As-U-R Helps Student Find Her Passion

It’s all coming together for Appalachian State student Catherine Gillespie and she gives the As-U-R program a lot of the credit.

When Catherine transferred to Appalachian State from Virginia Wesleyan College, she brought with her some paperwork for the Office of Disability Services. Thanks to the linkages among various departments in Boone, she then found a home at As-U-R where she has been learning how to deal with her executive functioning challenges.

As part of the As-U-R program she has spent at least three hours a week at Study Central as well as meeting with a mentor each week. Catherine says she has learned new ways to study and ask questions. This is particularly evident in her improved ability to explain to other participants in group projects what she needs to be a contributing member of the group.

Catherine said she has also had success meeting with her professors face-to-face and helping them understand that it might take her longer to do assignments that involve a lot of reading and writing. “I want them to know that if I submit something at 11:59 that is due at 12, it’s doesn’t mean that I’ve been procrastinating, it just means I needed all  the extra time,” she said.

In addition to better study and communication skills, Catherine has also learned a lot about herself, her interests and where she may be headed in a future career. Although she comes from a family of educators, it is only recently that she has focused her studies on preparing to be a middle school teacher.

“I have worked with students a lot—in summer camps, tutoring after school with elementary students, and even tutoring college math courses,” she said. “I also worked in an after-school program for preschoolers.” But it’s the middle school age group where she feels she can make a real difference.

As the site coordinator for the Eye-to-Eye program at Appalachian State, she has even more opportunity to work with this age group and show them that they can be successful in college in spite of their learning differences. Eye-to-Eye is a national mentoring organization that utilizes an arts-based curriculum to pair students in the community with a learning disability or attention deficient hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) with college students with similar diagnoses as a means of academic and personal empowerment.

“I’ve taken a lot of time to figure myself out,” she said. “My learning strategies and study skills are my pride and joy, and I definitely feel I will be able to share my experiences and teach others.”