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WCU Stories

Adam Gregory

Graduate Profiles: Adam Gregory

Adam Gregory is receiving his degree in mathematics from the College of Arts and Sciences. Entering as a freshman at WCU, Adam did not plan to study mathematics, yet today he graduates one of the department’s most outstanding students. During the last three years, Adam participated in two National Science Foundation-funded summer programs, one at the University of Texas in Tyler during the summer of 2017, and another at Rochester Institute of Technology during the summer of 2018. He credits WCU faculty with much of his success.  

Jacob Lewallen

Graduate Profile: Jacob Lewallen

A job as a manufacturing engineer is waiting for Jacob Lewallen after graduation, but he’ll have some time before he starts ― at least a couple of weeks. The College of Engineering and Technology graduate from Siler City lined up future employment by attending a WCU job fair earlier in the semester.   

Hannah Pollard

Graduate Profile: Hannah Pollard

Hannah Pollard is graduating from the College of Health and Human Sciences with her doctorate in physical therapy. During her time at WCU, Hannah has served as the quality improvement officer for the student-run Mountain Area Pro Bono Health Services Clinic, providing effective, free physical therapy and social work services to the underserved and underinsured population of Western North Carolina. Hannah’s efforts have helped to improve the quality of life, health, and function of members of the community. She is also responsible for tracking all clinic statistics and using this information to improve clinic or student board procedures.  

Samantha Klaver

Graduate Profile: Samantha Klaver

Samantha Klaver is graduating with a master’s degree in clinical psychology. In terms of research, WCU faculty members say that Samantha has been one of the most productive students with whom they have worked. Samantha’s research focuses on understanding and reducing the impact of interpersonal violence, particularly in children who have been abused and neglected.  

Taylor Luibrand

Graduate Profile: Taylor Luibrand

Taylor was drawn to WCU because of its small size and location in the mountains, but she was particularly impressed with WCU’s Writing and Learning Commons (WaLC) and University Participant (UP) program. She worked as a course tutor at WaLC for the past seven semesters, where she tutored General Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2, and Kinesiology 2. “Tutoring has helped me to grow a lot in terms of working with other people, working one-on-one to help them improve,” she says. “And I think that is very relevant to my chosen career. It was a great experience.”   

Madison Surrett

Graduate Profile: Madison Surrett

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.  

WCU Campus

Graduate Profile: Rachael Finigan

Rachael Finigan is receiving her Master’s degree in Biology. She has completed her degree in only four semesters—and during 11 months of that, Rachael was collecting data for her thesis. Her research was part of a collaborative project with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the NC Wildlife Resource Commission to explore the feasibility of restoring native freshwater mussels to the Oconaluftee River within the Qualla Boundary.   

Graduation Cap

2019 Commencement Speakers

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.  

Christine McConnell

Graduate Profile: Christine McConnell

Christine McConnell began her college career as a first-generation student majoring in theatre in 2013 and continued her studies through her junior year. At the end of the spring semester in 2016, Christine decided to take a semester off to spend some time with her sister in Portland, Oregon—in her own words, “learning to be an adult.” She returned to North Carolina three months later, ready to resume her studies, but just a month after her return, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Her whole life was put on hold for treatment.  

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