“The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.” -Corrie Ten Boom, Holocaust survivor
Growing up in Asheville, NC, I have always had a deep love for these mountains. When I’m not studying or getting involved in the community over the next four years, you will likely find me on the Parkway or in the Linville Gorge. Wearing boots and an old flannel with a trail beneath my feet is where I feel most at home, so choosing to study here in Boone made sense. As a special education major, I was also drawn to Appalachian State by its rich history as a teacher’s college, and renowned Reich College of Education. My passion to teach students with special needs stems from a program called the Priscilla Project at my gym, Summit CrossFit. It is a free class offered twice a week to provide athletes with developmental disabilities equal access to fitness. I have been co-coaching the class for three years and am continually reminded of how much I can learn from these athletes. My goal as an educator and advocate is to give back even just a fraction of the love and wisdom their community has shared with me.
I fell in love with the arts as a kid and haven’t stopped loving them since. From carrying around crayons and coloring books since I was old enough to hold them (now a sketchbook and charcoal pencils) to participating in band and chorus through high school, I have always been fascinated by the power of artistic expression. As a caregiver for my grandmother with Alzheimer’s, I learned to play her favorite hymns on guitar, and the way they brought back her memory and personality when I sang them with her was astounding. This caused my passion for creating music to grow, and inspired me to write more songs of my own.
Through service and leadership experiences, I have learned to simply use what I have and start where I am when problems seem overwhelming. As a fifth grader, I stumbled upon an article about human trafficking, and feeling devastated and helpless, I went to talk with a phenomenal teacher, Debra Threlkeld, about it. She allowed me to see my age as a platform rather than an obstacle and encouraged me to take a first step. So, I used what I had - a heavy heart, and I started where I was - my school’s computer lab. A couple years later, this evolved into working with On Eagles Wings Ministries, founding a chapter of one of their programs called Youth 4 Abolition. We partnered with local businesses, churches, and community members to fundraise for sex trafficking survivors in NC and spread awareness with a focus on prevention.
For my senior project, I wanted to help provide access to education for kids who had been trafficked. I used what I had - a bucket list goal to run a marathon and a connection to a nonprofit called Set Free Alliance. I started where I was - a three mile run and a heap of ambition. From there, I trained and fundraised for six months, resulting in close to $3,000 for the cause. I wasn’t a very good runner when I signed up for a twenty-six-mile race, but I took each of those miles one step at a time. What I have taken away from all this, is regardless of how inadequate we think our contribution will be, or how insufficient we initially feel, we can all do something. Sometimes we just need to think outside the box a bit and be willing to start small.
To those who have made the above achievements possible, this scholarship is celebrating you too! This is a result of your investment in me. Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, you have lifted an immense burden from my shoulders. With this newly found freedom, I am eager to pursue the opportunities your generosity has provided for me. I wish there were more ways to express my gratitude. “Thank you” doesn’t seem big enough.