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WCU Stories

A photo of the overpass on I-40

Alumna Helping Local Wildlife

Anyone who has ever traveled along Interstate 40 through the Pigeon River Gorge near the North Carolina-Tennessee border knows how dangerous that stretch of highway can be. With its narrow lanes, twisting and winding curves through the mountains, rockslides, and speeding drivers, that portion of highway has been notorious for accidents. Well, just imagine what it must be like for wildlife living in those beautiful mountains that make up Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Pisgah and Cherokee national forests.  

Michaela Schmidlin

WCU Alumna Blends Project Management with Hospitality

Michaela Schmidlin, MPM ’18 can put your fear of hosting holiday company in perspective. As Entertainment and Event Programming Manager for Asheville-based The Biltmore Company, Schmidlin serves as the project manager for a number of estate events, the largest undertaking being Christmas at Biltmore and Candlelight Christmas Evenings.   

Discover Her Story  

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The Historical Significance and Contemporary Relevance of Juneteenth

Adam Thomas is an assistant professor of history at Western Carolina University whose research examines questions of slavery, anti-slavery warfare, emancipation, race, gender, memory, childhood and kinship in colonial North America and the early U.S. We asked Dr. Thomas to provide some insight into the historical significance of Juneteenth and what the event means during these times of civil unrest and protest.  

Students teaching

New flexible, online program at WCU makes it easier to be a teacher

Becoming a teacher through Western Carolina University just got a little easier for people wanting to switch careers and enter high-demand fields of education. The College of Education and Allied Professions is offering new comprehensive education master of arts in teaching concentrations for people who already have bachelor’s degrees and want to become a teacher.  

Learn More About the Program  

Jessica Otto

Environmental Health Professionals Provide Additional, Much-Needed Pandemic Care

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a public health crisis of historic portions, with the phrase “frontline workers” becoming a large part of the daily lexicon. And the Environmental Health Program at Western Carolina University has contributed its fair share of professionals to those ranks at the local, state and national levels.  

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David Walton, photo courtesy of UNC Pembrook

A Promise Fulfilled: David Walton was hired as director of WCU’s African American Studies minor

With the hiring of a director to create an African American Studies minor program, Western Carolina University has come one step closer to fulfilling its promise to add the offering to its curriculum. David Walton, an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, has been named the director of WCU’s African American Studies minor. Walton will begin his new role, which includes being an assistant professor in the Department of History, Aug. 1.  

Learn More About the Program  

Elizabeth Watson in her classroom

‘Gifted’ graduate grateful for opportunity to maximize her students’ learning

When Elizabeth Watson decided she wanted a master’s degree in education to better serve her gifted students, she didn’t have to look far for inspiration. “My sister attended Western Carolina University and graduated with a degree in special education. To this day, she is the best special education teacher I've ever seen,” said Watson, who graduated in May with a master’s degree in special education with a focus on gifted education. “I chose to attend WCU for the simple fact that I thought, ‘Well, they must be doing something right at this university.’”  

Fire Ant

Fire Ant Problems Increase in Mountains, Including Higher Elevations of the Region

Move over murder hornets. Fire ants, those vicious insects with a painful sting and destructive ways, are becoming more pervasive in the mountains, according to research from the Highlands Biological Station of Western Carolina University.  

Joseph Love

Online Master's Degree Program in Construction Management Builds a Career

A few years ago, Joseph Love, now a construction coordinator for Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, looked at Western Carolina University and its master's degree program in construction management as the curriculum he wanted and the career-building block he needed.  

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