Taylor was drawn to WCU because of its small size and location in the mountains, but she was particularly impressed with WCU’s Writing and Learning Commons (WaLC) and University Participant (UP) program. She worked as a course tutor at WaLC for the past seven semesters, where she tutored General Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2, and Kinesiology 2. “Tutoring has helped me to grow a lot in terms of working with other people, working one-on-one to help them improve,” she says. “And I think that is very relevant to my chosen career. It was a great experience.”
Ke’La Porter is graduating from WCU’s College of Health and Human Sciences with a degree in athletic training. As a high school student in Clayton, N.C., Ke’La played basketball and ran track, until suffering an injury during a basketball game. While undergoing physical therapy to treat her injury, Ke’La decided she’d like to become a physical therapist. However, when the high school brought an athletic trainer on board to work with her, Ke’La was introduced to sports medicine and realized she’d found her calling.
Matthew McDonough could have followed his friends to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after he graduated from Asheville High School in 2015, but he didn’t. He chose to study at Western Carolina University instead, to better find out who he was — by himself.
Madison Hale, originally from the North Carolina town of Albermarle, calls herself quiet, an introvert—but she’s already carved out an adventurous path for herself. After graduation, she plans to hike all 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail with her brother, who is graduating from high school. “We’re both taking a year to do this,” she says. “It’s been a dream of ours.” Though it could take four to six months, she wants to take her time. “I want to see everything I can,” she says, “since it’s a once in a lifetime thing.”
Almost as ubiquitous as hiking boots is a hiking stick, an age-old means to steady a climb, keep one’s balance, push aside brush and ease a descent. Now, add one more function: phone charger, thanks to the ingenuity of Western Carolina University engineering student Kyle Monaghan.
Following graduation in May and a summer internship in Charlotte, Western Carolina University senior Brennan Burke will have to decide what path to follow next. When it comes time to make that decision, Burke will have more options than most because of the fact that she is earning a triple major. Burke started as a mathematics major with a concentration in actuarial science, but along the way she added finance and accounting to the mix, giving her the trifecta. Not bad for someone who in high school thought she wanted to be a civil engineer.
Sophia Calhoun began studying at Western Carolina University for an bachelor’s degree in environmental health, completing her undergraduate studies in 2017. But, Sophia’s experiences as an independent student opened her eyes to an entirely new career path in the field of higher education and student affairs.
It took a while for Joanna Woodson to discover her true passion in life. But three universities and year and a half in the workplace later, Woodson has found her purpose, along with a home, at Western Carolina University. After a year at WCU, Woodson has not only settled on a major, she’s discovered a passion for politics that has led WCU to become a leader in voter participation across the University of North Carolina system.
Western Carolina University’s Graduate School saw an 18.2 percent increase in enrollment of new graduate students this spring, largely driven by programs preparing students for career growth in high-demand fields. Overall Graduate School enrollment climbed 3.7 percent.