90 Years, 90 Careers

Last year UNC Asheville celebrated 90 years as an institution. As we reflected on the advancements of the university, it was hard to ignore the many accomplishments of our alumni. Throughout the year, we highlighted 90 alumni who are making an impact in their community and who embody the values of our university in their everyday work. Please enjoy their stories and share them with your friends.


Kyla Rohe, Class of 2017


 

Kyla Rohe

Class of 2017

Bachelor of Arts, Sociology

"I work at an nonprofit organization in Black Mountain, NC called Bounty & Soul. We support our community by providing access to fresh, healthy produce as well as providing health and wellness classes, cooking demonstrations, and private health coaching, all at no cost to participants. My position at Bounty & Soul is Market Coordinator, a role which encompasses many things: I help coordinate volunteers, assist and provide resources to market participants, and translate our health and wellness lessons for Spanish-speaking participants. Occasionally I help out with the kids’ cooking lessons too!

I am dedicated to supporting food justice in my community and ensuring that everyone has access to important information about nutrition, which empowers them to make informed decisions about what foods they choose for themselves and for their families. I studied Sociology at UNC Asheville, a major which sparked my passion for social justice and led me to want to build a career in supporting communities by providing important resources in order to combat inequality in our society.

Through UNC Asheville I was also able to study abroad in Costa Rica and Uruguay for a year, an experience which has helped me immeasurably, mainly for the fact that I was able to learn Spanish while I was there. My Spanish skills have opened many doors to me since I graduated and I cherish the fact that I am able to help bridge the gap between the Spanish- and English-speaking communities at Bounty & Soul and improve access to important resources for Spanish speakers. In the future I hope to continue fighting inequality and ensuring a better quality of life for the communities that I serve."

Kyla Rohe, Class of 2017


 

Kyla Rohe

Class of 2017

Bachelor of Arts, Sociology

"I work at an nonprofit organization in Black Mountain, NC called Bounty & Soul. We support our community by providing access to fresh, healthy produce as well as providing health and wellness classes, cooking demonstrations, and private health coaching, all at no cost to participants. My position at Bounty & Soul is Market Coordinator, a role which encompasses many things: I help coordinate volunteers, assist and provide resources to market participants, and translate our health and wellness lessons for Spanish-speaking participants. Occasionally I help out with the kids’ cooking lessons too!

I am dedicated to supporting food justice in my community and ensuring that everyone has access to important information about nutrition, which empowers them to make informed decisions about what foods they choose for themselves and for their families. I studied Sociology at UNC Asheville, a major which sparked my passion for social justice and led me to want to build a career in supporting communities by providing important resources in order to combat inequality in our society.

Through UNC Asheville I was also able to study abroad in Costa Rica and Uruguay for a year, an experience which has helped me immeasurably, mainly for the fact that I was able to learn Spanish while I was there. My Spanish skills have opened many doors to me since I graduated and I cherish the fact that I am able to help bridge the gap between the Spanish- and English-speaking communities at Bounty & Soul and improve access to important resources for Spanish speakers. In the future I hope to continue fighting inequality and ensuring a better quality of life for the communities that I serve."

Jesse Goldman, Class of 2016


 

Jesse Goldman

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science
 

Slacklining is much more than just a leisurely past-time for UNCA alumnus Jesse Goldman. The activity, which involves balancing on a thin piece of webbing tensioned between two points, has lined up a world of opportunity for the recent graduate. 

In 2012 Goldman, a political science major, created Slack-Librium—an educational slackline organization that focuses on “building community and instilling positive cultural change through instructional slackline and mindfulness workshops at schools, festivals, camps and events across the country.” To put it simply, says Goldman, “the organization teaches balance—physically, mentally, and emotionally.”

Goldman’s fascination with slacklining began his freshman year, when friend and future business partner, Patrick Green, introduced him to the sport. He became enthralled with the activity and says he spent his first few months at school practicing on the Quad. “At the same time,” Goldman explains, “I began learning about mindfulness and contemplative practices in my freshman seminar class, called Transformation of the Body, Heart, Mind & Soul.”

He began to draw parallels between what he was learning in the class and his newfound hobby. Slacklining, like mindfulness, is all about present-moment awareness. “Once you understand the proper posture,” says Goldman, “all you need to do is practice body-awareness and keep yourself standing on top of the line.”

It was during a student campout during Goldman’s second semester at UNC Asheville that the idea for Slack-Librium was born, when he and Green organized a workshop combining for the campers combining both slacklining and mindfulness. During his sophomore year, Goldman decided to take Slack-Librium from concept to reality through the service learning component in his Health & Wellness course.

“Through the structure of this class, I was able to reach out to Asheville Middle School and gain permission to teach slacklining and mindfulness workshops in AMS gym classes for an entire week, says Goldman. “This program went so well that it developed into a grant project sponsored by UNC Asheville’s N.C. Center for Health & Wellness that brought two weeks of slackline and mindfulness programming into AMS gym classes.”

Goldman turned his findings into a research paper, “Walking Mindfully with Middle Schoolers: The Development of an Afterschool Slacklining Curriculum,” that was published in the Journal of Undergraduate Public Service Projects. Goldman was then connected with the In Real Life After-School Network at Asheville Middle School and has been providing after-school slackline and mindfulness programs there ever since.

“UNC Asheville offered me an invaluable support system and environment to experiment with my ideas and lay the foundation for my business,” says Goldman. “I learned from so many brilliant people during my time at UNCA and the relationships I was able to develop with some of my professors outside of class added tremendous value to my experience.”

Goldman has advice for current students, as well: “Take advantage of every moment. If you are only showing up to class and completing homework assignments, in my opinion, you are wasting your time and money. No one is going to care that much about your GPA when you graduate. You need to be able to articulate what was valuable about your experience and what you spent your time doing.”

Jesse Goldman, Class of 2016


 

Jesse Goldman

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science
 

Slacklining is much more than just a leisurely past-time for UNCA alumnus Jesse Goldman. The activity, which involves balancing on a thin piece of webbing tensioned between two points, has lined up a world of opportunity for the recent graduate. 

In 2012 Goldman, a political science major, created Slack-Librium—an educational slackline organization that focuses on “building community and instilling positive cultural change through instructional slackline and mindfulness workshops at schools, festivals, camps and events across the country.” To put it simply, says Goldman, “the organization teaches balance—physically, mentally, and emotionally.”

Goldman’s fascination with slacklining began his freshman year, when friend and future business partner, Patrick Green, introduced him to the sport. He became enthralled with the activity and says he spent his first few months at school practicing on the Quad. “At the same time,” Goldman explains, “I began learning about mindfulness and contemplative practices in my freshman seminar class, called Transformation of the Body, Heart, Mind & Soul.”

He began to draw parallels between what he was learning in the class and his newfound hobby. Slacklining, like mindfulness, is all about present-moment awareness. “Once you understand the proper posture,” says Goldman, “all you need to do is practice body-awareness and keep yourself standing on top of the line.”

It was during a student campout during Goldman’s second semester at UNC Asheville that the idea for Slack-Librium was born, when he and Green organized a workshop combining for the campers combining both slacklining and mindfulness. During his sophomore year, Goldman decided to take Slack-Librium from concept to reality through the service learning component in his Health & Wellness course.

“Through the structure of this class, I was able to reach out to Asheville Middle School and gain permission to teach slacklining and mindfulness workshops in AMS gym classes for an entire week, says Goldman. “This program went so well that it developed into a grant project sponsored by UNC Asheville’s N.C. Center for Health & Wellness that brought two weeks of slackline and mindfulness programming into AMS gym classes.”

Goldman turned his findings into a research paper, “Walking Mindfully with Middle Schoolers: The Development of an Afterschool Slacklining Curriculum,” that was published in the Journal of Undergraduate Public Service Projects. Goldman was then connected with the In Real Life After-School Network at Asheville Middle School and has been providing after-school slackline and mindfulness programs there ever since.

“UNC Asheville offered me an invaluable support system and environment to experiment with my ideas and lay the foundation for my business,” says Goldman. “I learned from so many brilliant people during my time at UNCA and the relationships I was able to develop with some of my professors outside of class added tremendous value to my experience.”

Goldman has advice for current students, as well: “Take advantage of every moment. If you are only showing up to class and completing homework assignments, in my opinion, you are wasting your time and money. No one is going to care that much about your GPA when you graduate. You need to be able to articulate what was valuable about your experience and what you spent your time doing.”

Caroline Parworth, Class of 2010


 

Caroline Parworth

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Science, Chemistry

Bachelor of Arts, Mathematics

“I am a NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) Fellow at NASA Ames Research Center in the Silicon Valley of California. I work on the AJAX (Alpha Jet Atmospheric eXperiment) project, where we conduct science measurement flights to measure ozone (O3), formaldehyde (HCHO), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and meteorological data in the western US.  The project provides vital validation data for satellite sensors over months and years, to better assess the sensors' health,  accuracy and calibration over their lifetimes. Our measurements are also useful for characterizing local and long-range transport of airborne pollutants.

These photos show my first research flight in the back seat of the Alpha Jet. We flew over the Sacramento Valley during a hazy and abnormally warm winter day (January 2018). Our research pods, which house our trace gas instruments, can be seen in the bottom left corner of the photo (below).

For more information on our research visit our website or follow our instagram account @NASA_AJAX.”

Caroline Parworth, Class of 2010


 

Caroline Parworth

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Science, Chemistry

Bachelor of Arts, Mathematics

“I am a NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) Fellow at NASA Ames Research Center in the Silicon Valley of California. I work on the AJAX (Alpha Jet Atmospheric eXperiment) project, where we conduct science measurement flights to measure ozone (O3), formaldehyde (HCHO), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and meteorological data in the western US.  The project provides vital validation data for satellite sensors over months and years, to better assess the sensors' health,  accuracy and calibration over their lifetimes. Our measurements are also useful for characterizing local and long-range transport of airborne pollutants.

These photos show my first research flight in the back seat of the Alpha Jet. We flew over the Sacramento Valley during a hazy and abnormally warm winter day (January 2018). Our research pods, which house our trace gas instruments, can be seen in the bottom left corner of the photo (below).

For more information on our research visit our website or follow our instagram account @NASA_AJAX.”

Austin Graham, Class of 2010


Austin Graham

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Science, Health and Wellness Promotion

"I am a Rehabilitation Trainer at Ability KC. Our organization provides comprehensive educational, vocational and therapeutic services for children and adults with disabilities. I work in the medical rehabilitation department which offers a comprehensive continuum of care for patients who have sustained catastrophic medical events.

The population I work with  includes pediatric, adolescent and adult patients with various complex medical diagnosis including but not limited to strokes, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, multiple sclerosis,  and limb loss. I work with patients in the EksoGT daily to help them regain neural pathways, re-learn proper gait mechanics and feel more confident among many other benefits to their rehabilitation process.

I help serial cast a patient who is trying to gain range in their upper or lower extremities, work on scheduling the patient's therapies and facilitate the use of many rehab technologies on a daily basis. I also run the EXCEL program for patients who complete therapy and want to continue to use our equipment in a gym-like atmosphere after hours.

I wear a lot of hats here and love going to work everyday. Getting to see people come in with severe issues and leave with a new found normal is so rewarding. I'm proud to be on the team at Ability KC!"

Austin Graham, Class of 2010


Austin Graham

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Science, Health and Wellness Promotion

"I am a Rehabilitation Trainer at Ability KC. Our organization provides comprehensive educational, vocational and therapeutic services for children and adults with disabilities. I work in the medical rehabilitation department which offers a comprehensive continuum of care for patients who have sustained catastrophic medical events.

The population I work with  includes pediatric, adolescent and adult patients with various complex medical diagnosis including but not limited to strokes, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, multiple sclerosis,  and limb loss. I work with patients in the EksoGT daily to help them regain neural pathways, re-learn proper gait mechanics and feel more confident among many other benefits to their rehabilitation process.

I help serial cast a patient who is trying to gain range in their upper or lower extremities, work on scheduling the patient's therapies and facilitate the use of many rehab technologies on a daily basis. I also run the EXCEL program for patients who complete therapy and want to continue to use our equipment in a gym-like atmosphere after hours.

I wear a lot of hats here and love going to work everyday. Getting to see people come in with severe issues and leave with a new found normal is so rewarding. I'm proud to be on the team at Ability KC!"

Catherine Mosley, Class of 2008


 

Catherine Mosley

Class of 2008

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

“I am currently the English Department Chair at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School at Parkside as well as the 9th grade ELA instructor. I truly enjoy working with scholars who will be the first generation (in 90% of the households we serve) to go to college or any other institute of higher education.

I specifically work with scholars who are classified as special needs and would otherwise fall through the cracks without the assistance of our school.

It has been a blessing to attend UNCA and return to my home city of Washington, D.C. to serve a community of individuals who deserve equitable education. I also can’t help but hope some of the scholars I serve will become future UNCA Alums!”

Catherine Mosley, Class of 2008


 

Catherine Mosley

Class of 2008

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

“I am currently the English Department Chair at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School at Parkside as well as the 9th grade ELA instructor. I truly enjoy working with scholars who will be the first generation (in 90% of the households we serve) to go to college or any other institute of higher education.

I specifically work with scholars who are classified as special needs and would otherwise fall through the cracks without the assistance of our school.

It has been a blessing to attend UNCA and return to my home city of Washington, D.C. to serve a community of individuals who deserve equitable education. I also can’t help but hope some of the scholars I serve will become future UNCA Alums!”

Mickey Schandler Grossman, Class of 1962


 

Mickey Schandler Grossman

Class of 1962

"I was in the last class to be on the campus at Overlook Castle up on Beaucatcher Mountain and the first class on the new campus when there were only the science and administration buildings.

It was no accident that I started my path to my chosen career, occupational therapy (which I chose in seventh grade), at Asheville Biltmore Junior College. I followed my father, Aaron Maney Schandler, and my uncles, Herbert and Joseph (Dody) Schandler. My father graduated exactly 30 years before me.  

At Asheville Biltmore College, I was allowed to experience many things, from student government, to cheerleading, to honor society, and everything in between! I had my little fiat to travel up and down the mountain, and my free time was spent helping in my parents’ stores, the Pickle Barrel and A 'n L's Hobbicraft.

There were only thirty occupational therapy programs in the country at that time, and I limited it to two: Columbia University in New York and Washington University in St. Louis. I found that all my credits were fully accepted by both. Having family on both sides of New York and feeling W.U. had a more complex program (W.U. conducted cadaver dissections compared to a prepared dissection at Columbia), I went to Columbia. I completing my training in 1964 after affiliations at Oteen Veterans Administration Hospital, Chicago’s Michael Reece Hospital and Children's Hospital, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

After my marriage to Dr. Joshua Grossman, I worked in St. Louis at The Jewish Hospital and the Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, continuing part time after the birth of our son David. During my husband’s military training, we lived in St. Louis and Baltimore (where our son Joel was born), before moving back to Asheville while my husband was in Korea with the army.

After his fellowship and returning to Asheville (where our daughter Wendy was born), we moved to Johnson City, Tennessee where we have been for forty-two years.

I have worked in all areas of occupational therapy, from physical disabilities, to pediatrics to psychiatry, to addiction treatment, and hand surgery patients. 

I have remained active in my synagogue as past president and sisterhood president for many years. I currently do Flowers of Hope with the Salvation Army and my garden club. At our current home, I am often accused of building a park at Hunter's Lake.

I was on the Johnson City Tree and Appearance Board, past president of the American Association of University Women, and have been on the scholarship committee for the re-entry scholarship at East Tennessee State University for many years. I also play and teach mahjong.

I am currently retired from occupational therapy and only work with friends or others who might need treatment, but don't have coverage for it. I prefer to give it away, as well as perennials from my garden.

The best part of being seventy-five and married for fifty-four years are our six beautiful grandchildren. Come visit anytime!"

Mickey Schandler Grossman, Class of 1962


 

Mickey Schandler Grossman

Class of 1962

"I was in the last class to be on the campus at Overlook Castle up on Beaucatcher Mountain and the first class on the new campus when there were only the science and administration buildings.

It was no accident that I started my path to my chosen career, occupational therapy (which I chose in seventh grade), at Asheville Biltmore Junior College. I followed my father, Aaron Maney Schandler, and my uncles, Herbert and Joseph (Dody) Schandler. My father graduated exactly 30 years before me.  

At Asheville Biltmore College, I was allowed to experience many things, from student government, to cheerleading, to honor society, and everything in between! I had my little fiat to travel up and down the mountain, and my free time was spent helping in my parents’ stores, the Pickle Barrel and A 'n L's Hobbicraft.

There were only thirty occupational therapy programs in the country at that time, and I limited it to two: Columbia University in New York and Washington University in St. Louis. I found that all my credits were fully accepted by both. Having family on both sides of New York and feeling W.U. had a more complex program (W.U. conducted cadaver dissections compared to a prepared dissection at Columbia), I went to Columbia. I completing my training in 1964 after affiliations at Oteen Veterans Administration Hospital, Chicago’s Michael Reece Hospital and Children's Hospital, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

After my marriage to Dr. Joshua Grossman, I worked in St. Louis at The Jewish Hospital and the Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, continuing part time after the birth of our son David. During my husband’s military training, we lived in St. Louis and Baltimore (where our son Joel was born), before moving back to Asheville while my husband was in Korea with the army.

After his fellowship and returning to Asheville (where our daughter Wendy was born), we moved to Johnson City, Tennessee where we have been for forty-two years.

I have worked in all areas of occupational therapy, from physical disabilities, to pediatrics to psychiatry, to addiction treatment, and hand surgery patients. 

I have remained active in my synagogue as past president and sisterhood president for many years. I currently do Flowers of Hope with the Salvation Army and my garden club. At our current home, I am often accused of building a park at Hunter's Lake.

I was on the Johnson City Tree and Appearance Board, past president of the American Association of University Women, and have been on the scholarship committee for the re-entry scholarship at East Tennessee State University for many years. I also play and teach mahjong.

I am currently retired from occupational therapy and only work with friends or others who might need treatment, but don't have coverage for it. I prefer to give it away, as well as perennials from my garden.

The best part of being seventy-five and married for fifty-four years are our six beautiful grandchildren. Come visit anytime!"

David Ramseur, Class of 1976


 

David Ramseur

Class of 1976

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

"Thirty years ago this June, I was among 82 select passengers on the first American jet ever to land in a Soviet Far East Arctic high-security zone at the height of the Cold War. Our mission was two-fold: reunite Alaska and Russia Native families who had been banned from contact for 40 years and improve relations with Alaska’s former overlord just 55 miles across the Bering Strait.

As a cynical political science major at UNCA in the turbulent 1970s, I joined fellow students in questioning the effectiveness and honesty of government. But after four years of inspirational teaching by Professors Goetz Wolf, Bob Farzanagen and George Stein, I came to appreciate how an involved citizenry applying effective politics can force governments to be responsive and productive. On campus, I tried to adopt that model as a student senator and student body vice president.

After graduation from UNCA in 1976 and grad school in journalism, I continued my skeptical ways as a newspaper reporter. At the Greenville (S.C.) News and then at Alaska’s farthest-north daily, I questioned local, state and federal lawmakers before being inspired by one to join the 'dark side.' A decade after leaving Asheville, I was named press secretary to Alaska’s governor – and that’s how I ended up in the Soviet Union.

During the Cold War, the US and USSR erected an 'Ice Curtain' across the strait between Alaska and Russia, banning all contact. By the mid-1980s, Alaskan and Russian “citizen diplomats” pressured their national governments to allow interactions.

As a top aide to two Alaska governors and one of our US senators, I’ve visited Russia a dozen times, lived there in the early 1990s and helped organize scores of interactions. One of the highest profile was the June 13, 1988 Alaska Airlines’ 'Friendship Flight' we celebrate this year.

Last summer, the University of Alaska Press published my book, Melting the Ice Curtain: The Extraordinary Story of Citizen Diplomacy on the Russia-Alaska Frontier, the first comprehensive account of this era.

Throughout my career, I’ve often relied on the practical political wisdom I gleaned from all those political science lectures, readings and many research papers on UNCA’s picturesque campus."

David Ramseur, Class of 1976


 

David Ramseur

Class of 1976

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

"Thirty years ago this June, I was among 82 select passengers on the first American jet ever to land in a Soviet Far East Arctic high-security zone at the height of the Cold War. Our mission was two-fold: reunite Alaska and Russia Native families who had been banned from contact for 40 years and improve relations with Alaska’s former overlord just 55 miles across the Bering Strait.

As a cynical political science major at UNCA in the turbulent 1970s, I joined fellow students in questioning the effectiveness and honesty of government. But after four years of inspirational teaching by Professors Goetz Wolf, Bob Farzanagen and George Stein, I came to appreciate how an involved citizenry applying effective politics can force governments to be responsive and productive. On campus, I tried to adopt that model as a student senator and student body vice president.

After graduation from UNCA in 1976 and grad school in journalism, I continued my skeptical ways as a newspaper reporter. At the Greenville (S.C.) News and then at Alaska’s farthest-north daily, I questioned local, state and federal lawmakers before being inspired by one to join the 'dark side.' A decade after leaving Asheville, I was named press secretary to Alaska’s governor – and that’s how I ended up in the Soviet Union.

During the Cold War, the US and USSR erected an 'Ice Curtain' across the strait between Alaska and Russia, banning all contact. By the mid-1980s, Alaskan and Russian “citizen diplomats” pressured their national governments to allow interactions.

As a top aide to two Alaska governors and one of our US senators, I’ve visited Russia a dozen times, lived there in the early 1990s and helped organize scores of interactions. One of the highest profile was the June 13, 1988 Alaska Airlines’ 'Friendship Flight' we celebrate this year.

Last summer, the University of Alaska Press published my book, Melting the Ice Curtain: The Extraordinary Story of Citizen Diplomacy on the Russia-Alaska Frontier, the first comprehensive account of this era.

Throughout my career, I’ve often relied on the practical political wisdom I gleaned from all those political science lectures, readings and many research papers on UNCA’s picturesque campus."

Kate Averett, Class of 2015

 

Kate Averett

Class of 2015

Bachelor of Arts, Art History

 

Equipped with her BA in Art History from UNC Asheville in Spring 2015, Kate Averett attended UNC Chapel Hill where she graduated with her MA in Art History in 2017. While at UNC, her research utilized a feminist psychoanalytic approach to horror films as a means of understanding contemporary fears surrounding spectatorship, the female body, and maternity. During this time, she was awarded a Teaching Assistantship in addition to her work at Chapel Hill's Tyndall Galleries. Kate has returned to Asheville to serve as Project Coordinator for the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center's Performance Initiative, a project that furthers UNCA's relationship with the Museum as well as the downtown community through programming, performances, and workshops.

Averett talks about her time at UNC Asheville:

"I was consistently inspired by the passion and creativity that my professors expressed in their approach to Art History. This creative approach which embraced many aspects of Visual Culture, the legacy of innovative institutions like Black Mountain College, and the difficult discussions that accompany “Outsider” and Transgressive art, shaped my non-traditional approach to the field and prepared me for the theoretical challenges of an Art History MA.

Through my undergraduate research, particularly my thesis on photographer Zoe Leonard’s “Anatomical Models” Series, I found my voice as a feminist scholar and developed the skills I needed to produce graduate level research. More importantly, my professors pushed me to pursue this degree to the highest level and provided opportunities for me to explore archives, catalogues, and exhibitions. Under Dr. Rundquist’s guidance, I began a “Curatorial Reconnaissance” project, which has been continued by students that came after me, cataloging and evaluating the artwork on our campus and bringing to light the talent of our alumni.

When I arrived at UNC Chapel Hill for my Master’s in Art History, the transition was made all the better by my experience working closely with faculty and my previous experience with research methods and the hard hitting questions of Art Theory. I knew from the moment I graduated from my Bachelors that I wanted to return to Asheville and work alongside the institutions that shaped my undergraduate degree. Through my new position as Project Coordinator for the BMCM+AC’s Performance Initiative, a position funded by UNC Asheville’s Andrew W. Mellon Grant, I look forward to working alongside both the Downtown arts community as well as UNC Asheville."

Kate Averett, Class of 2015

 

Kate Averett

Class of 2015

Bachelor of Arts, Art History

 

Equipped with her BA in Art History from UNC Asheville in Spring 2015, Kate Averett attended UNC Chapel Hill where she graduated with her MA in Art History in 2017. While at UNC, her research utilized a feminist psychoanalytic approach to horror films as a means of understanding contemporary fears surrounding spectatorship, the female body, and maternity. During this time, she was awarded a Teaching Assistantship in addition to her work at Chapel Hill's Tyndall Galleries. Kate has returned to Asheville to serve as Project Coordinator for the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center's Performance Initiative, a project that furthers UNCA's relationship with the Museum as well as the downtown community through programming, performances, and workshops.

Averett talks about her time at UNC Asheville:

"I was consistently inspired by the passion and creativity that my professors expressed in their approach to Art History. This creative approach which embraced many aspects of Visual Culture, the legacy of innovative institutions like Black Mountain College, and the difficult discussions that accompany “Outsider” and Transgressive art, shaped my non-traditional approach to the field and prepared me for the theoretical challenges of an Art History MA.

Through my undergraduate research, particularly my thesis on photographer Zoe Leonard’s “Anatomical Models” Series, I found my voice as a feminist scholar and developed the skills I needed to produce graduate level research. More importantly, my professors pushed me to pursue this degree to the highest level and provided opportunities for me to explore archives, catalogues, and exhibitions. Under Dr. Rundquist’s guidance, I began a “Curatorial Reconnaissance” project, which has been continued by students that came after me, cataloging and evaluating the artwork on our campus and bringing to light the talent of our alumni.

When I arrived at UNC Chapel Hill for my Master’s in Art History, the transition was made all the better by my experience working closely with faculty and my previous experience with research methods and the hard hitting questions of Art Theory. I knew from the moment I graduated from my Bachelors that I wanted to return to Asheville and work alongside the institutions that shaped my undergraduate degree. Through my new position as Project Coordinator for the BMCM+AC’s Performance Initiative, a position funded by UNC Asheville’s Andrew W. Mellon Grant, I look forward to working alongside both the Downtown arts community as well as UNC Asheville."

Roy Arthur Taylor, Class of 1929

 

Roy Arthur Taylor

Class of 1929

Roy Arthur Taylor graduated as one of the first graduates of Buncombe County Junior College—one of the 29 graduates in 1929, and he went on to make himself a namesake across the state and with his alma mater.

Taylor served as commencement speaker for his class, showcasing the skills gained from his years on the debate team. During his time at the college, he argued ardently for a football team and a school paper. The result was a winning football team, in addition to the women’s basketball team at the time, and a quality literary magazine called Bluets.

After graduation, Taylor went to Maryville College in Tennessee, followed by Asheville University Law School, and a stint in the U.S. Navy. He was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in 1947. During his time in the state legislature, Taylor helped drive the initiative leading to the 1957 Community College Act.

His alma mater, now Asheville-Biltmore College, subsequently became the first community college in North Carolina. He served on the Board of Trustees for his alma mater, during which he helped bring the campus to its current location. Taylor also encouraged the next generation of students to develop their communication and presentation skills, by sponsoring a public speaking contest at UNC Asheville. Taylor died on March 2, 1995, but his legacy lives on in the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumni Award, UNC Asheville’s highest honor for alumni.

Roy Arthur Taylor, Class of 1929

 

Roy Arthur Taylor

Class of 1929

Roy Arthur Taylor graduated as one of the first graduates of Buncombe County Junior College—one of the 29 graduates in 1929, and he went on to make himself a namesake across the state and with his alma mater.

Taylor served as commencement speaker for his class, showcasing the skills gained from his years on the debate team. During his time at the college, he argued ardently for a football team and a school paper. The result was a winning football team, in addition to the women’s basketball team at the time, and a quality literary magazine called Bluets.

After graduation, Taylor went to Maryville College in Tennessee, followed by Asheville University Law School, and a stint in the U.S. Navy. He was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in 1947. During his time in the state legislature, Taylor helped drive the initiative leading to the 1957 Community College Act.

His alma mater, now Asheville-Biltmore College, subsequently became the first community college in North Carolina. He served on the Board of Trustees for his alma mater, during which he helped bring the campus to its current location. Taylor also encouraged the next generation of students to develop their communication and presentation skills, by sponsoring a public speaking contest at UNC Asheville. Taylor died on March 2, 1995, but his legacy lives on in the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumni Award, UNC Asheville’s highest honor for alumni.

Audra Goforth, Class of 2017

 

Audra Goforth

Class of 2017

Bachelor of Arts, Mass Communication

"Less than a year ago I graduated from UNCA at age 19 full of ambition to be a journalist. After six months of working part time, freelancing and interning for various publications, I was hired at AVLtoday.

During my time at UNCA I was very active with organizations — from SGA, to The Blue Banner, to being an RA, to attending sporting events — I wanted to bring the students and campus together. Now post college my job requires bringing the Asheville community together.

With a daily email of all-things AVL, I work with my alma-mater and other Asheville locals to create an engaging platform to keep Ashevillians in the know. UNCA allowed me to be where I am today. While I may have hated balancing 18 credit hours, jobs, internships and student orgs at the time, the hard work and support from staff paid off!"

Audra Goforth, Class of 2017

 

Audra Goforth

Class of 2017

Bachelor of Arts, Mass Communication

"Less than a year ago I graduated from UNCA at age 19 full of ambition to be a journalist. After six months of working part time, freelancing and interning for various publications, I was hired at AVLtoday.

During my time at UNCA I was very active with organizations — from SGA, to The Blue Banner, to being an RA, to attending sporting events — I wanted to bring the students and campus together. Now post college my job requires bringing the Asheville community together.

With a daily email of all-things AVL, I work with my alma-mater and other Asheville locals to create an engaging platform to keep Ashevillians in the know. UNCA allowed me to be where I am today. While I may have hated balancing 18 credit hours, jobs, internships and student orgs at the time, the hard work and support from staff paid off!"

Scott McNeill, Class of 2006

 

Scott McNeill

Class of 2006

Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies

"Not long after I first came to UNC Asheville, I drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway and pulled over at one of the viewing areas. The sun was setting and I saw these fireflies, and fell in love with a line from a song that referenced it all – 'It’s only a firefly to the light of the sun.' In that moment, I made this connection that each of our lives are just a part of the greater story – we give off light, but live for a brief period and pale in comparison to the rest of humanity, past, present and future.

This was a part of my education at UNCA – I designed my degree to learn more about Race and Gender (and other aspects of our identities), knowing I wanted to serve the world through creating justice.

I have spent the past 8 years as a minister, working in different communities around the country to address racism, violence in the home and throughout the world, and environmental degradation. My academic pursuits in Asheville gave me a strong foundation, as did the relationships with advisors and mentors. Becoming an intern at OurVOICE and presenting at conferences helped me hone my ability to give presentations that integrated stories and data to engage people in how they might be moved to make changes in their lives and in the world around us. One of the critical components of my ministry is there is something divine and sacred about each person – and by bringing forth stories, especially from those who have historically been marginalized, we get closer and closer to truth and meaning. We are all, really, just a firefly to the light of the sun.

I currently serve in Bloomington, Indiana at a congregation on the edge of the campus of Indiana University. Last year, I offered the invocation for their Freshman Induction ceremony and the Honors Convocation. My own experience at UNC-Asheville plays a significant role in my ministry in this great college town; I feel blessed to have been a Bulldog.

When the UU Church of Fairfax (VA) ordained me, they presented me with the “stole” in the image – which actually lights up, allowing each firefly to shine briefly before the sun below. A little piece of the Blue Ridge mountains, and UNCA, stays with me, no matter how far I travel."

Scott McNeill, Class of 2006

 

Scott McNeill

Class of 2006

Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies

"Not long after I first came to UNC Asheville, I drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway and pulled over at one of the viewing areas. The sun was setting and I saw these fireflies, and fell in love with a line from a song that referenced it all – 'It’s only a firefly to the light of the sun.' In that moment, I made this connection that each of our lives are just a part of the greater story – we give off light, but live for a brief period and pale in comparison to the rest of humanity, past, present and future.

This was a part of my education at UNCA – I designed my degree to learn more about Race and Gender (and other aspects of our identities), knowing I wanted to serve the world through creating justice.

I have spent the past 8 years as a minister, working in different communities around the country to address racism, violence in the home and throughout the world, and environmental degradation. My academic pursuits in Asheville gave me a strong foundation, as did the relationships with advisors and mentors. Becoming an intern at OurVOICE and presenting at conferences helped me hone my ability to give presentations that integrated stories and data to engage people in how they might be moved to make changes in their lives and in the world around us. One of the critical components of my ministry is there is something divine and sacred about each person – and by bringing forth stories, especially from those who have historically been marginalized, we get closer and closer to truth and meaning. We are all, really, just a firefly to the light of the sun.

I currently serve in Bloomington, Indiana at a congregation on the edge of the campus of Indiana University. Last year, I offered the invocation for their Freshman Induction ceremony and the Honors Convocation. My own experience at UNC-Asheville plays a significant role in my ministry in this great college town; I feel blessed to have been a Bulldog.

When the UU Church of Fairfax (VA) ordained me, they presented me with the “stole” in the image – which actually lights up, allowing each firefly to shine briefly before the sun below. A little piece of the Blue Ridge mountains, and UNCA, stays with me, no matter how far I travel."

Leigh Whittaker, Class of 2015


 

Leigh Whittaker

Class of 2015

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

“I’ve been working for Congressman David Price for a little over two years, and currently serve as a Legislative Correspondent. My day is divided between constituent correspondence and legislative work. I knew from my time at UNCA that I wanted to serve North Carolina in some capacity and love that I’ve had the opportunity to serve NC on a federal level. My legislative portfolio even has some fun UNCA-type aspects: the humanities!

I run both the Humanities Caucus and National Service Caucus for Mr. Price. The rest of my portfolio includes gun violence prevention, prison reform, all justice/judiciary issues, animal welfare, federal employees, and the US Postal Service. UNC Asheville gave me the foundation I need to have success in such a fast-paced and unpredictable environment. I’m a proud Bulldog every day on the Hill!!”
 

Leigh Whittaker, Class of 2015


 

Leigh Whittaker

Class of 2015

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

“I’ve been working for Congressman David Price for a little over two years, and currently serve as a Legislative Correspondent. My day is divided between constituent correspondence and legislative work. I knew from my time at UNCA that I wanted to serve North Carolina in some capacity and love that I’ve had the opportunity to serve NC on a federal level. My legislative portfolio even has some fun UNCA-type aspects: the humanities!

I run both the Humanities Caucus and National Service Caucus for Mr. Price. The rest of my portfolio includes gun violence prevention, prison reform, all justice/judiciary issues, animal welfare, federal employees, and the US Postal Service. UNC Asheville gave me the foundation I need to have success in such a fast-paced and unpredictable environment. I’m a proud Bulldog every day on the Hill!!”
 

Marvin Placino, Class of 1997

 

Marvin Placino

Class of 1997

Bachelor of Science, Management

Marvin Placino ’97 graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in management but draws as much inspiration from his broader experience on campus as his time in the classroom. He used his degree directly for years, working in the retail industry—until realizing his need for community, something that seemed to grow from his time on campus. As he says, “A degree didn’t change me as a person but more of the vibe UNCA holds.”

So he decided to leave corporate America and his suit and tie behind, dedicating himself to working in public service with emergency medical services, fire departments, and other domestic medical missions.

Now a paramedic in North Carolina, Placino provides ambulance medical care while transporting patients to hospitals across the East Coast.

Reminiscing on his time at the university as a student he recalls: “My first day in orientation I knew I would have an eccentric college education. The cultural event classes, the thought-provoking gatherings at the Quad or open mic night in the student center…many things made my UNCA education rewarding.”

He has some advice for current students and prospective students as well, particularly as they consider the paths their careers might take.

“Does your desire for higher education equate to more earnings? Or do you desire higher education for your own enlightenment? Be kind, be a leader, be fabulous.”

Marvin Placino, Class of 1997

 

Marvin Placino

Class of 1997

Bachelor of Science, Management

Marvin Placino ’97 graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in management but draws as much inspiration from his broader experience on campus as his time in the classroom. He used his degree directly for years, working in the retail industry—until realizing his need for community, something that seemed to grow from his time on campus. As he says, “A degree didn’t change me as a person but more of the vibe UNCA holds.”

So he decided to leave corporate America and his suit and tie behind, dedicating himself to working in public service with emergency medical services, fire departments, and other domestic medical missions.

Now a paramedic in North Carolina, Placino provides ambulance medical care while transporting patients to hospitals across the East Coast.

Reminiscing on his time at the university as a student he recalls: “My first day in orientation I knew I would have an eccentric college education. The cultural event classes, the thought-provoking gatherings at the Quad or open mic night in the student center…many things made my UNCA education rewarding.”

He has some advice for current students and prospective students as well, particularly as they consider the paths their careers might take.

“Does your desire for higher education equate to more earnings? Or do you desire higher education for your own enlightenment? Be kind, be a leader, be fabulous.”

Brian Goggin & Stephanie Sine, Class of 2013

 

Brian Goggin
Class of 2013
Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

 

Stephanie Sine
Class of 2013
Bachelor of Science, Atmospheric Sciences

"My fiancé, Brian Goggin, is now a police officer in Charleston, SC. His first job out of school was an officer in Hagerstown, MD where he dealt with a lot problems that small, low income communities face. He's so great at what he does and genuinely loves helping people.

Now he's made it to the Charleston Police Department and doing a great job helping people out whenever he can. I'm a meteorologist in Charleston, SC on Live 5 News."

Brian Goggin & Stephanie Sine, Class of 2013

 

Brian Goggin
Class of 2013
Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

 

Stephanie Sine
Class of 2013
Bachelor of Science, Atmospheric Sciences

"My fiancé, Brian Goggin, is now a police officer in Charleston, SC. His first job out of school was an officer in Hagerstown, MD where he dealt with a lot problems that small, low income communities face. He's so great at what he does and genuinely loves helping people.

Now he's made it to the Charleston Police Department and doing a great job helping people out whenever he can. I'm a meteorologist in Charleston, SC on Live 5 News."

Josh Tan, Class of 1997

 

Josh Tan
Class of 1997
Bachelor of Science, Computer Science
Minor, Music

"I work for the Department of Radiology at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, USA. I am a Systems Manager and have experience as a computer programmer, computer hardware engineer, and an imaging informatics specialist. I interface with clinicians from various departments as well as research faculty, staff, and students for software/hardware support, and 2D/3D/4D visualization, image analysis, and 3D printing from medical images. We conduct a variety of research projects and clinical trials by using cutting edge medical imaging and analysis to advance medicine that will enable people to live longer and healthier lives.

During my years at UNC Asheville, I learned many things that have aided in my professional career. Some of these include how to adapt, accept change, learn, manage time and colleagues, and how to be a follower, moderator, manager, or translator. When it comes to healthcare, I notice that many physicians have a difficult time conveying their thoughts to other groups like computer programmers. I learned how to communicate and serve as a liaison between various medical professionals and specialties to finish projects and solve issues efficiently. I hope to continue to help advance healthcare using research medical imaging and skills I acquired at UNC Asheville.

While at UNC Asheville, I was involved in many clubs and groups that allowed me to grow as an individual while learning the intricacies of being in a team or group setting. I learned how to manage my time when I was involved in the International Students Association, Pi Lambda Phi, Orientation Leader, University Ambassadors, Pep Band, Outdoor Programs, Intervarsity, etc. I also had many interests such as black and white photography, intramural sports, rock climbing, and cooking.

Currently, I am involved in many groups and advisory boards including the W-S/FC School System, Forsyth Technical Community College, Winston-Salem State University, Center for Design Innovation, Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, and UNC Asheville Alumni Board of Directors. Having diverse friends and interests gives me the opportunity to relate to colleagues and co-workers and allows me to pull people together to expedite project timelines. I encourage you to be involved in clubs and groups and volunteer when you can."

Josh Tan, Class of 1997

 

Josh Tan
Class of 1997
Bachelor of Science, Computer Science
Minor, Music

"I work for the Department of Radiology at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, USA. I am a Systems Manager and have experience as a computer programmer, computer hardware engineer, and an imaging informatics specialist. I interface with clinicians from various departments as well as research faculty, staff, and students for software/hardware support, and 2D/3D/4D visualization, image analysis, and 3D printing from medical images. We conduct a variety of research projects and clinical trials by using cutting edge medical imaging and analysis to advance medicine that will enable people to live longer and healthier lives.

During my years at UNC Asheville, I learned many things that have aided in my professional career. Some of these include how to adapt, accept change, learn, manage time and colleagues, and how to be a follower, moderator, manager, or translator. When it comes to healthcare, I notice that many physicians have a difficult time conveying their thoughts to other groups like computer programmers. I learned how to communicate and serve as a liaison between various medical professionals and specialties to finish projects and solve issues efficiently. I hope to continue to help advance healthcare using research medical imaging and skills I acquired at UNC Asheville.

While at UNC Asheville, I was involved in many clubs and groups that allowed me to grow as an individual while learning the intricacies of being in a team or group setting. I learned how to manage my time when I was involved in the International Students Association, Pi Lambda Phi, Orientation Leader, University Ambassadors, Pep Band, Outdoor Programs, Intervarsity, etc. I also had many interests such as black and white photography, intramural sports, rock climbing, and cooking.

Currently, I am involved in many groups and advisory boards including the W-S/FC School System, Forsyth Technical Community College, Winston-Salem State University, Center for Design Innovation, Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, and UNC Asheville Alumni Board of Directors. Having diverse friends and interests gives me the opportunity to relate to colleagues and co-workers and allows me to pull people together to expedite project timelines. I encourage you to be involved in clubs and groups and volunteer when you can."

Jason Riggs, Class of 2011

Jason Riggs

Class of 2011

Bachelor of Science, Management

Alumnus Jason Riggs '11 has come a long way from fermenting dandelions. You can find him producing some of Asheville's finest rum as head distiller at H&H Distillery.

Jason Riggs, Class of 2011

Jason Riggs

Class of 2011

Bachelor of Science, Management

Alumnus Jason Riggs '11 has come a long way from fermenting dandelions. You can find him producing some of Asheville's finest rum as head distiller at H&H Distillery.

Stephanie Watkins-Cruz, Class of 2015

 

Stephanie Watkins-Cruz

Class of 2015

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

"I currently work as a Policy Analyst for the Chatham County Manager’s Office in Pittsboro, North Carolina. My job involves balancing a lot of different things and is one of many that contributes to ensuring that Chatham County grows and prepares for growth in a holistic, equitable manner. As a local government professional I’m dedicated to making sure I do thorough research that will help the local leaders make decisions that continue to improve the quality of life and delivery of services in Chatham County. One of my favorite parts about my job is that I get to do a lot of work with affordable housing policy and community development, as well as work with departments across the county on many other issues.

The importance of working across departments and different groups was really impressed upon me during my time at UNC Asheville. I was taught to balance a lot of different things through my involvement in organizations like the Black Student Association, She’s the First, and the Cheer and Dance Team. And time as a Political Science major at UNC Asheville also influenced me greatly. This was where I was taught to do thorough research, to ask the uncomfortable questions, and to consider both the historical and potential impacts of programs and policies.

After graduating from UNCA some things continued such as my involvement with the non-profit She’s the First, and served first as a Chapter Mentor from 2015-2018 and have been serving as a Chapter Liaison for chapters in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. I’m thankful that UNC Asheville cultivated my passion for equitable community engagement and public service, and helped provide me with leadership and communication skills I still use today. In the future I hope to continue to help communities address their affordable housing needs in creative ways, and be proactive about preparing for growth through equitable development."

Stephanie Watkins-Cruz, Class of 2015

 

Stephanie Watkins-Cruz

Class of 2015

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

"I currently work as a Policy Analyst for the Chatham County Manager’s Office in Pittsboro, North Carolina. My job involves balancing a lot of different things and is one of many that contributes to ensuring that Chatham County grows and prepares for growth in a holistic, equitable manner. As a local government professional I’m dedicated to making sure I do thorough research that will help the local leaders make decisions that continue to improve the quality of life and delivery of services in Chatham County. One of my favorite parts about my job is that I get to do a lot of work with affordable housing policy and community development, as well as work with departments across the county on many other issues.

The importance of working across departments and different groups was really impressed upon me during my time at UNC Asheville. I was taught to balance a lot of different things through my involvement in organizations like the Black Student Association, She’s the First, and the Cheer and Dance Team. And time as a Political Science major at UNC Asheville also influenced me greatly. This was where I was taught to do thorough research, to ask the uncomfortable questions, and to consider both the historical and potential impacts of programs and policies.

After graduating from UNCA some things continued such as my involvement with the non-profit She’s the First, and served first as a Chapter Mentor from 2015-2018 and have been serving as a Chapter Liaison for chapters in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. I’m thankful that UNC Asheville cultivated my passion for equitable community engagement and public service, and helped provide me with leadership and communication skills I still use today. In the future I hope to continue to help communities address their affordable housing needs in creative ways, and be proactive about preparing for growth through equitable development."

Zach Maye, Class of 2010

 

Zach Maye

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Science, Atmospheric Sciences

"I chose to attend UNCA to pursue my degree in Atmospheric Sciences. I graduated in 2010, and in 2013 I moved to Memphis, Tennessee to work for the National Weather Service. It is here I work alongside meteorologists from all over the country to 'protect life and property,' primarily through the issuance of weather watches and warnings. I’m also passionate about climate science, particularly climate change, and ways we can adapt and mitigate against its impacts on society.

UNCA allowed me to take that I was most passionate about and turn it into a career of helping others. I was recently interviewed live on the Weather Channel as dangerous flooding impacted portions of east Arkansas and West Tennessee." 

 

Zach Maye, Class of 2010

 

Zach Maye

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Science, Atmospheric Sciences

"I chose to attend UNCA to pursue my degree in Atmospheric Sciences. I graduated in 2010, and in 2013 I moved to Memphis, Tennessee to work for the National Weather Service. It is here I work alongside meteorologists from all over the country to 'protect life and property,' primarily through the issuance of weather watches and warnings. I’m also passionate about climate science, particularly climate change, and ways we can adapt and mitigate against its impacts on society.

UNCA allowed me to take that I was most passionate about and turn it into a career of helping others. I was recently interviewed live on the Weather Channel as dangerous flooding impacted portions of east Arkansas and West Tennessee." 

 

Hugo Sowder, Class of 2016


 

Hugo Sowder

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts, History 

"After competing for four years with UNC Asheville’s Men’s Ultimate Frisbee, I immediately began to write and cover the sport in North Carolina at every level. I had plenty of connections that I’d made with teams competing in and filming the sport in college. In July 2016, I officially started working for Ultiworld, a news company based out of New York that exclusively covers the sport.

It’s been an incredible journey in part because I’ve been able to tell the stories of some really amazing young people across the world – some of whom I competed with and against in high school and college. I’ve been able to cover some really unforgettable games since 2016 and work with a highly dedicated group of writers and videographers. The photo is from the 2017 DIII College Championship Final between the University of Richmond and Davidson College."

Hugo Sowder, Class of 2016


 

Hugo Sowder

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts, History 

"After competing for four years with UNC Asheville’s Men’s Ultimate Frisbee, I immediately began to write and cover the sport in North Carolina at every level. I had plenty of connections that I’d made with teams competing in and filming the sport in college. In July 2016, I officially started working for Ultiworld, a news company based out of New York that exclusively covers the sport.

It’s been an incredible journey in part because I’ve been able to tell the stories of some really amazing young people across the world – some of whom I competed with and against in high school and college. I’ve been able to cover some really unforgettable games since 2016 and work with a highly dedicated group of writers and videographers. The photo is from the 2017 DIII College Championship Final between the University of Richmond and Davidson College."

Ben Alexander, Class of 2010

 

Ben Alexander

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Arts, Classics

"I work as a public school administrator for Buncombe County Schools in Asheville, North Carolina. As a product of the Buncombe County Schools system and now as a public school administrator, I witness daily the incredible learning and teaching happening throughout our schools and across Western North Carolina. Though my current title is school administrator, I am first and foremost a teacher.

I taught Latin for several years at Enka High School. It was at Enka High as a student that I first fell in love with Latin. From there, I began my formal path into education at UNC-Asheville, majoring in Latin with a teacher licensure. Enka is where my passion was born for teaching and for the Classics. UNC-Asheville is where my passion was kindled and further grew.

UNC-Asheville shaped me as an educator. It deepened my belief that a liberal arts education creates students that become globally competitive, critical thinking, and well-informed members of society. To educate students is to nourish the future of our nation and world. Understanding that education is more than just the intake and application of knowledge but is rather the formation and addition to the human condition is the base for that nourishment. In both my personal and professional life, the liberal arts has been paramount. My time at UNC-Asheville and its impact is best surmised by the Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, writing, 'The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way.' This is what I hope to impart to my students and teachers, and so to the world."

Ben Alexander, Class of 2010

 

Ben Alexander

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Arts, Classics

"I work as a public school administrator for Buncombe County Schools in Asheville, North Carolina. As a product of the Buncombe County Schools system and now as a public school administrator, I witness daily the incredible learning and teaching happening throughout our schools and across Western North Carolina. Though my current title is school administrator, I am first and foremost a teacher.

I taught Latin for several years at Enka High School. It was at Enka High as a student that I first fell in love with Latin. From there, I began my formal path into education at UNC-Asheville, majoring in Latin with a teacher licensure. Enka is where my passion was born for teaching and for the Classics. UNC-Asheville is where my passion was kindled and further grew.

UNC-Asheville shaped me as an educator. It deepened my belief that a liberal arts education creates students that become globally competitive, critical thinking, and well-informed members of society. To educate students is to nourish the future of our nation and world. Understanding that education is more than just the intake and application of knowledge but is rather the formation and addition to the human condition is the base for that nourishment. In both my personal and professional life, the liberal arts has been paramount. My time at UNC-Asheville and its impact is best surmised by the Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, writing, 'The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way.' This is what I hope to impart to my students and teachers, and so to the world."

Gary Waddell, Class of 1984


 

Gary Waddell

Class of 1984

Bachelor of Arts, Drama

"Gary Waddell serves a Deputy Superintendent of the San Mateo County Office of Education in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently running for San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools.

His career has been devoted to equity and creating inclusive schools that engage and inspire all children and youth. He has been a leader throughout California in equity and inclusive practices.

Gary also currently serves as the statewide chair of California’s Visual and Performing Arts Subcommittee where he heads arts education initiatives. He is an advocate for arts learning, civics education, and inclusive, equitable schools for all youth.

Gary holds a BA from UNC-A, a M.A.Ed, Ed.S. and Ed.D. from Western Carolina University.  He has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2003."

Gary Waddell, Class of 1984


 

Gary Waddell

Class of 1984

Bachelor of Arts, Drama

"Gary Waddell serves a Deputy Superintendent of the San Mateo County Office of Education in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently running for San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools.

His career has been devoted to equity and creating inclusive schools that engage and inspire all children and youth. He has been a leader throughout California in equity and inclusive practices.

Gary also currently serves as the statewide chair of California’s Visual and Performing Arts Subcommittee where he heads arts education initiatives. He is an advocate for arts learning, civics education, and inclusive, equitable schools for all youth.

Gary holds a BA from UNC-A, a M.A.Ed, Ed.S. and Ed.D. from Western Carolina University.  He has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2003."

Ryan Jensen, Class of 2015


 

Ryan Jensen

Class of 2015

Bachelor of Science, Computer Science

Bachelor of Arts, Mathematics 

"I am a software developer at Blue Nine Systems. In my final year at UNCA pursuing a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics, I became one of the founding employees of Blue Nine Systems which is a local health informatics company in Asheville.

Every day I get to use the knowledge I learned in math and computer science to build systems to process and visualize large data sets to try to improve health outcomes and cost. I graduated in 2015 and have been working there ever since while doing software contracting on the side."

Ryan Jensen, Class of 2015


 

Ryan Jensen

Class of 2015

Bachelor of Science, Computer Science

Bachelor of Arts, Mathematics 

"I am a software developer at Blue Nine Systems. In my final year at UNCA pursuing a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics, I became one of the founding employees of Blue Nine Systems which is a local health informatics company in Asheville.

Every day I get to use the knowledge I learned in math and computer science to build systems to process and visualize large data sets to try to improve health outcomes and cost. I graduated in 2015 and have been working there ever since while doing software contracting on the side."

Tamiko Ambrose Murray, Class of 2006

 

Tamiko Ambrose Murray

Class of 2006

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

Tamiko Ambrose Murray ’06 has a challenge explaining where she works, but her degree from UNC Asheville helps her share how she is making an impact, right here in Asheville.

As a writer, cultural organizer, co-founder of Asheville Writers in the Schools and Community, and director of Word on the Street, a bilingual arts and culture magazine run by youth of color, Murray does have quite a few titles. But the common thread that ties her career together is her passion for community, storytelling, and racial equity.

In learning about education and the disparities that exist among students of color compared to their white counterparts, Murray was struck by the gaps in achievement, especially in literacy and math. “I started volunteering at Asheville Middle School. I was in the eighth grade classroom, and a good portion of the students had third grade reading levels,” Murray says. “Learning more about the world and why that is has propelled me on this journey.”

UNC Asheville’s English faculty supported Murray’s development as a writer, and now she’s passing that mentorship on to the next generation. “Word on the Street is a place where youth can totally be themselves. A place to feel safe, to feel seen, to feel believed in. We want them all to realize their full potential and to support them on that path, whatever it looks like. Not all youth identify themselves as writers or poets. Some are visual artists, some like web design. It’s really just about connecting them with their gifts and skills, and then nurturing them to be all that they can be. I believe every young person and adult should have that opportunity. The arts are a vehicle for community healing and transformation, and I think we need that.”

Tamiko Ambrose Murray, Class of 2006

 

Tamiko Ambrose Murray

Class of 2006

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

Tamiko Ambrose Murray ’06 has a challenge explaining where she works, but her degree from UNC Asheville helps her share how she is making an impact, right here in Asheville.

As a writer, cultural organizer, co-founder of Asheville Writers in the Schools and Community, and director of Word on the Street, a bilingual arts and culture magazine run by youth of color, Murray does have quite a few titles. But the common thread that ties her career together is her passion for community, storytelling, and racial equity.

In learning about education and the disparities that exist among students of color compared to their white counterparts, Murray was struck by the gaps in achievement, especially in literacy and math. “I started volunteering at Asheville Middle School. I was in the eighth grade classroom, and a good portion of the students had third grade reading levels,” Murray says. “Learning more about the world and why that is has propelled me on this journey.”

UNC Asheville’s English faculty supported Murray’s development as a writer, and now she’s passing that mentorship on to the next generation. “Word on the Street is a place where youth can totally be themselves. A place to feel safe, to feel seen, to feel believed in. We want them all to realize their full potential and to support them on that path, whatever it looks like. Not all youth identify themselves as writers or poets. Some are visual artists, some like web design. It’s really just about connecting them with their gifts and skills, and then nurturing them to be all that they can be. I believe every young person and adult should have that opportunity. The arts are a vehicle for community healing and transformation, and I think we need that.”

Jennifer McGaha, Class of 1990

 

Jennifer McGaha

Class of 1990

Bachelor if Arts, Sociology

These days Jennifer McGaha ‘90 spends her time teaching at Carolina Day School, writing and maintaining a small farm, but it hasn’t always been that way. To get here, she had to rebuild her life after a home foreclosure — all with the help of a few goats.

McGaha grew up in a middle class neighborhood and in 1985 made her way to UNC Asheville for college.

“It was a cool time in Asheville. It was before Asheville really was the Asheville you know now. It was very different back in the ‘80s and it was just starting to become the kind of bohemian place it is today,” McGaha said. “It was a really interesting time to be a student there.”

McGaha began her college career as a communication and sociology double major, but soon dropped communication to focus on sociology.

She said her favorite moments on campus were spent in Governors Village hanging out with friends with nicknames like Kool-Aid and playing hacky sack.

“It was a laid back place. It was a place where you could kind of be yourself, which I loved,” McGaha said. “Some of my favorite classes were sociology classes with Keith Bramlett, who has since retired, I think. He just got me to think about things in such a new way and he was amazing.”

After graduating from UNC Asheville with a degree in sociology in 1990, McGaha went on to get a master’s degree in English and an MFA in Creative Writing.

Although McGaha said she never saw writing as a career, she soon found herself writing for literary journals and magazines and later blogging for The Huffington Post.

When the U.S. housing market reached an all-time low in 2012, everything changed for McGaha. The event completely changed her life and she writes about it in her upcoming memoir, Flat Broke with Two Goats, out January 2018.

“In 2012 we lost our home to foreclosure and so we moved to this cabin out in the woods. It’s a hundred-year-old cabin and so we really just kind of had this total life shift where we started homesteading,” McGaha said. “It’s a book about that process and about learning to raise goats because I knew nothing.”

McGaha said she relied heavily on stories about her grandparents and great-grandparents in order to survive in her newfound lifestyle. She included many of these stories as well as instructions on how to make goat cheese and soap and recipes in the book.

Poverty made the decision to start homesteading for them, according to McGaha. Looking back, she said she and her family may have had other options.

“I guess we had options and it didn’t feel like it really at the time, but I think we did. We had five dogs at our other house. We lived out in the country and we had five dogs and we had a cat and any other rental situation we would have ended up having to give them up and the cabin was almost free,” McGaha said. “It’s on 53 acres so we had full use of that land and so we just decided to try it and see what happened and we weren’t giving up our dogs. First things first.”

The cabin was given to the family by long-time friends of McGaha’s.

When the family finally got back on their feet, McGaha went back to school to get her MFA. It was here she wrote the first drafts of Flat Broke with Two Goats. She said this process was helpful as she was able to write about 30 pages a month and then have her mentors give their input.

In general, McGaha describes her writing style as chaotic. She said she cannot write in bursts of time, but rather needs to set aside large chunks of time to get through a first draft. It is only after she has written a complete draft that she will go back and begin editing.

The same kind of determination McGaha utilizes in her writing helped her to get back on her feet after foreclosure, keep her dogs with her family, learn from her own family history and create a homesteading lifestyle she still uses today.

In describing her current life, McGaha does so simply: “We have a farm. We raise dairy goats and we have chickens.”

Jennifer McGaha, Class of 1990

 

Jennifer McGaha

Class of 1990

Bachelor if Arts, Sociology

These days Jennifer McGaha ‘90 spends her time teaching at Carolina Day School, writing and maintaining a small farm, but it hasn’t always been that way. To get here, she had to rebuild her life after a home foreclosure — all with the help of a few goats.

McGaha grew up in a middle class neighborhood and in 1985 made her way to UNC Asheville for college.

“It was a cool time in Asheville. It was before Asheville really was the Asheville you know now. It was very different back in the ‘80s and it was just starting to become the kind of bohemian place it is today,” McGaha said. “It was a really interesting time to be a student there.”

McGaha began her college career as a communication and sociology double major, but soon dropped communication to focus on sociology.

She said her favorite moments on campus were spent in Governors Village hanging out with friends with nicknames like Kool-Aid and playing hacky sack.

“It was a laid back place. It was a place where you could kind of be yourself, which I loved,” McGaha said. “Some of my favorite classes were sociology classes with Keith Bramlett, who has since retired, I think. He just got me to think about things in such a new way and he was amazing.”

After graduating from UNC Asheville with a degree in sociology in 1990, McGaha went on to get a master’s degree in English and an MFA in Creative Writing.

Although McGaha said she never saw writing as a career, she soon found herself writing for literary journals and magazines and later blogging for The Huffington Post.

When the U.S. housing market reached an all-time low in 2012, everything changed for McGaha. The event completely changed her life and she writes about it in her upcoming memoir, Flat Broke with Two Goats, out January 2018.

“In 2012 we lost our home to foreclosure and so we moved to this cabin out in the woods. It’s a hundred-year-old cabin and so we really just kind of had this total life shift where we started homesteading,” McGaha said. “It’s a book about that process and about learning to raise goats because I knew nothing.”

McGaha said she relied heavily on stories about her grandparents and great-grandparents in order to survive in her newfound lifestyle. She included many of these stories as well as instructions on how to make goat cheese and soap and recipes in the book.

Poverty made the decision to start homesteading for them, according to McGaha. Looking back, she said she and her family may have had other options.

“I guess we had options and it didn’t feel like it really at the time, but I think we did. We had five dogs at our other house. We lived out in the country and we had five dogs and we had a cat and any other rental situation we would have ended up having to give them up and the cabin was almost free,” McGaha said. “It’s on 53 acres so we had full use of that land and so we just decided to try it and see what happened and we weren’t giving up our dogs. First things first.”

The cabin was given to the family by long-time friends of McGaha’s.

When the family finally got back on their feet, McGaha went back to school to get her MFA. It was here she wrote the first drafts of Flat Broke with Two Goats. She said this process was helpful as she was able to write about 30 pages a month and then have her mentors give their input.

In general, McGaha describes her writing style as chaotic. She said she cannot write in bursts of time, but rather needs to set aside large chunks of time to get through a first draft. It is only after she has written a complete draft that she will go back and begin editing.

The same kind of determination McGaha utilizes in her writing helped her to get back on her feet after foreclosure, keep her dogs with her family, learn from her own family history and create a homesteading lifestyle she still uses today.

In describing her current life, McGaha does so simply: “We have a farm. We raise dairy goats and we have chickens.”

Rachel Prather, Class of 2010

 

Rachel Prather

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Arts, Sociology

9-12 Social Studies/English Teaching Licensure

"Since graduating, I’ve been working at Wake Forest High School.  I teach World History and AP Psychology, both of which benefit from my sociology background.  I earned my National Board Certification, I lead my Professional Learning Team, and I’ve instituted a program among the staff that I’m very proud of- it’s called Courageous Conversations, and we discuss racism in the school setting and what teachers can do to change the culture of their classroom, school, and community.  I feel strongly that my experience at UNC Asheville set me on the path of fighting for others and constantly pursuing equity in all environments.

In both my World History and AP Psychology classrooms, I’m lucky enough to have many stories to relate and personal connections to the course material that I can share.  My exposure to different points of view and cultures through UNCA has taught me patience and how to search for understanding and commonalities among those with whom I interact (whether students, parents, or community members).  My study away semester in Hawaii introduced me to indigenous and Asian cultures, and that has broadened my perspective with regards to many different points in both curriculums.

Two years out of college I joined the local Rotary Club, and became president two years after that.  My youth spent working with refugees and my volunteer work at UNCA both pushed me to find another outlet for volunteerism when I entered the professional world.  Through taking Humanities and other course at UNCA, as well as the small class sizes and personal connections with peers and professors, I learned empathy that I try to translate into all aspects of my life.

I love sharing my experiences at UNC Asheville with my students, and I always have at least one student per year that chooses to take a chance on the small school they’ve never heard of but Ms. Prather won't stop talking about J  I am proud of my alma mater, and as a recent addition to the Board of Directors of the Alumni Association, I can’t wait to give back to the school that gave me so much!"

Rachel Prather, Class of 2010

 

Rachel Prather

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Arts, Sociology

9-12 Social Studies/English Teaching Licensure

"Since graduating, I’ve been working at Wake Forest High School.  I teach World History and AP Psychology, both of which benefit from my sociology background.  I earned my National Board Certification, I lead my Professional Learning Team, and I’ve instituted a program among the staff that I’m very proud of- it’s called Courageous Conversations, and we discuss racism in the school setting and what teachers can do to change the culture of their classroom, school, and community.  I feel strongly that my experience at UNC Asheville set me on the path of fighting for others and constantly pursuing equity in all environments.

In both my World History and AP Psychology classrooms, I’m lucky enough to have many stories to relate and personal connections to the course material that I can share.  My exposure to different points of view and cultures through UNCA has taught me patience and how to search for understanding and commonalities among those with whom I interact (whether students, parents, or community members).  My study away semester in Hawaii introduced me to indigenous and Asian cultures, and that has broadened my perspective with regards to many different points in both curriculums.

Two years out of college I joined the local Rotary Club, and became president two years after that.  My youth spent working with refugees and my volunteer work at UNCA both pushed me to find another outlet for volunteerism when I entered the professional world.  Through taking Humanities and other course at UNCA, as well as the small class sizes and personal connections with peers and professors, I learned empathy that I try to translate into all aspects of my life.

I love sharing my experiences at UNC Asheville with my students, and I always have at least one student per year that chooses to take a chance on the small school they’ve never heard of but Ms. Prather won't stop talking about J  I am proud of my alma mater, and as a recent addition to the Board of Directors of the Alumni Association, I can’t wait to give back to the school that gave me so much!"

Francine Delany, Class of 1966

 

Francine Delany

Class of 1966

Bachelor of Arts, History

 

1966 was a milestone year for UNC Asheville. It was the year the first graduates of the new four-year university graduated, known as “the 66 in ’66,” and among these graduates was the first African-American student to graduate from the university: Francine Delany.

Enrolling in 1961, Delany became one of the first three black students to enroll in the school, then known as Asheville-Biltmore College. Though she was only able to attend school for two years before taking time off to work as a secretary, Delany came back to finish the second half of her degree.

After graduation, Delaney became instrumental to Asheville public education. In 1973, she was named Asheville Jaycees Outstanding Young Educator for her work as a teacher at Vance Elementary. After being a principal in the area, she became the magnet school coordinator for Asheville City School before taking on state education roles with the Textbook Commission and Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Throughout her career, she advocated for public school reform, believing every child deserved the opportunity to learn.

Delany also remained connected to her alma mater. From 1981 to 1987 she served as a member of the UNC Asheville Foundation Board. As a Board of Trustees member, Delaney served from 1979 to 1981 and reprised her role 10 years later until her death in June 1992.

That year, the UNC Asheville Foundation established a fund in honor of Delany for minority students. The following year she was posthumously awarded the Chancellor’s Medallion. Today, the Francine M. Delany Alumni Award for Service to the Community is presented to a UNC Asheville alumni who embodies the spirit of community service that Delany strived for throughout her life.

In 1997, the Francine Delany New School for Children, a new charter school, opened in West Asheville. Part of Delany’s life-long work was advocating for charter schools that would give teachers more autonomy than they would have at a public school. When seven Asheville-area teachers decided to start a charter school, they chose to honor the pioneer by naming it after her. Delany’s legacy lives on in this school that has no administrators and boasts students working high above their grade level. Though she did not live to see it, the school embodies everything she dedicated her life to.

Francine Delany, Class of 1966

 

Francine Delany

Class of 1966

Bachelor of Arts, History

 

1966 was a milestone year for UNC Asheville. It was the year the first graduates of the new four-year university graduated, known as “the 66 in ’66,” and among these graduates was the first African-American student to graduate from the university: Francine Delany.

Enrolling in 1961, Delany became one of the first three black students to enroll in the school, then known as Asheville-Biltmore College. Though she was only able to attend school for two years before taking time off to work as a secretary, Delany came back to finish the second half of her degree.

After graduation, Delaney became instrumental to Asheville public education. In 1973, she was named Asheville Jaycees Outstanding Young Educator for her work as a teacher at Vance Elementary. After being a principal in the area, she became the magnet school coordinator for Asheville City School before taking on state education roles with the Textbook Commission and Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Throughout her career, she advocated for public school reform, believing every child deserved the opportunity to learn.

Delany also remained connected to her alma mater. From 1981 to 1987 she served as a member of the UNC Asheville Foundation Board. As a Board of Trustees member, Delaney served from 1979 to 1981 and reprised her role 10 years later until her death in June 1992.

That year, the UNC Asheville Foundation established a fund in honor of Delany for minority students. The following year she was posthumously awarded the Chancellor’s Medallion. Today, the Francine M. Delany Alumni Award for Service to the Community is presented to a UNC Asheville alumni who embodies the spirit of community service that Delany strived for throughout her life.

In 1997, the Francine Delany New School for Children, a new charter school, opened in West Asheville. Part of Delany’s life-long work was advocating for charter schools that would give teachers more autonomy than they would have at a public school. When seven Asheville-area teachers decided to start a charter school, they chose to honor the pioneer by naming it after her. Delany’s legacy lives on in this school that has no administrators and boasts students working high above their grade level. Though she did not live to see it, the school embodies everything she dedicated her life to.

Molly de Mattos, Class of 2002

 

Molly de Mattos

Class of 2002

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

Molly de Mattos is co-owner of the Matt and Molly Team of Keller Williams Realty, which has been voted No. 1 five years in a row in Best of WNC for the Real Estate Agent category. Her team supports UNC Asheville Athletics by sponsoring the hospitality events at basketball games, and she serves on the A-TEAM, the advisory team of former student-athletes. At UNC Asheville she competed on the track and field team for four years while pursuing a B.A. in literature and creative writing. She also serves the greater Asheville community, volunteering as a youth adviser at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church and serving on the board of Asheville Youth Mission. De Mattos is the recipient of the 2017 Thomas D. Reynolds Award for Service to the University.

Molly de Mattos, Class of 2002

 

Molly de Mattos

Class of 2002

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

Molly de Mattos is co-owner of the Matt and Molly Team of Keller Williams Realty, which has been voted No. 1 five years in a row in Best of WNC for the Real Estate Agent category. Her team supports UNC Asheville Athletics by sponsoring the hospitality events at basketball games, and she serves on the A-TEAM, the advisory team of former student-athletes. At UNC Asheville she competed on the track and field team for four years while pursuing a B.A. in literature and creative writing. She also serves the greater Asheville community, volunteering as a youth adviser at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church and serving on the board of Asheville Youth Mission. De Mattos is the recipient of the 2017 Thomas D. Reynolds Award for Service to the University.

Mark Wilson, Class of 1975

 

Mark Wilson

Class of 1975

Bachelor of Arts, Art

In 1971 Mark Wilson and his yearbook staff—recruited almost entirely from the Art Department—took the publication in a turn-of-the-century direction, bowler hats, bustles, and all. The following year, however, they turned the concept of a yearbook on its head. In what he calls “visual racket,” the unconventional-looking book was filled not with typical photos of clubs, events, teams or even class portraits, but with oddly cropped, manipulated and combined images and typography.

The result prompted a full investigation from the Student Government Association, but it also served as a launching point for Wilson’s career.

After graduating from UNC Asheville in 1975 with a degree in art, Wilson took what he had learned and applied it to graphic design for advertising. He started as an assistant art director at Price/McNabb Advertising before moving on to The Mother Earth News magazine, where he served as senior art director for more than a decade. After the magazine’s move to New York, he stayed in Asheville to work as a creative director at Western Reserve Advertising, then went on to found two successful Asheville advertising agencies, Berdahl Smith Wilson and WC&T. In 2008, he closed WC&T, moved to the country, and started a solo creative services and consulting business, which he still runs today.

Mark Wilson, Class of 1975

 

Mark Wilson

Class of 1975

Bachelor of Arts, Art

In 1971 Mark Wilson and his yearbook staff—recruited almost entirely from the Art Department—took the publication in a turn-of-the-century direction, bowler hats, bustles, and all. The following year, however, they turned the concept of a yearbook on its head. In what he calls “visual racket,” the unconventional-looking book was filled not with typical photos of clubs, events, teams or even class portraits, but with oddly cropped, manipulated and combined images and typography.

The result prompted a full investigation from the Student Government Association, but it also served as a launching point for Wilson’s career.

After graduating from UNC Asheville in 1975 with a degree in art, Wilson took what he had learned and applied it to graphic design for advertising. He started as an assistant art director at Price/McNabb Advertising before moving on to The Mother Earth News magazine, where he served as senior art director for more than a decade. After the magazine’s move to New York, he stayed in Asheville to work as a creative director at Western Reserve Advertising, then went on to found two successful Asheville advertising agencies, Berdahl Smith Wilson and WC&T. In 2008, he closed WC&T, moved to the country, and started a solo creative services and consulting business, which he still runs today.

Ian Dennis, Class of 2006

 

Ian Dennis

Class of 2006

Bachelor of Arts, Art

 

UNC Asheville alumnus Ian Dennis '06 has affectionately been deemed the “Dr. Frankenstein of stuffed creatures.” His hand-crafted designer plush toys walk the line between weird and adorable.

Dennis’ “creatures” are certainly unique. With charming names like Registered Pharmacist and retro yet post-apocalyptic aesthetics, it’s hard not to be infatuated with these bizarre-looking monsters.

Graduating with a BFA concentration in ceramics, Dennis made the jump to toy design as a part of an undergraduate research project. In connection with his research, Dennis interviewed Asheville-based plush toy designer John Murphy, who offered Dennis an apprenticeship after seeing his BFA exhibit.

According to Dennis, he had already been making “big monsters out of clay,” so the switch to soft-sculpture wasn’t so far-fetched. “My BFA work was all about nostalgic—and sometimes kind of silly—pop/sci-fi imagery, that’s been really closely linked to toy design all along,” said Dennis. “It was a pretty easy leap to making actual toys.”

After working independently for a while, Dennis made the decision to start his own toy company under the name Denizen’s Plush. The company sells “weird designer plush toys” handmade by Dennis himself.

“The decision to try and start and actual business was inspired by my craftsperson and entrepreneur peers from the UNCA ceramic community, and the people who saw a glass ceiling on ‘fine art’ recognition for their discipline and sought other ways to move forward,” Dennis said.

Alongside creating his monsters, Dennis has contributed to several books including Return of the Stupid Sock Creatures: Evolutions, Mutations, and Other Creations, and Dot Dot Dash!: Designer Toys, Action Figures and Characters.

To learn more about Dennis’ creatures, visit: http://www.denizensplush.com/

Ian Dennis, Class of 2006

 

Ian Dennis

Class of 2006

Bachelor of Arts, Art

 

UNC Asheville alumnus Ian Dennis '06 has affectionately been deemed the “Dr. Frankenstein of stuffed creatures.” His hand-crafted designer plush toys walk the line between weird and adorable.

Dennis’ “creatures” are certainly unique. With charming names like Registered Pharmacist and retro yet post-apocalyptic aesthetics, it’s hard not to be infatuated with these bizarre-looking monsters.

Graduating with a BFA concentration in ceramics, Dennis made the jump to toy design as a part of an undergraduate research project. In connection with his research, Dennis interviewed Asheville-based plush toy designer John Murphy, who offered Dennis an apprenticeship after seeing his BFA exhibit.

According to Dennis, he had already been making “big monsters out of clay,” so the switch to soft-sculpture wasn’t so far-fetched. “My BFA work was all about nostalgic—and sometimes kind of silly—pop/sci-fi imagery, that’s been really closely linked to toy design all along,” said Dennis. “It was a pretty easy leap to making actual toys.”

After working independently for a while, Dennis made the decision to start his own toy company under the name Denizen’s Plush. The company sells “weird designer plush toys” handmade by Dennis himself.

“The decision to try and start and actual business was inspired by my craftsperson and entrepreneur peers from the UNCA ceramic community, and the people who saw a glass ceiling on ‘fine art’ recognition for their discipline and sought other ways to move forward,” Dennis said.

Alongside creating his monsters, Dennis has contributed to several books including Return of the Stupid Sock Creatures: Evolutions, Mutations, and Other Creations, and Dot Dot Dash!: Designer Toys, Action Figures and Characters.

To learn more about Dennis’ creatures, visit: http://www.denizensplush.com/

Bill Gettys, Class of 1974

 

Bill Gettys

Class of 1974

Bachelor of Science, Physics

Bill Gettys has a long and storied career in the IT field, having worked for Oracle for many years. The Asheville native is currently employed by Electronic Office. He is a member and treasurer of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church and well known for his work in the community garden there, inspired from his trip to Haiti to work in a medical laboratory. He is a board member and past president of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, an enthusiastic supporter of bringing the Music Works! Program to the Asheville City Schools, and a volunteer with the Veterans Restoration Quarters. Gettys, a physics major, is the 2017 recipient of the Francine M. Delany Award for Service to the Community.

Bill Gettys, Class of 1974

 

Bill Gettys

Class of 1974

Bachelor of Science, Physics

Bill Gettys has a long and storied career in the IT field, having worked for Oracle for many years. The Asheville native is currently employed by Electronic Office. He is a member and treasurer of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church and well known for his work in the community garden there, inspired from his trip to Haiti to work in a medical laboratory. He is a board member and past president of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, an enthusiastic supporter of bringing the Music Works! Program to the Asheville City Schools, and a volunteer with the Veterans Restoration Quarters. Gettys, a physics major, is the 2017 recipient of the Francine M. Delany Award for Service to the Community.

Ayla Harvey, Class of 2016

 

Ayla Harvey

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts, Mass Communication

"Since graduating from UNC Asheville with a Mass Communication degree in 2016, I have continued to work in the fields of social media and digital marketing. I currently serve as Earth Fare's Digital Marketing Coordinator at their head office in Fletcher, NC. Earth Fare is a natural and organic grocery store chain, devoted to providing customers with clean and healthy products. The company has over 40 locations and is growing quickly, so it's exciting to market for a rapidly developing company that strives to improve the lives of their consumers."

Ayla Harvey, Class of 2016

 

Ayla Harvey

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts, Mass Communication

"Since graduating from UNC Asheville with a Mass Communication degree in 2016, I have continued to work in the fields of social media and digital marketing. I currently serve as Earth Fare's Digital Marketing Coordinator at their head office in Fletcher, NC. Earth Fare is a natural and organic grocery store chain, devoted to providing customers with clean and healthy products. The company has over 40 locations and is growing quickly, so it's exciting to market for a rapidly developing company that strives to improve the lives of their consumers."

Gordon Greenwood, Class of 1930

Gordon Greenwood

Class of 1930

 

According to the university archives and the scrapbooks preserved there, Gordon Greenwood ’30 was drawn to newsprint, particularly the sports pages. He played on the college’s football, basketball, and baseball teams.

His clippings of the newspapers, now preserved as part of institutional history, detail the early days of sporting success, including local rivalries. The football schedule he saved also serves as a source to date the university’s name change from Buncombe County Junior College to Biltmore Junior College, nomenclature that also appeared on his class ring at the time.

After junior college, Greenwood continued his education at the University of Illinois where he earned a degree in journalism at the University of London. He served as a psychologist in the U.S. Army during World War II and returned to his native Black Mountain, N.C. to own and operate the Black Mountain News for more than 20 years. His career crossed into higher education, and he served as a board member at both A-B Tech and UNC Asheville, joining 1929 graduate Roy Taylor in the legislature that introduced and passed a bill creating the state’s community college system, of which UNC Asheville was one of the first examples.

Greenwood’s name continues to live on in the university athletic arena, with Greenwood Fields hosting baseball and soccer games to this day.

Gordon Greenwood, Class of 1930

Gordon Greenwood

Class of 1930

 

According to the university archives and the scrapbooks preserved there, Gordon Greenwood ’30 was drawn to newsprint, particularly the sports pages. He played on the college’s football, basketball, and baseball teams.

His clippings of the newspapers, now preserved as part of institutional history, detail the early days of sporting success, including local rivalries. The football schedule he saved also serves as a source to date the university’s name change from Buncombe County Junior College to Biltmore Junior College, nomenclature that also appeared on his class ring at the time.

After junior college, Greenwood continued his education at the University of Illinois where he earned a degree in journalism at the University of London. He served as a psychologist in the U.S. Army during World War II and returned to his native Black Mountain, N.C. to own and operate the Black Mountain News for more than 20 years. His career crossed into higher education, and he served as a board member at both A-B Tech and UNC Asheville, joining 1929 graduate Roy Taylor in the legislature that introduced and passed a bill creating the state’s community college system, of which UNC Asheville was one of the first examples.

Greenwood’s name continues to live on in the university athletic arena, with Greenwood Fields hosting baseball and soccer games to this day.

Mesha Maren, Class of 2012

 

Mesha Maren

Class of 2012

Bachelor of Arts, History

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

Mesha Maren was never a traditional student. She didn’t start college until she was 25. A double major in history and literature with a focus in creative writing, Maren graduated from UNC Asheville in 2012.

“My time here was really awesome. It was very inspirational to me,” Maren said. “I felt like in both of those departments that my teachers really recognized that I was hungry to learn and ready to take on big projects. They worked with me and it was a really fun and exciting time in my life being here.”

Maren’s big projects started while she was still in school. She and fellow student Matt Owens traveled to Portland via a research and travel grant in order to attend fiction writer Tom Spanbauer’s Dangerous Writing workshop.

After this trip, Maren and Owens came back to UNC Asheville with a new plan for the writing center. They used what they had learned in Portland to create something new for the center, which they called Redaction, a weekly writing group open to professors and students to get real-time feedback to improve their writing. Maren said it was one of the most rewarding experiences of her time at UNC Asheville, and she enjoyed interacting with people she would not have known had she not done this project.

Maren’s most recent project is her upcoming novel Sugar Run, out in fall 2018 from Algonquin Books. The novel follows 35-year-old Jodi McCarty after she is released from an eighteen-year stint in prison, unprepared for the world of lush beauty and harsh struggles that awaits her as she works to get her family’s West Virginia land back and adjust to post-prison life.

“The very beginning kernel of an idea for it started as part of my thesis work here at UNCA,” Maren said. “It’s changed drastically since then, but a few of those scenes that were in my thesis are in the novel.”

Maren said that while she worked on early drafts of the novel as part of her graduate program at Queens University of Charlotte, it was professor at UNC Asheville who truly pushed her to become a writer and publish her work.

“As a child I sort of thought that writers only existed a long time ago. I knew that in the past people wrote books but I didn’t really have any models as far as that being a possible career path for me,” Maren said. “I always wrote and told stories ever since I was really young but it was more of a personal thing for a long time.”

It wasn’t until Maren met Katherine Min, associate professor in the English Department, that she truly started to see writing as a career.

Maren said she first met Min when she was only auditing classes and Min told her to put her head down and work for what she wanted.

“What I noticed about Mesha right away was her intensity,” Min said. “She seemed serious about her writing and had interesting life experiences to use as subject matter. She stood out right away as someone who had both the drive and the ability to become a writer.”

Min said that while she has met many talented students at UNC Asheville, what excited her most was the dedication she saw in Maren. From the very start Maren had the drive to do what she loved and become a writer.

“She was the real deal and I was happy to help her find the confidence to commit to her vocation,” Min said. “Mesha would have been a writer anyway, I have no doubt, but I was privileged to have her as a student right at the moment she was figuring it out for herself.”

In 2015 Maren’s short story “Chokedamp” was selected as the winner of the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, a particularly exciting moment for Maren because she was living in Iowa City at the time and she said she was grateful to have the connection back to North Carolina where her writing career started.

When not writing, Maren spends her time teaching creative writing to students, some of whom are not entirely conventional.

“I have a few different part time jobs but my favorite one is teaching creative writing in a federal men’s prison,” Maren said. “Once a week I give an introductory level creative writing class and a more advanced level workshop. I’m living in West Virginia now and there’s a federal prison there where I do the classes and that’s been pretty fun and interesting.”

Though her life has taken her away from Asheville and she keeps busy writing at least five days a week and teaching, Maren said Asheville still holds a spot in her heart.

“I feel so much gratitude towards UNCA,” Maren said. “I got a really awesome education here and hope to come and do a reading here once my novel is out and share that since this is where it started.”

Mesha Maren, Class of 2012

 

Mesha Maren

Class of 2012

Bachelor of Arts, History

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

Mesha Maren was never a traditional student. She didn’t start college until she was 25. A double major in history and literature with a focus in creative writing, Maren graduated from UNC Asheville in 2012.

“My time here was really awesome. It was very inspirational to me,” Maren said. “I felt like in both of those departments that my teachers really recognized that I was hungry to learn and ready to take on big projects. They worked with me and it was a really fun and exciting time in my life being here.”

Maren’s big projects started while she was still in school. She and fellow student Matt Owens traveled to Portland via a research and travel grant in order to attend fiction writer Tom Spanbauer’s Dangerous Writing workshop.

After this trip, Maren and Owens came back to UNC Asheville with a new plan for the writing center. They used what they had learned in Portland to create something new for the center, which they called Redaction, a weekly writing group open to professors and students to get real-time feedback to improve their writing. Maren said it was one of the most rewarding experiences of her time at UNC Asheville, and she enjoyed interacting with people she would not have known had she not done this project.

Maren’s most recent project is her upcoming novel Sugar Run, out in fall 2018 from Algonquin Books. The novel follows 35-year-old Jodi McCarty after she is released from an eighteen-year stint in prison, unprepared for the world of lush beauty and harsh struggles that awaits her as she works to get her family’s West Virginia land back and adjust to post-prison life.

“The very beginning kernel of an idea for it started as part of my thesis work here at UNCA,” Maren said. “It’s changed drastically since then, but a few of those scenes that were in my thesis are in the novel.”

Maren said that while she worked on early drafts of the novel as part of her graduate program at Queens University of Charlotte, it was professor at UNC Asheville who truly pushed her to become a writer and publish her work.

“As a child I sort of thought that writers only existed a long time ago. I knew that in the past people wrote books but I didn’t really have any models as far as that being a possible career path for me,” Maren said. “I always wrote and told stories ever since I was really young but it was more of a personal thing for a long time.”

It wasn’t until Maren met Katherine Min, associate professor in the English Department, that she truly started to see writing as a career.

Maren said she first met Min when she was only auditing classes and Min told her to put her head down and work for what she wanted.

“What I noticed about Mesha right away was her intensity,” Min said. “She seemed serious about her writing and had interesting life experiences to use as subject matter. She stood out right away as someone who had both the drive and the ability to become a writer.”

Min said that while she has met many talented students at UNC Asheville, what excited her most was the dedication she saw in Maren. From the very start Maren had the drive to do what she loved and become a writer.

“She was the real deal and I was happy to help her find the confidence to commit to her vocation,” Min said. “Mesha would have been a writer anyway, I have no doubt, but I was privileged to have her as a student right at the moment she was figuring it out for herself.”

In 2015 Maren’s short story “Chokedamp” was selected as the winner of the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, a particularly exciting moment for Maren because she was living in Iowa City at the time and she said she was grateful to have the connection back to North Carolina where her writing career started.

When not writing, Maren spends her time teaching creative writing to students, some of whom are not entirely conventional.

“I have a few different part time jobs but my favorite one is teaching creative writing in a federal men’s prison,” Maren said. “Once a week I give an introductory level creative writing class and a more advanced level workshop. I’m living in West Virginia now and there’s a federal prison there where I do the classes and that’s been pretty fun and interesting.”

Though her life has taken her away from Asheville and she keeps busy writing at least five days a week and teaching, Maren said Asheville still holds a spot in her heart.

“I feel so much gratitude towards UNCA,” Maren said. “I got a really awesome education here and hope to come and do a reading here once my novel is out and share that since this is where it started.”

Jessica Farrow, Class of 2018

 

Jessica Lynn Griffin Farrow 

Class of 2018

Bachelors of Arts, English

"During my time at UNC-Asheville, I worked in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid as an office assistant, which I very much enjoyed. I was able to make fantastic connections and develop a positive work ethic.

I will begin graduate school at George Washington University in the fall, where I’ll be studying to receive my Master’s degree in Publishing. After that, I hope to pursue a career with a publishing house as an editor. Recently, however, I was offered employment by the Center for Creative Leadership, where I’ll be working with the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program.

The Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program is a leadership program for college students from rural counties in North Carolina in which they learn important leadership competencies that they can apply in school and at work. The goal is for them to learn skills that will make them employable leaders back in their home counties to raise the economic level of these struggling counties. As a program specialist, I support the four-year program by performing a variety of tasks, such as ordering materials and supplies, updating all print and media materials, updating the website, maintaining participant data, creating timelines and processing timesheets and forms. I also provide onsite management of logistics and A/V equipment for 2 annual conferences, a new coach orientation program, and a Leadership Summit.

In my Public Management and Leadership course this past semester, I learned why a liberal arts degree is advantageous in today’s workforce and what value a degree of this nature brings. With my shiny new liberal arts degree, I’m lucky to be considered a “free thinker” and in high-demand for the job market. Overall, I feel more qualified and well-rounded because of the many positive experiences I’ve had during my time at the best public liberal arts school in the country. I have learned valuable skills that make me marketable in the workplace such as editing and proofreading, attention to detail, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to excellence in all tasks. Working in the Office of Admissions & Financial Aid has allowed me to develop as a team player and given me the opportunity to become skillful at giving and receiving feedback for development.

I hope to inspire other young people like myself to be able to make a difference in their communities. Leadership and management skills are in short supply amongst my peers and I feel these skills set me apart from other young people my age. In my role with the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program, I hope to enhance my own leadership skills by being a good representative of the program and help it to grow to reach even more young people in this state. I’m excited to see where these new experiences will take me!"

Jessica Farrow, Class of 2018

 

Jessica Lynn Griffin Farrow 

Class of 2018

Bachelors of Arts, English

"During my time at UNC-Asheville, I worked in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid as an office assistant, which I very much enjoyed. I was able to make fantastic connections and develop a positive work ethic.

I will begin graduate school at George Washington University in the fall, where I’ll be studying to receive my Master’s degree in Publishing. After that, I hope to pursue a career with a publishing house as an editor. Recently, however, I was offered employment by the Center for Creative Leadership, where I’ll be working with the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program.

The Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program is a leadership program for college students from rural counties in North Carolina in which they learn important leadership competencies that they can apply in school and at work. The goal is for them to learn skills that will make them employable leaders back in their home counties to raise the economic level of these struggling counties. As a program specialist, I support the four-year program by performing a variety of tasks, such as ordering materials and supplies, updating all print and media materials, updating the website, maintaining participant data, creating timelines and processing timesheets and forms. I also provide onsite management of logistics and A/V equipment for 2 annual conferences, a new coach orientation program, and a Leadership Summit.

In my Public Management and Leadership course this past semester, I learned why a liberal arts degree is advantageous in today’s workforce and what value a degree of this nature brings. With my shiny new liberal arts degree, I’m lucky to be considered a “free thinker” and in high-demand for the job market. Overall, I feel more qualified and well-rounded because of the many positive experiences I’ve had during my time at the best public liberal arts school in the country. I have learned valuable skills that make me marketable in the workplace such as editing and proofreading, attention to detail, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to excellence in all tasks. Working in the Office of Admissions & Financial Aid has allowed me to develop as a team player and given me the opportunity to become skillful at giving and receiving feedback for development.

I hope to inspire other young people like myself to be able to make a difference in their communities. Leadership and management skills are in short supply amongst my peers and I feel these skills set me apart from other young people my age. In my role with the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program, I hope to enhance my own leadership skills by being a good representative of the program and help it to grow to reach even more young people in this state. I’m excited to see where these new experiences will take me!"

Kathryn Causey Miller, Class of 2008

 

Kathryn Causey Miller

Class of 2008

Bachelor of Arts, Art

Kathryn serves as Vice President of Philanthropy for the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte, North Carolina. She oversees the planning and execution of all contributed revenue activities for ASC, a nonprofit with a $16 million annual budget from both public and private resources. As the designated “Office of Cultural Resources” for the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and six suburban towns, ASC provides advocacy, cultural education programs, cultural planning, fundraising, grant making, public art and workshops and trainings for the cultural community. ASC’s mission is to ensure access to an excellent, relevant, and sustainable cultural community for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Region.

Miller comes to ASC from McColl Center for Art + Innovation, a nationally renowned artist residency, where she served as Director of Development.  Prior to joining the McColl Center, she was Director of Information Strategy + Donor Relations at The Mint Museum and the Director of Membership Services at The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.

Miller has taught at Queens University on the topics of non-profit finance and presented on non-profit data analytics and benchmarking at national and local conferences. She is a founding member of The Spheres Series, an award-winning arts collaborative that brings innovators in the arts from all over the globe to engage in thoughtful and relevant discussions on how arts and creativity can spark life-changing dialogue and promote necessary social change.

Miller has her BA from UNC Asheville and her certificate in Business Essentials for Nonprofit Organizations from Wake Forest University School of Business. When Kathryn talks about her experiences at UNCA, she says “It’s a place where an art major is pushed to not only master their artistic practice, but simultaneously study classics, humanities, and physics with diverse and passionate professors. Through my experience at UNCA, I built a life-long love of learning. It opened my eyes to the rest of the world and put my passion for the arts in motion” She lives in Belmont, NC with her husband, Anthony, and daughters, Isabelle and Freya. In her spare time, Miller still makes and exhibits her art and seeks unique curatorial opportunities.

Kathryn Causey Miller, Class of 2008

 

Kathryn Causey Miller

Class of 2008

Bachelor of Arts, Art

Kathryn serves as Vice President of Philanthropy for the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte, North Carolina. She oversees the planning and execution of all contributed revenue activities for ASC, a nonprofit with a $16 million annual budget from both public and private resources. As the designated “Office of Cultural Resources” for the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and six suburban towns, ASC provides advocacy, cultural education programs, cultural planning, fundraising, grant making, public art and workshops and trainings for the cultural community. ASC’s mission is to ensure access to an excellent, relevant, and sustainable cultural community for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Region.

Miller comes to ASC from McColl Center for Art + Innovation, a nationally renowned artist residency, where she served as Director of Development.  Prior to joining the McColl Center, she was Director of Information Strategy + Donor Relations at The Mint Museum and the Director of Membership Services at The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.

Miller has taught at Queens University on the topics of non-profit finance and presented on non-profit data analytics and benchmarking at national and local conferences. She is a founding member of The Spheres Series, an award-winning arts collaborative that brings innovators in the arts from all over the globe to engage in thoughtful and relevant discussions on how arts and creativity can spark life-changing dialogue and promote necessary social change.

Miller has her BA from UNC Asheville and her certificate in Business Essentials for Nonprofit Organizations from Wake Forest University School of Business. When Kathryn talks about her experiences at UNCA, she says “It’s a place where an art major is pushed to not only master their artistic practice, but simultaneously study classics, humanities, and physics with diverse and passionate professors. Through my experience at UNCA, I built a life-long love of learning. It opened my eyes to the rest of the world and put my passion for the arts in motion” She lives in Belmont, NC with her husband, Anthony, and daughters, Isabelle and Freya. In her spare time, Miller still makes and exhibits her art and seeks unique curatorial opportunities.

Lakesha McDay, Class of 2009

 

Lakesha McDay

Class of 2009

Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies

McDay ’09 was named one of two winners of the 2016 Order of Pisgah Award for Alumni Achievement. McDay has held a variety of positions at Mission Health over two decades. She also serves as a consultant for Mission’s Center for Leadership and Professional Development, and has served the community as a loaned executive for the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.

Lakesha McDay, Class of 2009

 

Lakesha McDay

Class of 2009

Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies

McDay ’09 was named one of two winners of the 2016 Order of Pisgah Award for Alumni Achievement. McDay has held a variety of positions at Mission Health over two decades. She also serves as a consultant for Mission’s Center for Leadership and Professional Development, and has served the community as a loaned executive for the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.

Dianne Cable, Class of 1972

 

Dianne Cable

Class of 1972

Bachelor of Arts, Art
 

"At the age of four years, I knew my life would be that of an artist.

That the University of North Carolina at Asheville was my college of choice proved to be complimentary to my ambition; the refinement of my talents under the tutelage of professors Eugene Bunker and Tucker Cooke, both masters of their crafts.  These were my mentors.

My years in the UNC-A art department proved to be something akin to an apprenticeship wherein one felt like a member of an extended family.

Studio courses were taught with equal emphasis in art history.

After graduating from UNC-A, I pursued an MA  in art history from the University of Georgia.  Part of my studies there were studio courses with Lamar Dodd.  Mr. Dodd had been a mentor to Mr. Cooke from the UNC-A art department.  He became a mentor to me, as well.

Further opportunity to expand my art experience came to me through the UGA Studies Abroad Program, in Cortona, Italy.  In 1976 I went as an assistant graduate student with that program to France and Italy.  Since then, an over a number of years, I returned with that program to Cortona with a number of art students from the UNC-A art department.  I consider Cortona the home of my heart.

In 1980 I returned to UNC-A to teach both studio and art history in the art department.

In 1987 I was accepted into the graduate art program at Virginia Commonwealth University in order to obtain an MFA in painting and printmaking.  This was completed in 1990.

My art teaching experience includes, UNC-A, UNC-Chapel Hill, VCU, Richmond University, Monmouth University in New Jersey, and Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island.

In 2005, I returned to Asheville and worked again as an instructor in the UNC-A art department through 2008.

Throughout this journey, I have kept sketch books that now number more than 100.  These books are visual journals of my ideas, my thoughts, and observations from travel.  These sketchbooks are part of the rare book collection of the Hiden Ramsey Library on the UNC-A campus and can be viewed in that area of the library.

My work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad.

Too, I have donated a number of paintings to UNC-A; they are to be found throughout, in offices, halls, and varying environs.

A great number of my paintings and sculpture can be seen by befriending me on Facebook; my home page features works from undergraduate study to the present day.  I offer this invitation." 

Dianne Cable, Class of 1972

 

Dianne Cable

Class of 1972

Bachelor of Arts, Art
 

"At the age of four years, I knew my life would be that of an artist.

That the University of North Carolina at Asheville was my college of choice proved to be complimentary to my ambition; the refinement of my talents under the tutelage of professors Eugene Bunker and Tucker Cooke, both masters of their crafts.  These were my mentors.

My years in the UNC-A art department proved to be something akin to an apprenticeship wherein one felt like a member of an extended family.

Studio courses were taught with equal emphasis in art history.

After graduating from UNC-A, I pursued an MA  in art history from the University of Georgia.  Part of my studies there were studio courses with Lamar Dodd.  Mr. Dodd had been a mentor to Mr. Cooke from the UNC-A art department.  He became a mentor to me, as well.

Further opportunity to expand my art experience came to me through the UGA Studies Abroad Program, in Cortona, Italy.  In 1976 I went as an assistant graduate student with that program to France and Italy.  Since then, an over a number of years, I returned with that program to Cortona with a number of art students from the UNC-A art department.  I consider Cortona the home of my heart.

In 1980 I returned to UNC-A to teach both studio and art history in the art department.

In 1987 I was accepted into the graduate art program at Virginia Commonwealth University in order to obtain an MFA in painting and printmaking.  This was completed in 1990.

My art teaching experience includes, UNC-A, UNC-Chapel Hill, VCU, Richmond University, Monmouth University in New Jersey, and Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island.

In 2005, I returned to Asheville and worked again as an instructor in the UNC-A art department through 2008.

Throughout this journey, I have kept sketch books that now number more than 100.  These books are visual journals of my ideas, my thoughts, and observations from travel.  These sketchbooks are part of the rare book collection of the Hiden Ramsey Library on the UNC-A campus and can be viewed in that area of the library.

My work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad.

Too, I have donated a number of paintings to UNC-A; they are to be found throughout, in offices, halls, and varying environs.

A great number of my paintings and sculpture can be seen by befriending me on Facebook; my home page features works from undergraduate study to the present day.  I offer this invitation." 

David de Haan, Class of 1997

 

David de Haan

Class of 1997

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology

David de Haan, a psychologist by degree and profession, has made significant contributions in his field of Performance Enhancement Psychology in the United States and Europe. He conducts elite coaching clinics, publishes books and articles and serves as a performance enhancement consultant to top tennis professionals. He also was a professional basketball player, playing power forward internationally after graduating from UNC Asheville, where he was a center for the Bulldogs. In addition, de Haan has authored educational resources, books on mental training in tennis, and a children’s book on life skills and learning math, which has been translated into several languages. He is a 2017 recipient of the Order of Pisgah Award for Alumni Achievement.

David de Haan, Class of 1997

 

David de Haan

Class of 1997

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology

David de Haan, a psychologist by degree and profession, has made significant contributions in his field of Performance Enhancement Psychology in the United States and Europe. He conducts elite coaching clinics, publishes books and articles and serves as a performance enhancement consultant to top tennis professionals. He also was a professional basketball player, playing power forward internationally after graduating from UNC Asheville, where he was a center for the Bulldogs. In addition, de Haan has authored educational resources, books on mental training in tennis, and a children’s book on life skills and learning math, which has been translated into several languages. He is a 2017 recipient of the Order of Pisgah Award for Alumni Achievement.

Amelia Ann Bogan, Class of 2018


 

Amelia Ann Bogan
Class of 2018
Bachelor's of Science, Accounting
Business Management Minor

"I am an Asheville native, born and raised here in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I am pursuing my career as a staff accountant in downtown Asheville at Gould Killian CPA Group. In this position, I serve the public by preparing tax returns and reviewing client data, as well as participating in audit engagements and tax planning projects.

My time at UNCA served me well. I was a member of the Accountancy Association as well as the Hospitality Officer. My involvement within the association not only allowed me to strengthen my skillset, but gave me the opportunity to network with employers and representatives from all venues, most importantly my employer. I also participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for two years as a volunteer and quality reviewer preparing tax returns for low-income families within the community.

I will forever be grateful for these experiences and my professors because without them I would not be where I am today."

Amelia Ann Bogan, Class of 2018


 

Amelia Ann Bogan
Class of 2018
Bachelor's of Science, Accounting
Business Management Minor

"I am an Asheville native, born and raised here in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I am pursuing my career as a staff accountant in downtown Asheville at Gould Killian CPA Group. In this position, I serve the public by preparing tax returns and reviewing client data, as well as participating in audit engagements and tax planning projects.

My time at UNCA served me well. I was a member of the Accountancy Association as well as the Hospitality Officer. My involvement within the association not only allowed me to strengthen my skillset, but gave me the opportunity to network with employers and representatives from all venues, most importantly my employer. I also participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for two years as a volunteer and quality reviewer preparing tax returns for low-income families within the community.

I will forever be grateful for these experiences and my professors because without them I would not be where I am today."

Paul T. Deason, Class of 1974

 

Paul T. Deason

Class of 1974

Bacherlor of Science, Chemistry

Bachelor of Science, Physics

Paul T. Deason, Jr, UNCA Class of 1974, Chemistry and Physics, retired in November after 38 years of working in the US Department of Energy Complex.

After graduating from UNCA, as valedictorian and Summa Cum Laude in chemistry and physics, Paul attended Michigan State University on a Quill Fellowship that he credits his preparation at UNCA (especially Drs Dexter Squibb and John Stevens) as a major factor in winning this international competition. His experiences at UNCA included conducting some of the first undergraduate research and even co authoring a book with Dr Stevens. This solid foundation and a summer internship at Argonne National Lab, prepared him for obtaining his PhD in nuclear chemistry and a successful career in the nuclear field. Paul worked 36 years at the Savannah River National Laboratory(SRNL) in South Carolina and 2 years at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

His area of expertise was national security programs which included developing a nuclear safeguards measurement system for all US plutonium shipments, and establishing the first nuclear forensics laboratory in the world in partnership with the FBI, essentially a $25M nuclear Quantico facility at Savannah River. Other highlights include leading a team of eight National Lab robotics experts for 6 weeks in support of search and recovery efforts in New York City after 9/11, organized a team that supported recovery efforts for the Challenger Shuttle accident in Texas, assisted the Department of Justice in a program that used SRNL technologies to make several dozen arrests in the southeast.

Paul coordinated efforts for SRNL with the United Nations to provide 2 nuclear experts in the search for WMD’s in Iraq. Also, while leading the research and development efforts at SRNL, over $10B in life cycle savings was achieved for the Department of Energy’s Environmental cleanup efforts, using SRNL technologies to restore former nuclear weapons sites in the US.  Paul has left a legacy in two support areas for the Lab, an internship program for Wounded Warriors and he also led a nuclear facility based safety program that has placed SRNL as the “safest National Lab” for 12 of the last 13 years, including a National Safety Council Leadership Award in 2011.

Deason, center, receiving Safety Achievement Leadership Award in 2011 from the CEO and Chairman of the National Safety Council in Philadelphia.

Paul held several nuclear research assignments and many leadership positions of increasing responsibility that included: Manager- Measurement Technologies, Associate Lab Director-National Security,  Deputy Director and COO of the Savannah River National Lab and Vice President of Site Services, and VP of Business Services for the Savannah River Site.  In this last position , Paul was responsible for leading the Procurement, IT, CFO, strategic planning, corporate restructuring, and cost reduction efforts of the $1B+/yr contractor that runs Savannah River for the Department of Energy. 

He currently resides in Aiken, SC with his wife of 44 years, Debbie, and continues to serve the Aiken community. He has coached over 30 youth sport teams, co founded the Aiken Fast Pitch Travel Softball Club, served on several School Board committees, has been involved at USC Aiken for several years and is currently serving his third year as the Chairman of USCA’s Partnership Board and as a member of the curriculum committee for the Engineering program, which he helped develop and obtain State approval. His free time is spent with his four daughters and their families which will soon include eight grandchildren, hiking in the WNC mountains, volunteering as a staff member at the Aiken Performing Arts Center, and playing lots of tennis and pickleball.

Paul T. Deason, Class of 1974

 

Paul T. Deason

Class of 1974

Bacherlor of Science, Chemistry

Bachelor of Science, Physics

Paul T. Deason, Jr, UNCA Class of 1974, Chemistry and Physics, retired in November after 38 years of working in the US Department of Energy Complex.

After graduating from UNCA, as valedictorian and Summa Cum Laude in chemistry and physics, Paul attended Michigan State University on a Quill Fellowship that he credits his preparation at UNCA (especially Drs Dexter Squibb and John Stevens) as a major factor in winning this international competition. His experiences at UNCA included conducting some of the first undergraduate research and even co authoring a book with Dr Stevens. This solid foundation and a summer internship at Argonne National Lab, prepared him for obtaining his PhD in nuclear chemistry and a successful career in the nuclear field. Paul worked 36 years at the Savannah River National Laboratory(SRNL) in South Carolina and 2 years at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

His area of expertise was national security programs which included developing a nuclear safeguards measurement system for all US plutonium shipments, and establishing the first nuclear forensics laboratory in the world in partnership with the FBI, essentially a $25M nuclear Quantico facility at Savannah River. Other highlights include leading a team of eight National Lab robotics experts for 6 weeks in support of search and recovery efforts in New York City after 9/11, organized a team that supported recovery efforts for the Challenger Shuttle accident in Texas, assisted the Department of Justice in a program that used SRNL technologies to make several dozen arrests in the southeast.

Paul coordinated efforts for SRNL with the United Nations to provide 2 nuclear experts in the search for WMD’s in Iraq. Also, while leading the research and development efforts at SRNL, over $10B in life cycle savings was achieved for the Department of Energy’s Environmental cleanup efforts, using SRNL technologies to restore former nuclear weapons sites in the US.  Paul has left a legacy in two support areas for the Lab, an internship program for Wounded Warriors and he also led a nuclear facility based safety program that has placed SRNL as the “safest National Lab” for 12 of the last 13 years, including a National Safety Council Leadership Award in 2011.

Deason, center, receiving Safety Achievement Leadership Award in 2011 from the CEO and Chairman of the National Safety Council in Philadelphia.

Paul held several nuclear research assignments and many leadership positions of increasing responsibility that included: Manager- Measurement Technologies, Associate Lab Director-National Security,  Deputy Director and COO of the Savannah River National Lab and Vice President of Site Services, and VP of Business Services for the Savannah River Site.  In this last position , Paul was responsible for leading the Procurement, IT, CFO, strategic planning, corporate restructuring, and cost reduction efforts of the $1B+/yr contractor that runs Savannah River for the Department of Energy. 

He currently resides in Aiken, SC with his wife of 44 years, Debbie, and continues to serve the Aiken community. He has coached over 30 youth sport teams, co founded the Aiken Fast Pitch Travel Softball Club, served on several School Board committees, has been involved at USC Aiken for several years and is currently serving his third year as the Chairman of USCA’s Partnership Board and as a member of the curriculum committee for the Engineering program, which he helped develop and obtain State approval. His free time is spent with his four daughters and their families which will soon include eight grandchildren, hiking in the WNC mountains, volunteering as a staff member at the Aiken Performing Arts Center, and playing lots of tennis and pickleball.

Nick Cameron & Gabriela Feinstein, Class of 2018


 

Nick Cameron

Class of 2018

Bachelor of Science, Music Technology 
 

Gabriela Feinstein

Class of 2018

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology

Never having been exposed to the bluegrass genre before, Nick Cameron and Gabriela Feinstein caught their first glimpse through the UNCA Bluegrass Ensemble directed by residential Ethnomusicologist Dr. Jonathan Tobias King. As a result, Mama Danger was born.

As a folk/"newgrass" band, Mama Danger draws upon the styles of traditional bluegrass and folk as well as modern musical innovations. The band released their first ever discography in 2018, an EP titled "Anagrammed." The work was recorded in UNC Asheville's very own recording studio.

As alumnus Mama Danger performs locally, contributing to the eccentric artistic scene that Asheville is so well known for. The group has been featured in the Mountain Xpress "Acoustic Asheville" spotlight, and continues to grow.

Nick Cameron & Gabriela Feinstein, Class of 2018


 

Nick Cameron

Class of 2018

Bachelor of Science, Music Technology 
 

Gabriela Feinstein

Class of 2018

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology

Never having been exposed to the bluegrass genre before, Nick Cameron and Gabriela Feinstein caught their first glimpse through the UNCA Bluegrass Ensemble directed by residential Ethnomusicologist Dr. Jonathan Tobias King. As a result, Mama Danger was born.

As a folk/"newgrass" band, Mama Danger draws upon the styles of traditional bluegrass and folk as well as modern musical innovations. The band released their first ever discography in 2018, an EP titled "Anagrammed." The work was recorded in UNC Asheville's very own recording studio.

As alumnus Mama Danger performs locally, contributing to the eccentric artistic scene that Asheville is so well known for. The group has been featured in the Mountain Xpress "Acoustic Asheville" spotlight, and continues to grow.

Nathan Silsbee, Class of 2010

 

Nathan Silsbee

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Arts, Multimedia Arts and Sciences

After completing his degree in Multimedia Arts and Sciences from UNCA in 2010, Nathan Silsbee dove into the technology industry head first. With a passion for interactive design, and experience as a web specialist in Colorado, he founded Greenstone Media, a firm specializing in websites, digital marketing and custom software.

Since it’s inception, Greenstone Media has grown from just Nathan to 18 employees in just 5 years.

“After defining our target niches, we’ve gotten a lot of traction from repeat business and clients that we know we can solve problems for. Our ideal fit is enterprise level clients that need a technology arm for their company… these are clients that don’t want to hire a CMO, CTO and all the overhead and expenses that inevitably come with an in-house technical team.” Silsbee said.

Greenstone has completed projects for prominent organizations such as BorgWarner, Park Ridge Hospital, and the Asheville Chamber of Commerce. Greenstone built the software for one telemedicine company that has seen triple digit growth year after year from launching a new platform with Greenstone.

Silsbee said he has been fortunate to experience growth. Greenstone Media has increased to a total of 18 employees, and has serviced hundreds of clients across 3 departments. In November 2015, he purchased a building on the South Slope to establish Base Camp AVL, a space, he said, designed to create and foster a culture of creativity and collaboration. This space has provided an excellent platform for growth in Greenstone.

“Your team ultimately means the recipe for success or failure,” Silsbee said. “Brilliant minds produce an iron sharpening iron effect, and every differing perspective brings value in a unique way.”

“I developed a very critical approach to design and conceptual ideation,” Silsbee said. “That kind of critical thinking that stemmed from my studies at UNCA have been one of the most valuable assets I got out of my education.”

Silsbee looks forward to continuing his entrepreneurial development and looking to see "what's next" in the technology realm.

Nathan Silsbee, Class of 2010

 

Nathan Silsbee

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Arts, Multimedia Arts and Sciences

After completing his degree in Multimedia Arts and Sciences from UNCA in 2010, Nathan Silsbee dove into the technology industry head first. With a passion for interactive design, and experience as a web specialist in Colorado, he founded Greenstone Media, a firm specializing in websites, digital marketing and custom software.

Since it’s inception, Greenstone Media has grown from just Nathan to 18 employees in just 5 years.

“After defining our target niches, we’ve gotten a lot of traction from repeat business and clients that we know we can solve problems for. Our ideal fit is enterprise level clients that need a technology arm for their company… these are clients that don’t want to hire a CMO, CTO and all the overhead and expenses that inevitably come with an in-house technical team.” Silsbee said.

Greenstone has completed projects for prominent organizations such as BorgWarner, Park Ridge Hospital, and the Asheville Chamber of Commerce. Greenstone built the software for one telemedicine company that has seen triple digit growth year after year from launching a new platform with Greenstone.

Silsbee said he has been fortunate to experience growth. Greenstone Media has increased to a total of 18 employees, and has serviced hundreds of clients across 3 departments. In November 2015, he purchased a building on the South Slope to establish Base Camp AVL, a space, he said, designed to create and foster a culture of creativity and collaboration. This space has provided an excellent platform for growth in Greenstone.

“Your team ultimately means the recipe for success or failure,” Silsbee said. “Brilliant minds produce an iron sharpening iron effect, and every differing perspective brings value in a unique way.”

“I developed a very critical approach to design and conceptual ideation,” Silsbee said. “That kind of critical thinking that stemmed from my studies at UNCA have been one of the most valuable assets I got out of my education.”

Silsbee looks forward to continuing his entrepreneurial development and looking to see "what's next" in the technology realm.

Chris Gragtmans, Class of 2010

 

Chris Gragtmans

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Science, Management

"As a commercial real estate broker with CoveStar Investment Realty Advisors in the Western North Carolina market, I have the opportunity to interact with business owners and real estate investors on a daily basis. I have leveraged my undergraduate degree in Business Management with a focus in Marketing every day... whether I'm pitching my services to clients, marketing and selling multi-million dollar properties, or utilizing cutting edge technology like drones to set myself apart from my competition.

Real estate investment analysis is extremely complex, and the financial foundation that I received at UNCA is something that I use every day. I also reflect fondly on the first time I heard the word 'critical path' and participating in the senior capsim entrepreneurial game. As a student, I always said that an education at UNCA 'will give back as much as you put into it,' and my self-directed career is the same way. I look forward to the next step.

Chris Gragtmans, Class of 2010

 

Chris Gragtmans

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Science, Management

"As a commercial real estate broker with CoveStar Investment Realty Advisors in the Western North Carolina market, I have the opportunity to interact with business owners and real estate investors on a daily basis. I have leveraged my undergraduate degree in Business Management with a focus in Marketing every day... whether I'm pitching my services to clients, marketing and selling multi-million dollar properties, or utilizing cutting edge technology like drones to set myself apart from my competition.

Real estate investment analysis is extremely complex, and the financial foundation that I received at UNCA is something that I use every day. I also reflect fondly on the first time I heard the word 'critical path' and participating in the senior capsim entrepreneurial game. As a student, I always said that an education at UNCA 'will give back as much as you put into it,' and my self-directed career is the same way. I look forward to the next step.

Casey Harrell, Class of 2014


 

Casey Harrell 

Class of 2014

Bachelor of Arts, Drama

"I've been working in construction for about 3 years now. It's great because it allows me to take my technical theatre background and apply it to everyday life. As a homeowner, it has made a huge difference with our ability to update our house and property the way we want without hiring outside help."

Casey Harrell, Class of 2014


 

Casey Harrell 

Class of 2014

Bachelor of Arts, Drama

"I've been working in construction for about 3 years now. It's great because it allows me to take my technical theatre background and apply it to everyday life. As a homeowner, it has made a huge difference with our ability to update our house and property the way we want without hiring outside help."

Sheila Duncan, Class of 1984

 

Sheila Duncan

Class of 1984

Bachelor of Science, Management

A management major, with an emphasis in retail management, Sheila Duncan ’84 has a spot on the sports roster at UNC Asheville as a member of the Athletics Hall of Fame. She was center on the women’s basketball team, recording over 2,000 points during her time on the court.

Her senior year, Duncan led the Bulldogs to the NAIA Championship, where she earned MVP honors. When asked about the team Duncan noted, “We were a very well disciplined team, we always put first things first, our studies were first. We studied together, in the library together, or we’d drive on the parkway and study up there. We always put our classes first.”

During her college years, she also worked as an intern at Belk of Asheville to expand her knowledge of the retail world, a passion she continues to this day. At that time she paired it with many hours of practice, spending hours in the gym and the classroom. She is fondest of her memories of the Justice Center, saying “I thought we had the best gym in the world. Seriously, I know it’s nothing compared to Kimmel Arena, but when I was there the Justice Center was the elite gym of gyms!”

Upon graduating, Duncan continued her basketball career playing overseas for Celta de Vigo Baloncesto, a league in Vigo, Spain. She recalled declining an opportunity while at UNC Asheville to focus on her sport, knowing that the chance to play professionally could be once in a lifetime. Her talents prevailed though, and she played professional for several years. When her basketball career came to a close, Duncan pursued another burning passion: fashion.

In 1993 she earned a Master of Science degree in clothing and textiles from UNC Greensboro. Today, she works as a high school teacher sharing her passion with students daily. As a mother, wife, teacher, and recognized alumna-athlete, she shares the following advice to current UNC Asheville students: “Have an attitude of excellence on campus… be excellent at whatever you do.”

Sheila Duncan, Class of 1984

 

Sheila Duncan

Class of 1984

Bachelor of Science, Management

A management major, with an emphasis in retail management, Sheila Duncan ’84 has a spot on the sports roster at UNC Asheville as a member of the Athletics Hall of Fame. She was center on the women’s basketball team, recording over 2,000 points during her time on the court.

Her senior year, Duncan led the Bulldogs to the NAIA Championship, where she earned MVP honors. When asked about the team Duncan noted, “We were a very well disciplined team, we always put first things first, our studies were first. We studied together, in the library together, or we’d drive on the parkway and study up there. We always put our classes first.”

During her college years, she also worked as an intern at Belk of Asheville to expand her knowledge of the retail world, a passion she continues to this day. At that time she paired it with many hours of practice, spending hours in the gym and the classroom. She is fondest of her memories of the Justice Center, saying “I thought we had the best gym in the world. Seriously, I know it’s nothing compared to Kimmel Arena, but when I was there the Justice Center was the elite gym of gyms!”

Upon graduating, Duncan continued her basketball career playing overseas for Celta de Vigo Baloncesto, a league in Vigo, Spain. She recalled declining an opportunity while at UNC Asheville to focus on her sport, knowing that the chance to play professionally could be once in a lifetime. Her talents prevailed though, and she played professional for several years. When her basketball career came to a close, Duncan pursued another burning passion: fashion.

In 1993 she earned a Master of Science degree in clothing and textiles from UNC Greensboro. Today, she works as a high school teacher sharing her passion with students daily. As a mother, wife, teacher, and recognized alumna-athlete, she shares the following advice to current UNC Asheville students: “Have an attitude of excellence on campus… be excellent at whatever you do.”

Susan & Jake Elks, Class of 1997

 

 

Susan Still Elks

Class of 1997

Bachelor of Science, Environmental Studies

Jake C. Elks IV

Class of 1997

Bachelor of Science, Environmental Studies

May 2018 marks the 17 th wedding anniversary for two alumni who met 23 years ago at UNCA. 20+ years later, Susan and Jake most of all want to give a huge shout-out to the professors in the environmental program, who have had an immeasurable impact on both of us as individuals and professionals. Susan has spent the recent part of her career in county planning, focusing on helping communities envision their future and take active steps to achieve that vision. An important part of this work has been focusing on facilitation and conflict resolution, valuing the processes of building consensus and working cooperatively.

While her official title at the Chester County Planning Commission is Planning Services Division Director, Susan will always consider herself an environmental planner first. She recently resigned after serving the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association as its Professional Development Officer for ten years, a volunteer role in which she assisted planners with professional training and certification. Susan’s on the lookout for a new volunteer role, hopefully one a little closer to environmental causes.

Jake’s professional experiences have spanned environmental and safety compliance, emergency preparedness and response, and maritime law enforcement. He is currently a civilian employee of the U.S. Coast Guard, working out of Philadelphia as a Marine Inspector, conducting technical vessel inspections of domestic and foreign-flagged ships, including freight, oil, and chemical tankers. In addition, he is getting ready to enter his 18 th year of reserve service with the U.S. Coast Guard, currently serving as a Chief Warrant Officer in New York.

He was recalled to active duty in the fall of 2017 for hurricane response efforts in Florida, supervising response efforts that removed over 90 vessels and 2000 gallons of hazardous waste material while maximizing protection to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Jake previously served on active duty in Atlantic Beach, NC, and Philadelphia, PA, and had been recalled for response efforts following Hurricane Katrina. In addition to his normal duties, Jake takes pride in assisting colleagues with training.

Outside of work, kids Garrett and Claire keep things busy. So far they like canoeing, fishing, and general exploring of the neighborhood creek – along with reading. We’re not sure how we got this lucky, but we certainly appreciate their love of the outdoors and every hug we get.

If we could offer anything from our UNCA experience, it would be that the value of the education is more apparent with every passing year, and that value is as critical as ever in appropriately caring for our planet and all its residents.

 

Susan & Jake Elks, Class of 1997

 

 

Susan Still Elks

Class of 1997

Bachelor of Science, Environmental Studies

Jake C. Elks IV

Class of 1997

Bachelor of Science, Environmental Studies

May 2018 marks the 17 th wedding anniversary for two alumni who met 23 years ago at UNCA. 20+ years later, Susan and Jake most of all want to give a huge shout-out to the professors in the environmental program, who have had an immeasurable impact on both of us as individuals and professionals. Susan has spent the recent part of her career in county planning, focusing on helping communities envision their future and take active steps to achieve that vision. An important part of this work has been focusing on facilitation and conflict resolution, valuing the processes of building consensus and working cooperatively.

While her official title at the Chester County Planning Commission is Planning Services Division Director, Susan will always consider herself an environmental planner first. She recently resigned after serving the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association as its Professional Development Officer for ten years, a volunteer role in which she assisted planners with professional training and certification. Susan’s on the lookout for a new volunteer role, hopefully one a little closer to environmental causes.

Jake’s professional experiences have spanned environmental and safety compliance, emergency preparedness and response, and maritime law enforcement. He is currently a civilian employee of the U.S. Coast Guard, working out of Philadelphia as a Marine Inspector, conducting technical vessel inspections of domestic and foreign-flagged ships, including freight, oil, and chemical tankers. In addition, he is getting ready to enter his 18 th year of reserve service with the U.S. Coast Guard, currently serving as a Chief Warrant Officer in New York.

He was recalled to active duty in the fall of 2017 for hurricane response efforts in Florida, supervising response efforts that removed over 90 vessels and 2000 gallons of hazardous waste material while maximizing protection to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Jake previously served on active duty in Atlantic Beach, NC, and Philadelphia, PA, and had been recalled for response efforts following Hurricane Katrina. In addition to his normal duties, Jake takes pride in assisting colleagues with training.

Outside of work, kids Garrett and Claire keep things busy. So far they like canoeing, fishing, and general exploring of the neighborhood creek – along with reading. We’re not sure how we got this lucky, but we certainly appreciate their love of the outdoors and every hug we get.

If we could offer anything from our UNCA experience, it would be that the value of the education is more apparent with every passing year, and that value is as critical as ever in appropriately caring for our planet and all its residents.

 

Dr. Lee Pearson, Class of 1991

 

Dr. Lee Pearson
Class of 1991
Bachelor of Arts, Mass Communication

As one of the first University Scholars students at UNCA, it is not surprising that Lee Pearson ‘91 ended up with a career in academia.  The surprising part for the mass communication major is that his career path led him to working in public health.

Following his undergraduate work at UNCA, Pearson (an Asheville native) pursued graduate studies at the United States Sports Academy in Mobile, Alabama.  It was there he cemented his interest in working to promote better health among individuals and communities.  That interest led him to the University of South Carolina for a doctoral degree in public health.  Since earning that degree in 2004, Pearson has been actively engaged in improving health outcomes in South Carolina.  For nearly a decade, he was involved in numerous statewide policy and practice initiatives through his role as the founding director of the South Carolina Public Health Institute, now the South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health. 

Pearson returned to academia in 2016 to become an associate professor and associate dean in the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health.  For Pearson, though, it is his undergraduate experience at UNCA that has served him well in every aspect of his career.  “Knowing how to communicate effectively, whether it is with a group of students, policymakers or a local community, is a vital skill to have. My experience at UNCA taught me valuable lessons that have served me well in every professional position I have held.”

Dr. Lee Pearson, Class of 1991

 

Dr. Lee Pearson
Class of 1991
Bachelor of Arts, Mass Communication

As one of the first University Scholars students at UNCA, it is not surprising that Lee Pearson ‘91 ended up with a career in academia.  The surprising part for the mass communication major is that his career path led him to working in public health.

Following his undergraduate work at UNCA, Pearson (an Asheville native) pursued graduate studies at the United States Sports Academy in Mobile, Alabama.  It was there he cemented his interest in working to promote better health among individuals and communities.  That interest led him to the University of South Carolina for a doctoral degree in public health.  Since earning that degree in 2004, Pearson has been actively engaged in improving health outcomes in South Carolina.  For nearly a decade, he was involved in numerous statewide policy and practice initiatives through his role as the founding director of the South Carolina Public Health Institute, now the South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health. 

Pearson returned to academia in 2016 to become an associate professor and associate dean in the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health.  For Pearson, though, it is his undergraduate experience at UNCA that has served him well in every aspect of his career.  “Knowing how to communicate effectively, whether it is with a group of students, policymakers or a local community, is a vital skill to have. My experience at UNCA taught me valuable lessons that have served me well in every professional position I have held.”

John Noor, Class of 2007

 

John Noor

Class of 2007

Bachelor of Arts, Economics

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

In 2016, Noor received the Thomas D. Reynolds Alumni Award for Service to the University, named for the son of the university’s founder, a graduate of the class of 1937, and one of the university’s most active volunteers and supporters for over sixty years. Noor, a litigation attorney focusing on environmental law, complex business litigation, governmental affairs, and public policy, serves on UNC Asheville’s National Alumni council and serves students as an adjunct instructor, teaching a course in environmental law.

John Noor, Class of 2007

 

John Noor

Class of 2007

Bachelor of Arts, Economics

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

In 2016, Noor received the Thomas D. Reynolds Alumni Award for Service to the University, named for the son of the university’s founder, a graduate of the class of 1937, and one of the university’s most active volunteers and supporters for over sixty years. Noor, a litigation attorney focusing on environmental law, complex business litigation, governmental affairs, and public policy, serves on UNC Asheville’s National Alumni council and serves students as an adjunct instructor, teaching a course in environmental law.

Rob Young, Class of 1992

 

Rob Young

Class of 1992

Bachelor of Arts, Economics

Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy

 

"Every working day, I travel thirty eight minutes from my home in Statesville, North Carolina to start work in rural Alexander County. My job involves protecting children from abuse and neglect, providing child support for dependent families, and protecting the elderly from exploitation and abuse. As a social services attorney for the past 18 years, I have had one of the best jobs one can have in the legal profession.

Before graduating from UNCA in 1992, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be an attorney.  My then professor, Joe Sulock, encouraged me to consider law school, explaining to me that law school could open up many different possibilities for a career, not necessarily one in the courtroom.

I took Joe’s advice. In the fall of that year, after a whirlwind summer where I married fellow alumnus Kimberly Ferrell, I began my first year at Drake University School of Law in Des Moines, Iowa. Three years later, we returned to North Carolina where I passed the bar and set up a solo law practice in downtown Asheville. While I had many successes in my trial practice, the advent of my first child, Sarah, made a stable income an imperative. In 1999, I applied for my first job as a county social services attorney in Iredell County and have been doing this work ever since.

In my total of 23 years of practice, I have authored two legal treatises, one related to North Carolina Juvenile Law while the other being the legal rights of children in the United States. I have also been designated one of a handful of Child Welfare Specialists in North Carolina through the National Association of Counsel for Children. I have also taught continuing legal education to judges, attorneys, and social work professionals on the local, state, and national level. At present, I am a candidate for District Court Judge in North Carolina Judicial District 22A.

This career would not have been possible had it not been for my liberal arts education at UNCA. As a philosophy major, I learned the ancient arts of rhetoric, a skill I use every day in the courtroom. My writing skills were honed writing countless humanities papers. Most importantly, my ability to critically think was developed by my professors who taught that every argument had two sides (or more). One’s college education matters. I am glad mine was from UNCA!"

Rob Young, Class of 1992

 

Rob Young

Class of 1992

Bachelor of Arts, Economics

Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy

 

"Every working day, I travel thirty eight minutes from my home in Statesville, North Carolina to start work in rural Alexander County. My job involves protecting children from abuse and neglect, providing child support for dependent families, and protecting the elderly from exploitation and abuse. As a social services attorney for the past 18 years, I have had one of the best jobs one can have in the legal profession.

Before graduating from UNCA in 1992, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be an attorney.  My then professor, Joe Sulock, encouraged me to consider law school, explaining to me that law school could open up many different possibilities for a career, not necessarily one in the courtroom.

I took Joe’s advice. In the fall of that year, after a whirlwind summer where I married fellow alumnus Kimberly Ferrell, I began my first year at Drake University School of Law in Des Moines, Iowa. Three years later, we returned to North Carolina where I passed the bar and set up a solo law practice in downtown Asheville. While I had many successes in my trial practice, the advent of my first child, Sarah, made a stable income an imperative. In 1999, I applied for my first job as a county social services attorney in Iredell County and have been doing this work ever since.

In my total of 23 years of practice, I have authored two legal treatises, one related to North Carolina Juvenile Law while the other being the legal rights of children in the United States. I have also been designated one of a handful of Child Welfare Specialists in North Carolina through the National Association of Counsel for Children. I have also taught continuing legal education to judges, attorneys, and social work professionals on the local, state, and national level. At present, I am a candidate for District Court Judge in North Carolina Judicial District 22A.

This career would not have been possible had it not been for my liberal arts education at UNCA. As a philosophy major, I learned the ancient arts of rhetoric, a skill I use every day in the courtroom. My writing skills were honed writing countless humanities papers. Most importantly, my ability to critically think was developed by my professors who taught that every argument had two sides (or more). One’s college education matters. I am glad mine was from UNCA!"

Jennifer Forsyth, Class of 1990

Jennifer Forsyth

Class of 1990

Bachelor of Arts, History

In 2016 Forsyth received the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumna Award, UNC Asheville’s highest alumni award, which is named for the founder of its first alumni association and a distinguished member of the U.S. Congress. Forsyth had served as U.S. editor for The Wall Street Journal for three years prior to being promoted to her current position, deputy editor, in 2014.

Jennifer Forsyth, Class of 1990

Jennifer Forsyth

Class of 1990

Bachelor of Arts, History

In 2016 Forsyth received the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumna Award, UNC Asheville’s highest alumni award, which is named for the founder of its first alumni association and a distinguished member of the U.S. Congress. Forsyth had served as U.S. editor for The Wall Street Journal for three years prior to being promoted to her current position, deputy editor, in 2014.

Tiffany Sen, Class of 1992

 

Tiffany Sen

Class of 1992

Bachelor of Science, Music

By day she negotiates contracts on behalf of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

By night she plays her flute in a world-beat blues rock band, in and around New York City.

Meet UNCA Asheville alumna '92, Tiffany Sen.

"I think life is all about balance" she cheerfully shares, "and balance is created through awareness and choice." It took Tiffany a long time to arrive at her current state of mind. "I've always felt pulled to extremes, pulled between my need to express myself creatively and my analytical thoughts. After ping-ponging back and forth for years, I've finally found a way to integrate the two."

Tiffany joined The Met in June 2017 as Head of Procurement and Financial Operations. In her role, she oversees a team of people who negotiate contracts and ensure smooth operations on behalf of the museum. "I love working among so much art; every day I can take a short walk and travel in time to another land and culture and marvel at the beauty and expressiveness. It's important to me to know that my work contributes to the preservation of that, of our collective history on the planet."

Tiffany lets her creative inspiration flow with Inner Gypsy, a five-piece world-beat blues rock band in which she plays flute and shares vocals with her guitarist husband. "I love this band." she chirps, "we play music inspired from all over the world: indian ragas, flamenco, reggae, classical, blues, jazz - it's a fusion with catchy hooks, meaningful lyrics and complex arrangements. Everyone in this band is a great player and it's so inspiring!"

"UNC Asheville really set a good foundation for me, encouraging me to mold my music technology focus into a customized music management degree which encompassed all the important aspects of my craft: theory, performance, recording.... and blended it with mathematics, physics, and marketing. The liberal arts education with its foundation in the classics of art and literature as well as sociology and psychology fed my curiosity about the world and set me on a path to pursue my dreams and interests." She continues, "I chose UNCA for the liberal arts education and music technology focus; I fell in love with Asheville - the culture, the people, the mountains, along the way. I carry it with me wherever I go."

Tiffany Sen, Class of 1992

 

Tiffany Sen

Class of 1992

Bachelor of Science, Music

By day she negotiates contracts on behalf of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

By night she plays her flute in a world-beat blues rock band, in and around New York City.

Meet UNCA Asheville alumna '92, Tiffany Sen.

"I think life is all about balance" she cheerfully shares, "and balance is created through awareness and choice." It took Tiffany a long time to arrive at her current state of mind. "I've always felt pulled to extremes, pulled between my need to express myself creatively and my analytical thoughts. After ping-ponging back and forth for years, I've finally found a way to integrate the two."

Tiffany joined The Met in June 2017 as Head of Procurement and Financial Operations. In her role, she oversees a team of people who negotiate contracts and ensure smooth operations on behalf of the museum. "I love working among so much art; every day I can take a short walk and travel in time to another land and culture and marvel at the beauty and expressiveness. It's important to me to know that my work contributes to the preservation of that, of our collective history on the planet."

Tiffany lets her creative inspiration flow with Inner Gypsy, a five-piece world-beat blues rock band in which she plays flute and shares vocals with her guitarist husband. "I love this band." she chirps, "we play music inspired from all over the world: indian ragas, flamenco, reggae, classical, blues, jazz - it's a fusion with catchy hooks, meaningful lyrics and complex arrangements. Everyone in this band is a great player and it's so inspiring!"

"UNC Asheville really set a good foundation for me, encouraging me to mold my music technology focus into a customized music management degree which encompassed all the important aspects of my craft: theory, performance, recording.... and blended it with mathematics, physics, and marketing. The liberal arts education with its foundation in the classics of art and literature as well as sociology and psychology fed my curiosity about the world and set me on a path to pursue my dreams and interests." She continues, "I chose UNCA for the liberal arts education and music technology focus; I fell in love with Asheville - the culture, the people, the mountains, along the way. I carry it with me wherever I go."

Madeline Delp, Class of 2017

 

Madeline Delp

Class of 2017

Bachelor of Arts, German

Madeline Delp ’17 loves a good adventure. A self-described adrenaline junky, she’s traveled across the country and around the world, been surfing and skydiving, and performed in front of large crowds. Now she’s on to a new adventure—founding her own nonprofit, Live Boundless, which serves to educate and assist those who, like her, use a wheelchair.

Live Boundless has already held its first fundraiser and launched the intro to a video series of the same name. The Live Boundless video series, which Delp began filming with Productions in a Box in Wilmington, N.C., kicks off with an episode on adaptive surfing. Other videos will include episodes on health, such as how to exercise in a wheelchair, episodes on traveling abroad and accessible cities, and inspirational talks.

As the Live Boundless organization grows, Delp hopes to take on some larger projects.

“Removing barriers for those with disabilities on a legislative scale is extremely important for our team,” Delp said, “and we will begin working within our national structure to help enforce the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), advocate to maintain and enhance social health resources, and implement new standards of full accessibility, from helping to create more accessible playgrounds, to greater integration of those who are differently-abled into the workforce.”

Delp, who has experienced accessibility issues in various countries during her travels, hopes to eventually make that effort international, as well. She’s also planning on using her double major in Spanish and German to begin translating the Live Boundless series, and she hopes to work on providing medical equipment and resources in third-world and developing countries.

Delp’s advocacy began with a run for Miss Wheelchair America in 2016, in which she was named runner-up, and has continued through her most recent run and crowning as Ms. Wheelchair USA 2017—a role that keeps her busy, traveling the country and speaking with legislators, at conferences, and other events aimed at improving the lives of those living with disabilities. For Delp, it’s a dream come true.

“Now after pushing through several very difficult situations over the past few years, I am finally getting to see my dreams become a reality,” Delp said.

Madeline Delp, Class of 2017

 

Madeline Delp

Class of 2017

Bachelor of Arts, German

Madeline Delp ’17 loves a good adventure. A self-described adrenaline junky, she’s traveled across the country and around the world, been surfing and skydiving, and performed in front of large crowds. Now she’s on to a new adventure—founding her own nonprofit, Live Boundless, which serves to educate and assist those who, like her, use a wheelchair.

Live Boundless has already held its first fundraiser and launched the intro to a video series of the same name. The Live Boundless video series, which Delp began filming with Productions in a Box in Wilmington, N.C., kicks off with an episode on adaptive surfing. Other videos will include episodes on health, such as how to exercise in a wheelchair, episodes on traveling abroad and accessible cities, and inspirational talks.

As the Live Boundless organization grows, Delp hopes to take on some larger projects.

“Removing barriers for those with disabilities on a legislative scale is extremely important for our team,” Delp said, “and we will begin working within our national structure to help enforce the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), advocate to maintain and enhance social health resources, and implement new standards of full accessibility, from helping to create more accessible playgrounds, to greater integration of those who are differently-abled into the workforce.”

Delp, who has experienced accessibility issues in various countries during her travels, hopes to eventually make that effort international, as well. She’s also planning on using her double major in Spanish and German to begin translating the Live Boundless series, and she hopes to work on providing medical equipment and resources in third-world and developing countries.

Delp’s advocacy began with a run for Miss Wheelchair America in 2016, in which she was named runner-up, and has continued through her most recent run and crowning as Ms. Wheelchair USA 2017—a role that keeps her busy, traveling the country and speaking with legislators, at conferences, and other events aimed at improving the lives of those living with disabilities. For Delp, it’s a dream come true.

“Now after pushing through several very difficult situations over the past few years, I am finally getting to see my dreams become a reality,” Delp said.

Dorothy June Meadows Carter, Class of 1952

 

Dorothy June Meadows Carter

Class of 1952

Bachelor of Science, Medical Technology

 

In 1952, Dorothy June Meadows Carter earned a Bachelor of Science in medical technology from Asheville-Biltmore College, nearly a decade before university history documented the first four-year programs. According to university archives and copies of the Campus Crier at the time, it was the first baccalaureate awarded by the college and the first conferred in the state by “an institution operating on the junior college level.”

The newspaper report adds, “Awarding the degree will emphasize the fact the college is not chartered as a junior college.” Sure enough, the original charter for the college, which was filed on August 15, 1936, makes no mention of a junior college, but gives the college the right to “confer degrees.”

In the case of medical technology, students completed three years on campus and spent their senior year in the laboratory at Mission Hospital. Carter was the first and only to be awarded the degree, as Asheville-Biltmore College was designated a community college in 1957, no longer able to award baccalaureate degrees until it gained the state supported senior college designation in 1963.

Following graduation Carter spent a great deal of time as director of the lab at the Victoria Unit of Mission Hospital. She was responsible for ensuring all tests were completed while also overseeing peers in their lab work. She has stayed invested in the university with her active participation on the Alumni Board.

She also gifted a scale to the Chemistry Department in honor of her late husband. The couple met in a chemistry class they both attended when the university was still in Seely’s Castle.

Dorothy June Meadows Carter, Class of 1952

 

Dorothy June Meadows Carter

Class of 1952

Bachelor of Science, Medical Technology

 

In 1952, Dorothy June Meadows Carter earned a Bachelor of Science in medical technology from Asheville-Biltmore College, nearly a decade before university history documented the first four-year programs. According to university archives and copies of the Campus Crier at the time, it was the first baccalaureate awarded by the college and the first conferred in the state by “an institution operating on the junior college level.”

The newspaper report adds, “Awarding the degree will emphasize the fact the college is not chartered as a junior college.” Sure enough, the original charter for the college, which was filed on August 15, 1936, makes no mention of a junior college, but gives the college the right to “confer degrees.”

In the case of medical technology, students completed three years on campus and spent their senior year in the laboratory at Mission Hospital. Carter was the first and only to be awarded the degree, as Asheville-Biltmore College was designated a community college in 1957, no longer able to award baccalaureate degrees until it gained the state supported senior college designation in 1963.

Following graduation Carter spent a great deal of time as director of the lab at the Victoria Unit of Mission Hospital. She was responsible for ensuring all tests were completed while also overseeing peers in their lab work. She has stayed invested in the university with her active participation on the Alumni Board.

She also gifted a scale to the Chemistry Department in honor of her late husband. The couple met in a chemistry class they both attended when the university was still in Seely’s Castle.

Amy Kinsella, Class of 2008

 

Amy Kinsella

Class of 2008

Bachelor or Science, Environmental Studies

Amy Kinsella ’08 had just finished a full day of work as an education ranger at Holmes Educational State Forest when she received the call: she was needed in Lake Lure to help fight the Party Rock wildfire that was raging there. She closed the gates to the state forest road, drove to Lake Lure, and headed out on a “burn-out” operation to fight the fires long into the night. By the time she returned home the next morning, she’d been working for over 30 hours...

Read The Full Story Here

 

Amy Kinsella, Class of 2008

 

Amy Kinsella

Class of 2008

Bachelor or Science, Environmental Studies

Amy Kinsella ’08 had just finished a full day of work as an education ranger at Holmes Educational State Forest when she received the call: she was needed in Lake Lure to help fight the Party Rock wildfire that was raging there. She closed the gates to the state forest road, drove to Lake Lure, and headed out on a “burn-out” operation to fight the fires long into the night. By the time she returned home the next morning, she’d been working for over 30 hours...

Read The Full Story Here

 

Irma Williams, Class of 1969

 

Dr. Irma Williams

Class of 1969

Bachelor of Arts, Psycholgy

"I received one of the first degrees reading “University of North Carolina at Asheville.” My father was career Army and my grandparents were Ashevillians. I was born in Asheville and always considered it home.

I was fortunate to be at UNC-A 1966 to 1969 and to get my last college credits in Oxford, England with a group from there. The combination of humanities with my majors of psychology and social studies is the base of the remainder of my continuing education, life’s work and community service.

While in college, I counseled older students, primarily Vietnam veterans, took young patients from Highland Hospital to a nursing home to assist the elderly, and helped with several disadvantaged groups.

My second degree was a BS at Emory with a Physician’s Assistant Certificate. I worked at the “LA” County Emergency Room in California and in Tufts Orthopedic Program in Boston. After this I was accepted at the Medical University of South Carolina for my MD degree and residency in Anesthesiology at University of Kentucky in Lexington. I am a board certified anesthesiologist.

The first medical mission work I did was in India, and was arranged by friend whose father has built an orphanage there. These orphans, as adults, built a new hospital and needed anesthesia to accompany their volunteer surgeons. A huge surprise was a stop in Calcutta for a week of work with Mother Theresa in her last year of full-time work.

I have continued my community service and medical missionary work at home and abroad. This includes anesthesia for cleft palates in the Philippines, anesthesia for clinics up the Amazon in Brazil, Belize, and four trips to Haiti since the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Living back home in Asheville is a pleasure. I travel to do anesthesia and interventional pain management as a contract physician. Both of these roles are rewarding and give me a chance to teach patients and other medical personnel. I have influenced many lives through my work and building on the foundation of what I did and learned at the University of North Carolina at Asheville."

Irma Williams, Class of 1969

 

Dr. Irma Williams

Class of 1969

Bachelor of Arts, Psycholgy

"I received one of the first degrees reading “University of North Carolina at Asheville.” My father was career Army and my grandparents were Ashevillians. I was born in Asheville and always considered it home.

I was fortunate to be at UNC-A 1966 to 1969 and to get my last college credits in Oxford, England with a group from there. The combination of humanities with my majors of psychology and social studies is the base of the remainder of my continuing education, life’s work and community service.

While in college, I counseled older students, primarily Vietnam veterans, took young patients from Highland Hospital to a nursing home to assist the elderly, and helped with several disadvantaged groups.

My second degree was a BS at Emory with a Physician’s Assistant Certificate. I worked at the “LA” County Emergency Room in California and in Tufts Orthopedic Program in Boston. After this I was accepted at the Medical University of South Carolina for my MD degree and residency in Anesthesiology at University of Kentucky in Lexington. I am a board certified anesthesiologist.

The first medical mission work I did was in India, and was arranged by friend whose father has built an orphanage there. These orphans, as adults, built a new hospital and needed anesthesia to accompany their volunteer surgeons. A huge surprise was a stop in Calcutta for a week of work with Mother Theresa in her last year of full-time work.

I have continued my community service and medical missionary work at home and abroad. This includes anesthesia for cleft palates in the Philippines, anesthesia for clinics up the Amazon in Brazil, Belize, and four trips to Haiti since the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Living back home in Asheville is a pleasure. I travel to do anesthesia and interventional pain management as a contract physician. Both of these roles are rewarding and give me a chance to teach patients and other medical personnel. I have influenced many lives through my work and building on the foundation of what I did and learned at the University of North Carolina at Asheville."

Chris Zarzar, Class of 2011

Chris Zarzar

Class of 2011

Bachelors of Science, Atmospheric Science

When he was a child Chris Zarzar ’11 couldn’t stop looking up. He was fascinated with the sky, weather and space. It was this fascination that put him on the path to becoming a meteorologist. Graduating from UNC Asheville in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science, Zarzar went on to Eastern Carolina University to earn his Master of Arts in geography and later his Ph.D. in Earth and atmospheric sciences from Mississippi State University. But, it was at UNC Asheville that he says he found his purpose.

Recalling his favorite memory from his time on the UNC Asheville campus, Zarzar tells of an exciting summer spent chasing storms and visiting research facilities across the Midwest and Great Plains with Professor Chris Godfrey’s Severe Weather Field Experience Course. It was on one of those stops where they saw severe storm researcher Chuck Doswell speak, and his words have stayed with Zarzar since.

“He posited that if you are happy with a mediocre life, then continue walking through life with your head down and doing the minimum; however, if you prefer to live an exceptional life, then you must ‘take ownership and responsibility for yourself,’” Zarzar said. It seems he has taken that advice to heart.

After he finished his Ph.D., he relocated back to Asheville and is currently an adjunct professor at AB-Tech as well as a lecturer at MSU. Academia wasn’t always Zarzar’s goal, but he said that after getting the opportunity to teach during graduate school coupled with the impact his professors had on him during his schooling, his passion for positively impacting others was ignited. His dream job? To be a professor at UNC Asheville.

His passions collided when he was offered a research assistant opportunity at MSU. The research used drones to map coastal estuaries. During that time Zarzar discovered the misconceptions many people had about drones. “In engaging with these people and listening to their stories, it became clear that their concerns were based on experiences of people using drones irresponsibly and unsafely.” It was this that had him jumping on the opportunity to teach a drone course at AB-Tech, on top of geography and meteorological courses.

In his spare time, he loves to cruise around with his fiancée Caitlyn, whether looking for a new hiking trail or traveling to Chapel Hill to see family.  He was recently awarded with MSU’s 2018 Centers and Institutes Graduate Student Research Award.

Chris Zarzar, Class of 2011

Chris Zarzar

Class of 2011

Bachelors of Science, Atmospheric Science

When he was a child Chris Zarzar ’11 couldn’t stop looking up. He was fascinated with the sky, weather and space. It was this fascination that put him on the path to becoming a meteorologist. Graduating from UNC Asheville in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science, Zarzar went on to Eastern Carolina University to earn his Master of Arts in geography and later his Ph.D. in Earth and atmospheric sciences from Mississippi State University. But, it was at UNC Asheville that he says he found his purpose.

Recalling his favorite memory from his time on the UNC Asheville campus, Zarzar tells of an exciting summer spent chasing storms and visiting research facilities across the Midwest and Great Plains with Professor Chris Godfrey’s Severe Weather Field Experience Course. It was on one of those stops where they saw severe storm researcher Chuck Doswell speak, and his words have stayed with Zarzar since.

“He posited that if you are happy with a mediocre life, then continue walking through life with your head down and doing the minimum; however, if you prefer to live an exceptional life, then you must ‘take ownership and responsibility for yourself,’” Zarzar said. It seems he has taken that advice to heart.

After he finished his Ph.D., he relocated back to Asheville and is currently an adjunct professor at AB-Tech as well as a lecturer at MSU. Academia wasn’t always Zarzar’s goal, but he said that after getting the opportunity to teach during graduate school coupled with the impact his professors had on him during his schooling, his passion for positively impacting others was ignited. His dream job? To be a professor at UNC Asheville.

His passions collided when he was offered a research assistant opportunity at MSU. The research used drones to map coastal estuaries. During that time Zarzar discovered the misconceptions many people had about drones. “In engaging with these people and listening to their stories, it became clear that their concerns were based on experiences of people using drones irresponsibly and unsafely.” It was this that had him jumping on the opportunity to teach a drone course at AB-Tech, on top of geography and meteorological courses.

In his spare time, he loves to cruise around with his fiancée Caitlyn, whether looking for a new hiking trail or traveling to Chapel Hill to see family.  He was recently awarded with MSU’s 2018 Centers and Institutes Graduate Student Research Award.

Dee McKinney, Class of 1988


 

Dee McKinney

Class of 1988

Bachelor of Arts, History

"I woke up today and realized 30 years have passed since I graduated with my BA in history from UNCA. Tempus fugit, indeed.

I became a history professor in no small part due to the impact UNCA had on teaching me how to think. The world of 1988 had no cell phones; my first computer held two floppy drives, and when we did research, we hit the books in the library.

Through my 21 years in higher education, I’ve tried to impart those same critical thinking skills to my own students. Don’t just state a fact—tell me why this event was significant, a thousand years later. Don’t read a secondary summary of a historical source—go to the original source document, available for free on the internet, and absorb those words. Hear them in the context they first appeared. Then, talk about it with your classmates and kindle a fire of understanding.

Often at the end of a semester, I get notes from students who tell me they thought history might be boring—but they’re signing up for another course because it was fascinating. Some become history majors; most don’t. However, that latter group makes me particularly giddy; a biology, nursing, or education major took my class and walked away with a better appreciation and understanding of the past. Will they think about ethics, based on our discussion of Henrietta Lack? Will they look at the improvement in the lives of children after the scholarship of Fröbel? Will they consider young people like themselves who fought for social justice, such as Sophie Scholl?

UNCA taught me to care about what I could do for others, and although I was pre-law for most of my time there, I decided in the end to teach history. Sure, there are days I wonder “what if,” but whenever I chat with former students on social media about their professional successes, I know I made the right choice.

I was a first-generation college student. My amazing four years at UNCA will always be among the best of my life, for so many reasons—the professors who guided my thinking, the lifelong friends I made, and the intimate campus setting that fostered personalized learning before it was a buzzword. Thanks, UNCA. Know that you are always making a difference."

Dee McKinney, Class of 1988


 

Dee McKinney

Class of 1988

Bachelor of Arts, History

"I woke up today and realized 30 years have passed since I graduated with my BA in history from UNCA. Tempus fugit, indeed.

I became a history professor in no small part due to the impact UNCA had on teaching me how to think. The world of 1988 had no cell phones; my first computer held two floppy drives, and when we did research, we hit the books in the library.

Through my 21 years in higher education, I’ve tried to impart those same critical thinking skills to my own students. Don’t just state a fact—tell me why this event was significant, a thousand years later. Don’t read a secondary summary of a historical source—go to the original source document, available for free on the internet, and absorb those words. Hear them in the context they first appeared. Then, talk about it with your classmates and kindle a fire of understanding.

Often at the end of a semester, I get notes from students who tell me they thought history might be boring—but they’re signing up for another course because it was fascinating. Some become history majors; most don’t. However, that latter group makes me particularly giddy; a biology, nursing, or education major took my class and walked away with a better appreciation and understanding of the past. Will they think about ethics, based on our discussion of Henrietta Lack? Will they look at the improvement in the lives of children after the scholarship of Fröbel? Will they consider young people like themselves who fought for social justice, such as Sophie Scholl?

UNCA taught me to care about what I could do for others, and although I was pre-law for most of my time there, I decided in the end to teach history. Sure, there are days I wonder “what if,” but whenever I chat with former students on social media about their professional successes, I know I made the right choice.

I was a first-generation college student. My amazing four years at UNCA will always be among the best of my life, for so many reasons—the professors who guided my thinking, the lifelong friends I made, and the intimate campus setting that fostered personalized learning before it was a buzzword. Thanks, UNCA. Know that you are always making a difference."

Meredith Newlin, Class of 2000

 

Meredith Newlin

Class of 2000

Bachelor of Arts, French

Meredith Newlin teaches English in Hillsborough, North Carolina and has been teaching in North Carolina public schools for 14 years. She strives to instill in her students the same passion for learning about writing and literature she gleaned from Merritt Moseley’s American Literature class some 20 years ago. She considers the strong liberal arts education she received at UNCA nothing less than transformative. 

“From the first Humanities course freshman year to Shakespeare seminar my senior year, UNCA showed me what it meant to love learning. So many of my unforgettable professors and classes helped me grow as a critical thinker,and a human being,” she recalls.

After graduation, her writing appeared in several publications, including in-flight airline magazines such as United Airlines Hemispheres and Entertainment Preview; Delta Sky, AT&T Wireless Recognitions website; Carlson Hospitality Voyageur, and American Cancer Society Triumph magazine.  Her writing has also been featured in NC Boating Lifestyle Magazine, Carolina Gardener Magazine, and  Firefly Ridge Literary Magazine. She is a graduate of LaVenson Press Studios'  Women’s Writing Intensive and Full-Length Manuscript Workshop. She recently published a book of advice for new teachers called Captured Fireflies: Truths, Mistakes, and Other Gifts of Being an English Teacher. She is currently working on her first novel, which is set in the lowcountry of South Carolina. She lives in Durham, North Carolina with her family.

 

Meredith Newlin, Class of 2000

 

Meredith Newlin

Class of 2000

Bachelor of Arts, French

Meredith Newlin teaches English in Hillsborough, North Carolina and has been teaching in North Carolina public schools for 14 years. She strives to instill in her students the same passion for learning about writing and literature she gleaned from Merritt Moseley’s American Literature class some 20 years ago. She considers the strong liberal arts education she received at UNCA nothing less than transformative. 

“From the first Humanities course freshman year to Shakespeare seminar my senior year, UNCA showed me what it meant to love learning. So many of my unforgettable professors and classes helped me grow as a critical thinker,and a human being,” she recalls.

After graduation, her writing appeared in several publications, including in-flight airline magazines such as United Airlines Hemispheres and Entertainment Preview; Delta Sky, AT&T Wireless Recognitions website; Carlson Hospitality Voyageur, and American Cancer Society Triumph magazine.  Her writing has also been featured in NC Boating Lifestyle Magazine, Carolina Gardener Magazine, and  Firefly Ridge Literary Magazine. She is a graduate of LaVenson Press Studios'  Women’s Writing Intensive and Full-Length Manuscript Workshop. She recently published a book of advice for new teachers called Captured Fireflies: Truths, Mistakes, and Other Gifts of Being an English Teacher. She is currently working on her first novel, which is set in the lowcountry of South Carolina. She lives in Durham, North Carolina with her family.

 

Megan Harrell, Class of 2017

 

Megan Harrell

Class of 2017

Bachelors of Science, Management 

"I have always loved working with children, so when an opportunity arose to become a full-time nanny within the UNCA community four years ago, I took it. During my last semester at UNCA I did my management undergraduate research project on various aspects of the childcare crisis in and around Asheville. Eventually, I hope to use my degree in marketing and management to start my own childcare organization to help address the need throughout Buncombe County."

Megan Harrell, Class of 2017

 

Megan Harrell

Class of 2017

Bachelors of Science, Management 

"I have always loved working with children, so when an opportunity arose to become a full-time nanny within the UNCA community four years ago, I took it. During my last semester at UNCA I did my management undergraduate research project on various aspects of the childcare crisis in and around Asheville. Eventually, I hope to use my degree in marketing and management to start my own childcare organization to help address the need throughout Buncombe County."

John Howard Smith, Class of 1991

 

John Howard Smith

Class of 1991

Bachelor of Arts, History 

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

Master of Liberal Arts, Class of 1996

John Howard Smith, a native Western North Carolinian, is Professor of History at Texas A&M University-Commerce, where he teaches early America, the history of religion, American Indian histories and cultures, and a first-year Signature Course on how Star Wars is rooted in myth, history, and religion.

He is the author of The Perfect Rule of the Christian Religion: A History of Sandemanianism in the Eighteenth Century (SUNY Press, 2008) and The First Great Awakening: Redefining Religion in British America, 1725-1775 (Fairleigh Dickinson, 2015). He is currently at work on his third book, The Promised Day: The Roots of American Millennialism and Apocalypticism.

He has thrice been nominated for A&M-Commerce's prestigious Paul W. Barrus Distinguished Teaching Award, winning it in 2009, and in 2009-2010 served with distinction as president of the Faculty Senate. Professor Smith credits his experience at UNCA with preparing him for a life of service and leadership.

"My years at UNCA were absolutely transformative. Socrates's first lesson to his students was that they did not know, and every day since I arrived in 1987 I thrilled at the realization that there was so much for me to learn, about which I had virtually no idea before.

I know that I found my calling in the classrooms of Carmichael and Karpen Halls, on the second floor of Ramsey Library, the offices of Dr. Jeffrey Rackham, Dr. Anthony Coyne, and Dr. Milton Ready, and especially the copse of pine trees that used to stand between the library and Zageir Hall. I had the best professors that anybody could have asked for--models upon whom I draw inspiration every day in my own career as a professor.

The liberal arts education I received at UNCA sculpted me into a well rounded, free-thinking person, and I emerged prepared to forge my destiny as a humanist and scholar. For that I will always be grateful."

John Howard Smith, Class of 1991

 

John Howard Smith

Class of 1991

Bachelor of Arts, History 

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

Master of Liberal Arts, Class of 1996

John Howard Smith, a native Western North Carolinian, is Professor of History at Texas A&M University-Commerce, where he teaches early America, the history of religion, American Indian histories and cultures, and a first-year Signature Course on how Star Wars is rooted in myth, history, and religion.

He is the author of The Perfect Rule of the Christian Religion: A History of Sandemanianism in the Eighteenth Century (SUNY Press, 2008) and The First Great Awakening: Redefining Religion in British America, 1725-1775 (Fairleigh Dickinson, 2015). He is currently at work on his third book, The Promised Day: The Roots of American Millennialism and Apocalypticism.

He has thrice been nominated for A&M-Commerce's prestigious Paul W. Barrus Distinguished Teaching Award, winning it in 2009, and in 2009-2010 served with distinction as president of the Faculty Senate. Professor Smith credits his experience at UNCA with preparing him for a life of service and leadership.

"My years at UNCA were absolutely transformative. Socrates's first lesson to his students was that they did not know, and every day since I arrived in 1987 I thrilled at the realization that there was so much for me to learn, about which I had virtually no idea before.

I know that I found my calling in the classrooms of Carmichael and Karpen Halls, on the second floor of Ramsey Library, the offices of Dr. Jeffrey Rackham, Dr. Anthony Coyne, and Dr. Milton Ready, and especially the copse of pine trees that used to stand between the library and Zageir Hall. I had the best professors that anybody could have asked for--models upon whom I draw inspiration every day in my own career as a professor.

The liberal arts education I received at UNCA sculpted me into a well rounded, free-thinking person, and I emerged prepared to forge my destiny as a humanist and scholar. For that I will always be grateful."

Chris Mathis, Class of 1979

 

Chris Mathis

Class of 1979

Bachelor or Arts, Drama
Bachelor of Science, Physics 

Chris Mathis describes himself as “the luckiest guy ever” – having spent the past 35 years doing something he loves – focusing on improving the performance of buildings and building products. After leaving UNC-A, Chris attended MIT as the first non-architect admitted to the School of Architecture, where his graduate studies focused on energy use in buildings and where he received his Master of Science in Architecture Studies in 1982.

He has served as a Scientist in the Insulation Technology Laboratory at the Owens-Corning Fiberglass Technical Center, was the Director of the Thermal Testing Laboratory for the National Association of Home Builders Research Center, and Director of Marketing for Architectural Testing, Inc., a private laboratory specializing in the performance of buildings and building products, particularly window performance testing. 

During these last two positions, Chris began an earnest effort to help develop the first ever testing and certification program for the energy performance of windows, doors and skylights. These efforts led to the formation of the National Fenestration Rating Council in 1989, where Chris became its first Director. Today, these products carry the critical energy performance ratings that builders, consumers and code officials need to assess the performance of these products.

In 1995 Chris began his own consulting firm – Mathis Consulting Company (MC2) – focusing on his building science interests and especially as related to energy efficiency. He became active in the building code arena and served 4 terms as an appointed member of the International Code Council’s Energy Conservation Code Development Committee, helping to write the model energy code governing home energy performance. Through his engagement in ASHRAE for over 35 years, Chris has also been at the forefront of helping to write the model code governing commercial building energy performance, green buildings and other standards. He was recognized as an ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer in 2009, and is a frequent lecturer to engineers, architects, consumer groups and others worldwide on various energy and building science topics. His leadership and involvement in standards development over the years resulted in his recent appointment to the ASTM International Board of Directors for 2018-2021. 

Today, Chris and his MC2 team provide a variety of strategic services to both private and public sector interests worldwide related to buildings and building product performance and the codes and standards that govern them.   

Chris has co-authored three books, numerous technical papers and dozens of articles for consumer and building industry publications. 

After about 25 years away, Chris has “returned home” to Western North Carolina.  His building science and sustainability education still continues as a beekeeper - what he calls “about 90 million years of sustainability and building science experience at work every day”.

Chris Mathis, Class of 1979

 

Chris Mathis

Class of 1979

Bachelor or Arts, Drama
Bachelor of Science, Physics 

Chris Mathis describes himself as “the luckiest guy ever” – having spent the past 35 years doing something he loves – focusing on improving the performance of buildings and building products. After leaving UNC-A, Chris attended MIT as the first non-architect admitted to the School of Architecture, where his graduate studies focused on energy use in buildings and where he received his Master of Science in Architecture Studies in 1982.

He has served as a Scientist in the Insulation Technology Laboratory at the Owens-Corning Fiberglass Technical Center, was the Director of the Thermal Testing Laboratory for the National Association of Home Builders Research Center, and Director of Marketing for Architectural Testing, Inc., a private laboratory specializing in the performance of buildings and building products, particularly window performance testing. 

During these last two positions, Chris began an earnest effort to help develop the first ever testing and certification program for the energy performance of windows, doors and skylights. These efforts led to the formation of the National Fenestration Rating Council in 1989, where Chris became its first Director. Today, these products carry the critical energy performance ratings that builders, consumers and code officials need to assess the performance of these products.

In 1995 Chris began his own consulting firm – Mathis Consulting Company (MC2) – focusing on his building science interests and especially as related to energy efficiency. He became active in the building code arena and served 4 terms as an appointed member of the International Code Council’s Energy Conservation Code Development Committee, helping to write the model energy code governing home energy performance. Through his engagement in ASHRAE for over 35 years, Chris has also been at the forefront of helping to write the model code governing commercial building energy performance, green buildings and other standards. He was recognized as an ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer in 2009, and is a frequent lecturer to engineers, architects, consumer groups and others worldwide on various energy and building science topics. His leadership and involvement in standards development over the years resulted in his recent appointment to the ASTM International Board of Directors for 2018-2021. 

Today, Chris and his MC2 team provide a variety of strategic services to both private and public sector interests worldwide related to buildings and building product performance and the codes and standards that govern them.   

Chris has co-authored three books, numerous technical papers and dozens of articles for consumer and building industry publications. 

After about 25 years away, Chris has “returned home” to Western North Carolina.  His building science and sustainability education still continues as a beekeeper - what he calls “about 90 million years of sustainability and building science experience at work every day”.

Amy Noll, Class of 2012


 

Amy Noll
Bachelors of Arts, Spanish
Class of 2012

"I am currently working for a Health Informatics company called Blue Nine Systems based in downtown Asheville.  My job as the Director of Training is to create unique training approaches for our software and informatics. Our company is helping make healthcare data in the perioperative surgical atmosphere visible and actionable. By presenting the data in meaningful ways, it allows hospital and other healthcare professionals to make better care decisions for patients while staying on budget or even cutting costs.

Even though I am not currently using my major in my job day to day, I was able to study abroad in Spain for a year while attending UNC Asheville and have used my Spanish on countless trips to Spanish speaking countries. The liberal arts education I received at UNCA has allowed me to be a critical and creative thinker when attacking challenges in life and at work. I am so grateful to still be in Asheville hope to continue to make an impact in my work and in the community."

Amy Noll, Class of 2012


 

Amy Noll
Bachelors of Arts, Spanish
Class of 2012

"I am currently working for a Health Informatics company called Blue Nine Systems based in downtown Asheville.  My job as the Director of Training is to create unique training approaches for our software and informatics. Our company is helping make healthcare data in the perioperative surgical atmosphere visible and actionable. By presenting the data in meaningful ways, it allows hospital and other healthcare professionals to make better care decisions for patients while staying on budget or even cutting costs.

Even though I am not currently using my major in my job day to day, I was able to study abroad in Spain for a year while attending UNC Asheville and have used my Spanish on countless trips to Spanish speaking countries. The liberal arts education I received at UNCA has allowed me to be a critical and creative thinker when attacking challenges in life and at work. I am so grateful to still be in Asheville hope to continue to make an impact in my work and in the community."

Steve Woody, Class of 1989

 

Steve Woody

Class of 1989

Bachelor of Arts, Mathematics

Steve Woody is the founder and CEO of Avadim Technologies in Asheville and is named the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus of the Year – the highest honor given to an alumnus of UNC Asheville. Woody is an innovator and entrepreneur who created the product line Theraworx, a patented product that’s clinically proven to help control hospital-acquired infections by restoring the skin's natural defense properties. At UNC Asheville, the math major was a standout men's soccer player. He has served on the UNC Asheville Foundation Board and also serves on the A-TEAM, the advisory team of former student-athletes.

Steve Woody, Class of 1989

 

Steve Woody

Class of 1989

Bachelor of Arts, Mathematics

Steve Woody is the founder and CEO of Avadim Technologies in Asheville and is named the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus of the Year – the highest honor given to an alumnus of UNC Asheville. Woody is an innovator and entrepreneur who created the product line Theraworx, a patented product that’s clinically proven to help control hospital-acquired infections by restoring the skin's natural defense properties. At UNC Asheville, the math major was a standout men's soccer player. He has served on the UNC Asheville Foundation Board and also serves on the A-TEAM, the advisory team of former student-athletes.

Brittany Jackson, Class of 2014, Madeleine Richardson & Cat Wityk, Class of 2016

 

Brittany Jackson

Class of 2014

Bachelor of Arts, Mass Communication

 

Madeleine Richardson

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts, New Media

 

Cat Wityk

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts, French

Brittany Jackson, Madeleine Richardson and Cat Wityk set sail from the UNCA Mass Communication and New Media departments with hardy DIY attitudes and reverent passion for creative filmmaking. As a cohort of aspiring film professionals in an industry preoccupied with glamour, status and greed, they wondered where they would find a platform for up-and-coming film artists like themselves to showcase their hard work.

Rather than waiting around for their dream to come true, they built it from scratch. Now co-foundresses of Asheville’s premiere indie film festival, Cat Fly Film Fest, the trio continue to draw inspiration from the artistic spirit of Appalachian NC, as they enter year two of advocating homegrown film with their newly formed non-profit.

Alongside umbrella non-profit and partner Mechanical Eye Microcinema, Cat Fly strives to empower and support underrepresented voices in film. Highlighting women, people of color and gender minorities is particularly important to Cat Fly. These stories enliven greater empathy and connection in a political and social atmosphere presently going through deep-rooted growing pains.

The self-named Cat Fly Girls hope to help put an end to disrespect in the industry in all its forms, from the sexual harassment at the core of the #MeToo movement, to the exclusivity and bureaucracy observed in more prestigious film festivals. To accomplish this end, Cat Fly facilitates connection among creatives and trailblazers in the film world through special screenings, networking events and workshops, leading to greater collaboration and better quality content for the growing Southern film industry. Cat Fly is the reaction to traditional Hollywood, with the mission to foster an inclusive and collaborative indie film community in the Southeast region.

Brittany Jackson, Class of 2014, Madeleine Richardson & Cat Wityk, Class of 2016

 

Brittany Jackson

Class of 2014

Bachelor of Arts, Mass Communication

 

Madeleine Richardson

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts, New Media

 

Cat Wityk

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts, French

Brittany Jackson, Madeleine Richardson and Cat Wityk set sail from the UNCA Mass Communication and New Media departments with hardy DIY attitudes and reverent passion for creative filmmaking. As a cohort of aspiring film professionals in an industry preoccupied with glamour, status and greed, they wondered where they would find a platform for up-and-coming film artists like themselves to showcase their hard work.

Rather than waiting around for their dream to come true, they built it from scratch. Now co-foundresses of Asheville’s premiere indie film festival, Cat Fly Film Fest, the trio continue to draw inspiration from the artistic spirit of Appalachian NC, as they enter year two of advocating homegrown film with their newly formed non-profit.

Alongside umbrella non-profit and partner Mechanical Eye Microcinema, Cat Fly strives to empower and support underrepresented voices in film. Highlighting women, people of color and gender minorities is particularly important to Cat Fly. These stories enliven greater empathy and connection in a political and social atmosphere presently going through deep-rooted growing pains.

The self-named Cat Fly Girls hope to help put an end to disrespect in the industry in all its forms, from the sexual harassment at the core of the #MeToo movement, to the exclusivity and bureaucracy observed in more prestigious film festivals. To accomplish this end, Cat Fly facilitates connection among creatives and trailblazers in the film world through special screenings, networking events and workshops, leading to greater collaboration and better quality content for the growing Southern film industry. Cat Fly is the reaction to traditional Hollywood, with the mission to foster an inclusive and collaborative indie film community in the Southeast region.

Kenneth Saunders, Class of 2003

Kenneth H. Saunders

Class of 2003

Bachelor of Science, Management 

"Reverend Kenneth H. Saunders III '03 finished his Bachelor of Science degree in Management (Administration) as a non-traditional aged student at UNCA, after many years of being out of the classroom.

UNCA helped lay the educational foundation for his continued graduate studies in Theology, Ethics, and Christian Ministry. He completed a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) at the University of the South, School of Theology in Sewanee, TN in 2007 and has recently finished his coursework toward a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) in Congregational Development from Bexley-Seabury Seminary Federation in Chicago, IL.

Ken has been a leader for over 10 years in the Episcopal Church and has served as Rector of Christ Church in Cleveland, North Carolina (2007-2011) and Rector of Trinity Church in Towson, Maryland (2011-2018). He has recently accepted a call to serve as Rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Greeneville, TN and will begin his new position in May of 2018."

Kenneth Saunders, Class of 2003

Kenneth H. Saunders

Class of 2003

Bachelor of Science, Management 

"Reverend Kenneth H. Saunders III '03 finished his Bachelor of Science degree in Management (Administration) as a non-traditional aged student at UNCA, after many years of being out of the classroom.

UNCA helped lay the educational foundation for his continued graduate studies in Theology, Ethics, and Christian Ministry. He completed a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) at the University of the South, School of Theology in Sewanee, TN in 2007 and has recently finished his coursework toward a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) in Congregational Development from Bexley-Seabury Seminary Federation in Chicago, IL.

Ken has been a leader for over 10 years in the Episcopal Church and has served as Rector of Christ Church in Cleveland, North Carolina (2007-2011) and Rector of Trinity Church in Towson, Maryland (2011-2018). He has recently accepted a call to serve as Rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Greeneville, TN and will begin his new position in May of 2018."

Dre Langefeld, Class of 2014


Dre Langefeld

Class of 2014

Bachelor of Science, Biology

Dre Langefeld likes to joke that she double majored in both biology and in the Outdoor Programs division of Campus Rec. “If I wasn’t in the lab, you could find me outside leading trips or prepping for the next one,” she said.

It was perhaps inevitable, then, that Langefeld found her career in the great outdoors. What started as an extra animal-care responsibility tacked on to a summer ranger internship at Gates of the Arctic National Park has evolved into a full-time occupation as a professional dog-sled racer and trainer with Vidda Runners in Langfjordbotn, Norway.

It’s a dream come true, Langefeld said, although the job is definitely not easy.

Read the Full Story 

Dre Langefeld, Class of 2014


Dre Langefeld

Class of 2014

Bachelor of Science, Biology

Dre Langefeld likes to joke that she double majored in both biology and in the Outdoor Programs division of Campus Rec. “If I wasn’t in the lab, you could find me outside leading trips or prepping for the next one,” she said.

It was perhaps inevitable, then, that Langefeld found her career in the great outdoors. What started as an extra animal-care responsibility tacked on to a summer ranger internship at Gates of the Arctic National Park has evolved into a full-time occupation as a professional dog-sled racer and trainer with Vidda Runners in Langfjordbotn, Norway.

It’s a dream come true, Langefeld said, although the job is definitely not easy.

Read the Full Story 

Dee and Charles James, Class of 1973

Charles James

Class of 1973

Bachelor of Science, Chemistry
 

Deborah James

Class of 1973

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

When Dee and Charles James stood on the steps of Ramsey Library on a warm Saturday morning in 1973 to receive their diplomas from UNC Asheville, they were ready to launch out into the world together—they were getting married the very next day, and starting new jobs that Monday. But they never imagined their journey would lead them back to UNC Asheville.

The wedding itself was a UNC Asheville community effort. “We didn’t know very much about weddings or that stuff,” Dee said, “and we were also trying to finish up our senior year—so writing our theses and doing our final research and all those things.”

“It looked good on paper,” Charles said. “All of the relatives would be up here for graduation.”

Their classmate Zollie Stevenson became their wedding planner, driving them to town to purchase rings and order flowers. The dean of women, Alice Wutschel, organized the reception. Dee’s classmate’s mother owned the Rolling Pin Bakery in town and gave them a wedding cake as her gift. Peter Gilpin, the director of public relations, lent the couple his car to drive away from the chapel to their honeymoon—an overnight stay in the Evergreen Motel near campus, which was also a wedding gift, so that they could be close to work starting Monday morning.

Read the Full Story

Dee and Charles James, Class of 1973

Charles James

Class of 1973

Bachelor of Science, Chemistry
 

Deborah James

Class of 1973

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

When Dee and Charles James stood on the steps of Ramsey Library on a warm Saturday morning in 1973 to receive their diplomas from UNC Asheville, they were ready to launch out into the world together—they were getting married the very next day, and starting new jobs that Monday. But they never imagined their journey would lead them back to UNC Asheville.

The wedding itself was a UNC Asheville community effort. “We didn’t know very much about weddings or that stuff,” Dee said, “and we were also trying to finish up our senior year—so writing our theses and doing our final research and all those things.”

“It looked good on paper,” Charles said. “All of the relatives would be up here for graduation.”

Their classmate Zollie Stevenson became their wedding planner, driving them to town to purchase rings and order flowers. The dean of women, Alice Wutschel, organized the reception. Dee’s classmate’s mother owned the Rolling Pin Bakery in town and gave them a wedding cake as her gift. Peter Gilpin, the director of public relations, lent the couple his car to drive away from the chapel to their honeymoon—an overnight stay in the Evergreen Motel near campus, which was also a wedding gift, so that they could be close to work starting Monday morning.

Read the Full Story

Molly Smithson, Class of 2015


 

Molly Smithson

Class of 2015

Bachelor of Arts, Mass Communication

"I am now back living in my hometown of Portland, Oregon! My career is two-fold: Last summer after a year of successful freelancing, I founded Arete Media, a digital marketing and communications firm for female-owned DTC businesses based in Portland. I now have 7 clients and do this as my full-time work! I love the flexibility in hours and location that it brings and ability to lead, manage and make the right decisions.

I take pride in lifting up the voices of the voiceless through our marketing efforts and connecting shoppers with brands who want to create a more positive community with their businesses instead of exploiting customers with a traditional capitalist business model. For example, my client Moxie & Moss donates 5% of their profits to a scholarship for women in trades. We recently featured black tradeswomen from history throughout February, showcasing the people who built our country when their basic rights weren't even protected. We also priced the entire site for $0.77 on the dollar for Women's Day to reflect the pay gap.

By night, I'm a stand up comic! In addition to performing throughout the Pacific Northwest, I now produce two shows and am building Trash Amp Productions, which aims to feature POC and female-identifying comics through shows, videos and written content.

UNC Asheville honed a voice worth hearing into a voice that makes an impact. It's so cool to be able to use all the skills the mass communication department, creative writing program and my internship at the alumni office gave me, like press outreach, analytical reporting, social media strategy, AP style and modular design. I seriously do not think I would be so dexterous or well-versed in creating compelling stories had I gone anywhere else."

Molly Smithson, Class of 2015


 

Molly Smithson

Class of 2015

Bachelor of Arts, Mass Communication

"I am now back living in my hometown of Portland, Oregon! My career is two-fold: Last summer after a year of successful freelancing, I founded Arete Media, a digital marketing and communications firm for female-owned DTC businesses based in Portland. I now have 7 clients and do this as my full-time work! I love the flexibility in hours and location that it brings and ability to lead, manage and make the right decisions.

I take pride in lifting up the voices of the voiceless through our marketing efforts and connecting shoppers with brands who want to create a more positive community with their businesses instead of exploiting customers with a traditional capitalist business model. For example, my client Moxie & Moss donates 5% of their profits to a scholarship for women in trades. We recently featured black tradeswomen from history throughout February, showcasing the people who built our country when their basic rights weren't even protected. We also priced the entire site for $0.77 on the dollar for Women's Day to reflect the pay gap.

By night, I'm a stand up comic! In addition to performing throughout the Pacific Northwest, I now produce two shows and am building Trash Amp Productions, which aims to feature POC and female-identifying comics through shows, videos and written content.

UNC Asheville honed a voice worth hearing into a voice that makes an impact. It's so cool to be able to use all the skills the mass communication department, creative writing program and my internship at the alumni office gave me, like press outreach, analytical reporting, social media strategy, AP style and modular design. I seriously do not think I would be so dexterous or well-versed in creating compelling stories had I gone anywhere else."

Marla Hardee Milling, Class of 1984

 

Marla Hardee Milling

Class of 1984

Bachelor of Arts, Communications 

Minor, Political Science

Marla Hardee Milling has been working as a full-time freelance writer since August 2004. More than 800 of her articles/essays have appeared in a wide range of publications including Blue Ridge Country, where she serves as a long-time Contributing Editor, the UNCA alumni magazine, Capital at Play, the Asheville Citizen-Times, WNC, Smoky Mountain Living, Our State, Charleston, Denver, Go Magazine (AAA), Luxury Living, NICHE, American Style, Parenting, Redbook, Health, Pregnancy, PC Today, Smart Computing, and many others. She has also served as a freelance staff writer for Match.com for a decade.

In addition, she has written three non-fiction books published by Arcadia/The History Press:

  • Only in Asheville: An Eclectic History (2015),
  • Legends, Secrets and Mysteries of Asheville (2017)
  • Wicked Asheville (release date: September 17, 2018)

Previously, Marla spent 10 years as a news producer at WLOS-TV and six years as Director of Communications at Mars Hill College (now University). She’s a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and on the board of the N.C. Room at Pack Memorial Library. She's also a seventh-generation Buncombe County native.

“I’m extremely grateful for the education I received at UNCA,” said Milling. “I benefitted from a small campus environment and caring professors. As my alma mater celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, I’m celebrating a family milestone: my 18-year-old daughter will enter UNCA this fall as a freshman. She plans to major in art.”

She was in the very first class at UNCA to graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Communications.

Marla Hardee Milling, Class of 1984

 

Marla Hardee Milling

Class of 1984

Bachelor of Arts, Communications 

Minor, Political Science

Marla Hardee Milling has been working as a full-time freelance writer since August 2004. More than 800 of her articles/essays have appeared in a wide range of publications including Blue Ridge Country, where she serves as a long-time Contributing Editor, the UNCA alumni magazine, Capital at Play, the Asheville Citizen-Times, WNC, Smoky Mountain Living, Our State, Charleston, Denver, Go Magazine (AAA), Luxury Living, NICHE, American Style, Parenting, Redbook, Health, Pregnancy, PC Today, Smart Computing, and many others. She has also served as a freelance staff writer for Match.com for a decade.

In addition, she has written three non-fiction books published by Arcadia/The History Press:

  • Only in Asheville: An Eclectic History (2015),
  • Legends, Secrets and Mysteries of Asheville (2017)
  • Wicked Asheville (release date: September 17, 2018)

Previously, Marla spent 10 years as a news producer at WLOS-TV and six years as Director of Communications at Mars Hill College (now University). She’s a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and on the board of the N.C. Room at Pack Memorial Library. She's also a seventh-generation Buncombe County native.

“I’m extremely grateful for the education I received at UNCA,” said Milling. “I benefitted from a small campus environment and caring professors. As my alma mater celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, I’m celebrating a family milestone: my 18-year-old daughter will enter UNCA this fall as a freshman. She plans to major in art.”

She was in the very first class at UNCA to graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Communications.

Lindsay Carver, Class of 2010

 

Lindsay Carver

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Science, Health and Wellness Promotion

"I work as the Director of Prevention Services for Western Youth Network in Boone. I work with a great team of people to serve 5 Counties in Western, NC to prevent youth from using substances. I recently was named the 2018 Advocate of the Year by CADCA ( Community Anti Drug Coalitions of America)."

 

Lindsay Carver, Class of 2010

 

Lindsay Carver

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Science, Health and Wellness Promotion

"I work as the Director of Prevention Services for Western Youth Network in Boone. I work with a great team of people to serve 5 Counties in Western, NC to prevent youth from using substances. I recently was named the 2018 Advocate of the Year by CADCA ( Community Anti Drug Coalitions of America)."

 

Bryan White, Class of 2003

 

Bryan White

Class of 2003

Bachelor of Arts, Multimedia Arts and Sciences

"Since graduating in 2003 I have continued to live, work, and train here in the greater Asheville area. My 2 passions have always been music composition/performance, recording/audio engineering, and running, and I am fortunate enough to do all of these a regular basis while still making my home here.

With my jazz trio, Up Jumped Three, we have self-recorded and released 2 albums in the last 3 years with the trio and are working on number 3 as we speak. I also work for IntelliSound in downtown Asheville, working in digital audio editing/engineering with professional voice talent across the country for multimedia projects and on-hold programming for telephony applications.

I have always been a passionate runner as well (even before coming to UNCA), and in the past 5 years have dedicated even more time to this than ever before.  2017 was my best year yet with several 5k and 10k PRs and wins, and I recently ran my first half marathon in early 2018 in 1:30.33. I was also accepted as a Brand Ambassador for Nuun Hydration for 2018, representing their products and commitment to the promotion of Clean Sport.

All of my passions that I honed and nourished while at UNCA have continued to flourish and grow in the years since I graduated. I am very thankful!"

Bryan White, Class of 2003

 

Bryan White

Class of 2003

Bachelor of Arts, Multimedia Arts and Sciences

"Since graduating in 2003 I have continued to live, work, and train here in the greater Asheville area. My 2 passions have always been music composition/performance, recording/audio engineering, and running, and I am fortunate enough to do all of these a regular basis while still making my home here.

With my jazz trio, Up Jumped Three, we have self-recorded and released 2 albums in the last 3 years with the trio and are working on number 3 as we speak. I also work for IntelliSound in downtown Asheville, working in digital audio editing/engineering with professional voice talent across the country for multimedia projects and on-hold programming for telephony applications.

I have always been a passionate runner as well (even before coming to UNCA), and in the past 5 years have dedicated even more time to this than ever before.  2017 was my best year yet with several 5k and 10k PRs and wins, and I recently ran my first half marathon in early 2018 in 1:30.33. I was also accepted as a Brand Ambassador for Nuun Hydration for 2018, representing their products and commitment to the promotion of Clean Sport.

All of my passions that I honed and nourished while at UNCA have continued to flourish and grow in the years since I graduated. I am very thankful!"

Jay Jordan, Class of 1995

 

Jay Jordan

Class of 1995

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

"Jay Jordan is chair and associate professor of writing & rhetoric studies at the University of Utah and was an inaugural faculty member at Utah's extended campus in Incheon, South Korea.

While there, he taught courses in global citizenship, coordinated the new writing center, and started a longitudinal research project on how students learn to write across the curriculum in transnational educational institutions.

He is concluding his research next year and is under contract to write a book, which is due to be published in 2019. He continues to work closely with international students at the Salt Lake City campus."

Jay Jordan, Class of 1995

 

Jay Jordan

Class of 1995

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

"Jay Jordan is chair and associate professor of writing & rhetoric studies at the University of Utah and was an inaugural faculty member at Utah's extended campus in Incheon, South Korea.

While there, he taught courses in global citizenship, coordinated the new writing center, and started a longitudinal research project on how students learn to write across the curriculum in transnational educational institutions.

He is concluding his research next year and is under contract to write a book, which is due to be published in 2019. He continues to work closely with international students at the Salt Lake City campus."

Kelly Dobeck, Class of 2016


 

Kelly Dobeck

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Science, Atmospheric Sciences

"I graduated with distinction from UNCA in 2016 with a B.S. in atmospheric science. I’m currently a meteorologist for KARK/KLRT TV in Little Rock, Arkansas. When I’m not on-air warning the community of severe weather, I’m out in the community teaching our future scientists about weather!"

Kelly Dobeck, Class of 2016


 

Kelly Dobeck

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Science, Atmospheric Sciences

"I graduated with distinction from UNCA in 2016 with a B.S. in atmospheric science. I’m currently a meteorologist for KARK/KLRT TV in Little Rock, Arkansas. When I’m not on-air warning the community of severe weather, I’m out in the community teaching our future scientists about weather!"

Rachel Collman, Class of 2015


 

Rachel Collman

Class of 2015

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

"A few days after graduating from UNC Asheville, I moved to Boston — without knowing a single soul! After a few odd jobs, I found my place in youth development and sex education at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

I facilitate the Get Real Teen Council by educating teen peer educators to lead and teach other teens about consent, healthy relationships and sexual health. I devote my time to uplifting young people as leaders and supporting them through the challenges of adultism.

I wouldn’t have been able to do anything today without the education from the Political Science and Women, Gender and Sexuality departments at UNC Asheville and the support of faculty, staff and fellow students in my community engagement. Thanks, UNC Asheville!"

Rachel Collman, Class of 2015


 

Rachel Collman

Class of 2015

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

"A few days after graduating from UNC Asheville, I moved to Boston — without knowing a single soul! After a few odd jobs, I found my place in youth development and sex education at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

I facilitate the Get Real Teen Council by educating teen peer educators to lead and teach other teens about consent, healthy relationships and sexual health. I devote my time to uplifting young people as leaders and supporting them through the challenges of adultism.

I wouldn’t have been able to do anything today without the education from the Political Science and Women, Gender and Sexuality departments at UNC Asheville and the support of faculty, staff and fellow students in my community engagement. Thanks, UNC Asheville!"

Dano Holcomb, Class of 1997

Dano Holcomb

Class of 1997

Bachelor of Arts, History

Dano Holcomb ’97 discovered that many principles from playing and coaching soccer at UNC Asheville went hand in hand with running his Creole and Southern food truck, Root Down. 

“Playing on a team and being a business owner are very similar,” he said. “You have to set goals and have good parts in place to be successful.”

Holcomb began his coaching career as an assistant to Michele Cornish, the UNC Asheville women’s soccer coach in 1995. After 14 years of assistant coaching at Division I schools, Holcomb had been offered head coaching jobs, but didn’t have the confidence to take the positions. He knew he loved cooking though, and wanted to change up his career to reflect that passion. Once he decided to open Root Down, he stepped into the role of both student and leader, which enhanced his decision-making skills.  

“It takes a lot of courage,” he said. “Now that I’m in my role, it’s a big learning curve but I also look to my staff for advice.”

Holcomb often finds himself balancing the classic elements of Creole and Southern cuisine with fresh, exciting ideas that incorporate fresh, local ingredients from his college hometown of Asheville.

“I have so much respect for the chefs who taught me,” he said. “I want to make sure I get the true aspect of everything, but put my own take on it.”

Dano Holcomb, Class of 1997

Dano Holcomb

Class of 1997

Bachelor of Arts, History

Dano Holcomb ’97 discovered that many principles from playing and coaching soccer at UNC Asheville went hand in hand with running his Creole and Southern food truck, Root Down. 

“Playing on a team and being a business owner are very similar,” he said. “You have to set goals and have good parts in place to be successful.”

Holcomb began his coaching career as an assistant to Michele Cornish, the UNC Asheville women’s soccer coach in 1995. After 14 years of assistant coaching at Division I schools, Holcomb had been offered head coaching jobs, but didn’t have the confidence to take the positions. He knew he loved cooking though, and wanted to change up his career to reflect that passion. Once he decided to open Root Down, he stepped into the role of both student and leader, which enhanced his decision-making skills.  

“It takes a lot of courage,” he said. “Now that I’m in my role, it’s a big learning curve but I also look to my staff for advice.”

Holcomb often finds himself balancing the classic elements of Creole and Southern cuisine with fresh, exciting ideas that incorporate fresh, local ingredients from his college hometown of Asheville.

“I have so much respect for the chefs who taught me,” he said. “I want to make sure I get the true aspect of everything, but put my own take on it.”

Sonsera Kiger, Class of 2004

Sonsera Kiger

Class of 2004

Bachelor of Arts, Spanish

"I currently work as the Food and Nutrition Services Outreach Coordinator for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina. In this role, I have the opportunity to travel throughout our 18–county service region to assist children, families, and seniors procure the food assistance to help each of them thrive!

It is an honor for me to be able to meet these individuals, hear their stories, and work in a collaborative way to make sure that no one goes hungry in a country of such a vast abundance. I also assist with our community food drives, and I am repeatedly humbled by the generosity of the communities that we serve; many times when community members donate food to our food boxes, they will whisper to me that they know what it’s like to have nothing to eat, and don’t want anyone to ever feel that way.

I am honored to have the opportunity to advocate for the wellbeing of our neighbors, and thrive each day to offer kindness, hope, and compassion to those who need it most."

Sonsera Kiger, Class of 2004

Sonsera Kiger

Class of 2004

Bachelor of Arts, Spanish

"I currently work as the Food and Nutrition Services Outreach Coordinator for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina. In this role, I have the opportunity to travel throughout our 18–county service region to assist children, families, and seniors procure the food assistance to help each of them thrive!

It is an honor for me to be able to meet these individuals, hear their stories, and work in a collaborative way to make sure that no one goes hungry in a country of such a vast abundance. I also assist with our community food drives, and I am repeatedly humbled by the generosity of the communities that we serve; many times when community members donate food to our food boxes, they will whisper to me that they know what it’s like to have nothing to eat, and don’t want anyone to ever feel that way.

I am honored to have the opportunity to advocate for the wellbeing of our neighbors, and thrive each day to offer kindness, hope, and compassion to those who need it most."

Lynne Harlan, Class of 1988


 

Lynne Harlan

Class of 1988

Bachelor of Arts, History

Native American studies may not have been a prominent part of the history department at UNC Asheville in the 1980s, but Lynne Harlan recalls that professors such as Bruce Greenawalt and Milton Ready, now retired, encouraged her to explore Cherokee issues relevant to her coursework.

Today, Harlan ’88 credits her time at the university as integral to her career, which has taken her from the Smithsonian to the Bronx to back home to Cherokee, where she is public relations officer for the new Cherokee Indian Hospital, which opened in October. It’s the latest role Harlan has held with the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians (EBCI), where she has played integral roles in educating the public about Cherokee history and preserving the tribe’s cultural legacy.

Read the Full Story 

Lynne Harlan, Class of 1988


 

Lynne Harlan

Class of 1988

Bachelor of Arts, History

Native American studies may not have been a prominent part of the history department at UNC Asheville in the 1980s, but Lynne Harlan recalls that professors such as Bruce Greenawalt and Milton Ready, now retired, encouraged her to explore Cherokee issues relevant to her coursework.

Today, Harlan ’88 credits her time at the university as integral to her career, which has taken her from the Smithsonian to the Bronx to back home to Cherokee, where she is public relations officer for the new Cherokee Indian Hospital, which opened in October. It’s the latest role Harlan has held with the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians (EBCI), where she has played integral roles in educating the public about Cherokee history and preserving the tribe’s cultural legacy.

Read the Full Story 

Morgan Kelly, Class of 2003


Morgan Kelly

Class of 2003

Bachelor of Arts, History

"As a reporter, I went to New Orleans only weeks after Katrina and Rita to write about recovery efforts statewide. I later exposed a drug company's plan to inflate the price of birth control for women's health centers nationwide. I also got kissed by a dingo.

I then went to University of Pittsburgh where a media advisory I wrote helped spark a national discussion on the nation's infrastructure. I helped the university prepare when Pittsburgh hosted the 2009 G20. Since 2011, I've worked for Princeton University where I've gotten scientists national exposure for their work, accompanied researchers to Kenya and elsewhere, and interviewed Nobel laureates, including the late John Nash.

I began by honing my research and writing skills as a history major at UNCA — and there's much more ahead." 

Photo: Kelly met with Princeton professor Duncan Haldane (right) the morning he won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physics. They discovered they share an impeccable sense of style.

Morgan Kelly, Class of 2003


Morgan Kelly

Class of 2003

Bachelor of Arts, History

"As a reporter, I went to New Orleans only weeks after Katrina and Rita to write about recovery efforts statewide. I later exposed a drug company's plan to inflate the price of birth control for women's health centers nationwide. I also got kissed by a dingo.

I then went to University of Pittsburgh where a media advisory I wrote helped spark a national discussion on the nation's infrastructure. I helped the university prepare when Pittsburgh hosted the 2009 G20. Since 2011, I've worked for Princeton University where I've gotten scientists national exposure for their work, accompanied researchers to Kenya and elsewhere, and interviewed Nobel laureates, including the late John Nash.

I began by honing my research and writing skills as a history major at UNCA — and there's much more ahead." 

Photo: Kelly met with Princeton professor Duncan Haldane (right) the morning he won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physics. They discovered they share an impeccable sense of style.

Jason Walker, Class of 2002

Jason Walker

Class of 2002

Bachelor of Science, Management

"I recently completed the Marine Corps Marathon with my sister-in-law, Emily, and my nephew, Jack. Jack was born with severe brain damage and later developed an inoperable brain tumor. After raising money for Ainsley’s Angels, “Team Jack” was allowed to enter the race. Emily and I took turns pushing Jack throughout the race and after 5 painful hours, we crossed the finish line. The experience pushed me harder than I’ve ever been pushed and changed my definition of “Can’t”. We ran because we want Jack’s life to be filled with as many amazing experiences as possible. We ran because Jack will never be able to."

Jason Walker, Class of 2002

Jason Walker

Class of 2002

Bachelor of Science, Management

"I recently completed the Marine Corps Marathon with my sister-in-law, Emily, and my nephew, Jack. Jack was born with severe brain damage and later developed an inoperable brain tumor. After raising money for Ainsley’s Angels, “Team Jack” was allowed to enter the race. Emily and I took turns pushing Jack throughout the race and after 5 painful hours, we crossed the finish line. The experience pushed me harder than I’ve ever been pushed and changed my definition of “Can’t”. We ran because we want Jack’s life to be filled with as many amazing experiences as possible. We ran because Jack will never be able to."

Candice Jordan, Class of 2014

Candice Jordan

Class of 2014

Bachelor of Science, Atmospheric Sciences

"I'm a meteorologist and educator at the Schiele Museum in Gastonia, NC and a freelance Broadcast Meteorologist at WJZY Fox 46 in Charlotte, NC. I'm blessed to have a supportive husband, wonderful son (born Oct. 2017), and to be living in my hometown. Since graduating from UNC-Asheville in 2014 with a Bachelor's in Atmospheric Sciences, I have been a broadcast meteorologist in Bowling Green, KY, Greenville, NC, and Charlotte, NC. I spent most of my career in Greenville, NC and covered all types of weather. I've covered tornado outbreaks, dicey winter weather scenarios, and tropical weather including the notable Hurricane Matthew. I was also the only female broadcast meteorologist in my area. Now I serve as a role model for students as an educator at the Schiele Museum where I create and hold programs. This picture is from my weather program where we demonstrate how to make clouds! My goal is to inspire students and show them that science is cool!"

Candice Jordan, Class of 2014

Candice Jordan

Class of 2014

Bachelor of Science, Atmospheric Sciences

"I'm a meteorologist and educator at the Schiele Museum in Gastonia, NC and a freelance Broadcast Meteorologist at WJZY Fox 46 in Charlotte, NC. I'm blessed to have a supportive husband, wonderful son (born Oct. 2017), and to be living in my hometown. Since graduating from UNC-Asheville in 2014 with a Bachelor's in Atmospheric Sciences, I have been a broadcast meteorologist in Bowling Green, KY, Greenville, NC, and Charlotte, NC. I spent most of my career in Greenville, NC and covered all types of weather. I've covered tornado outbreaks, dicey winter weather scenarios, and tropical weather including the notable Hurricane Matthew. I was also the only female broadcast meteorologist in my area. Now I serve as a role model for students as an educator at the Schiele Museum where I create and hold programs. This picture is from my weather program where we demonstrate how to make clouds! My goal is to inspire students and show them that science is cool!"

Amanda Cary, Class of 2016

Amanda Cary

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology

"I currently work in the Justice Resource Center as a case manager with the Buncombe County Re-entry Council. We provide support to folks returning to Buncombe County from prison. We help in four main areas: transportation, housing, employment and education. Our aim is to reduce recidivism rates and support people in becoming better versions of themselves as well as productive, healthy members of society. My job is incredibly rewarding, and I wake up everyday excited about going to work!"

Amanda Cary, Class of 2016

Amanda Cary

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology

"I currently work in the Justice Resource Center as a case manager with the Buncombe County Re-entry Council. We provide support to folks returning to Buncombe County from prison. We help in four main areas: transportation, housing, employment and education. Our aim is to reduce recidivism rates and support people in becoming better versions of themselves as well as productive, healthy members of society. My job is incredibly rewarding, and I wake up everyday excited about going to work!"

Alex Fisher, Class of 2010


 

Alex Fisher

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Arts, Art

Alex Fisher uses her Fine Art and Business Management Degrees nearly every day as proud owner and head cheerleader of Lucky Penny Creative. She and her team plan and style rule-breaking weddings across the United States and are headed into their fifth year of business.

“It is a complete blast helping our clients maneuver the world of wedding planning in a way that speaks to the truest version of their coupleship rather than feel stifled by norms and patriarchal traditions,” said Fisher.

Team Lucky Penny Creative also dedicates a large portion of their human-power to serving area organizations such as Planned Parenthood and MANNA Foodbank and is excited to now offer a Floral 2.0 recycling option for clients wishing to breathe a second life into wedding floral that normally gets thrown away at the end of the evening.

Photo by The Mango Market 

 

Alex Fisher, Class of 2010


 

Alex Fisher

Class of 2010

Bachelor of Arts, Art

Alex Fisher uses her Fine Art and Business Management Degrees nearly every day as proud owner and head cheerleader of Lucky Penny Creative. She and her team plan and style rule-breaking weddings across the United States and are headed into their fifth year of business.

“It is a complete blast helping our clients maneuver the world of wedding planning in a way that speaks to the truest version of their coupleship rather than feel stifled by norms and patriarchal traditions,” said Fisher.

Team Lucky Penny Creative also dedicates a large portion of their human-power to serving area organizations such as Planned Parenthood and MANNA Foodbank and is excited to now offer a Floral 2.0 recycling option for clients wishing to breathe a second life into wedding floral that normally gets thrown away at the end of the evening.

Photo by The Mango Market 

 

Ko Barrett, Class of 1994

Ko Barrett

Class of 1994

Bachelor of Science, Environmental Studies

UNC Asheville alumna Ko Barrett ’94 might be an anomaly in the sciences. She’s an interdisciplinary communicator among subject matter experts. She holds a bachelor’s degree from a liberal arts university among a sea of Ph.D.s. And she’s a woman in the sciences, a position she advocates for as one of three vice chairs for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“With more women in IPCC leadership than ever before, we hope to work together to encourage more women to choose STEM careers that will be good for them and for their nations’ economic futures,” Barrett said in the 2015 announcement of the appointment. “I’m excited to serve on the executive committee and look forward to working with the world’s leading scientists to engage the wider scientific community and the public on the most important issue of our time.”

Since her election last October, Barrett has become one of the IPCC’s go-to facilitators for helping countries to reach consensus decisions. Barrett credits her early successes in this arena to her years of experience as a negotiator. “My many years of listening to countries’ positions and being quick with possible solutions serves me well in my role as vice-chair,” Barrett said.

In addition to her role at the IPCC, Barrett serves as deputy assistant administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where she supervises the agency’s research operations, which in addition to climate change, include ocean exploration and air quality. Prior to joining NOAA in 2005, she was the director of the Global Climate Change program at USAID and oversaw climate activities in over 40 countries.

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Ko Barrett, Class of 1994

Ko Barrett

Class of 1994

Bachelor of Science, Environmental Studies

UNC Asheville alumna Ko Barrett ’94 might be an anomaly in the sciences. She’s an interdisciplinary communicator among subject matter experts. She holds a bachelor’s degree from a liberal arts university among a sea of Ph.D.s. And she’s a woman in the sciences, a position she advocates for as one of three vice chairs for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“With more women in IPCC leadership than ever before, we hope to work together to encourage more women to choose STEM careers that will be good for them and for their nations’ economic futures,” Barrett said in the 2015 announcement of the appointment. “I’m excited to serve on the executive committee and look forward to working with the world’s leading scientists to engage the wider scientific community and the public on the most important issue of our time.”

Since her election last October, Barrett has become one of the IPCC’s go-to facilitators for helping countries to reach consensus decisions. Barrett credits her early successes in this arena to her years of experience as a negotiator. “My many years of listening to countries’ positions and being quick with possible solutions serves me well in my role as vice-chair,” Barrett said.

In addition to her role at the IPCC, Barrett serves as deputy assistant administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where she supervises the agency’s research operations, which in addition to climate change, include ocean exploration and air quality. Prior to joining NOAA in 2005, she was the director of the Global Climate Change program at USAID and oversaw climate activities in over 40 countries.

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George Etheredge, Class of 2016

 

George Etheredge

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts, Art

During his time at UNC Asheville, George Etheredge earned a B.A. in photography, a spot in the prestigious Eddie Adams Photography Workshop, a place in a national photography exhibition and much more. Now his photos have found their way from a portrait series in the Asheville Citizen-Times to the front page of The New York Times—at least four times.

During his time as a student, Etheredge had photojournalism essays and photograph series published in several online and print publications. His photo essay, “Urban Gardens in Asheville,” was published in Modern Farmer and Asheville Citizen-Times, and was the culmination of a long-term photographic project with Pisgah View Community Peace Garden in Asheville. Two prints from the series were selected for inclusion in Looking at Appalachia, a national traveling exhibition curated by documentary photographer Roger May.

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George Etheredge, Class of 2016

 

George Etheredge

Class of 2016

Bachelor of Arts, Art

During his time at UNC Asheville, George Etheredge earned a B.A. in photography, a spot in the prestigious Eddie Adams Photography Workshop, a place in a national photography exhibition and much more. Now his photos have found their way from a portrait series in the Asheville Citizen-Times to the front page of The New York Times—at least four times.

During his time as a student, Etheredge had photojournalism essays and photograph series published in several online and print publications. His photo essay, “Urban Gardens in Asheville,” was published in Modern Farmer and Asheville Citizen-Times, and was the culmination of a long-term photographic project with Pisgah View Community Peace Garden in Asheville. Two prints from the series were selected for inclusion in Looking at Appalachia, a national traveling exhibition curated by documentary photographer Roger May.

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Sandra Wilkerson Queen, Class of 1991


 

Sandra Wilkerson Queen

Class of 1991

Bachelor of Arts, Mass Communication

“Sandra Wilkerson Queen is making an impact on the lives of her young students and on the greater day McDowell County community as well. Queen teaches a K-12 multiage class at Pleasant Gardens Elementary in Marion, where she created The Kindness Project, a way for her kids to give back to the community. So far, Queen, a fellow teacher, and their students have made 80 'blessing bags' with supplies for the homeless and they just completed a project where they assembled 105 backpacks of personal hygiene products for displaced teens in McDowell’s two middle schools.”

Sandra Wilkerson Queen, Class of 1991


 

Sandra Wilkerson Queen

Class of 1991

Bachelor of Arts, Mass Communication

“Sandra Wilkerson Queen is making an impact on the lives of her young students and on the greater day McDowell County community as well. Queen teaches a K-12 multiage class at Pleasant Gardens Elementary in Marion, where she created The Kindness Project, a way for her kids to give back to the community. So far, Queen, a fellow teacher, and their students have made 80 'blessing bags' with supplies for the homeless and they just completed a project where they assembled 105 backpacks of personal hygiene products for displaced teens in McDowell’s two middle schools.”

Natalie DeRatt, Class of 2011

 

Natalie DeRatt

Class of 2011

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

On paper they seem like polar opposites. Natalie (Pearson) DeRatt ’11, a native of Sheffield, England, sprints for five seconds at maximal velocity before hopping into the back of a 300-pound bobsled. Hurtling down an icy chute, DeRatt approaches speeds of 90 miles per hour—roughly 80 miles per hour faster than Greensboro-native Loring (Watkins) Crowley ’05 hits while racing in major marathons all across the country.

What both former UNC Asheville track and field athletes share in common makes the connection clearer—they both are chasing Olympic dreams.

For Crowley, the biggest race of her life has already taken place. In a field of 200 qualifiers, Crowley battled excruciating conditions to place 94th at the U.S. Olympic marathon trials in February. Held in Los Angeles during a freak heat wave, the runners battled sustained temperatures over 85 degrees with no shade on the wide city streets.

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Natalie DeRatt, Class of 2011

 

Natalie DeRatt

Class of 2011

Bachelor of Arts, Literature

On paper they seem like polar opposites. Natalie (Pearson) DeRatt ’11, a native of Sheffield, England, sprints for five seconds at maximal velocity before hopping into the back of a 300-pound bobsled. Hurtling down an icy chute, DeRatt approaches speeds of 90 miles per hour—roughly 80 miles per hour faster than Greensboro-native Loring (Watkins) Crowley ’05 hits while racing in major marathons all across the country.

What both former UNC Asheville track and field athletes share in common makes the connection clearer—they both are chasing Olympic dreams.

For Crowley, the biggest race of her life has already taken place. In a field of 200 qualifiers, Crowley battled excruciating conditions to place 94th at the U.S. Olympic marathon trials in February. Held in Los Angeles during a freak heat wave, the runners battled sustained temperatures over 85 degrees with no shade on the wide city streets.

Read the Full Story