Advocacy Is The Key For Freshman Zoe Smith

For Zoe Smith, a sophomore in the As-U-R program at Appalachian State, it is all about being an advocate.  First she learned to advocate for herself as a middle school student with a learning difference. At East Chapel Hill High School, she started a support group for students with learning disabilities. Now she’s a participant and advocate for the College STAR program at Appalachian State.

“I love talking to people about my learning differences,” Zoe said. “I’m going to have them for the long run. It’s me— so why not be open about it.”

A kindergarten teacher first alerted Zoe’s parents that she might have learning challenges. She was tested and had a 504 plan throughout elementary, middle and high school. She received support at the Hill Center as well as accommodations in the public school setting.  

So finding the right level of support in college was a high priority, and she applied to Appalachian State precisely because of the As-U-R program.   Zoe participates in study skills seminar classes twice a week and spends at least seven hours in Study Central. She has particularly high praise for Jamie Inlow, assistant director of the As-U-R program.

"Zoe has so much drive to succeed and stay ahead on her academics. She never hesitates to reach out for assistance, and she continues to impress me with her desire to be an ambassador for Appalachian's As-U-R program," Inlow said.

A business management student, Zoe hopes to eventually combine her interests in fashion and non-profit organizations. She’s excited about the possibility of becoming a mentor through the Eye-to-Eye chapter at Appalachian State. Eye-to Eye is a national mentoring organization that utilizes an arts-based curriculum to pair middle school students with a learning disability or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with college students with similar diagnoses as a means of academic and personal empowerment.

She already knows the advice she would give to younger students. “Keep on fighting to get what you need to support yourself educationally. Always advocate for yourself.”