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John May Jr. graduated from NC State in 1977 with a degree in Pulp and Paper Science & Technology.  We recently reached out to John to find out about his experiences here at NC State, his career and advice for current students.  Thanks for your time and your willingness to share.

Internship & Co-Op Experiences While at NC State:

  • Weyerhaeuser-Plymouth, Summers 1974 & 1975
  • Container Corporation of America-Fernandina Beach, Summer 1976

Favorite Class:

  • All of the pulp & paper classes that had labs!

Best Memory at State:

There are too many to list!

  • Seeing David Thompson walk back into Reynolds after falling on his head.
  • Watching his spectacular dunk in his final home game. Open practice before NCAA Tournament.
  • Seeing grades posted and finding out I passed PChem.
  • Watching a baseball game sitting with friends past the outfield fence.
  • A Sunday afternoon concert in Court of the Carolinas.
  • Home win over unc basketball (note deliberate lower case spelling) when they were ranked No. 2 my senior year.
  • Watching Professor Hitchings sign my diploma.

Worst Memory at State:

  • Seeing David Thompson fall on his head in Reynolds.
  • Losing our home opener in football to Furman in 1976.
  • Anytime we lost to Carolina .


  • Student TAPPI, Alpha Zeta, Student Senate and Forestry Council.

Favorite part of PSE Program:

  • The hands-on experience from the labs and the practical advice from Professors Hitching & Rogers.

Most important thing PSE taught me:

  • Work hard, party hard and be creative in your approach to problems.

Current career information:

  • Customer Technical Services Rep, International Paper-Coated Paperboard

Years at current job:

  • Twenty-two

What is your favorite part of your current job: 

  • I enjoy the intellectual challenge of solving problems and drawing on what I’ve learned throughout my career.

Biggest accomplishment in your career: 

  • Beyond fulfilling the normal responsibilities of any job, I think the most important thing I’ve done is to teach others: young engineers how to write a good report, supervisors how to grow into their role, customers how to improve their processes. I constantly try to be an ambassador for NC State and our industry. (Sometimes it drives Jeannie crazy!)

Advise for Current Students:

  • Make sure you stay healthy mentally, physically, socially and spiritually. My observation is that people who don’t do that tend to have serious problems at some point in their life.

What other positions have you held:

  • My education at State was a springboard for me to enter what has been a rewarding career. When I was growing up on the farm I only dreamed that some day I would routinely get the opportunity to travel all over the world. I have the opportunity to meet new people and work with products and processes that make our lives better. Still, every time I set foot on a machine room floor or see a recovery boiler, I am impressed by the enormity of our equipment, the complexity of the processes and the ingenuity of generations of people who have grown our industry into what it is today. I wonder what the future holds.

Personal Information:

  • Hometown: I grew up in Winterville, NC; now live in Wilmington
  • Family: I was blessed to have loving and generous parents. Daddy graduated from State in Agronomy and Mama worked with the NC Agricultural Extension Service. It was pre-ordained that I’d go to NC State. They were so impressed with the P&P program that they established several scholarships. Daddy passed away October of 2013, and Mama April of 2017.  My wife, Jeannie is a pediatrician and an avid NCSU football fan; we have season tickets. She has been very loyal in coping with my job transfers and is happy to now be a partner in a Wilmington practice. Last May (2016) both of our daughters got Masters Degrees within two weeks of each other. Maggie completed seminary in Indianapolis; she started her ministerial career in that area. Beth got her ME degrees from State (2014 & 2016) and works for the Patent Office in DC. Maggie & her husband (Matt) have a 7 month old, Daniel (NCSU 2038).
  • Hobbies/interests: Making sure Daniel has an adequate supply of NCSU apparel is a key priority, as well as visiting the rest of our family. Jeannie and I are very active in church. I’m currently a Trustee of our local congregation and on the Board of Directors of the Christian Church Foundation. I like to spend time on our family farm when I get the chance and I always enjoy driving my 1978 Alfa.

By guest blogger Allison Hellwig