A second chance changed everything for Pfeiffer graduate

By Emma Kate West
Pfeiffer University

1971 Pfeiffer graduate Frank Suggs had a unique student experience. He arrived in Misenheimer in the summer of 1965 and by his second semester, he’d been asked to leave.

Frank Suggs

As his first academic year progressed, Suggs said he spent less and less time studying, and more and more time having fun. He was placed on academic probation twice before Pfeiffer’s administration asked him to leave due to his performance.

“Turns out, I couldn’t spend all of my time having fun, very little time studying, and do well,” Suggs said.

After leaving Pfeiffer and being thrust into the “real world,” Suggs quickly realized the value of a college education and how significant his mistake had been. He began working tirelessly to save money in hopes of returning to Pfeiffer. In the spring of 1968, Suggs pleaded his case to Pfeiffer administrators, begging to re-enroll.

Due to Pfeiffer’s small size, university staff have the ability to come to know their students. And to really know a student, you must know their “story.” After Suggs shared his story with administrators, he was allowed to re-enroll in his courses.

“That’s just Pfeiffer; they don’t give up on you,” he said.

Equipped with a new understanding of the importance of his time at Pfeiffer, Suggs was determined to stay off academic probation. He took the time to intentionally listen to his instructors and heed their wisdom. He succeeded in his efforts and graduated in 1971.

After graduation, Suggs accepted a position at Wachovia Bank, an offer he received through a Pfeiffer connection. He worked at Wachovia in various positions in North Carolina and Georgia for 36 years before retiring as senior vice president in 2007.

Suggs began volunteering at East Carolina University, sharing his professional knowledge and experience by conducting mock interviews to help students prepare for post-graduate interviews and their future careers.

But Suggs determined that he wasn’t ready for retirement and describes being “bored to tears” until he accepted a position with JM Family Enterprises, based in Florida. As director of client relations, he was responsible for the United States and Canada, and worked until he retired a second time to High Rock Lake in 2015.

The move meant Misenheimer was just a hop, skip, and jump away, and Suggs began volunteering again with Pfeiffer’s students. In addition to participating in mock interview sessions to help students refine their presentation skills, he has also been an engaging guest lecturer for several business classes and serves on the Business Program Advisory Board. He acts as a class agent for the class of 1971 and serves on the University Alumni Board.

Suggs has also added acting to his service resume. He volunteers as an actor-patient for students in the University’s Physician Assistant Studies program by acting out assigned scenarios and health complaints that students must identify and correctly diagnose in their lab training.

In addition to bedside manner, these exercises allow students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-life scenarios. Suggs says he enjoys the interactions he has with Pfeiffer’s PA students and hopes to help them understand the importance of always seeing patients as humans first. Bedside manner, he believes, is one of the most critical components of healthcare.

“I was really blessed in 1968, to have a second chance at earning a Pfeiffer degree. I have never taken that for granted. Then that same ‘Pfeiffer family’ helped me launch a wonderful career with Wachovia. I am so happy to be able to pay it forward now, for the benefit of current students. I am proud of my alma mater and thankful to be able to give back through my gifts and service,” Suggs said.