As I come to the conclusion of my first semester at Appalachian, I am amazed at how much this college experience has exceeded the already-high expectations I had prior to moving to Boone from my home in Chicago. The Wilson Scholars Program has been incredible, and my peers are not only extraordinary people with ambitious and inspirational goals, but they are also so much fun to be around. The opportunities I’ve gotten involved with at Appalachian have helped me gain confidence, independence, and a diverse group of close friends unlike anything I could have ever expected.
I am a member of two living-learning communities, the Appalachian Community of Education Scholars (ACES) and Watauga Residential College. As a future educator, living with ACES, other students who have similar ambitions and goals has been a great way to get involved in the community and has been instrumental in helping me to create a plan for the next few years. Watauga has also been an extremely supportive community since the beginning of the year. It is so nice to come home every day to friends that feel like family. I was fortunate enough to spread my love and enthusiasm about Watauga and Appalachian to prospective students by assisting with recruitment for Watauga at the Inside Appalachian event early in the semester.
I started my college career with a mix of core and liberal arts courses, including Spanish, math, the Wilson Scholars First-Year Seminar, yoga, and one of the Watauga Residential College First-Year Seminars. I have thoroughly enjoyed each of these classes, especially the Watauga and Wilson Scholars seminars! Next semester, I will be taking another seminar through Watauga, biology, skiing, and Spanish. I am so excited to see what these classes entail!
I also have had the fantastic opportunity of participating in informal research with Dr. David Koppenhaver in the College of Reading and Special Education. Throughout the semester we have been looking closely at William’s Syndrome and, more specifically, how literacy can be improved through what we already know about best practices in reading and through our own research. I am so thrilled to have been given the chance to travel to Baltimore and Michigan next summer with Dr. Koppenhaver to present what we have found and to formally continue our research regarding William’s Syndrome.
At the beginning of the year, I also began to get involved with Greek life. I ended up “running home” to Zeta Tau Alpha, and have met some amazing friends that I now cannot imagine not knowing. Participating in different philanthropy events and sisterhoods has been wonderful, and I look forward to serving on the Zeta executive board in the future. I am so grateful to have been elected as the Panhellenic Delegate for ZTA and will do my best to represent everything Zeta stands for. I am so happy to have found another family-away-from-home in Boone.
Through the Wilson Scholars Program, I have been able to get involved in several fantastic programs. The City to Mountains Student Exchange was a total success thanks to my peers Sarah Aldridge, Grace Bowling, and Jabari Moore. I am so excited to have the opportunity to be on the planning committee for the program next year! Volunteering for the Nearly Naked Mile, a race where participants donate articles of clothing to the Hospitality House which Emma Labovitz helped organize, was a lot of fun. It’s a great cause that I am so grateful to have played a hand in.
My excitement about my first semester may only be surpassed by my enthusiasm for the next six months. This winter break, the first-year scholars are traveling to Costa Rica. This will be the first time I will have left the country, and I am excited beyond words. Over the upcoming break I am also going back to my high school and will be recruiting for the Reich College of Education. I am so excited to help bring Appalachian to Illinois!
This coming summer, I am planning on traveling to Spain for a month-long study abroad program, and I cannot wait learn more about the people, language, and culture while I am there. I am so thankful for the Wilson Scholars Program and the incredible friends and mentors I have met during my first semester. I cannot wait to continue building upon those relationships as I look forward to what the future has to bring.
Written by: Sydney Shadrick