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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
Natalie Newman knew she had the drive and ambition to run her own business, but what she needed was direction and inspiration. She found both in Western Carolina University’s master’s degree program in innovation leadership and entrepreneurship through the College of Business.
Garrett Ozar, a 2009 graduate with a degree in entrepreneurship, took managerial skills and confidence gained from the Innovation Leadership and Entrepreneurship Program in the College of Business, to start a success story. He is the co-founder of Eterneva, an Austin, Texas, based company started in 2017 that takes ashes from cremated remains, isolates the carbon and, with heat and pressure, creates diamonds as an everlasting keepsake.
Alumnus Kevin Rumley '18 serves with Asheville's Buncombe County Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) which is an example of a treatment court that specifically serves the veteran community.
It was a long day with an early start, but well worth the effort for 18 Western Carolina University students to see first-hand what their future careers could be, all thanks to some high-ranking WCU alumni in Cobb County, Georgia, and WCU’s Shadowing Day program.