Campaign: Staff Forum at WCU awards first scholarship

The first Staff Forum Scholarship was awarded to Jer-Mayne White (left), the daughter of WCU staff member Angela Smith (right).

The first Staff Forum Scholarship was awarded to Jer-Mayne White (left), the daughter of WCU staff member Angela Smith (right).

Four years after Western Carolina University Staff Forum members set out to create an annual scholarship for the children of staff members, the $10,000 fundraising goal has been reached and the first $500 scholarship awarded to Jer-Mayne White, a sophomore forensic anthropology major from Asheville and the daughter of Angela Smith, technology support analyst at WCU.

“Cullowhee has always been my home away from home,” said White, whom the scholarship committee selected after a review of applicants’ involvement in activities, scholastic performance, financial need and personal essay about educational and career goals.

After graduating from Asheville High School, White attended Brenau University in Gainesville, Ga., and began studying biology and psychology. Her goal was—and continues to be—to work in the field of forensic anthropology, a goal she set in seventh grade after seeing a National Geographic special about the body farm in Tennessee. When her mother told her about Western’s plans to open a similar outdoor forensic anthropology research station, White researched WCU’s program and applied for admission.

Smith said she is proud and excited that her daughter is able to pursue her career at Western. “We’re thankful to the many people who helped make this scholarship possible,” said Smith. “It means a lot to both of us, and we know it will mean a lot to future recipients, too.”

Staff Forum is an organization at WCU that represents the interests and concerns of non-faculty staff members. The scholarship fund started in 2003 with a $100 contribution from an anonymous Sylva resident and grew to more than $10,000 through fundraising events and contributions.

“The Staff Forum has worked hard to make this a reality, and I am honored to have been a small part in it,” said Terry Riouff, a Sylva resident who is preventive maintenance coordinator at WCU and past chair of Staff Forum. “I hope the scholarship fund continues to grow.”

The next goal is to reach the $20,000 mark in the Staff Forum Scholarship Fund in order to generate an additional $500 annually that could create a second scholarship or increase the amount of the award.

“This scholarship helps staff members at Western help their children afford to go to college and supports local students who want to get a great education near home,” said Jed Tate, a Waynesville resident who is a web developer at WCU and chair of Staff Forum. “Contributions to the scholarship are really contributions to our community and economy.”

For more information about Staff Forum, check out (link no longer active; see To support the Staff Forum Scholarship Fund or other area through The Campaign for Western, check out or contact Brett Woods at 227-7124 or