools. She has served as president of the Fifth Judicial Bar and president of the local chapter of the N.C. Association of Women Attorneys. Sayed has received the Addison Hewlett Jr. Award for exemplary pro bono service and has been recognized for her pro bono work by the Wilmington office of Legal Aid of N.C., Inc.

She is a member of the UNCW Foundation Board, UNCW Society (Visionary Level), Clocktower Society and the Wilmington Society (Platinum Level). In 2017, she and her husband, Dr. Yousry Sayed, and Quality Chemical Laboratories (co-founded by Dr. Sayed in 1998) committed a $5 million gift to the university to support the development of innovative pharmaceutical sciences and chemistry programs.

Sayed holds a B.A. in chemistry and an M.Ed. from UNCW. In 1998, Sayed earned a J.D. from the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University, and she was admitted to the North Carolina State Bar that same year.

Sergio Madera-Garcia
Sergio Madera-Garcia '21

Sergio Madera-Garcia '21, Distinguished Young Alumnus of the Year, is the Leadership Development Program director in N.C. State's Student Leadership and Engagement Office. Before arriving at N.C. State, Madera-Garcia was the program assistant and translator for UNCW's Centro Hispano. He is actively involved in Alpha Psi Lambda National, Inc., where he served as a chapter director and also southeast regional director in 2022-23. In 2022, Madera-Garcia was awarded Outstanding Chapter Advisor and National Office Volunteer.

Madera-Garcia is a Latinx Ed Fellow, a program that invests in Latinx leadership to advance educational equity and opportunity in North Carolina. He is also a graduate ambassador at N.C. State. In 2023, he received the NCSU College of Education Leadership Award. He graduated with a bachelor's in communication studies with a double minor in Spanish and leadership from UNCW. He is pursuing a Master of Education in Higher Education Administration at N.C. State. 

James Stasios
James Stasios

James Stasios '70, Distinguished Citizen of the Year, is semi-retired from Lincoln Financial Group. He is a member of the Wilmington Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and was the association’s president from 1989-90. Stasios is a 40-year consecutive donor to the university, placing him in the UNCW Clocktower Society at the Ambassador level. He is a current member of UNCW's Seahawk Club, where he served as a board member and chairman (2011-2012). Additionally, he is an Honorary Lifetime Member of the UNCW Alumni Association Board of Directors and was named Alumnus of the Year in 2002. He is a past member of the UNCW Foundation's Board of Directors.

He is actively involved in the community, having served on the Board of Directors for Cape Fear Area United Way and Brigade Boys and Girls Club. He is a member and past president of the Kiwanis Club of Wilmington. He has organized and co-chaired Stop Hunger Now! /Rise Against Hunger meal packaging events, packing more than 10,000 meals. Stasios is a 45-year member of the Order of AHEPA and has served as President of his local Cape Fear Chapter No. 408, as Governor on the Capital District No. 3 Lodge and as Secretary on the Supreme Lodge. He received his bachelor's degree in business administration from UNCW. He was a member of the Collegiate Civitan Club and Delta Upsilon Fraternity at the university. He also served as the senior class vice president.

Dr. Melissa Batchelor
Dr. Melissa Batchelor

Dr. Melissa Batchelor '96, '00M, Distinguished Diversity Award, has dedicated her career to improving the lives of older adults through her clinical practice, teaching, research, policy experience and service. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing from UNCW. Batchelor was a lecturer for UNCW's School of Nursing (SON) from 2005-11 while earning her post-master's certificate as a nurse educator and her doctoral degree from the Medical University of South Carolina. Batchelor was an associate professor at the Duke University SON from 2011-18 and is the current Director of the Center for Aging, Health and Humanities at George Washington University SON. She is board-certified as a gerontological registered nurse and family nurse practitioner.

She serves on the UNCW Alumni Association Board of Directors and a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) and Gerontological Society of America. Batchelor is a member of the AAN’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the past chair of the AAN's Expert Panel on Aging. She hosts a weekly podcast called “This is Getting Old: Moving Towards an Age-Friendly World” and is a co-author on a book titled “#SocialMedia in #Healthcare: A Guide to Creating Your Professional Digital Presence”. Batchelor served in the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging in the office of Senator Susan Collins [R-ME] in 2018.