Matthew McDonough could have followed his friends to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after he graduated from Asheville High School in 2015, but he didn’t. He chose to study at Western Carolina University instead, to better find out who he was — by himself.
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.”
Almost as ubiquitous as hiking boots is a hiking stick, an age-old means to steady a climb, keep one’s balance, push aside brush and ease a descent. Now, add one more function: phone charger, thanks to the ingenuity of Western Carolina University engineering student Kyle Monaghan.
Following graduation in May and a summer internship in Charlotte, Western Carolina University senior Brennan Burke will have to decide what path to follow next. When it comes time to make that decision, Burke will have more options than most because of the fact that she is earning a triple major. Burke started as a mathematics major with a concentration in actuarial science, but along the way she added finance and accounting to the mix, giving her the trifecta. Not bad for someone who in high school thought she wanted to be a civil engineer.
Sophia Calhoun began studying at Western Carolina University for an bachelor’s degree in environmental health, completing her undergraduate studies in 2017. But, Sophia’s experiences as an independent student opened her eyes to an entirely new career path in the field of higher education and student affairs.
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.
Western Carolina University’s Graduate School saw an 18.2 percent increase in enrollment of new graduate students this spring, largely driven by programs preparing students for career growth in high-demand fields. Overall Graduate School enrollment climbed 3.7 percent.
Today, January 17, marks the 26th day of the federal government’s partial shutdown. This past weekend, the shutdown became the longest in history when it surpassed the previous record set in 1995. In our role as an institution of higher education, we consider this sort of moment in history a learning opportunity for our students, as well as our larger community. Watch as our on-campus experts breakdown the government shutdown in five minutes.
“I could just go to school and that was like my place,” said Bevers, now a junior at Western Carolina University. “For me, school was normal and I was normal at school. I didn’t have to think about what was going on at home. It gave me something to distract myself. It was something I was good at.”