Student Spotlight

Kenneth Flinchum


Kenneth Flinchum

After graduation I will be starting a neurological clinical residency at Emory Medical Center in Atlanta, GA. In my "off" time I exercise, hike, ride my bicycle, fish, cook, play with my dog, and hangout with family and friends.

My future plans include earning my Neurological Clinical Specialty Certification, working full time as a physical therapist in NC, serving as a clinical instructor and eventually as a residency instructor.

My wife and I are looking forward to buying our own home and starting a family in the near future. I also plan to commission in and retire from the Army Reserves.

-Kenneth Flinchum, US Army, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Spring 2017 


C Snedden


Carissa Snedden

My long term goal is to find a way to help Veterans and build a career around it. Short term goal is exploring my hometown. I have not spent more than a few months in Pittsburgh since I left over eight years ago. I really want to bring new life into my community. I believe while on my journey to assess the area's needs that I will find employment. I always seem to end up where I am meant to be which is why I am graduating from Western. I never would have thought I would have attended college in the rural south, but Western has truly captured my heart and I will miss it dearly.  

During school I am the Recruiting Officer for the S.V.A. so I attempt to help with all our events. I am a people person and an idea person, but I'm not the best with the details. However, when given the chance I love to host random celebrations with good friends. I like to decorate, cook, and just create an enjoyable and uplifting ambience to remind people that life does not have to be all stress and worry. I also like time to myself to make jewelry, greeting cards, and other forms of art. My favorite projects are to take old furniture or jewelry boxes that I find at a thrift store and give them new life. I like redeeming the items that people have forgotten still have value. So basically, all my activities somehow end up with me needing to get supplies from a craft store.

The only reason I made it through the Air Force and college is because I had people who believed in me when I did not even believe in myself. It really comes down to everyone has potential, but someone has to help us develop our character and hone our skills. In the military I had terrible supervisors and I had terrific supervisors; I learned from both of them. They taught me we become the attributes that people tell us we possess. Which is why I am honest, but also kind. If we want a person to do great things then we have to help them achieve greatness. Confidence is what we internalize after our external environment has been conducive to growth. Sometimes we have to endure the people who tear us down, but we do not have replicate their action and treat others the way we were treated. Part of the Airman's Creed states "I will never leave an Airman behind" I feel like it should be applied to all our social groups. A team is only as strong as the weakest member, which means we all need to work to ensure that we create an atmosphere where the weak have a chance to grow and become strong. Never discount the underdog, because their stories of success are the most inspirational of all.

-Carissa Snedden, Air Force, Sociology, December 2016

Tyler Pearce


I am currently a firefighter for the city of Raleigh. After graduation, I plan on taking a break from school for a couple of months while I prepare for my first promotion, and then I plan on pursuing a masters degree.  I have been lucky enough to find a career that affords me ample time off so I can attend school.  I am also very fortunate to have found a school that is as accommodating to my educational goals at Western Carolina University.  My transition began when I left the Marines and started school on campus at WCU. 

I made many wonderful friends, and I must say that the WCU family, especially the SVA, was just what I needed as I transitioned out of military service.  After my first semester, I was offered a position with the Raleigh Fire Department, an opportunity too good to pass up.  Luckily after my academy, I could once again attend the school I love to complete my degree.  In my spare time when I am not working on school work, I am hanging out with my wonderful wife Jane and our dogs Huckleberry and Ramsey.  We love to travel and explore new destinations.
"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude." Thomas Jefferson  

-Tyler Pearce, EDM, US Marine Corps Veteran, Spring 17


Carson Heath

I have been very busy since graduation. Right when the semester ended I received temporary orders to carry out my military police duty at an Army Aviation Facility in Salisbury, NC in wake of the Chattanooga shootings. As of the orders, I moved back to my hometown of Concord,  NC. After my orders expired, a government security contractor took over the job and hired me. This company has been very supportive of my obligation to the reserves. In February 2016, I started Basic Law Enforcement Training in Concord, NC. Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) is the required four and a half month course every police officer in the state of North Carolina has to go through in order to become a sworn law enforcement officer. As I finish up BLET, I am starting to look for police officer jobs in the greater Charlotte area.

One of my favorite hobbies is to play and make music, take photographs, and play with my 6-month-old pit bull puppy named Maggie. I am very proficient at a handful of instruments. In May 2016, I auditioned and made the Panthers PurrCussion Drumline. The Panthers have always been my favorite football team. This is an excellent opportunity to be a part of something I have looked up to for so many years doing something that I absolutely love.

When I’m free, I love to take trips back up to Cullowhee to see all of my younger friends that are still in school. It seems to be tradition to drive straight to Tuck’s after a three-hour drive from Charlotte.

If anyone has any questions about joining the military, military law enforcement, or WCU, feel free to find me on Facebook!

-Carson Heath, Criminal Justice, Spring 15, US Army

Shannon Maloney

I plan on joining the Public Health Service and being my career working with on Native American Reservations providing them with the health services they need.


Time off is kind of difficult to find. I am a student athlete here at Western. I play for the Women’s Soccer program here so that tends to keep me very busy! When I do have time I enjoy volunteering for different organizations around the Sylva area. I like being involved in the community.

I want to say thanks to you and Military Student Services. My family and I are very grateful for all that you do and I know you support many individuals that are grateful for this support as well!

-Shannon Maloney, Dependent of Navy Service Member, Environmental Health, Spring 2018

Kristian Hooker

"Being in the Vice President position of our Student Veterans Association chapter here at Western Carolina has become a driving source for me to be able to provide assistance to other student veterans or to individuals in need in general. It is allowing me to meet other student veterans like myself and relate to people that truly understand what they deal with on a daily basis as they are faced with other students that just do not understand. My opportunities that have come before me here at WCU through the SVA to help student veterans around our campus, and everything that has come before me through this school has truly made for a great two years of school thus far.

Military Student Services

My interest and hobbies in my spare time consist of working out and staying in good physical condition. Going on mountain bike rides with my dog here within the mountains of Western Carolina, or any activity that will allow me to be outside in some way.

My current plans after graduation are to look further into graduate schools to continue with my education and get a masters degree. I have looked into programs for a masters degree, as well as several master's degree certification programs that would broaden my scope of knowledge in fields related to my B.S. I also have considered to jump back into the work force with researching some federal positions under various departments.

Lastly, the thought of going back in to the military to serve overseas again has also been an option to me.

Living here in the mountains has become a new place to call home and I intend to try and remain somewhere within the area, if at all possible.

-Kristian Hooker, Environmental Science, Spring 2017

Military Student Services

Jonathan Matheson

"I am planning to seek out the first teaching job that I can and hopefully relocate to a bigger city such as Durham or Raleigh, possibly even move out of state if I found a job elsewhere. I am hoping to start my Masters Degree in Coaching or Sports Science through an online program as I hope to teach and even coach at the college level one day.

Most of my off time is playing sports (basketball, disc golf, ball golf, running, pool, darts, bowling), my new found love is Golf and I have enjoyed the challenges of a new skill and never realized how addicting Golf can be and now understand why so many people play it. I also spend a lot of time with programs and associations as I am the President of the Health and P.E. Majors Club and I am also a member of the Dean of Education's Student Advisory Board. I enjoy going out with friends and visiting my family in Asheville and checking out the down town scene just to see if anything has changed from semester to semester. Unfortunately as an Intern there isn't a large opportunity for down time but when I do get it I enjoy sitting around the house Pretending I know how to play my guitar and catching up games and sports news.

Don't let the world dictate your future. I was always told in high school that I would never make it to college especially if I didn't go to college right after high school, the Army tried to convince me that there were no jobs out there and that I should just stay in, and my third shift job said it was impossible for me to ever go to college, even when I was enrolled while I was working there and was doing my homework on my lunch breaks. And yet after all of the scrutinizing, not only did I go back, but I will be graduating with honors, on time, with my dream job. So if someone tells you that something can't be done, you have to decide if they really think that you can't do it, or if it is because they do not have the drive and the work ethic to do it themselves. So don't let the world dictate your future, you are in charge of your own life regardless of race, ethnicity, economic status, and gender. If you want to do something, then do it regardless of how impossible it may seem because all good things in this life are hard to achieve but that's what makes them worth it, and to truly succeed in this life you can't be afraid to ask for help."

-Jonathan Matheson, Army, active, BSED in Health & Physical Education, Spring 2016


Military Student Services

Zachary West

"Since graduation I have put the majority of my focus on advancing my career in the Coast Guard. I am currently stationed on the Coast Guard Cutter IDA LEWIS, home ported in Newport, RI. In the summer of 2016 I will be transferring to Philadelphia, PA due to a recent advancement to E-6. Earning my degree at Western Carolina University has helped me better understand not only the Coast Guard as a whole, but more importantly, the policies in place and the policy making process. As my career advances, I’m sure my degree will become more beneficial when it’s time for me to have a larger role in policy making.

In my off time, all my attention is focused towards what is truly the most important thing in my life, my family. My beautiful wife Kaicee and I have a 4 year old son, Jackson and a 2 year old daughter, Amelia. When I'm not at work, I enjoy taking family trips to see the many things that New England has to offer, especially since our tour here has been shortened. When we aren't exploring the Northeast, I enjoy just hanging out and having backyard baseball games and BBQ's.

My future aspiration is to continue my education through WCU and begin striving for a Masters Degree in Human Resources or Project Management. I also look for ways to better apply my education and skills I have developed at WCU through various programs within the Coast Guard. I also like to keep an eye out for job opportunities outside of the Coast Guard, should the perfect job should ever present itself.

My family and I have missed beautiful North Carolina since leaving, and we are hoping to move back one day or at least come back to visit."

-Zachary West, Emergency & Disaster Management, Spring 2015
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