A Mountaineer moves on
My brother Josh and I walked across the graduation stage together. This picture was at the last football game of the 2013 season when we beat Western Carolina.
Three years ago, I started my journey at Appalachian State University, and I cannot believe it has already come to an end. In May, my brother Josh and I walked across the graduation stage together and officially became Appalachian alumni. My experience at Appalachian State has been nothing short of incredible. Here is a little glimpse into why.
As many of you know, I transferred to Appalachian from UNC-Chapel Hill in order to be closer to home while my mother was battling leukemia. I can remember speaking to an admissions counselor as I began this process, and I knew from our first conversation I would feel right at home at Appalachian State. She assured me that no matter what decision I made in regards to transferring, she and the admissions staff at Appalachian State would be a source of support for me in navigating this process. I knew then there was something special about that little place nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
In the fall of 2011, I began my sophomore year at Appalachian State. Josh and I moved into a small two-bedroom apartment in the heart of Boone. Our apartment served as a haven for procrastination, countless laughs, awesome memories, disastrous cooking inflicted by yours truly, and moments of panic during finals week. Our humble abode, donned with classic rock posters of The Who, Eric Clapton, Bob Seger and The Eagles, quickly became "home sweet home." No one would ever suspect we were once two little go-kart-riding hellions. Well, maybe they would.
I found my place on campus as an Appalachian Ambassador, showing prospective students and their families around Appalachian's gorgeous campus. I connected with numerous Appalachian alumni and heard their stories about Appalachian and how it enriched their lives. I had the chance to build relationships with administrators and learn the ins and outs of how our university works. Most importantly, I developed life-long friendships. From staying up all night at the annual Appalachian Relay for Life, to saying up all night working on a conference presentation in Atlanta, we never ceased to give our all for Appalachian State.
My journey at Appalachian State took me beyond its mountains. I went from the rural pastures of a small farming town in northwest North Carolina to the plains of South Africa. I was able to submerse myself into a new culture and see the world through a different lens. I petted a cheetah, for crying out loud! Appalachian took me beyond those South African plains and into the streets of Shanghai and Beijing. From mountaintops to cityscapes, I have been blessed to witness some of the most beautiful areas of our world. I never dreamed in a million years that I would stand on the Great Wall of China, but Appalachian paved my way to such an opportunity.
Finally, Appalachian provided me with a top-notch education. The faculty and staff invested their time and energy in me and provided me with the tools to lead a better life. Appalachian has prepared me for my next step in life.
As I go to Nashville, Tennessee, to join the Teach for America corps, I am forever grateful for my time spent as a Mountaineer. There is simply nothing like the view in Boone at 3,333 feet. As the founder of the Appalachian Ambassadors, the late Mr. Fred Robinette, once said, "It is truly great to be a Mountaineer!"