Darrell Honeycutt, 2012 Haywood Community College Automotive Systems Technology Graduate, Named 2019 Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award Recipient

Darrell Honeycutt, 2012 Haywood Community College automotive systems technology graduate, was named Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award recipient for 2019. Honeycutt is program manager in the College’s Business & Industry Department and is an automotive instructor. He teaches students on the main campus as well as students at Pisgah High School through the Career and College Promise Program.  

While higher education is a huge part of Honeycutt’s life, he did not intend on pursuing a college education for himself. “My dad had a trucking company and I grew up working on diesels,” he explains. “I went into the Marines and got the training I needed through that experience.”

After Honeycutt’s time in the Marines, he worked at several car dealerships but quickly figured out that he needed to return to school. “I knew I needed a better education to better myself.”

Never did Honeycutt plan to become a teacher. However, teaching has proved to be uniquely suited to Honeycutt.

In the Marines, he worked as a diesel technician and heavy-duty wrecker driver. Eventually, he became a shop foreman and managed about 20 Marines and 350 trucks where his teaching career really got its start. Honeycutt joined the Marines straight after graduating from Pisgah High School. He served for five years including time in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Japan.

In another teaching role, Honeycutt has spent more than 20 years volunteering for Boy Scouts. Following his three sons through the Scouts, Honeycutt serves as a Scout Master. Joining the survival skills learned in the Marines with what his family taught him growing up, he teaches scouts wilderness survival and how to live by the 12 scout laws.

Honeycutt has found his teaching career to be very fulfilling. “I really enjoy the interaction with students, passing my knowledge on and helping them achieve their goals to get a great job. I try to incorporate soft skills into what I teach to make the students more employable and successful.”

In his free time, Honeycutt can be found deer hunting, trout fishing, hiking, and backpacking.        

Registration for fall semester is now open. For more information about registration, visit haywood.edu or email hcc-advising@haywood.edu. For information regarding the Automotive programs, contact Honeycutt at dhoneycutt@haywood.edu or 828-627-4582.




Bryan Whitner, 1998 Haywood Community College criminal justice graduate, was named Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award recipient for 2018.

Bryan Whitner, 1998 Haywood Community College criminal justice graduate, was named Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award recipient for 2018. Whitner recently retired as chief of the Canton Police Department. He dedicated more than 30 years of service to the citizens of Canton and Haywood County.

Perhaps one of the most notable accomplishments under Whitner’s leadership was obtaining law enforcement accreditation for the Canton Police Department through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. This placed the department as one of the top 5 percent of law enforcement agencies to gain accreditation in the United States based on size.  

From an early age, Whitner was interested in law enforcement. Growing up with a father working for the Town of Waynesville, he was around officers throughout his childhood. At the age of 20, Whitner was sworn in with the Waynesville Police Department where he worked part-time for a few months before starting full-time with the Canton force. He worked his way through the ranks from patrol officer, to sergeant, lieutenant and finally captain. He was lead criminal investigator for 17 years.

Whitner chose to attend HCC because of the reputation of the criminal justice program. “I was working full-time so I needed to stay in the community,” he explains. “HCC has a rich tradition of providing quality education. The College has always been great at reaching out to our community. They also do a great job of changing with the times.”

In addition, Whitner notes that the instructors in the criminal justice program were knowledgeable and helpful. Whitner was nominated for the Outstanding Alumni Award by one of his instructors, Richard Lance. “While never forgetting HCC, Bryan has provided many jobs to graduates,” the nomination form reads. “He has devoted countless hours to community service, supported town efforts at every turn, and provided honest, dependable service to our town and county.” 

This service has come in many forms. Whitner has aided several committees such as Child Fatality Review, Kids Advocacy Resource, Law Enforcement Planning Committee, DWI Task Force and HCC Curriculum Advisory Committee.

Whitner notes that serving in a small town often means community-oriented policing. “We have a lot of older citizens in our community that count on us. We would find ourselves helping these people with duties that don’t really fall under-policing. We have put up smoke detectors and repaired screen windows. If you can’t take a step back and get away from the badge theory, you can’t be successful in a small town.”

One of the biggest reasons Whitner wanted to go into law enforcement was to help people. His goal was to garner respect from both citizens and co-workers. “Through my service, I hope the community saw strong leadership and professionalism. I hope I did some good and developed everlasting relationships.”  

Whitner recalls the most stressful occasions on the force when a weapon was pulled on him on two separate occasions. “Neither time did the weapon fire,” he says. “The good Lord was with me.”

After finishing HCC, Whitner continued his education at Western Carolina University where he received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2006.

For more information about HCC, please visit haywood.edu or call 828-627-2821.



Outstanding Alumni of the Year 2017

June Smathers Jolley, 1978 Haywood Community College Horticulture graduate, was named Outstanding Alumna of the Year Award recipient for 2017. Jolley is the greenhouse manager at the North Carolina Arboretum where she has worked for over 20 years. She was recently recognized at the College’s graduation ceremonies.

Jolley’s fascination with horticulture began at a young age as she watched her mom plant flowers. She credits her mom for teaching her to sew seeds and prepare the beds. By high school, Jolley knew she wanted to have a career in this field. She was the first female student to take horticulture class at Pisgah High School.

After finishing HCC, Jolley worked at Citizen’s Home Center in Asheville before leaving to start Zeb’s Bloomers Greenhouse and Nursery with her husband Zeb Jolley in Canton.

At the Arboretum, Jolley plays an integral part in plant production innovation, multiple seasonal changes in specialized plant exhibits, supporting many major events, managing a demonstration greenhouse featuring rotating exhibits and providing propagation and cultivation expertise for work in natural product research and development. She started a biological pest control program that include beneficial insects and biological controls. She is considered an early innovator of integrative pest management.

According to George Briggs, Executive Director of the NC Arboretum, “Over the years of her tenure, June has contributed significantly in bringing the Greenhouse/Nursery Complex and the Visitor Education Center alive with innovative, high-quality production and programming. June’s plants grace our various gardens and exhibits year-round, indoors and outdoors. Her handiwork is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.”

In 2011, Jolley created the Horticulture Industry Integrated Pest Management Symposium in partnership with the NC Cooperative Extension. This event has a reputation for being one of the strongest professional symposiums for this field in the region. This annual conference draws professionals from academia, government, industry and other organizations from several states.

According to a nomination for the award by Liz Shaw, “June has never missed an opportunity to further her professional development, share her expertise or serve her community. She has optimized the education she received at your institution through operating her own successful horticulture business, implementing cutting-edge programs at the NC Arboretum and mentoring horticulture students from the region and even the nation.”

Throughout her career, Jolley has mentored and hired many former students from HCC and helped them move on to such places as The Dallas Arboretum, The Biltmore Estate and many others.

“I want students to see their potential,” Jolley explains. “I want to encourage them along. It is really rewarding to see them grasp a concept.”

Jolley also gives back to the community. She has volunteered at two nursing homes to help with their plants and gardens, as well as at the Canton Branch of the Haywood County Public Library. In addition, she sews clothes for needy children through a United Methodist Church mission program.

“June is a prime example of the success that can be attained through hard work and an education from a community college,” explains Zeb Jolley. “She continues to be engaged with the horticulture department at HCC by donating plants, providing volunteer opportunities for students and networking.”

Fellow HCC classmate Rosalyn ‘Roddy’ Ray says, “June is a teacher, mentor, designer, administrator and coordinator of volunteers. She is exactly who HCC should celebrate.”

Fittingly, Briggs says, “If ever a person ‘bloomed where she was planted,’ it would be June. Thank you HCC for providing June such a sound educational background that she leverages to the benefit of her home region, this organization and North Carolina.”

In her free time, Jolley is very active at her church. She sings Christian Harmony, a shape-note singing tradition dating back to the mid-1800s. She also directs the historic shaped-note singing event known as “Old Folks Day” at her church. She co-founded the Quay Smathers Memorial Singing School as a way to preserve this unique American musical tradition.

For more information about HCC, please visit haywood.edu or call 828-627-4500.

Photo by Carol Spags Photography. June Smathers Jolley, 1978 Haywood Community College Horticulture graduate, was named Outstanding Alumna of the Year Award recipient for 2017. Jolley is the greenhouse manager at the North Carolina Arboretum where she has worked for over 20 years. Pictured is Jolley addressing the attendees of HCC’s recent graduation ceremony.

Outstanding Alumni Award recipient for 2016

Haywood Community College recently named Danny Wingate, 1977 Business Administration graduate, Outstanding Alumni Award recipient for 2016. Wingate is Vice President of Haywood Builders Supply where he has worked for 44 years.

After graduating from Pisgah High School, Wingate was drafted into the Army and served in Vietnam. When he returned to Haywood County, he married and moved to Waynesville. Wingate got a job at Haywood Builders Supply in the warehouse and yard making $1.65 an hour. He soon decided to take advantage of the GI Bill and started evening classes at HCC. He wanted to learn the business aspect of the company. Wingate had a built in tutor with owner of Haywood Builders Supply. Philip Dooly would show him how the things he was learning in school related to the business of Haywood Builders.

Wingate explains that had night classes not been an option, he probably would not have been able to attend college while working full-time during the day. To be able to attend college so close to home was also a plus. “I remember many of my classmates were adults that also worked during the day and we enjoyed our classes together. We were all dedicated to learning things we could take back to our jobs. Some of these classes, such as business math, I was able to apply directly to my job.”

Even through the recent economic downturn, Haywood Builders has remained a strong business. Wingate says, “Haywood Builders has benefitted from 68 solid years of community support. We survived the downturn by having a great customer base, the support of the community, and hard work.”

Wingate and Haywood Builders have always been staunch supporters of the community. “All of our employees live here so it’s important that we give back to the community,” he explains. “We support our employees’ interest in the community.”

“Danny has been a huge role model for many people in our area including myself,” says Haywood Builders Supply employee Allen Newland. “In addition, he has been an outstanding servant to the community. He donates money and resources to community programs and sponsors youth programs throughout the county.”

Wingate serves on many boards in Haywood County. He is the vice chair of the Town of Waynesville Planning Board, treasurer of Haywood Advancement Association, a member of the Haywood Economic Development Council, Vice Chair of the board at Haywood Vocational Opportunities, and just recently rotated off the board at Mountain Projects.

Haywood Builders Supply has 35 employees and besides the Waynesville location, owns Cherokee Home Center on the Cherokee Reservation and Window Design Centers in Asheville, Cashiers, and Sylva. The business is employee owned.