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Soon-to-be criminal justice graduate helps local ESL community navigate legal avenues

Kaylee Eberhardt


During an internship with a local legal office this semester, Kaylee Eberhardt, a senior at Western Carolina University, often found herself using Spanish speaking skills to help clients overcome language barriers while navigating paperwork and various bureaucratic proceedings. 

Providing translations were all part of a day’s work for Eberhardt, but it gave her a special niche in her internship role--one that has now led to fulltime employment at the law firm. Her patience, understanding, and smile went along the task at hand. 

“When you facilitate meetings between the lawyer and the client, you get to know more about the person and participate in their journey,” she said. “You are that touchstone for both the attorney and the client. It is very fulfilling and I’m so glad I got the opportunity.” 

Eberhardt, a Davidson resident, was drawn to WCU for the academic opportunities and a location that fit her love of “outdoorsy stuff,” she said. “This was the right place to do it. I’ve loved it here, especially with the general outdoor vibe, and the community, getting to know my professors and the support you receive with the smaller class sizes.” 

Eberhardt is no stranger to giving back to the community. She participated in the Cullowhee Community Garden, an organic, allotment plot, where half of all produce grown is donated to food relief organizations. Some of her best memories, though, come from volunteering with Project Firewood, which involves chopping, splitting, and delivering firewood to older adults locally. 

“Cutting and loading firewood is hard work,” she said. “But it's not just physically rewarding. We also would take it out for delivery, meeting the people who would stay warm in their homes over the winter. We visited one woman who lived up such a steep road on the side of a mountain, it took 4-wheel-drive to get there. But her smile and telling us how much it meant to her, made it so worthwhile.” 

Eberhardt, a criminal justice major with minors in Spanish and professional writing, is looking forward to graduating on Saturday, Dec. 18, during commencement ceremonies in Ramsey Regional Activity Center. 

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