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WCU Stories

Brian Boyer on campus with Students

The View from Here

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...  

Image of Chris Faw

New giving society spurs alumni to expand support to students

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.  

Portrait of rivercane

Master's Degree in Biology Cultivates a Career

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.   

Max Domavalage

From Jackson County emergency responder to FEMA, WCU alumnus has found his place

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.  

WCU Campus

Alumnae Give Back by Serving on Accounting Board

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.   

Laura Rabb in Alaska

Alumna sees the world thanks to her degree, but finds there’s no place like home

“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.’”  

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.  

Donna Winbon and her blue BMW convertable

Donna Winbon to lead WCU Foundation board

It’s no surprise that Donna Winbon drives a bright blue BMW Z4 roadster. They’re both sporty and fun, and in BMW’s words: an irresistible force that provides maximum excitement. (Sounds like Winbon, doesn’t it?)   

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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