Want to know what it's like to be a member of Watauga Residential College? Read about some of our students below and feel free to email them! They'd love to talk with you more.

Syd Shadrick

Girl in flowers

College of Education

Email: shadrickse@appstate.edu

Hello! My name is Syd and I am a first year Wataugan from Lake Zurich, IL. I am a Special Education major and Spanish minor. I am also currently involved in ACES (Appalachian Community of Education Scholars), am a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, and am a Wilson Scholar and look forward to becoming even more involved on campus.  Appalachian was my first choice for college and I have loved every second of being here. Membership in Watauga has helped me to build a community and family that I would not otherwise have so close by and I know that I have already made friendships that will last a lifetime. Life in the LLC (Living Learning Center) with Watauga has broadened my exposure to different views, personalities and beliefs in the most positive way possible. Living among other Wataugans has helped me to branch out at Appalachian and become more involved with leadership and service opportunities than I ever imagined before coming here .

Baylen Burleson


College:  Walker College of Business

Email:  burlesonbt@appstate.edu

My name is Baylen Burleson, and I am a sophomore here at Appalachian State University and Watauga Residential College (WRC). I am a business major, and I enjoy movies, cooking, hiking, romantic dinner dates with a view, and long walks on the beach. Also, from being in WRC, I am able to enjoy being immersed in a caring and intelligent community. WRC was instrumental to my (in-progress) success at college, as it helped prepare me for college level academics as well as building my social and networking skills.

B Geller


College:  College of Fine and Applied Arts

Email:  gellerab@appstate.edu

There are a lot of “kind of" and “maybe” statements when people try to describe Watauga.  Even specific examples can be pretty vague. I think it’s simpler than it seems, however, because Watauga is exactly what you make it. It is every one of the generalizations given and yet, it is none of them. For it to be what you want it to be, you must participate in it with your own input. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of a community in which I can explore as well as relax, learn as well as understand. I am a Studio Art student, but Watauga is for everyone, so long as you are willing to be open.

Rebecca Ploener


College:  Hayes School of Music

Email:  ploenerrm@appstate.edu  

Hey there! I’m Rebecca, a first-year Wataugan studying to become a music instrument repairman here at Appalachian State. My major is Music Industry Studies with a minor in Business. I grew up on the border of Pennsylvania and Delaware and found App on an impromptu college road trip with my mom and decided I belonged here before I even took a tour. Some of the activities I partake in include, swing dancing, various music ensembles, and hosting tea parties all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA!

Watauga Residential College is unlike any other school I looked at. It challenges every person regardless of how “smart” they were in high school. The classes cover a wide variety of topics from Witchcraft to Cartography to Outdoor Survival - making the normally boring GenEds fascinating. From my experience, Watauga is a place where each individual can respectfully challenge each other’s beliefs within the context of the class discussions. It creates an environment for freethinkers and forces the students to see the world from a broader, deeper viewpoint.

One of my favorite things about Watauga is how welcoming the students and faculty are. The professors are actively involved in class and invested not only in our success as students, but also our development as a humans. The Watauga program has without a doubt helped me become a successful, independent college student and I cannot wait to see you here!

Chris Murrell


College:  Beaver College of Health Sciences

Email:  murrellcj@appstate.edu

Hey everybody! My name is Chris, and I am currently exploring majors that fit my passion for health and fitness. I am a strong Christian and a bona fide health nut. I enjoy outdoor adventures and activities, including hiking, swimming, and climbing. My three main hobbies are reading, various martial arts, and snow sports. I also love food, traveling, and storytelling. I'm pretty outgoing and social, and if you like adventures, I'm your guy! (P.S. I'm the dude in orange.)

Katelyn Wilder


College:  College of Arts and Sciences

Email:  wilderka@appstate.edu

Hello! The Wataugan pictured above is me, Katelyn Wilder. Remember that name, it will one day be on a book cover. Or a playbill. Or maybe your actuarial evaluation form… All my life, I've had three main passions: writing, math, and musical theatre. When the Watauga program was first introduced to me, Clark Maddux described it as a place where diverse passions can be used to better the community - exactly what the girl of too many passions needed. Due to the guidance of Watauga faculty, I've been able to carve a path that gears me towards the things I want most, as well as the things I want slightly less. My major is English with a concentration in Creative Writing, but I plan to minor in General Business, Statistics, and Experiencing Inquiry. The faculty of Watauga has been invaluable to me in that they have helped encourage, guide, and challenge me. If it weren't for this faculty, I'm not sure I would have been able to convince myself to go for what I see as my calling - writing and editing - but would have saved that for retirement. Watauga’s faculty and Wataugans are unique, passionate individuals who collectively work together to define, question, set, and meet goals.

Ilya Wang


College:  Honors College/Watauga College &  Beaver College of Health Science

Email:  wangij@appstate.edu

Hi everyone! My name is Ilya Wang and I am from the small town of Rockwell, North Carolina. I am part of both Watuaga Residential College and the Honors College with a major in Nutrition. When I first applied to Watuaga, I had the same question I’m sure many of you have: what is it? I had heard all the descriptions— interactive/investigative learning, discussion-based classes, community, volunteering— but I still didn’t really know what to expect. Nevertheless, here I am, telling you what I found. In Watuaga, I found all of the above and more. I found people who will support you no matter your identity. I found faculty who are genuinely committed and interested in your success and well-being. Along with best friends and supportive faculty, Watauga also gave me some of the most challenging courses yet. Each day, I am pushed to think deeper and more intently about ethical, moral, and world issues—something that would have otherwise been a small fraction of my life. In addition, having spent the first 9 years of my life in Taiwan, then moving to a small town in North Carolina, acceptance and diversity was something that I actively sought out for my college experience. I was able to find that in Watuaga. Being a part of Watauga Residential College has given me a home away from home from day one, and is an experience and community that will be with me for the rest of my life.