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Portraits and Perspectives

Graduates from the Class of 2021 reflect on their time at WCU

Alan Harris, Bachelor of Science in Biology - Atlanta, Georgia

Alan Harris

Being a student-athlete played a major role in my current success. It taught me great time management skills, to work hard in everything I pursue, to prioritize my goals in life, and most of all it taught me that I can be whoever I want to be. I just have to work for it.

Alan Harris in a biology lab

After graduation, I will be attending Duke University's School of Medicine to obtain my Masters of Biomedical Sciences before attending medical school. Being accepted into Duke means a lot. I finally get to see some results from what I have been working so hard for the past four years.

Although my journey is nowhere close to the finish, I am thankful that I had many professors and advisers here at WCU that believed in me and have prepared me to be successful in this next stop on my journey. Specifically, Dr. Heather Coan took it a step past simply being a professor and took the time to help me and give me guidance on the options I had once I left WCU.

alan harris as a chancellors ambassador
Alan Harris playing football

My favorite memory from my time at WCU is playing my first college football game. It was an amazing experience, WCU truly has a great game day experience. It's something I’ll never forget.

Amber Thompson, Bachelor of Science in Forensic Anthropology and Criminal Justice - Rutherfordton, NC

Amber Thompson

My favorite memories from my time at WCU involve making friends with anyone that was sitting outside of the cafeteria and just enjoying my Catamount family.

I would like to thank the entire Anthropology faculty. They are all extremely supportive and like one big family.

Amber with a faculty member

My advice for future Catamounts is to take the time to get to know your fellow Catamounts. Even if you never see them again, you made a connection and possibly made someone’s day.

Throughout my time at WCU, I grew as a person and found myself here. I would suggest to anyone to come to Western if they want a home away from home.

Holli Stillman, Master of Education in Higher Education Student Affairs - Cullowhee, North Carolina

Holli Stillman and Carol Burton

Pursuing a master’s degree as a full-time employee in a residential program like Higher Education Student Affairs, would not have been possible without the support from my incredible supervisor, Dr. Carol Burton. I started working for Carol right before submitting my graduate school application, so she has been on this wild ride with me for the past three academic years.

Carol has been so supportive throughout my time in graduate school – allowing me to have a flexible schedule when classes fell during the work day, constantly checking in and asking how classes are going, and always reminding me what I am capable of when I felt overwhelmed.

I often wondered why I waited so long to take advantage of the tuition waivers offered to staff at WCU, but I realized that I utilized them just at the right time. I honestly don’t know that I would have been able to get through my master’s program in three years without Carol by my side. Her support has been invaluable.

Holli Stillman

Tacquice Wiggan Davis was a driving force in me applying to the Higher Education Student Affairs program at WCU.

Since we started working together in 2016 in the Department of Intercultural Affairs, Tacquice has always challenged me and pushed me to become a better version of myself, to branch out, do more, get engaged, and of course to obtain an advanced degree. And somehow, Tacquice has always found a way to actually get me to do things I didn’t really want to do (like public speaking, working out, eating healthy, and even graduate school).

At the same time I started my master's program, Tacquice began the Educational Leadership Ed.D program at WCU, so we were on this journey together. We started together and we’re graduating together. I am so incredibly thankful for Tacquice’s guidance, her pushing, her support during graduate school (and beyond) and of course her friendship.

Taquice and Holli hiking

Kristin Washington, Bachelor of Science in Communication - Cherokee, North Carolina

Kristin Washington

My whole life I’ve known that I wanted to help people. I spent 10 years working as a paramedic and for a long time felt this was the only way there was for me to help people. When my path changed and I had to leave my EMS career, I wondered how I would be able to keep helping people.

I developed a vision of becoming a patient advocate. There isn’t a patient advocacy program in Cherokee and I wanted to figure out how to be the person to start one. I found that WCU offered a health concentration in communication and felt the program description fit my goals.

Kristin Washington operating a tv camera

WCU has given me more than a degree. At WCU, I have been given knowledge of my own culture’s history, connecting me with my community. With the cultural education I have received, it’s encouraged me to go even further. Within two years of graduating from WCU, I plan on enrolling in an Indigenous education master’s program. I feel empowered by becoming one more educated Indigenous female. 

Leaving WCU, my career plans are to develop a nonprofit in Cherokee for community outreach. I want to work with people in my community and other Indigenous communities. The goals of the nonprofit will be health navigation, community resource database, meal giveaway, support to those suffering from homelessness, addiction, or in recovery. 

Going to the water for me has always been calming. I feel more of a connection to the land when I’m at the river, my problems seem to shrink when I watch the currents. 

Close up of a basket with honors cords and a tassel in Kristin Washingtons hands
Kristin Washington

Micah Patt, Bachelor of Fine Art in Musical Theatre, Minor in Dance - Hightstown, New Jersey

Micah Patt

After graduation, I am finishing out my lease in Cullowhee this summer and working as a director, as well as helping out with the theatre camps at the newly formed local theatre company, Calliope Stage. In the fall I am moving to Syracuse, New York to start work on my Masters in Music at Syracuse University.

Truly, I would like to thank all of the Stage and Screen professors, but particularly Colin Wasmund, who saw the potential for me as a director and gave me a chance to try it out assistant directing for him on "Noises Off!" which led to a whole other passion and additional career path for me. He has also been a guiding light for the BFA class of 2021 as our acting professor throughout the years.

I would also like to thank my parents for letting me go to school over 10 hours away from home for musical theatre.

Micah in Into the Woods
Micah in The Wolves

My favorite memory at WCU is collaborating with our women’s soccer team while rehearsing for "The Wolves" during my sophomore year. We met with the team every weekend during the rehearsal process and they trained with us. Making those new friends and learning about their experiences was so much fun and made that production all the more fulfilling. 

I think my greatest accomplishment during my time at WCU was directing "The Heidi Chronicles" over Zoom this past fall. It was very difficult to adapt both how to tell a story and how to build an ensemble without being in person, but I’m so proud of how it turned out and of how positive the rehearsal space was.

Micah dancing

Tierra Martinez, Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics - Cherokee, North Carolina


After I receive my degree from WCU, I plan to attend graduate school. My favorite memory at WCU was meeting new people and creating new friendships. I would like to thank my family for helping me reach this milestone. They have been very supportive and encouraging throughout my college career.

Noah Moore, Bachelor of Science in Communication, Broadcasting Concentration - Cameron, North Carolina

Noah Moore as Paws

After graduation, I will be working with the Fayetteville Woodpeckers and looking for a job in broadcasting. I would like to thank Donald Connelly for developing my love in broadcasting and giving great ideas for my radio show.

My favorite memory here at WCU has been spent being Paws. Being the mascot while a student at the school has allowed me to have a different appreciation and love WCU. Also, hosting my radio show on WWCU-FM and being a public address/play-by-play announcer.

My advice to future Catamounts: Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life. Make sure you get a hug from Paws and take in the mountain views.

Paws the Mascot


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