It literally took one day on the campus of Western Carolina University for Madison Surrett to realize it was the place for her. Upon transferring to WCU for her sophomore year after spending one year at a private school in Georgia, Surrett was nervous about coming to Cullowhee. Having felt unaccepted and out of place at her previous school, Surrett didn’t know what to expect.
The address for the May 10 Graduate School commencement will be delivered by Dana Stockton, a graduating student from Melbourne, Florida, who is receiving his master’s degree through WCU’s online program in human resources. Antonio Oakley of Charlotte, a member of the spring class who is receiving his bachelor’s degree in computer information systems, will provide remarks for the May 11 afternoon undergraduate ceremony. Discover more about our 2019 Commencement Speakers.
Madison Hale, originally from the North Carolina town of Albermarle, calls herself quiet, an introvert—but she’s already carved out an adventurous path for herself. After graduation, she plans to hike all 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail with her brother, who is graduating from high school. “We’re both taking a year to do this,” she says. “It’s been a dream of ours.” Though it could take four to six months, she wants to take her time. “I want to see everything I can,” she says, “since it’s a once in a lifetime thing.”
Rachel Sullivan believes in the power of good food on the body and of the Holy Spirit on the soul. Without one, she would not have found the other — or her life’s calling. Sullivan is a 20-year-old Western Carolina University junior and Honors College student majoring in nutrition and dietetics, an area of study she chose after witnessing the effects of starvation on her two half siblings whose parents were dealing with substance abuse issues. Sullivan and her half siblings, now age 9 and 13, have the same birth mother.
It took a while for Joanna Woodson to discover her true passion in life. But three universities and year and a half in the workplace later, Woodson has found her purpose, along with a home, at Western Carolina University. After a year at WCU, Woodson has not only settled on a major, she’s discovered a passion for politics that has led WCU to become a leader in voter participation across the University of North Carolina system.