Inaugural Voices of Distinction Series Opens

Friday, October 4th, 2013

West Virginia Wesleyan College will host an alumni speaker series entitled Voices of Distinction, which is set to launch on Monday, October 14 at 7 p.m. in the Culpepper Auditorium of the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts with a lecture by Sam Feola ’67 entitled “Antarctica.”  The series includes alumni who have seen great success in their chosen fields. A reception will follow Sam’s presentation.

On Tuesday, October 15, Mark Leary ’76 will speak during the 11 a.m. in Wesley Chapel.  His presentation is entitled “Overreactions to Trivial Events: Why Do People Sometimes ‘Lose It’ Over Things that Don’t Seem to Matter?” A reception will follow in Chambers Lounge in the Martin Religious Center.

Tara Dejmal McConnell ’96, known across the country as a highly successful entrepreneur on QVC, the home shopping network, will present “Temp-tations Cookware & QVC.” She will discuss how she found success in creating cookware and marketing it on the top-rated network on Wednesday, October 16.  The presentation is set for 7 p.m. in the Culpepper Auditorium in the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts. This will be an interactive event with the audience and a reception will follow McConnell’s presentation.

Each speaker will also present to various classes on how to achieve success as alumni of the College.

Buckhannon native and retired program director of Raytheon Polar Services, Feola ’67 spent more than 20 years in Antarctica and was the project manager for the National Science Project’s U.S. Antarctica’s program.  During his tenure, the new South Pole Station was constructed at the end of a 10,000 mile long logistics chain, within budget, and on-time in the world’s coldest, harshest, and most remote environment on earth.

Feola received a bachelor of science in business administration from Wesleyan and graduated from the Naval Aviation Schools command as an officer receiving a designation as a naval aviator.  He spent 11 years on active duty, including a one year tour as a combat helicopter pilot tour in Vietnam.

Dr. Leary ’76, an Elkins native, is a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Director of the Social Psychology Program at Duke University. He has been a member of the faculty at Duke for the past seven years and served as Professor of Psychology at Wake Forest University for 21 years. His research interests focus on social motivation and emotion, and on processes involving self-reflection and self-relevant thought. He has written or edited 12 books and over 200 scholarly articles and chapters. He was the 2010 recipient of the Lifetime Career Award from the International Society for Self and Identity. He obtained his B.A. from West Virginia Wesleyan College and his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Florida. Dr. Leary has taught at Denison University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Wake Forest University, where he also served as department chair.

Food, family and relationships are the cornerstones on which McConnell ’96, the creator, founder and President of Temp-tations, LLC has built her business. Driven by an innate passion to provide solutions to real problems, McConnell developed her first line of “presentable ovenware” 10 years ago to help make life simpler and inspire customers to make everything in their home beautiful, every day. Today, McConnell and Temp-tations, LLC have tens of thousands of fans and is one of the top brands in QVC’s Kitchen and Food Category, winning numerous awards, including the prestigious QVC QSTAR awards for 2012 Customer Choice and Customer Experience.

A native of upstate New York, McConnell was recruited to Wesleyan to play soccer. While at Wesleyan, she also was a member of Alpha Xi Delta and graduated in 1996 with a degree in psychology.

For more information, please contact Kristi Wilkerson, director of alumni relations, at 304-473-8509 or

The Voices of Distinction series is sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations at West Virginia Wesleyan College.  Admission is free and open to the public.