John Champlin, Nathan Byrd and Alex Reyes are bucking the norm; they’re all Class of ’06 graduates who didn’t leave Winston-Salem. All three live downtown in the 18-story Nissen Building, a 1920s office building renovated several years ago into luxury apartments. It’s but one example of the revitalization of downtown and, especially, the boom in downtown housing. With its rooftop pool (with views of Wait Chapel in the distance) and ground floor bakery, sandwich shop and restaurant with sidewalk seating, the building offers a hint of big-city living; George Clooney and Renée Zellweger filmed a movie scene in the building in late April.

“I chose to stay in Winston-Salem because of my love for Wake Forest and so that I could keep up with all of the friendships I had made,” said Champlin, who works in the human resources office of Noble Management Group, which owns the Embassy Suites and Marriott hotels across the street from his apartment. “I knew that the city itself was revitalizing and it needed young people. It seemed like a good ‘starter’ city. It’s cheaper than other big cities and has lots of events that keep me busy.”

Like Champlin, Byrd can walk down the street to his office at Wachovia. Reyes, who just completed her first year in the Wake Forest School of Law, says she thinks students don’t realize what Winston-Salem truly offers until after they’ve graduated and moved away. “As college students, we tend to isolate ourselves. Just because Winston isn’t a bustling metropolis doesn’t mean there aren’t a ton of things to do here: plays at the Stevens Center, theater and film festivals, and Latin dancing. I wish more students could experience that.”

Reyes, who is originally from Tempe, Ariz., says it’s too early to know if she’ll stay in Winston-Salem after law school, but she is interning at a local law firm this summer. Champlin says he’s had friends question why he’s stayed in Winston-Salem rather than moving to one of the larger cities that attract large numbers of recent graduates. “It’s not Washington, D.C., New York City, Atlanta or Charlotte, but it does have many of the attributes that make those cities great, just on a smaller scale,” says Champlin, the son of Mike Champlin (’75) of Richmond, Va. “I think if more graduates stayed in Winston-Salem it would be beneficial for everyone — the city, local business, other graduates, the University. Winston-Salem is starting to make a name for itself. Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?”

— Kerry M. King (’85)
Office of Creative Services

John Champlin with Winston-Salem in the background


A look at Winston-Salem’s history and why it’s a great place to live today.


They came, they left … and they came back. Wake Forest Magazine catches up with eight alumni who returned to Deaconland.

From Atlanta:
Roger Mayhew (’68)

From New York City:
Margaret Collins (’78)

From San Francisco:
Jocelyn Burton (’80)

From New York City:
Jay Helvey (’81)

From Westin, Fla.:
Todd (’85) and Kathy Bourne (’85) Borton

From Rocky Mount, N.C.:
McLain (’85) and Marybeth Sutton (’86) Wallace

From Dallas:
David Valliere (’95)


John Champlin (’06) chose to remain in Winston-Salem.