Asha, a senior from Charlotte, is yet another example of that. Yes, that’s Asha with no last name, courtesy of her dad who decided she would be the only family member (which consists of her parents and four other siblings) that would not have one.
It started with being named the Southern Conference Preseason Player of the Year. From there, the accolades and honors have just been pouring in for Western Carolina University’s Vonterius Woolbright, a senior on the men’s basketball team.
Armani Blair has run track for as long as she can remember. She inherited the passion of running from her mother, Jamicka Abraham, who also ran track. But Blair, a junior from Charlotte and a member of Western Carolina University’s women’s track and field team, will be the first to tell you she’s not your average track athlete. Track is not at the forefront of her life. For Blair, a double major in political science and sociology, it’s grades first.
When C.J. Mitchell arrived at Western Carolina University in the fall of 2020, the only thing he knew about student government was what he saw in high school; that it primarily was an organization that put on a few dances during the school year. He had no idea that by his sophomore year at WCU, the Student Government Association would be the main catalyst for shaping the man who will graduate this spring.
Manifestation is the conscious creation of circumstances and outcomes that make for a fulfilling life. Raised in a single-parent household of four out of inner-city Cleveland, Ohio, BaShaun Smith understood at a young age what hard work looked like. “I learned early on that I didn’t have to run through a brick wall to know it hurts,” Smith said.
Once referred to as a “campus fixture” by beloved late WCU Chancellor David Orr Belcher, Carol Burton, vice provost, has dedicated 33 years to learning and leading with compassion and obligation. Raised by Jamaican parents Reuben and Yvonne Burton, Burton’s journey to higher education was predestined by her matriarchal, fearless, powerful and entrepreneurial mother. “An American degree is the way of the future,” Yvonne Burton told her.
Named after her late father, John L. Brown, Johnnifer Patrice Brown, assistant professor of interior design at WCU, spent her childhood watching her father master the art of upholstery in Montgomery, Alabama. Completing her BS degree in mechanical engineering from Tuskegee University, and time spent working in both the automotive and commercial design industry, Patrice soon realized she was unfulfilled and needed a change.
Life in threes. That’s how Jeff Hughes, director of the Department of Campus Activities, patterned his decades-long career at Western Carolina University. Holding a master’s in public administration and a bachelor’s in sociology from Georgia Southern University, the native of Lake Hartwell, Georgia, set out with ambitions of becoming a city planner.
Evelyn Rucker, a native of Mobile, Alabama, a first-generation college student, and interim director of Intercultural Affairs at Western Carolina University, uses her favorite quote by rapper Tupac Shakur to inspire her to continue to lead and empower marginalized students through their higher education journey.