Alumni Update: Will Kornegay


Ben Tucker, Secretary

Tell us a little about what you do and how you got there?

I have recently founded a company called Ripe Revival, and am in the process of opening our new production facility in Rocky Mount.  Ripe Revival is an innovative health foods company that works directly with farmers to turn their excess produce into value added products.  We use a patented technology to extract nutrients from fruits and vegetables while binding them to proteins to create protein gummy chews that are free from added sugar and other artificial ingredients.  They are packed with protein, fiber, and other health promoting ingredients! For every product sold, we donate fresh foods back to those in need!

I have worked in agriculture for most of my career and have developed a passion for helping farmers and creating new strategies to minimize farm waste while fighting hunger.   Our efforts caught the eye of the Kroger Foundation, and we were recently selected as 1 of 7 innovators out of 400 applicants to receive funding to help grow our business! 


How do you feel RMA prepared you for college and success in the business world?  

RMA was critical in preparing me for both college and the real world.   The incredible faculty, curriculum, and facilities at RMA played a significant role in allowing me to mature as both a student and a young man.   In addition, the relationships that I developed with teachers and classmates have proven to play a big role in who I am today. The advantages of attending RMA ultimately led to more focused education and intentional relationships that I would not have otherwise gotten.


What has been the most exciting or nervous moments since graduating and starting your business endeavors?  

Where do I begin?  Going off to college was both scary and exciting.  Leaving home and becoming a young adult presents many changes that require focus and responsibility.  I feel very strongly that RMA does a great job preparing students for this reality.  

Professionally, As an entrepreneur, there have been many ups and downs in my journey.  I have started 4 businesses in my professional career – and each have been met with their own successes and failures.  Every day presents new challenges and opportunities. Each venture has been founded with nervous excitement and anxious anticipation for how the future will play out.  Personally this is what drives me professionally – as I enjoy going to work each day knowing that it will be a challenge that I must work to solve.

I would have to say that the most exciting moment since graduating – aside from marrying my wife Erin, has been where I am now with Ripe Revival.   It has been a great honor to have created a business that not only creates innovative products that are good for you, but that also allow us to give back to those in need.  Being recognized and supported by a major corporation is very exciting, and being able to bring this venture back to my home town of Rocky Mount is icing on the cake. I am excited about the impact we will hopefully have on our direct community and beyond.


Any advice to the RMA students who are looking to pursue a career path similar to yours?

Go for it!  If you have dreams, don’t underestimate your ability to achieve them.  The real world is challenging no matter what you do. Becoming an independent adult is scary and difficult, but very fulfilling!  You will face challenges in any career path you take, but that is part of the journey. Life is a marathon, and you will face setbacks – but it is important to stay true to yourself and do something that you love.   Don’t do it for money, recognition, or status. Chase a dream that makes you happy and you will not regret it. Know that you will likely work multiple jobs before truly knowing what you want to do, and believe that the experiences through each of those – both good and bad – are preparing you for the days ahead.  Surround yourself with positive people who set a good example and care about you as a person. These relationships will carry you much further than you can imagine! Work hard and stay focused on what matters!


Who were your favorite RMA teacher(s)?

Now that is a tough one!  I’ve never been one to choose favorites, and each teacher provided for me in different ways.   I would say that there was certainly a side of me in high school that would have been considered as a class clown.  Mr. Proctor made it very clear that he was not going to tolerate that in his classroom, which kept me grounded for sure!  Mrs Lehnes On the other hand was always fun, tolerated some of my antics, and balanced it out in a professional way! Mrs Patton was very influential in my life and always showed great care in mentoring me along the way.  And of course there’s Coach Colbert – who I considered a great mentor and friend! All of my coaches were very influential as well!


Did you play any sports at RMA? How was it?

I played soccer, baseball, and basketball.  It was great to be a part of these teams, which is a major advantage of attending RMA.   Participating in these teams provided me with a competitive nature that developed into leadership skills that are very much a part of me today.   Traveling with the team was always fun. It is amazing to see how the fields and facilities have improved over the years, and it is evident that the program is thriving.  Coaches volunteer much or their time to ensure that student athletes are prepared not only for games, but for life in general – and students should never take that for granted!


Favorite RMA memory?

There are too many to count.  I would say if I had to choose one, it would be when our baseball team won the Tarboro Easter Classic after playing several public schools from all over the east coast.   Coming back to school after with the support of our teachers and classmates was something I’ll never forget! And of course graduating can’t be overlooked either!


 Favorite RMA Food?

Hands down- Chikfilet! 


Favorite RMA Tradition(s)?

As a senior, you for some reason feel like you have earned the right to do what you want – which I don’t always encourage!   Coming to school on the first day as a senior was fun. At the time RMA allowed senior pranks, which were supposed to be simple and fun.  They may not allow that one anymore after our class took every desk out of the school and put them in the courtyard one night… needless to say, we may have taken that a little too far and certainly faced repercussions for that little stunt!   Nonetheless, we were forgiven, and at the end of the day everyone got a good laugh from that tradition!  

I also enjoyed buddy lunches – where we had a younger student that we ate lunch with every month.  I didn’t see the impact then, but looking back I think this provides a great opportunity for growth and certainly means a lot looking back at it!