Thank You

Olivia Robinson ’17

Mildred Adeline Orrell ’51, ’53 MED made a promise to herself: She would attend Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina. Surmounting obstacles, Orrell distinguished herself in both education and business. Then she ensured that future business women could do the same.

Unable to afford college costs immediately after high school graduation in 1940, Orrell went to work. During World War II, she left her North Carolina Triad home to become a WAVE (Woman Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) in the United States Navy in Washington, D.C. Post-WWII, Orrell resumed her educational pursuits and enrolled in WC’s four-year bachelor of science in secretarial administration program, finishing in three years, while simultaneously working for R.J. Reynolds. She subsequently earned her master’s in business education, teaching at WC for a year before beginning a 28-year career with R.J.R. as Head of Clerical Recruitment. She remained active with the U.S. Naval Reserve, holding leadership positions in several professional associations; in 1980, the Winston-Salem Business and Professional Women’s Club elected her “Woman of the Year.”

Orrell observed that young women in business did not consistently have the same opportunities afforded young men. To level the playing field, she established the Mildred Adeline Orrell Loan Fund in 1986 to encourage and assist students—especially women—to maximize their business potential by attending graduate school at UNCG’s School of Business and Economics. Prior to her death in 2015, the Orrell Loan Fund expanded to include scholarships for high-achieving undergraduates in the Bryan School of Business and Economics.

Olivia Robinson ’17 is one of those high achievers.

A graduate of the Bryan School of Business and Economics, Robinson holds a bachelor of business administration degree, with a concentration in human resources. Her smile is contagious.

As a student, Robinson emulated Orrell’s relentless work ethic, holding down multiple jobs and serving as a peer academic leader advocating for first year UNCG students, ensuring their successful transition. In 2016, the UNCG Alumni Association recognized Robinson as a “Spartan of Promise,” a highly selective group of rising seniors who are recognized for exceptional academic achievement and service, representing a unique connection from one generation to the next.

Orrell’s visionary commitment to level the playing field for future generations of business women created opportunities.

As a recipient of Orrell’s prescient generosity, Robinson’s opportunities are full of promise. She is currently a financial services recruiter for Aerotek, “…placing top talent in both local and national markets, through partnership with Fortune 500 companies in the financial services and banking industry.”

Level the field indeed.

Story by Zoe Dillard, Donor Relations


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P. Kevin Williamson

Associate Vice Chancellor