UNC Charlotte’s young alumni are making advances in their fields and communities. Ten outstanding alumni were recognized at the fourth annual 10 Under Ten Awards ceremony sponsored by the UNC Charlotte Young Alumni Chapter Thursday, Nov. 4. The ceremony, which was part of Niner Nation Week and Homecoming 2021, was held at the UNC Charlotte Marriott Hotel & Conference Center.
“These honorees all bring the University’s mission and vision to life, using creativity and innovation to serve their professions and communities daily,” said Sallie Sistare, executive director of alumni affairs. “And most importantly, they represent the life-changing impact of a UNC Charlotte education.”
The 10 Under Ten Awards recognize alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years and who are succeeding in their professional lives and are actively involved in community volunteerism and philanthropy.
2021 10 Under Ten Recipients
Christopher Brian Bailey ’12 is an engineering professional who demonstrates exceptional performance in leading various teams by providing critical capabilities/platforms for the armed forces utilizing his diverse background in complex problem-solving. Currently, he is a project engineer managing program and technical execution for Leonardo DRS on an Army urgent need. Bailey has served on The William States Lee College of Engineering Alumni Council and serves on the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society Board of Directors. He completed a bachelor’s degree from the Lee College of Engineering, a master’s at N.C. State and an MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.
Andrew Baker ’15 is a digital marketing specialist for Autobell Car Wash. He gives back to his community through Miracle League Baseball and as founder for Dream to Achieve Bowling, a league for diversely abled athletes. Baker is the current president of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Alumni Council and most recently completed a five-year term on UNC Charlotte’s Young Alumni Board of Directors where he served as president from 2018-20. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies, with a double minor in journalism and religious studies from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
Caleb Chandler ’15, ’17 M.Ed. teaches middle school in Charlotte, while pursuing a doctorate degree in educational theory. He is working on his dissertation, examining the ways in which young adult literature affects adolescents’ identity development and presents this research, along with other projects, at national and international conferences on education. Chandler completed a bachelor’s degree in middle grades education and a master’s degree in education from the Cato College of Education.
Brandon Cayton ’14 is the lead engineer and sub-team lead for the AV-8B Fleet Support Team Support Equipment sub-team with Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). During his career with NAVAIR, he has held positions with both the AV-8B Fleet Support Team and the PMA– 226 Specialized and Proven Aircraft Program Office. At UNC Charlotte, Cayton has served as a mentor for the Engage Me program, represented NAVAIR/FRC-E at campus recruiting events and served as an industry supporter for two senior design projects in the Lee College of Engineering. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the Lee College.
Miriam G. Espaillat ’13 M.S.W. is co-founder and director of community for Raydal Hospitality, the managing company for Sabor Latin Street Grill, Three Amigos Mexican Grill and Cantina and La Caseta. She is an immigrant Latina from El Salvador who grew up in Queens, New York, and migrated to Charlotte in 2006. Espaillat holds a clinical social work license, is a member of the National Association of Social Worker-N.C. Chapter and currently serves on the board of Leading on Opportunity, Charlotte Bilingual Preschool and Social Serve. She completed a Master of Social Work from the College of Health and Human Services and recently obtained a Women’s Entrepreneurship certificate through Cornell University.
Samantha Falabella Knight ’14 is a public relations professional with more than six years of experience leading strategic communications initiatives for The Cardea Group and its clients. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, Charlotte Chapter, and serves on the Young Professionals Committee. Knight serves as chair of the Southeast Advisory Team and a member of the Leadership Committee for the Charlotte sector of the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and served on the UNC Charlotte Young Alumni Chapter Board of Directors. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
Scott Lieberman ’12 is a relationship manager at LPL Financial where he leads partner communication efforts and LPL conference partnership opportunities while managing more than 30 sponsor relationships. He is co-host of “Miner Obsession,” a sports podcast completely dedicated to the Charlotte 49ers and serves as president of the Belk College of Business Alumni Council. Lieberman completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Belk College of Business and a master’s degree in leadership from Northeastern University.
Tracy Ross ’18 is director of technical group services for General Steel Drum and has worked with UNC Charlotte students as a project supporter for three senior design projects in the Lee College of Engineering. He served six years in the Marine Corp as a combat engineer during Desert Storm. While attending classes at UNC Charlotte, off and on for 21 years, Ross never lost the urge to attain his degree, earning a bachelor’s degree from the Lee College.
Ashleigh Sheehy ’13 is a juvenile justice advocate at Hillsborough County in Tampa, Florida. She wrote and published the guidebook, “The Art of Asking Why,” with a foreword written by former Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince, and “The Art of Knowing: Student Rights. Student Resources,” with a foreword written by Florida State Attorney Andrew Warren. Sheehy completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Belk College of Business. In addition to a law degree from Stetson University, she holds a master’s degree in criminology from Florida State University.
Brit Swider ’12 is an art educator at a Montessori school in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and is youth director for Girls Rock CLT, where she coordinates camps and leads workshops. She focuses on culturally responsive teaching and blending social emotional learning into art. Swider completed a bachelor’s degree from the College of Arts + Architecture and is working on a master’s degree in counseling at UNC Charlotte.
Award recipients, pictured left to right, are Scott Lieberman, Tracy Ross, Brandon Cayton, Miriam G. Espaillat, Andrew Baker, Brit Swider, Samantha Falabella Knight and Caleb Chandler.