Community partners provide ‘Catamount Day’ for Cherokee students

Several community partners came together in support of a “Catamount Day” held at the Cherokee Youth Center and organized by Western Carolina University’s Cherokee Center.

Sky Sampson

It was the second year for the event, with more than 150 Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian students from the surrounding high schools attending. The purpose of the event is to expose high school students to a variety of career paths while also sharing the array of educational opportunities provided by WCU.

“This is not your usual information fair,” said Sky Sampson, Cherokee Center director. “Our goal is to provide interactive learning and hands-on activities for our native students at each station they come across. That is actually one of our requirements to be a vendor at this event. We know most of these students and want them to really dig into a variety of career path programs, both physically and mentally. By the end of it, we hope they leave with a better understanding of what they want to do in college.”

The event included business and employer partners, including First Citizens Bank, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Resort’s culinary programming, and WCU’s Project Discovery.

Tariq Underwood, a junior at Cherokee High School, was among the students who attended “Catamount Day.”

The Cherokee Center, located at 1594 Acquoni Road, Cherokee, was established in 1975 as an office for outreach and partnership development. The center provides a broad range of assistance for Eastern Band students interested in attending WCU, which includes application processes, campus tours, educational workshops, alumni engagement and cultural awareness both on campus and off. The center is the headquarters for all communication between WCU and the Eastern Band.

For more information, contact Sampson at snsampson@wcu.edu or 828-497-7920.