With Veterans Day on the horizon, I am aware of the many freedoms we are afforded: Our right to express our opinions; our privilege to vote; our choice to serve; and our opportunity to change lives. I’d like to share a few events and examples of human service that celebrate these freedoms:
- Many of our graduates have or do serve in the military. About 300 of our students and many of our alumni are veterans. Fifteen of our student veterans were called to action in preparation of Hurricane Florence, when Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency. We count among our alumni the esteemed Maj. Gen. Edward Reeder Jr. ’81, for whom our Student Veteran Resource Center is named; founder and four-year leader of Team Sunergy Dan Blakeley ’15 ’18, who spent six years serving in the 2nd Ranger Battalion of the U.S. Army Special Operations; and this year’s Distinguished Alumnus, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley ’84, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). We will celebrate their, and others’, service at the Veterans Day commemoration on Monday, Nov. 12.
- Next week, Appalachian continues its “Say What?” series with a weeklong schedule of events designed to explore challenging issues around freedom of speech. Members of Appalachian’s Student Government Association, faculty and staff have put together a program that includes conversations, panel discussions, speeches and forums on topics from activism, to constitutional law, to the civic engagement of our students. You can add your voice to the discussion by submitting topics for discussion here.
- An update on the dedicated work taking place at our laboratory school in Winston-Salem, the Academy at Middle Fork: The first quarter of our first year at the school is complete, and the teachers who are leading this transformative project — many of them Appalachian graduates — could not be more enthusiastic.
Best of all, a regular chorus from the children is they want to go to “the college up the Mountain.”
“I want to be a Mountaineer!” they say.
Sheri Everts, Chancellor