Question.) When did you graduate from WCU and in what subject area?
Answer.) I graduated from WCU in 2010 with a bachelor of science degree in communications.
Q.) What are some of your fondest memories of your days at WCU?
A.) Some of my fondest memories include being an officer and member of the Digali’I Native American Student Organization. This club gave me a sense of belonging during my time at WCU. We later grew to fill the Judaculla (ᏧᎳᎦᎳ) House down in the Village where we all lived together. The house gave us a sense of pride and we were so proud of all that we had accomplished together.
Q.) Who are your favorite professors and staff at Western Carolina and why?
A.) Some of my favorites include Dr. Betty Farmer, Tom Belt, Robert Conley, Jane Eastman and Dr. Pamela Harris. Farmer and Harris were some of the best professors I had at WCU. Their classes challenged me and allowed me to grow into a public relations professional. Mr. Belt and Mr. Conley were my mentors and they both supported and encouraged me through my college years, which is something that I believe I needed from someone who could relate well because of our similar communities.
Q.) Sky, you are currently the Director of the Cherokee Center. Tell us about your career path and how you got there.
A.) After my undergrad, I took a couple of years off and gained my first professional job for the Cherokee Boys Club as the Cherokee Youth Council Program Manager. While working, I began my master’s degree online at the University of Alabama. I also married and inherited two beautiful step-children in 2013, shortly followed by the birth of my first child. In 2014, I graduated with my masters and continued to work for the Boys Club until 2016, which is when I was selected as the Director of the WCU Cherokee Center. I was beyond excited to gain this position, mostly because I had worked with the previous director, Roseanna Belt, during my time as a student. She was also one of my biggest supporters. I wanted to help students as she had and support our native communities overall.
Q.) Tell us a little more about the Cherokee Center and your role as liaison between the EBCI and WCU.
A.) At the Cherokee Center, we wear many hats, some of which include supporting students as they need college applications, scholarships, internships, alumni engagement and community involvement, both on campus and off. My job as the liaison includes a direct line of communication between WCU and EBCI for any partnership, project, collaboration, community event, training, etc.
Q.) There is an effort to revive the Cherokee Language among its members. How is that effort proceeding and what has WCU done to assist?
A.) Our language is thriving and will continue to live beyond our speakers. Our language and culture is embedded within our people. What better way to show our support than to collaborate on such an important topic with our WCU Cherokee Language program and Cherokee Studies Program to assure the language is preserved accurately? WCU has committed faculty and staff to helping develop speakers, technology, and curriculum to support this cause. While WCU is a huge resource for the tribe, the collaboration, with tribal programs such as the New Kituwah Academy, will assure that we continue on the right path with all of our language endeavors.
Q.) Sky, you are a founding and currently active member of the EBCI Western Alumni Club. Why do you feel it’s important for alumni to stay connected with their university and how do they get involved with this club?
A.) As a founding member of the EBCI Alumni Western Club, I believe that it is super important for our tribal graduates to stay involved at WCU. It is important that our EBCI alumni stay connected with the WCU community after graduation, so that they can keep a close networking system with both their professional groups and native community members on campus. Keeping these relationships alive opens doors for future opportunities such as employment and organizational partnerships. It also allows our relationship between the EBCI and WCU to continue to flourish within the communities so that future generations will be encouraged to attend WCU.
Q.) Now tell us something unique and interesting about yourself that few people may know.
A.) The size of my family is a bit unique. My dad has eight siblings and my grandmother had 15 siblings. My husband’s family is also large, with seven aunts and uncles. We love every minute of being with our families, and we get together with them every week. On a more personal note, I love being outside with my kids and I absolutely love movies. I have watched hundreds of movies over my life.