Alumni Spotlight


Natalie Shammas, APA ’14, Duke ’18, returns to Parrott as Cum Laude Society speaker

Natalie ShammasNatalie Shammas, Duke University ’18, returned to her alma mater to speak to the new class of Cum Laude Society inductees.  In her address, she stressed three lessons that she learned since her induction her junior year at Parrott.  In her own words…

1) Embrace uncertainty. Everyone’s journeys after high school will not and should not be straight paths. They should allow their paths to be convoluted and give themselves grace in being undecided.


  • “For those of you who think you 100% know what you want to do, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not exploring different areas and having an open mind. For those of you who were lost like I was, you should not be stressed. Embrace your uncertainty because there is no better place to experiment with your passions than college. Along the way, you will start to find what makes you tick. If I had let my anxiety over my unconventional route affect me, I wouldn’t have majored in Psychology, I wouldn’t have discovered my interest in consumer psych, and I wouldn’t have found connections between consumer psychology and marketing that ultimately led me to Google. My first piece of advice is to embrace uncertainty) Failure is not final; it is simply feedback to direct you along another path.


2) Failure is not final; it is simply feedback to direct you along another path.


  • “As you embrace uncertainty and begin carving your own path, you will quickly learn that missteps, roadblocks, and failure will be inevitable. It is misleading, in my opinion, to talk about success without referencing failure. I know of no one who has achieved something significant without also experiencing their share of hardship, frustration, and regret. Here’s the truth, throughout college, you will fail, and you will likely fail often. It may be painful and it may be discouraging, and at times it will test you–as it has tested me–to your very core. However, please believe me when I tell you that failure isn’t final and it isn’t fatal-it is simply feedback to direct you along another path.”


3) Take things step-by-step and day-by-day. Don’t let your end goals blind you from becoming all you’re meant to become.


  • “As I previously mentioned, when I first got to Duke, I put immense pressure on myself to discover what my “big thing” was. I quickly realized when I came home feeling empty after my freshman year, that I was blinded by focusing on what was at the end of my path, rather than the small steps I needed to take to get there. With all the time spent trying to figure out what my “big thing” was going to be, I passed over a lot of small things that could have really added up. College has the potential to be one of the most trans-formative periods of your life. No matter if you go to a small private university or a large state school, you will be presented with opportunities you’ve never been exposed to, you will be surrounded with people who are different from you, and you will be part of a community that is bigger than yourself. What a shame it would be if you are so blinded by your end goals that you didn’t take advantage of all that your new home has to offer.”

Alumni Spotlight – Tom Warren

tomWarrenParrott Academy’s middle school bible study groups welcomed Rector Tom Warren, APA Class of 1999, as a guest speaker on Wednesday, April 11.  Reverend Warren talked to the middle schoolers about our attempts to make plans and how sometimes things go as planned and sometimes they don’t.  His message was that God has a plan.  Reverend Warren shared a slideshow of his life including playing basketball at Parrott, serving in the Coast Guard, and starting a family.  We congratulate him on his appointment as Rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Kinston, NC and thank him for returning to his alma mater and sharing his experiences with our students!

Tom began service to St. Mary’s Church as the Rector in February, 2018, after having been the Assistant Rector since August, 2011. He grew up in Cheverly, MD and moved to Snow Hill, NC as a teenager. After finishing high school at Arendell Parrott Academy in Kinston, NC, he attended the US Coast Guard Academy and graduated with a B.S. in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering. His active duty Coast Guard career included duty as an engineer on a polar ice breaker in Seattle, WA and an environmental response officer in Elizabeth City, NC. He currently serves as a reservist drilling in Norfolk, VA.  He attended Duke Divinity School (M.Div. 2011 with a certificate in Anglican Studies). Tom was ordained a deacon in June of 2011, and a priest in February of 2012.


APA Student Returns to Work With Art Students

Alumni Spotlight

Sara Fallin, NC State Fashion Design student,  returns to APA to work with art students

In her own words…

I met with a group of students in the fine arts department who were interested in creating their own tracksuit and wanted to learn about the process that goes into saraFallincreating a garment. I basically gave them an overview of the entire process and introduced them to the various areas/different paths of apparel development. I brought in different items and examples from my projects to allow them to visualize everything that goes into developing a piece from idea to final garment. I briefly went over each step which included concept creation, different seam/stitch types, pattern making, cutting, basic sewing terminology, prototypes and the final pieces that I had made for my senior collection. I also brought in textile fabrics that I had designed on different computer software programs (mainly Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop) that I had printed onto fabric to introduce them to textile design. When most people think of fashion design they mostly think about the sewing stage, which actually is one of the smaller stages in development- so my main goal was to show them all of the stages and different possibilities in fashion design because it’s something I wish I had been introduced to before I had gone to college. The students were awesome-they had really neat ideas and showed a lot of interest!


Sara will graduate in Spring, 2018 from NC State with a   degree in Fashion and Textile Management.  She graduated from Parrott in 2013.  We appreciate her visit to campus to work with our students!


Alumni Spotlight – Mike Shammas (Class of ’09)

Mike along with Chelsea Viscardi in their Senior Superlative photo

Mike earned the senior superlative at Parrott of “Most Studious.”  He was Salutatorian of the Class of 2009, a member of the Quiz Bowl team, and an active volunteer in his community.  Mike spent a lot of time working with the Boys and Girls Club and a variety of other charities.  He traveled with SERV to Washington, DC and worked with the National Coalition for the Homeless.  Mike has always had an interest in the political process and as a student at Parrott, served as a North Carolina state page.  After leaving Parrott, Mike headed to Duke, where he graduated summa cum laude in 2013 with a degree in political science.

Mike continued to experience much academic success, graduating cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2016.  Upon graduating, he won the Dean’s Award for Community Leadership for his work serving as the 2015-2016 editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Record, the oldest law school newspaper in the United States.  Mike won the National Law Review Writing Competition in April 2016 (Read his essay here).

Mike is currently working as a litigator at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York City, where he takes on criminal and civil cases.  He also writes regularly for publications like the Huffington Post and The Good Men Project.  We asked him a few questions about his experience at Parrott and Mike shared the following with us:

Tell us about a memorable Parrott Academy experience or experiences.

I fondly remember hiding behind corners in the hallway with my twin brother, Ronnie, warily peeking forward in anxious attempts to evade Mr. Pollock’s keen gaze as we stubbornly refused to tuck our shirt tails in!

How did your Parrott Academy experience prepare you for your future endeavors?

Parrott was so academically challenging, but definitely in a good way. Parrott offered courses like AP U.S. History, taught by awesome teachers like Ms. Barrow, which sparked interests I already had but that I hadn’t had the opportunity to explore in such detail. It also was full of hardworking, enthusiastic teachers like Ms. Leighton who helped me improve in topics like statistics which, admittedly, were initially a bit of a struggle.

Tell us about one of your favorite teachers.

I took two English courses with Mrs. Kennedy my junior and senior years and the reading and writing skills she instilled have proven so helpful since high school. Today, when I write legal briefs, Ms. Kennedy’s admonition to cut extra words and vary sentence structure are so relevant. Stumbling upon Mrs. Kennedy’s classes at Parrot have fundamentally changed my life for the better, and (hopefully) my clients’ lives as I write briefs, motions, and memos on their behalf using the writing lessons Mrs. Kennedy taught me a few years ago.

What advice would you offer to current juniors and seniors? 

Keep an open heart and an open mind as you go through life. Treat everyone with the respect they deserve due to the simple fact that they’re human. Most of our problems as a country, as humans, can be attributed to a failure of either empathy or intellectual humility or both. None of us has all the answers. No fellow human life is so flawed as to be worthy of mistreatment. Kindness opens doors that ambition alone does not and cannot.

What advice would you offer to recent Parrott alumni?

Keep in touch with your friends from school! It’s too easy to lose touch. And if you’re thinking of moving North, don’t underestimate how much you’ll miss Bojangles.

Help us understand your current position.

I’m a first-year associate at a law firm. Before that, I did a lot of criminal defense appellate-level work at a public defense organization as well as asylum work when I was studying at Harvamike-shammas-harvard-gradrd Law. I still work on pro bono criminal matters, though the majority of my work involves civil litigation.

Regarding criminal law, it’s easy to see why I’m fascinated with it: Few areas of public policy are as fraught with impassioned disagreement as criminal justice. There tend to be two types of criminal lawyers: Those who believe, strongly, in punishment, and bleeding hearts who believe in the fallibility of humans but also in our never-ending capacity for redemption. Both types of lawyers are necessary and complimentary. I tend to identify more closely with the latter, but I understand and empathize with the impulses that animate the former group.

What life goals have you accomplished and what do you still hope to accomplish.

My life goals have changed since I’ve grown older. There was a time when I thought that achieving certain things would bring happiness. Now I realize that happiness comes from within (cliché, I know) and that decking out one’s resume can only bring a certain amount of peace — and, sometimes, brings the opposite of peace.

So at the ripe old age of 25, my main life goal now is to live life. And to get better at keeping in touch with old friends at Parrott!

Alumni Spotlight – Doug Shackelford (Class of ’76)

Doug Shackelford, Parrott Class of ‘76

Doug ShackelfordThe Class of 1976 alumni recently celebrated their 40th reunion in November, 2016.  Jo Allen, Chuck Ball, Doug Shackelford, and Nancy Sauls organized the event.  Jo Allen hosted in her home.  Hugh Pollock, our assistant headmaster, was able to catch up with Doug Shackelford, APA ’76.  Doug is the dean of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School.  He also serves as the Meade H. Willis Distinguished Professor of Taxation.

Doug shared some memories about his time at Parrott.

Tell us about a memorable Parrott Academy experience.Class of '76 Baseball

I really enjoyed playing sports at Parrott Academy–great coaches and teammates. One particular memory is being a member of the school’s inaugural baseball team.  In the school’s very first game, my friend and classmate, Dred Mitchell, pitched a no-hitter at Fayetteville Academy. 

How did your Parrott Academy experience prepare you for your future endeavors?

When I arrived at UNC as a freshman, I was prepared to compete academically with the very best students on campus.  Thank you, Parrott!

Tell us about one of your favorite teachers.

Emily Exum taught literature my junior and senior years.  She was as good as any teacher I’ve known at any level.  She set high expectations, pushed us to think critically, and convinced us that we could succeed.  She made learning fun.  A little bit of her is in all of my own classes.

What advice would you offer to current juniors and seniors?

These are some of the best years of your life; enjoy them.  However, never sacrifice the future for the present.  Do things today that will make the world better tomorrow.

What advice would you offer to recent Parrott alumni?

Parrott taught you how to learn.  Keep on learning.  Technology will require you to continually adapt in the 21st century.  Those who continue to learn will best adapt and thrive.

 Help us understand your current position.

I have taught taxes and business strategy at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School for over 25 years.  My tax policy research has taken me around the world to meet fascinating people.  Presently, I am the school’s dean.  It is a great honor and privilege to lead our school and represent thousands of faculty, staff, students and alumni.  Much of my time is on the road, visiting alumni and companies, who support and hire our students.

What life goals have you accomplished and what do you still hope to accomplish.

Perhaps this is surprising for a business school dean, but I spend little time thinking about goals.  Instead, I try to accomplish as much as possible every day.  Professionally, it means leading our school and caring for our people.  Personally, it means loving my wife of 33 years and our four grown children.  As a Christian, it means trying to follow Jesus Christ.  I am one of those to whom much has been given; thus, much is required.  Someday, I may stop and reflect, but right now, there is too much to do.


Class of ’76.  How many do you know?

November ’16 Updates

Morgan Barbre, APA ‘15

Recent graduate and NC State Park Scholar, Morgan Barbre ’15 traveled to the fourth triennial Women Deliver global conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.  With nearly 6000 attendees from more than 150 countries, this gathering was the largest forum held in the last decmorgan-barbreade to discuss girls’ and women’s health issues and rights   Morgan felt the conference was, “a phenomenal opportunity to engage in the international conversation on global maternal health, sustainability, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.”  During the four-day event, Barbre heard presenters such as Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Margaret Chan, and Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation.  But the speaker who most impressed Morgan was a midwife from Nakaseke Hospital in Uganda.  The woman’s fierceness and dedication to her profession left their mark on Morgan. The entire experience inspired her to plan several speaker events this fall at NC State.

Morgan’s interest in global maternal health started in high school while a student at Parrott, when she spent time during the summer working at a home for special needs children in Antiua, Guatemala.  She learned that children’s disabilities-cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and other developmental and physical delays-were directly linked to mothers’ poor prenatal care or birth complications.  She began to see intersections between her interests in science, medicine, spirituality, and the psychology of healing, leading her to plan a career in social work and medicine in some capacity.

For the full article read here.


Amanda Cannon, APA ‘13

Amanda Cannon has been interested in the music industry since her time at Parrott, but she wasn’t sure how to translate that interest into a career.  Amanda enrolled at NC State as a Park Scholar in the fall of 2013. After spending the summer after freshman year in Nashville studying music copyright law and volunteering at the Country Music Association, Amanda realized that her dream of working in the music industry was a very real possibility.  Back at NC State Amanda served as the Union Acitivities Board Leisure and Entertainment Committee and is now the executive vice president of the organization.  She coordinated several entertainment events including the NC State’s Campout, an annual school spirit event that marks the beginning oamanda-cannonf Wolfpack basketball season.  This semester, Cannon planned PackHowl, NC State’s sold-out Homecoming concert.  Cannon also secured the Country Music Association’s endorsement to launch a chapter of its college outreach program, CMA EDU, at NC State.  Amanda spent this past summer interning in marketing at the Grand Ole Opry. After graduating from NC State in the spring of 2017, Amanda plans to relocate to Nashville and begin a career in the music industry.

For the full article read here.