Not long ago, Drew Starkey ’16, one of the stars in a hit Netflix television series, had doubts about whether his hope for a full-time career in the entertainment industry was realistic.
The School of Stage and Screen turned to technology to present a virtual version of a Shakespeare classic. Theatrical stages from coast to coast may have gone dark in this time of social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but that has not stopped the folks from the School of Stage and Screen at Western Carolina University from sharing their talents with the public. In the grand tradition of “the show must go on,” WCU students and faculty presented William Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” via Zoom, the videoconferencing service that has exploded in popularity as millions of students and workers find themselves studying and working remotely because of the coronavirus crisis.
More than two years after its debut, the groundbreaking tuition reduction plan known as NC Promise is, by most accounts, a solid success that is meeting the goals of improving access to higher education by providing a financial leg-up to undergraduate students who might not otherwise be able to afford it and lowering student loan debt. Enrollment has increased significantly at Western Carolina University and two other University of North Carolina System institutions that are part of the plan. Students say the lower tuition cost is making a difference in their lives, and the amount of student debt incurred is on the decline.
Every summer, I give advice to incoming freshmen as they prepare to begin their college careers. I encourage them to take this advice for what it is worth, but I also tell them that WCU staff members are excited to welcome new students “home” every year — pandemic or no. Here’s some of that advice...
For Chris Faw, it was a rustic wooden sign near the old entrance to Western Carolina University that featured the year the school was founded. For Emily Glesias, it was her memory of being a writing tutor and writing fellow while a student at WCU and knowing she could continue that support as an alumna.
Rivercane was once plentiful in Western North Carolina. The tall, slender plant, a member of the bamboo family, still grows in thick stands along some riverbanks, but not in an abundance as in years past. Increased development and intentional removal throughout the region have reduced its presence on the local landscape, in some instances quite dramatically.
As a child, Max Domalavage had his heart set on becoming a firefighter and a paramedic when he grew up. But it wasn’t the sirens or the uniforms or the big rigs and ambulances racing through the streets that drew Domalavage in. He simply wanted to help people.
Sue Swanger remembers them well: a group of bright and eager young women who all happened to be in her graduate auditing class together in 2003, all working toward their master’s degrees in accounting. That they now all serve together on Western Carolina University’s College of Business accounting advisory board is no surprise to their former professor.
“I liked science and math, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” said Laura Rabb, who graduated from WCU with a degree in biology with an emphasis in environmental health in 1989. “So, I went to talk to the environmental health program professor and he said, ‘take a class and if you don’t like it, it’s an elective.’”