spotlight-category: English Language and Literature Haley Spurlin ’17 By Gardner-Webb University On August 1, 2020 Gardner-Webb graduate helps students reach their goals “In most of my literature classes, we read about other cultures and constantly talked about how important it is to be aware of other peoples’ experiences and perspectives. These conversations helped me significantly as I was faced with the challenge of moving across the country to a brand-new environment.” Haley Spurlin ‘17, a Gardner-Webb University alumna from Ennice, N.C., took the professional skills she developed as an undergraduate student all the way to Troy, Montana. Spurlin completed a National Service Year with AmeriCorps VISTA, working through Montana Campus Compact (MTCC) at Troy High School. Her job included a variety of important responsibilities such as counseling students on their post-secondary plans, strengthening community outreach efforts, and helping to create more internship opportunities for students. The MTCC is an organization of colleges and universities in Montana that works with communities to create educational and professional-readiness opportunities and teach students about civic and social responsibility. To achieve these goals in her placement at Troy High School, Spurlin met with students to discuss their future plans and researched how to make effective internship programs for students. “My favorite part of this position was getting to know the students and talking with them about their goals,” she shared. “I loved hearing what students are passionate about and helping them develop plans to make their dreams a reality.” As an English major with a pre-professional concentration, Spurlin developed a wide range of skills that have helped her to be successful in her job. “In most of my literature classes, we read about other cultures and constantly talked about how important it is to be aware of other peoples’ experiences and perspectives,” she commented. “These conversations helped me significantly as I was faced with the challenge of moving across the country to a brand-new environment.” As a student, Spurlin also spent three years working in Gardner-Webb’s Center for Personal and Professional Development, which helped her to prepare for the daily tasks and long-term projects of working for MTCC. “I realized through this experience, and through talking with GWU’s Career Counselors, that I really enjoyed helping students take the steps to prepare themselves for life after college.” Spurlin recalled some of her favorite parts about Gardner-Webb, especially the community of professors and friends that she got to know during her time here. “This community became my family and my home for four years, and I will always be grateful for the time I got to spend building these relationships,” she remarked. “My advice to current seniors would be to keep pushing and to enjoy every minute you have with your friends. Even though it seems like you have already completed a sufficient amount of work for a bachelor’s degree, believe it or not, there are a few more things left to learn. It’s all worth it when (GWU President) Dr. (Frank) Bonner hands you that fancy piece of paper.” In the future, Spurlin hopes to earn a master’s degree in school counseling so that she can continue working with students and helping them to achieve their dreams.