Norfolk State Honors 2020 Alumni Award Recipients

On May 15, Norfolk State University (NSU) honored four of its alumni during their commencement ceremony for the 2020 graduating class at William Brice Stadium. 

The Distinguished Alumni Award is given to graduates who exhibit exceptional leadership and community service. The winners of the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award are Colonel Byron L. Cherry, Ph.D., Mr. Challis Purrington, Sr., and Mr. Earl Lee, MBA.

Colonel Byron Cherry graduated from Norfolk State in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. He began his career as a United States Army Officer and served 26 years of active service. He also founded Succeed to Lead, LLC in June 2007, an organization centered around providing resources and tools that help build businesses, of which he is now the President and CEO, where he handles business planning, financial management, and corporate business outreach. He was appointed to serve as a member of the Norfolk State University’s Board of Visitors. 

Mr. Earl Lee is a 1984 graduate of NSU with a bachelor of science in Electronic Technology. Lee worked for IBM for over three decades, retiring as a Program Director in 2015. He helped more than 30 NSU graduates get hired at IBM, and even served 43 years in the Army Reserves, achieving the honor of Command Sergeant Major. He currently runs JaNay’s Cleaners in Chesapeake, Virginia, and was appointed to the NSU foundation board.

When asked about how it feels to receive this award, Mr. Lee said “I am humbled and honored. Giving back is something I enjoy doing as an entrepreneur or even in corporate business. I almost feel like it is unfair to be rewarded for something you enjoy doing. I always say to whom much is given, much is required. I have been blessed with so much, so I understand a lot is required of me. I have been honored with the recent opportunity to assist three young ladies on their way to becoming entrepreneurs so it is great to be able to help them on their journey.”

Mr. Challis Purrington, Sr., graduated from Norfolk State in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in Physics. He worked for IBM for 40 years and climbed his way to Senior Design Engineer and Master Inventor before retiring in 2014. He was deemed IBM’s #1 performer in 1984 and in 2012, he received the Outstanding Technical Achievement Award. He has received 19 patents and has been published in over 15 technical publications. 

Doreen O. Jackson MAJ, MC, USAF (MD) was awarded the 202 Graduate of the Last Decade award (G.O.L.D.). Jackson graduated from NSU in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. She currently serves in the United States Air Force (USAF) as a medical officer, currently at the rank of Major. She has completed research key to the development of vaccines that prevent the relapse of various cancers, like breast or ovarian. She is an excellent surgeon for Active-Duty and retired military members at the largest Air Force Base in the United States, David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, CA.