College Recognizes Top Employees of 2020 - Wayne Community College | Goldsboro, NC `

College Recognizes Top Employees of 2020

December 15, 2020

Wayne Community College has recognized its top employees for 2020.

English Language Acquisition Coordinator Maria Abalo-Zarate was named the Professional Employee of the Year. One of her colleagues commended Abalo-Zarate, saying, “Not only is she concerned about the students who are in the program, she is very concerned for the teachers as well.” In presenting the award, WCC President Thomas Walker said, “Other community colleges and organizations are taking notice of the hard work she puts into this program. It is time we did the same.”

“I love what I do, and I do what I love, so I am very blessed. I love working at Wayne Community College; it is my second home,” Abalo-Zarate said in accepting her prize.

Angelia Warner, the executive assistant for the Workforce Continuing Education Division, earned the Professional Support Employee of the Year Award. Called a mind reader and a cheerleader, she was lauded for taking initiative, whether researching topics for upcoming meetings, rallying co-workers for campus activities, learning new skills, or planning events.

“It is always a pleasure to work here, with everyone at Wayne,” said Warner who was caught off guard as she was taking notes on the meeting at which the surprise presentation occurred.

Debra Curl, an Academic Foundations Department instructor, is the recipient of the Adjunct Faculty of the Year Award. A WCC graduate, she says that she calls on “all of the good and effective qualities” of the instructors who affected her own journey. She also volunteers for campus activities, especially with the Foundation, because she has witnessed how students are impacted by even the simplest interaction with a faculty or staff member.

“I am truly humbled,” Curl said.

“I love working at Wayne. Helping students to recognize their potential and helping them to overcome academic hurdles while learning is why I love teaching.”

Automotive Maintenance Technician Greg Villarreal was presented the Operational and MaintenanceEmployee of the Year Award. Villarreal’s nominator remarked on his qualities like “can-do, will-do attitude,” “infectious enthusiasm,” first to arrive and last to leave, and “self-starter, requires little to no supervision, and needs no following up.”

“I appreciate it. I enjoy working out here and working with these folks,” Villarreal said as he motioned to his departmental colleagues.

Honorees are nominated by their peers and selected by an outside committee based on initiative, enthusiasm, expertise, leadership, professionalism, productivity, creativity, involvement, dedication, and how they were rated on their last evaluation.

Each winner receives a trophy and a stipend provided by the Foundation of Wayne Community College.

The surprise award notifications were made by Walker and Foundation of WCC Executive Director Adrienne Northington who visited meetings that each of the four honorees was attending. This distribution method was a deviation from the traditional announcements made during a holiday gathering for the employees that could not be held due to COVID-19 precautions. This year, the individual presentations were recorded and compiled into a single video that was emailed to the campus community and posted on social media.

The Foundation is a non-profit organization that works to broaden the base of community support for educational opportunities at Wayne Community College. In addition to furnishing recognition opportunities such as these awards to faculty and staff, the Foundation provides scholarships for WCC students, funds for educational supplies and events that cannot be paid for with State money, and public cultural events.

Wayne Community College is a public, learning-centered institution with an open-door admission policy located in Goldsboro, N.C. As it works to develop a highly skilled and competitive workforce, the college serves 11,000 individuals annually as well as businesses, industry, and community organizations with high quality, affordable, accessible learning opportunities, including more than 140 college credit programs. WCC’s mission is to meet the educational, training, and cultural needs of the communities it serves. Connect with WCC at

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