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Decide to Succeed: Stories

Your defining choice is one that you make every day. It's the choice to work harder than the person next to you, to fight for an ambition that seems impossible, to chase after a goal with persistent determination. Choosing a university is more than just a beautiful location or a degree program, it's about finding a supportive community that recognizes your potential and a program that will help you achieve your future.

Carlos Dotson

Unlimited Potential: Carlos Dotson

When Carlos Dotson found out that he had a chance to play Division 1 basketball, his entire life changed After being cut from his high school basketball team, Carlos focused in on his game and his studies so that he could have a chance to better his life by receiving a college degree.  

E'Quince Smith

Leaving a Legacy: E'Quince Smith

E'Quince Smith believes that making an impact on Western Carolina University is just as important as the degree he will receive when he graduates. A natural leader, E'quince plays a huge role in organizing the annual Unity March that takes place on campus on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and believes it is important to carry on the tradition.  

Mary Hill Lewis speaking at Commencement

Distance Student Overcomes Obstacles and Achieves Education Dreams

Mary Hill Lewis, a distance student who majored in birth-to-kindergarten education, spoke at the 2019 commencement ceremony about her journey, the future and what she overcame to get to this moment.   

Student writing on a blackboard

Hire Advantage

Working on your college campus probably won’t make you rich, but what if it offered something potentially even more valuable in the long term? Western Carolina University actually offers that – through a program designed to make student employment a more impactful experience  

Natalie Newman in her store

Drive, Ambition and Entrepreneurship: How One Alumna Stayed Local to Apply Her Degree

Natalie Newman knew she had the drive and ambition to run her own business, but what she needed was direction and inspiration. She found both in Western Carolina University’s master’s degree program in innovation leadership and entrepreneurship through the College of Business.  

Cassidy Burns

Freshman Cassidy Burns wins National Student Production Award

It was Halloween weekend and Western Carolina University freshman Cassidy Burns was visiting a friend at Clemson University when she got a phone call from her mother. Burns and her friend were in Starbucks when her phone rang. Her mom told her to check out Twitter where the Foundation of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences was live-streaming its 4th Annual National Student Production Awards.   

Garrett Ozar

Entrepreneurship Alumnus Makes Most of Confidence Starting a Business and Facing the Shark Tank

Garrett Ozar, a 2009 graduate with a degree in entrepreneurship, took managerial skills and confidence gained from the Innovation Leadership and Entrepreneurship Program in the College of Business, to start a success story. He is the co-founder of Eterneva, an Austin, Texas, based company started in 2017 that takes ashes from cremated remains, isolates the carbon and, with heat and pressure, creates diamonds as an everlasting keepsake.   

Forensic Science Students

The Nobel Mission - Forensic Anthropology Students Search for Lost WWII Airman

A mission to locate remains of a missing American airman from World War II in Germany was a homecoming, of a sort, for a Western Carolina University student. Anna Maier, a senior majoring in forensic anthropology, is a native of Germany and was part of a research team made up of WCU forensic anthropology faculty and students who, through a U.S. Department of Defense grant, spent three weeks this summer participating in a forensic archaeological search and excavation.  

WCU Student Brittney Windham

Brittany Windham finds her place in the Black Student Union

In seeking a university to attend, Brittney Windham hoped to find a school that had a Black Student Union she could join. During the spring semester of her freshman year, Windham joined Western Carolina University’s Black Student Union. Shortly thereafter, she entered the Miss Black Student Union pageant – and won.   

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