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Keeping an Open Mind:
Emily Sharpe, Honors Advisor

By Brandon Schafer

Be willing to work

Emily Sharpe is an honors advisor at Western Carolina University. When asked what advice she has for students entering the job market, she says, “Keep an open mind. Be willing to work your way up the ladder and expand your comfort zone.”

When Sharpe arrived as a student at Ball State University, she had no idea what she wanted to do for a career. She decided to major in English because her favorite high school English teacher had told her she was a talented writer. Since she liked reading, Sharpe settled on a literature concentration.

Opening different doors

After graduating from Ball State, Sharpe worked for a local magazine. It was there that she decided she wanted to be editor in chief of a magazine. “My editor in chief told me that if I wanted to go any higher in the business, I needed a master’s degree.” With her career goal in mind, Sharpe entered Western’s graduate program. She opted for the newly opened Professional Writing program, which she says opened up a lot of doors for her. “I really got to know the faculty and students here.”

A side effect of Sharpe’s time in graduate school was that she learned she liked working with students. Sharpe says that when she first decided she wanted to be an editor in chief, she “was prepared to move to a bigger a city where I might have more job opportunities.” However, as she discovered how much she liked helping students, her urge to leave Cullowhee went away.

Through the graduate program, Sharpe was able to obtain a grant writing position at Western. She continued to work with faculty and students, and her passion for helping students led her to work her way up to her current position as honors advisor.

Making a difference

Sharpe says that the best part of her job is helping students. “I had some bad advisors when I was an undergrad,” she says, “Now I can provide better advisement for students than I received when I was in their shoes.”

These profiles were created by the Karen Greenstone's English 303 class (spring 2009)
and edited for the web by Mary Adams's English 303 class (summer 2009).

Students in Mary Adams's English 303 class (fall 2009) wrote additional profiles.