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TAPPIng into Potential: Wallace Layman Receives Top Scholarship

NC State student Wallace Layman posing for a photo at the WestRock facility in Virginia.

Dedication and consistency are two of the key qualities Wallace Layman exhibits that have contributed to his success as a student at NC State. So it’s only fitting that the rising senior discovered he received the 2022 Cullison Award, TAPPI’s highest award for students, when he was in the middle of a consistent activity — a morning workout at the gym. 

“My heart rate started getting up, and I was very excited,” Layman said, describing seeing the congratulatory email from TAPPI. “I ended up with an influx of scholarships in my junior year. I feel proud and happy that the work I’ve put in throughout my education has awards coming from it. It feels very satisfying.” 

The Cullison Award, named in honor of industry leader William L. Cullison, provides $2,000 per semester of support for students entering their third year of college to pursue an academic path related to a career in pulp, paper, corrugated and converting industries.

Layman, who is dual majoring in paper science and engineering and chemical engineering with a minor in business administration, said the industry experience he has received at NC State is invaluable, noting that the potential for those opportunities actually attracted him to the university and his field of study.

“When I visited, I was able to see the opportunities,” Layman said. “Even freshmen can get internships and co-ops, and even then I understood that that’s what could help you in your career.” 

Layman’s freshman internship was unfortunately canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped him from taking advantage of opportunities. He’s since researched with NC State faculty members and worked at WestRock in Virginia. Currently, Layman is interning at ExxonMobil in Texas for the summer.

The positive experiences with industry and research is something Layman wants all students to take advantage of. He encourages younger students to go through the interview process, make connections with people, talk to everyone possible and build positive recommendation letters.

Throughout any interaction, Layman challenges students to be kind and considerate, something he wants to be known for in his career. More than a specific job he wants to do, Layman knows the type of person he wants to be in his future career. 

“I really want to be someone who the people I work with can respect,” Layman said. “I want to be known as someone who cares about the people he works with and is just genuinely a caring person.”

As Layman has experienced, the opportunities for paper science and engineering students truly are plentiful. At NC State, 100% of our graduates secure a job within six months of graduation.

Story written by Rebecca McNeill for CNR News

This post was originally published in College of Natural Resources News.