Our joy: Sharing the good from 2020 with our BA colleagues

Thursday, December 17, 2020

As 2020 draws to a close, we asked our colleagues in Business Affairs to share at least one good thing that happened to them in 2020. This year was full of many challenges, but we can all find relief in sharing a bit of our own joy with others. From more time with family, new babies and furbabies, weddings and new homes, read below for moments of joy from Business Affairs. 

Beth Hardin adopted a rescue kitten, appropriately named Trouble. Those who are avid readers of Minding Business will notice how much Trouble has grown during the pandemic!

Kelly Herron gained a fiance: 
“On Oct. 24 of this year, my boyfriend and I went up to Maggie Valley with some friends to celebrate his birthday. While there we decided to have a massive nerf gun war. In the middle of one of the games, he got down on one knee and proposed. I, of course, said yes, although I should have said: 'about time.' I was completely surprised and was not expecting it during the game. We were even lucky enough to have a friend capture the moment so we'll always have those photo memories. We have been together three years and can't wait to spend the rest of our lives together. My now fiancé is also a UNC Charlotte alum, Go Niners!!” 

2020 got off to a busy start for Todd Pully:
“I bought a new house Jan. 8, moved in the next day, started this job Jan. 13, then my first grandchild (a boy) was born Jan. 15. So as far as I go, despite the virus, this has been a great year.”

Tom MacNab received a visit from his niece and her daughter.

Julie Hughes’ daughter accomplished a lot in 2020:
“My daughter, Chantal Hatley, graduated with her bachelor’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill this year. She is pregnant with her first child and is due Dec. 24.”

Helping her son and spending time with him was a high point for Stephanie Krull:
“I was able to help my youngest son, 28, during a very tough time in his life and help him get back on his feet. Also, we were able to enjoy the beautiful blue ridge mountains together.”

A new car for his wife was a high point for James Johnson:
“My wife tends to drive her car(s) until they are 20 years old. So it was time this year to replace her car. She is a grandparent so we needed some reliable transportation to travel with our two grandchildren. We now have a new car.”

Robin Sutton added a new baby and a new home in 2020:
“Our son, Lucas, was born in January. The new parental leave allowed me to spend 3 months at home with him. COVID-19 meant that we both stayed home for most of the year and I got to see every milestone. My husband and I also just bought a new (bigger) house so that Lucas can have siblings one day. Starting and ending strong.”

Erica Roth learned the value of time and needing to “slow down”:
“Although we are in unprecedented times, I feel that this was the universe's way of telling all of us to "slow down.” We, as a family, are always on the go due to both of our daughters playing competitive soccer. Due to COVID-19, everything was halted, and we had time to do projects together, eat dinner as a family, laugh and even drive each other crazy because of how much time we were spending together. I would not change that for anything. Time is a precious thing that we will never get back and sometimes we lose sight of that with the hustle and bustle of all activities in our lives. It makes us appreciate and realize how blessed we truly are.”

The birth of her first grandchild, Robert Banks Hahn II, brought Marianne Hahn joy in 2020.

Mike Lizotte planted 60 trees in his neighborhood. 

Emily Herring added a puppy, Everest, to her family (puppy left):
“Her loving and silly personality has brought us so so so much joy. We adopted her from Kreitzer's Critter Corral Puppy Rescue (Kannapolis) in case anyone else is in search of rescuing a puppy!”

Kaley Casey found joy in appreciating her quality time with her kittens. 

Alicia Bartosch spent more time with her children:
“Though it's been difficult with five people constantly in the house (three school-age kids learning virtually while my husband and I work from home), the extra time together and experiences we've shared this year are priceless. I missed most of my girls’ first year in school due to work demands, and now I feel like I've gotten that year and more back, just in a different way! I've watched them mature and grow, and had more hugs and "I love you" than I could ever ask for.”

On Feb. 20, 2020, Brenda Streich-Saxton and her husband became grandparents for the first time with twin granddaughters.

Derik Screen became a licensed Real Estate Broker.

Jan Mullmann’s first grandchild was born in September.

Mark Lariviere added some new faces to his pack by fostering several pets:  
“Due to my ability to work from home alongside my wife, we've become a foster home for Take Me Home Rescue. To date, we've brought seven emotionally and physically damaged animals into our pack, showed them love, provided veterinary care, taught them manners and prepared them for their forever home. We couldn't let one of these babies move on so we 'foster failed' a beautiful dog to remain with our pack. After we release the pup that we have now, another dog will need us.”

After graduating from UNC Charlotte in 2014, Ramon J. Robinson began employment with the University in July of 2020.

The birth of his baby girl, Julia, in May gave Joe Fiorelli joy this year.

Cyndi Autenrieth celebrated her daughter’s wedding:
“My daughter, Taylor, got married in a small ceremony in October after not seeing her Canadian fiance for 8 months. They will have a vow renewal and the big celebration December 2021 when everyone can be together.”

Kathy Fisher lost over 40 pounds and rediscovered walking on the Cabarrus County greenways.

A renewed focus on health helped Doug Lape bring joy in 2020:
Surviving death from my sudden cardiac arrest on March 15 forced me to change my diet and get back in shape! I now feel as good as I did when I was in college! God is good!”

Austin Mitchum reconnected with his father after two years. 

Kory Kebeae and her husband celebrated their first year of marriage and bought their first home. 

Greg Verret became an uncle this year and was able to meet his newborn niece.

Anne Brown is on her way to gaining a daughter-in-law; her son proposed to his girlfriend and she said yes.

The birth of her new great-great-niece, Airiana Mckenzie Griffith, on Dec. 7 brought Terrie Burris joy this year. 

Having more family time was the silver lining of Katharina Findlater’s year.

Rochelle Marrow and her husband celebrated 40 years of marriage on Nov. 7, 2020.

Pam Erickson celebrated her daughter’s wedding:
“I finally got a son. Well, a son-in-law. My family celebrated the wedding of my oldest daughter, Alicia, and we gained a son, Chase. I have four daughters so Chase is a welcomed addition to our family. Due to COVID-19, the wedding was moved from May to September, and it was absolutely perfect.” 

Spending more time with her three pets and gardening (including the first fully developed lemon that arrived after five years of growing and nurturingbrought Cindy Lee joy in 2020.


Kelly Hilton and her husband built a new home and spent time with family:
“My husband and I built our 'forever' home. We sold our home in Concord, NC in 2019 and bought land next to my nephew and my sister in Rowan County. My nephew and his wife have three little ones and another on the way in February.  Because of COVID-19, the subcontractors were able to work every day on our new home and completed it in seven months. We are so blessed to live beside our family. We have dinner together three to four times a week. The children love to visit their grandparents and aunt and uncle and we love spending time with them. COVID-19 slowed down our busy lives and gave us the blessing of our family!”

Brandon Thompson got to know himself and his children even better than before this year during the pandemic. 

Randy Duncan became a grandfather to identical twin girls this year.

Paul Byers joined Niner Nation and built a new home in 2020:
“We finished building our new home after three years of research, planning and development. The other moment of joy is starting my new role at UNC Charlotte. I am very happy and blessed to be here!”

A few moments of joy for Laura Williams included serving as co-treasurer of her first-grader’s elementary school PTA, writing an article for her neighborhood association’s newsletter, having more time for running and playing tennis, and spending time with family: 

“We had a few family trips to the North Carolina mountains this fall to “get away from it all,” and I’ll be darned if it actually worked! I feel I will forever have fond memories of those trips -- hiking, exploring, fishing, kayaking, breathing crisp air with a hot cup of coffee, and making s’mores over a fire, of course.

My family has had many moments of joy throughout this harrowing pandemic. Thinking about losing more people in the U.S. in one day than were lost on 9/11 worries me. It is a real indicator of how naturally and easily we are swayed and moved by visceral actions, while we continue to underestimate silent and invisible killers. This includes not just viruses but also racism, climate change, and denial of human rights. But back to joy -- yes, there have been silver linings. And I’m glad that things like this exist -- opportunities to share joy. We need serious moments of reckoning, but I believe that it’s then in shared joy - or hope for joy - that we will find a way to overcome and persist."

Editor’s note: Some of the responses have been edited for style, length and clarity,