I couldn’t have done it without Appalachian
I never thought that I would be in the position I am today, as the representative for the entire student population of the UNC System and an ex-officio member of the Board of Governors.
I know I wouldn’t be here today if I wasn’t surrounded by compassionate faculty, kind staff and involved administrators. In fact, the first person I met at orientation was Cindy Wallace, the Vice Chancellor. I shook her hand and cherished that moment. Her kind words were the first of many catalysts for my involvement at Appalachian.
During orientation, I knew that I wanted to give back to this school; a similar commitment would be asking someone to marry you on the first date. But Appalachian impressed me to the point of seeing my future as a proud alumni.
I only applied to two schools: my parent’s Alma Mater, Louisiana State University and here. After visiting both, I fell in love with Appalachian; not the beauty that passersby experiences, but for an energy and a light that I was excited to become a part of. All of this momentum was in lieu of a full ride to LSU.
In the Fall of 2010 I made Boone my new home.
The best part about coming here, though, was not the overwhelming anticipation of involvement, it was that I saw that same drive that I possessed in every member of the Appalachian family.
Last year, when I was working in the Student Government Association office, there was a staff member named Colleen. Everyday that I stayed late at work was an opportunity to talk with Colleen, about everything from her children, to my unfinished power point presentation, to her air filter that desperately needed changing. It was in those moments where I began to realize that the Appalachian family extends far beyond the student body alone.
The faculty and staff encourage us.
Those valuable moments after class that allow you to see professors as more than lecturers. They see us as Ivy League students, and they hold their expectations of us at such a standard. Their belief in us is what cultivates Appalachian students; it extracts the potential and innovation that we possessed all along through transferrable experiences, such as the biology students exploring the Boone creek that runs through campus for research on water purification techniques.
The only difference between Ivy League students and us is the opportunity and outlet to succeed. We have the capability, we yearn for the support to hold such potential.
Appalachian suffered the most when the budget was cut state-wide to the university system.
Administrators adjusted accordingly, making sacrifices while upholding their promise of providing quality education. This can only be achieved for so long with supplementary cuts looming in the future.
Let me bring to light some notable accomplishments of Appalachian students:
- Appalachian ranked third for the number of students who studied abroad in 2010-2011
- Student chosen to present her research at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research
- On campus, our edible Schoolyard is more than a half acre dedicated to teaching students about nature, how to grow food and build community
- Recent Partnership with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
- Students recognized for their work on molecular biology funded by the National Science Foundation
- Appreciate the beauty of our campus, but interestingly enough we are simultaneously cultivating nutrient-rich mulch made from composted food scraps.
A recent distinguished accomplishment was ASU hosting an energy initiative conference for the UNC System schools. Where notable speaker, Amory Lovins challenged us with something that I believe Appalachian exemplifies; the idea that energy savings is become more than the “green” thing to do; saving energy is developing into the “RIGHT” thing to do. Appalachian cultivates this proactive mindset through the courses and culture on campus; students are taught to be adaptive and innovative in a rapidly changing world.
Just yesterday evening, I attended a concert comprised of student pieces that were inspired by statues from around campus. I was further impressed that each composition included an audio manipulated recording of sounds of the students creating percussion with the statues. I was completely taken aback by the originality of their projects; it was creativity and imagination that I could literally hear.
Our impact is not limited to Boone, even to North Carolina. Presently, we have students in New York, Washington and dozens of countries internationally pursuing internship opportunities.
Our potential is brewing inside of us, we’re craving to explore and share our innovation, and we are hindered by societal realities of waning funding, availability and opportunity.
I expect a cringe from my superiors in what I’m about to write, but give us the opportunity to fail!
Progress is admirable but we must first know how to slow down and reassess our strategy before we reach that glorious point of success. This cannot be achieved without the allotment of several opportunities to succeed before monumental achievement. The chance to further innovation and resourcefulness allows us a view a world far beyond the realm of a college education. These qualities are transferrable skills in any career; they prepare us for life, not just for a job within our major.
The return on the investment in Appalachian is insurmountable.
In closing, I have no idea what my future holds, but I can confidently tell you that no matter what career I pursue, I couldn’t have done it without Appalachian. Appalachian cultivated my potential to succeed and I hope that opportunity is extended to all the students in my Appalachian family.
Thank you and I look forward to seeing a future of cooperation between Appalachian and RTP.
Cameron Carswell is an Appalachian student. She is
President of the Association of Student Governments, 41st Session. She is also a
Member Ex-Officio of the NC Board of Governors.