How Appalachian students spend their summer

After spring semester, many students look forward to summer as a time of relaxation. Students at Appalachian State University can take advantage of the summer programs offered through the university as a time to travel, make discoveries and continue their academics.

Whether Appalachian students conduct research, enrolled in summer school or travel abroad, they expand their knowledge and create connections to the world around them.

Summer on campus

This summer more than 7,500 students enrolled in summer school, which is a 3 percent increase from last year.

This number includes degree and non-degree seeking undergraduates; graduate students pursuing doctoral and specialist degrees, and certificates; and other non-degree seeking students. This number also includes students pursuing internships, which support professional growth. For example, Adrienne Biles, a rising senior health education major, worked at Appalachian District Health Department for her internship this summer.

There are many aspects that attract Appalachian students to summer school. Lynette Orbovich, director in the Office of Summer Sessions and Professional Development, said, "It's just a different atmosphere. It's not going to appeal to some people; for others, they are going to absolutely love it and thrive in it.

"There's something quite nice about getting your mind around a subject and spending five weeks immersed in it. Since there are fewer people on campus, you can develop a community and I think that's what happens throughout colleges and universities in the summer time and here at Appalachian."

The university also sponsors special programs such as the 5th Annual Kellar Radio Talent Institute, an intensive 10-day program that prepares students in the broadcast industry to excel after graduation. After completion of the program, students take an exam to earn their Radio Marketing Professional Certification.

"I am lucky to have been a part of this great learning experience," said junior Lauren Brigman, who wants to become a television news reporter or radio personality.

"The Kellar Radio Talent Institute goes beyond what you learn in the classroom," she said. "We received valuable lessons about how to be successful broadcasters from professionals who are icons in the broadcasting industry. Through numerous networking opportunities I have already begun to form relationships with potential employers."

Local to global connections

Appalachian also offers students opportunity to travel domestically or internationally during the summer. A group of 12 traveled 427 miles to the Atlantic Ocean only by human power—implementing the first Source to Sea trip.

Students traveled internationally with faculty-led or non-faculty led programs through the International Student Exchange and Study Abroad (ISESA) program in the Office of International Education and Development (OIED).

This summer, 355 students traveled internationally through faculty-led programs, which are offered through OIED's Appalachian Overseas Education Program (AOEP).

One student, Meredith Motsinger, a rising senior technical photography and psychology major, traveled to Italy for 18 days through an academic course with the technical photography program. Led by faculty members John Latimer and David Crosby, nine students, including Motsinger, visited the cities of Cortona, San Gimignano, Florence and Rome.

They focused on refining skills in landscape and architectural photography, learned basic approaches to documentary studies and participated in regular photo critiques.

"I would definitely recommend a faculty-led trip to another student," said Motsinger. "First of all, you are traveling with a group of people that you already have something in common with. It was really nice to be with people who shared the same passion as I did, and it was beneficial to have two professors who we could ask any questions of.

"Traveling is mostly about experiencing a different culture. You can read and hear about these things, but until you go over there and experience it for yourself, you'll never know what it'll be like. It's interesting to compare and gives you ideas you wouldn't have normally encountered."

This summer, 67 students traveled internationally on non-faculty led trips from Costa Rica to Belgium. Other countries include China, Spain, Zambia, Uruguay, Ireland, India and Japan.

Helping North Carolina through research

Appalachian enrolls about 2,000 graduate students, many of whom conduct their research during the summer. One biology graduate student, Jason Harkey, used GPS equipment to conduct a campus tree inventory.

By analyzing the amount of carbon each tree brings into its root system, Harkey's research can be used to determine energy saving benefits—including shade in the summer and insulation from cold winds during winter. His research supports his master's thesis as well as a database to be used by other researchers and by the university's Physical Plant as its staff assesses potential hazards and develops a master campus plan.

Another graduate student, Monica Davis, spent her summer conducting flood mapping research on the Swannanoa River in Asheville. The goal of Davis' research was to accurately depict the topography of the Sawannanoa River by identifying the spatial resolution that is best for flood mapping.

Her work toward constructing the most accurate flood maps used LiDAR (Light Detecting And Ranging) data provided by the North Carolina Flood Mapping Program. LiDAR uses an airborne laser to retrieve data to render a topographic map when the light reflects off tops of trees, buildings and bare earth. Davis' research can help determine insurance policies for families and businesses surrounding the Swannanoa River in preparation for a flood.

From conducting research to traveling aboard, Appalachian students know how to continue their academics during the summer. Through various activities, each student has made discoveries about themselves and the world around them.