Going into college, I was, without a doubt, scared out of my mind. I never considered myself to be a super academically-oriented scholar, or even a super-academic student! My entire high school upbringing was based upon the idea that high academic achievement means high stakes. This seemed like a lose-lose situation as I entered life at Appalachian. I would either crack under the pressure of a new academic environment, or I would find the opposite, and not be able to adjust to the new easy-going culture. I thought this was what life would be like in my first semester, but fortunately this was not the case in any way, shape, or form.
I formed many new friendships during the first-year Wilson Scholars’ backpacking outing and gained confidence in my own abilities within our cohort, thanks to the gentle encouragement and support from within our own group. As soon as classes began, I had an ever-growing group of friends, thanks mainly to Watauga Residential College! Watauga consists of the kindest, most passionate, and most accomplished professors, staff, and students that Appalachian has to offer, giving me an important community of like-minded friends that has blossomed beyond what I believed would be possible in the few months we have spent together. This small community within the larger university helped make the transition to Appalachian from a traditional high school more seamless than I could have ever imagined. Friendships were fast to form, and the days flew by just as quickly. Before I knew it, we were knocking on the door of the semester’s end.
Throughout this semester, I have been involved in quite a few extracurricular activities both on and off Appalachian’s campus. I became an avid rock climber on the Student Recreation Center’s rock wall. I continued to pursue my love of mountain biking with Wilson Scholar Faculty Director, Dr. Mayfield in Pisgah National Forest. I attended and supported Mountaineer Football at nearly every home game. And, most recently, I have continued to ski at the resorts near campus.
Through the Wilson Scholars Program and Watauga Residential College, I gained a support network to help me catapult myself to a new level of academic confidence that I had never been able to achieve, up until now. I had never been a high GPA student, and, as it stands right now, I will be ending my semester with a 4.0 for the first time in my life. I am so thankful and fortunate for the opportunities that Appalachian has given me, and I am excited to see what I can achieve in the future with the amazing support of the communities I have found at Appalachian! I can happily look back and say I truly did make the most of our beautiful surroundings and unparalleled resources here at Appalachian in my first semester.
Written by: Evan Malinchock