If ever there was a Western Carolina University graduate who was living his dream, it would be Tyler McKenzie. McKenzie, a 2013 graduate from WCU's School of Stage and Screen, is traveling across the country, dancing and singing as a member of the ensemble in the second national tour of the Broadway hit "Hamilton."
If J. Alan Goggins’ life were a track and field event, it would definitely be the hurdles. And Goggins would be a world-class hurdler. Goggins recently completed his postdoctoral research and has landed a postdoctoral fellowship at Merck Pharmaceuticals, where he will work with the company’s vaccine bioanalytics team. He’s come a long way since flunking out of community college 11 years ago, and he credits his success to WCU.
Amanda Muse is one of very few female snare drum players who perform at the highest levels of marching band. After overcoming stereotypes and physical challenges, Amanda uses her talent to inspire a new generation of musicians. The Pride of the Mountains Marching Band has given her the opportunity to share her gift with thousands of younger drummers. It has also given her the ride of a lifetime while performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and at the Bands of America Grand Nationals competition in Indianapolis, Indiana.
On a recent Wednesday evening, patients reviewed their progress since the last clinic before being treated. A cancer survivor with ambulatory challenges was patiently encouraged through a series of exercises, along with plenty of smiles upon completion of each task. Nearby, Swain County resident Delphia Birchfield watched a relative she had transported to the clinic begin his session. “This is an answered prayer,” Birchfield said. “Without it, I don’t know what kind of condition he’d be in right now, how he could cope. And he looks forward to it. You can see it with his interaction with the students. He’s treated as an individual, gets a level of attention and has made real progress. This clinic is a blessing.”
Jennifer Le’An Yoe-Gaddy, a graduate student receiving her master’s degree in social work, was the featured speaker for the 2018 Graduate School Commencement on Friday, May 11. The Weaverville resident spoke to her fellow graduating students about the circuitous route she took in earning her associate and bachelor’s degrees and said she had intended to speak to them about how to persevere in life. “We all have our stories,” she said. “Our stories, and the stories of all the graduates in this room, are certainly all unique, but undoubtedly we share one vital characteristic. We have grit, and it is your possession of this characteristic that is worthy of a sincere congratulations this evening.”