Walker College of Business names 30 students to App State's Best List

Faculty in Appalachian State University's Walker College of Business have selected App State's Best for 2020, the top students by business major and student organization. There are approximately 3,000 students in the Walker College; 30 have made the list.

"During the novel coronavirus pandemic, as universities across the country deliver course content online, celebrating student achievement remains important at Appalachian," said Walker College Dean Sandra Vannoy. "I'm proud of these students and their impressive achievements."

Outstanding graduate students by major

Top student in the Master of Science in Accounting program: Kyle Nay

Kyle Nay

Kyle Nay of Apex, North Carolina has been named top student in the Master of Science in Accounting program.

Nay considers himself determined, reliable and diligent and considers earning his degree his greatest achievement.

Nay names Dr. Ken Brackney his favorite Applachian professor, noting that "his classes were incredibly well-structured, and he was very clear on his expectations of the class. I learned the most about accounting from Dr. Brackney."

Nay will begin work for Deloitte in Raleigh, North Carolina this fall.

Top student in Master of Business Administration program: John Huckert

John Huckert

Charlotte, North Carolina native John Huckert is Appalachian's top MBA student. Huckert considers himself honest, resourceful and sometimes vehement.

At Appalachian, Huckert has served as recruitment director for Pi Sigma Epsilon and was a member of the Fly Fishing Club. He has also served as graduate assistant for the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Department.

In addition to receiving the top MBA student nod, Huckert names having been selected as an honor leader for the YMCA Leaders' School at the Blue Ridge Assembly among his top achievements. He counts his Appalachian faculty-led study abroad trip to Australia as his favorite memory. He said he won't forget "getting to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, taking gondola trips through a rain-forest, and getting to spend some time 'down-under.'"

After graduation, Huckert plans to work for Wells Fargo Audit Services' information security team, focused on cyber security and consumer financial protection. He aims to someday start his own business and doesn't discount space travel among his long term goals.

Top student in Master of Science in Applied Data Analytics program: Josh Williams

Josh Williams

Ann Arbor, Michigan native Joshua A. (Josh) Williams is the top student in Appalachian's Master of Science in Applied Data Analytics program.

Williams considers himself adventurous, curious and optimistic. He has served as the co-captain for the App State Analytics Team, participating in hackathons, and as a researcher for the Center for Analytics Research and Education, using data to save the bees.

Williams counts his military service and making the most of the opportunities that came along during graduate school among his proudest accomplishments.

Dr. Lakshmi Iyer and Dr. Joseph Cazier are Williams' favorite professors. "Both helped me find exciting opportunities outside of normal coursework and encouraged me to use the skills I gained for good," he said.

Williams hopes to find work as a data analyst in the intel community and someday become a data scientist who launches his own analytics consulting company. "Unless NASA decides to accept my astronaut application," he added.

Outstanding undergraduate students by major

Nicholas Tyler (Nick) Bailey and Johanna Copley tied for the top honor in the accounting program.

Top student in Accounting: Nick Bailey

Nick Bailey

Accounting, Finance & Banking and Economics triple major Nick Bailey is from Troutman, North Carolina. During his time at Appalachian, Bailey served as economic analyst for the Bowden Investment Group, vice president of events for Beta Alpha Psi and was a 2019 Holland Fellow.

Bailey names Dr. Tracy Reed as one of his favorite professors. "Dr. Reed has been my biggest champion since I took her Intermediate 1 class over the summer of 2018," said Bailey. "Her encouragement and guidance has shaped me into the person I am today. I am so thankful for everything she has done for me. She will always have a special place in my heart."

After graduation, Bailey plans to become a Certified Public Accountant and work as an auditor with Deloitte in their Raleigh office.

When asked where he sees himself in 20 years, Bailey said "I could see myself as a partner at an accounting firm or a business professor. I can see myself in a meeting with a client or a classroom full of young college students."

Bailey describes himself as driven, passionate and ambitious and "strives to live everyday to the fullest."

Bailey is a top student in both the accounting and finance and banking programs. He is the only student on the App State Best list to receive the top nod from two Walker College programs.

Top student in Accounting: Johanna Copley

Johanna Copley

Bailey shares the accounting honor with Wilkesboro, North Carolina native Johanna Copley.

Copley selected Appalachian not only because she was able to commute from home and save on living expenses, but also because she "knew it was an excellent business school in terms of options in North Carolina."

Copley, who describes herself as motivated, conscientious and passionate, was a transfer student who, despite having to drop out of school at age 19 to work, returned two years later. That return to Appalachian, she said, was a decision that provided "tremendous rewards."

A member of Appalachian's chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, Copley praised the accounting faculty, noting that Dr. Kim Zahller (Dr. Z) is her most memorable professor. "Dr. Z's classes are some of the most challenging and rewarding courses I have taken. She is very clearly passionate about her field and job, and she genuinely desires to see her students not only get by but excel!"

After graduating in August, Copley will begin the M.S. in Accounting program at Appalachian. After graduate school, she hopes to work in public accounting as an auditor in Charlotte.

Copley's personal aspirations include world travel. "I would love to stay in Ireland for a few months and perhaps allow some time to travel across Europe, experiencing must-see cities like Paris, Berlin, Prague, Rome and Venice."

Copley will likely return to her local roots and visit campus as an alumna, though, noting that she will "forever be fond of Peacock Hall," where she spent most of her time at Appalachian.

Wendell Addy and Christian Wilson tied for the top honor in the computer information systems (CIS) program.

Top student in Computer Information Systems: Wendell Addy

Wendell Addy

At Appalachian, Houston, Texas native Wendell Addy served as events executive for the Association of Information Technology Professionals and a member of Beta Gamma Sigma honor society. Addy is also a member of Beta Phi Theta Kappa honor society, the Society of Torch and Laurel, and the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists, which provided him an opportunity to meet astronaut Buzz Aldrin and other Nobel prize winners when Addy himself earned an award of excellence from the group. He counts it as his highest personal achievement, but his proudest accomplishment at Appalachian is having earned this App State Best honor.

When asked why he chose Appalachian, Addy said "I was sold right away. I researched programs that were offered and came across computer information systems, right then I changed my mechanical engineering focus to more of IT and business. The WCOB seemed the right fit because the CIS program was everything I wanted and thought it never existed.

Addy counts Dr. Tanga Mohr and Dr. Scott Hunsinger among his favorite professors. Of Hunsinger, Addy said he has been "a true mentor," providing opportunities for internships and even a letter of recommendation.

After graduation, Addy plans to work full-time in information technology or business consulting then return to school to earn his master's degree. Addy said that in 20 years he hopes to own his own firm, but more importantly, to "have life, good health, a family of my own. If I continue to serve God, the rest will follow. I will always remember that Appalachian gave me the ability to have a successful life and career.

Top student in Computer Information Systems: Christian Wilson

Christian Wilson

Addy shares the CIS honor with Ashe County, North Carolina native Christian Wilson.

Wilson, who works in information technology for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, counts his honesty, friendliness and hard-working attitude among his greatest attributes.

At Appalachian, Wilson was a member of the Association of Information Technology Professionals and honors societies Beta Gamma Sigma and Alpha Iota Mu. He was also a member of both Appalachian's and the Walker College's academic honors programs. His thesis title was An Analysis of the Relationship Between Recent Electronic Data Breaches and Enacted Data Security and Privacy Legislation in the United States.

Top student in Economics: Stephen Justice

Stephen Justice

Stephen Justice earned the top spot in the economics program.

Justice, a native of Hampstead, North Carolina, describes himself as outgoing, motivated and creative.

"As soon as I stepped onto campus and got into Boone, I fell in love," said Justice of Appalachian. "The community here is so accepting and positive. I'll never forget the friends, connections, the network of support here."

Justice's favorite professor is Dr. Dennis Guignet. "As my thesis director, he guided me through the world of statistics and economics research," he said. "I'm so grateful for his patience, especially when it came to my thesis."

In addition to being a student researcher, Justice served as a Student Orientation Undergraduate Leader and a Martha Guy Summer Institute leader while at Appalachian. An avid climber and runner, he counts running the Myrtle Beach Marathon in 2019 among his favorite achievements. Justice added that being accepted into Appalachian's accelerated MBA program is another. He plans to earn his MBA with a concentration in sustainable business. Having fast-tracked both undergraduate and graduate degrees, Justice may graduate with both in a remarkably short four years.

Justice aims to use business for good. His aspirations include helping a university achieve their sustainability goals or starting his own sustainable consulting firm. In 20 years, Justice can see himself "in the C-Suite of a renewable energy firm or outdoor equipment retailer trying to make our energy grid out of more renewables and encouraging everyone, even business people, to get outside more"

Top student in Finance and Banking: Logan Draughon

Logan Draughon

Logan Elizabeth Draughon earned a top spot for the finance and banking program.

Draughon, a native of Mount Airy, North Carolina, describes herself as conscientious, detail-oriented and cooperative. She selected Appalachian because of the Walker College's reputation and the mountainous terrain.

Draughon's favorite professor is Dr. Brandy Hadley, who she said was always willing to help in any way possible. Her best memories will be the relationships she has built, "along with the experiences we have had together."

Draughon shares the finance and banking top spot with Nick Bailey, who also earned the top spot for accounting.

Bailey names Dr. Delbert Goff as one of his favorite professors. "Dr. Goff has pushed me to be the best student and professional I can be," said Bailey. "Because of him, I feel excited and prepared to enter the professional workforce."

Top student in Hospitality & Tourism Management: Whitson Sidey

Whitson Sidey

Thomas Whitson (Whitson) Sidey V is the top student in the hospitality and tourism management program. Sidey, who self describes as dependable, outgoing and hard-working, is a management and hospitality and tourism management double major from Pineville, North Carolina.

At Appalachian, Sidey was active in intramural sports and the College Connection at Alliance Bible Fellowship. He completed two majors in four years - even starting at Appalachian without any college credits.

"I chose Appalachian and the Walker College of Business after a tour that I was given during my senior year of high school," said Sidey. "It really made me want to be a part of such a wonderful campus."

Sidey said that while the entire faculty in the Department of Management was "knowledgeable and willing to work with students." His most memorable professor in the Walker College is Dr. Carol Kline. "She works so hard to help all of her students," he said. "She helped me find out what I wanted to do in life and helped me find my internship." Sidey added that Dr. Kline's interactive teaching style "made it a great environment for individuals to learn and have fun doing it."

After graduation, Sidey hopes to work as an event coordinator, but, further into the future, he doesn't count out becoming a professor, himself.

Top student in International Business: Jennifer Moerk

Jennifer Moerk

The top student in international business is Asheville, North Carolina native Jennifer Moerk.

Moerk, an international business and computer information systems double major, describes herself as focused, adaptable and inquisitive. At Appalachian, Moerk is the president of the Knitting and Crocheting Club and past president of the Chinese Culture and Language Club. She spent a semester abroad studying at Shanghai University in China. She is a Chancellor's Scholar and a member of both the college and university honors programs.

"App State and the Walker College of Business combine the high quality of education one would expect from a larger institution with the welcoming atmosphere one would expect from a smaller university," said Moerk when asked why she selected Appalachian.

Moerk names Dr. Charlie Chen as her most memorable professor, "for his unflinching passion for research and for encouraging student growth."

After graduation, Moerk will enroll in Appalchian's Master of Science in Data Analytics program. Afterward, she hopes to work for an international technology company, utilizing both her knowledge of computer information systems and understanding of Asian cultures.

Top student in Management: Spencer Lavender

Spencer Lavender

Spencer David Lavender earned the top spot for management.

Lavender, a management and accounting double major, served as vice president of Beta Gamma Sigma at Appalachian. Lavender describes himself as principled, positive and persistent, and, even though he worked throughout college, Lavender credits the "success [he] experienced to those who inspired and helped [him] along the way."

Lavender names Dr. Kim Zahller and Mr. Jesse Pipes as his most memorable professors.

After graduation, Lavender will begin working as an assurance associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Greensboro. He hopes to be a practicing public accountant, but may eventually start his own business.

Top student in Marketing: Allie Bluhm

Allie Bluhm

Kinston, North Carolina native Alexandra (Allie) Nicole Bluhm is the top student in marketing.

Bluhm describes herself as determined, adaptable and dependable. At Appalachian, she was a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the national honor society for graduates and undergraduates enrolled in business colleges accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

"When I first visited Appalachian, I knew that I had to go to school somewhere so beautiful and homey," said Bluhm. "I chose marketing because it seemed like the perfect blend of creativity and business."

Dr. Neel Das and Dr. Ilgım Benoit were Bluhm's most memorable professors. "It was always a joy to go to their classes," she said.

Outside of school, Bluhm considers helping a relative quit smoking one her greatest achievements. After graduation, Bluhm looks forward to spending time with family and traveling and eventually hopes to work in higher education as a marketer, helping students identify with and find the right university, as she did.

Top student in Risk Management and Insurance: Anna Otto

Anna Otto

Diligent, honest and easy-going Anna Otto, from Montreat, North Carolina, is Appalachian's top student in risk management and insurance (RMI).

At Appalachian, the RMI and management double major was a Walker Fellow and a member of App RISE research group, the Reformed University Fellowship and Gamma Iota Sigma.

As a legacy student, Otto said she "grew up coming to and falling in love with campus," and is thankful for the relationships with friends and faculty members she's met there.

Otto is most proud of having maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average and names Dr. David Marlett as her most memorable professor. She said his insurance introduction course sparked her interest in pursuing an insurance career.

After graduation, Otto plans to work as an associate underwriter with the Redwoods Group. Her long term plans include building a strong network of relationships within the industry and "to become an expert in my niche market."

Top student in Supply Chain Management: Brooke Hilden

Brooke Hilden

Brooke Hilden is the top supply chain management student. Hilden, who is from Hendersonville, North Carolina, considers herself diligent and conscientious.

At Appalachian, Hilden was a member of the Appalachian Supply Chain Club and the Appalachian Trail Crew. She served as inventory specialist for Beans2Brew, is past secretary for the Association of Student Entrepreneurs and served as a Library PrintZone student employee.

An avid golfer, Hilden credits the sport with developing her strong work ethic and positive attitude. "Without being determined and disciplined, you won't succeed in golf, and I think those same qualities are needed to succeed in life," she said.

Of the business faculty at Appalachian, Hilden says her professors were kind, caring and student success-centered. She credits her most memorable professor, Dr. Beth Ellington, for introducing her to supply chain-related topics and laying the foundation for earning her Six Sigma Green Belt certification and helping develop her career aspirations.

"Dr. Ellington always brings in examples from her industry experience, and she is an all around fantastic person who always made me feel welcome in her office hours. I'll always be thankful for her and the learning opportunities she gave me."

Noting that supply chain professionals are in demand and that Appalachian has a highly rated supply chain program, Hilden said the field "continues to evolve bringing new challenges to those willing to tackle them."

Hilden has been accepted into Appalachian's MBA accelerated admissions programs, and, after that, she thinks that her "Appalachian experience has prepared [her] well to be a successful, impactful employee."

Top students by clubs and organizations

Top student in the Appalachian Supply Chain Club: Jarrod Casper

Jarrod Casper

App State's Best from the Appalachian Supply Chain Club (ASCC) is finance and banking major Jarrod Casper.

When selecting a university, the Charlotte native vacillated between Appalachian and NC State, but in the end committed to Appalachian because "it's an amazing school, the people are genuine and the physical geography of the area made me want to come here."

Casper most recently served as the ASCC president and was also a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity and a participant in intramural sports. After a sports injury recovery, he learned that "no matter what it is in life, if you put in the work, day in and day out, then you will see results."

Casper's most memorable professor is Dr. Jim Westerman, who Casper credits for helping him develop a passion for leadership. "I would leave class every day analyzing Dr. Westerman's lecture, considering how I might use what he said in my day-to-day life to become a better leader."

After graduation, Casper plans to work for GardaWorld Federal Services, a government contracting group located in Tysons Corner. He aims to become a certified financial planner and ultimately own a personal wealth management company.

"What I will remember most about Appalachian is not only all the amazing people I have met but also the number of faculty and staff members who want nothing more than to see their students succeed," said Casper. "This is part of the reason why I think the Walker College of Business is so great. As I got into my major classes I noticed more and more the personal investment that my professors made in students."

Ashley Brim and Anne Bureau share the honor of top student from the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP).

Top student in the Association of Information Technology Professionals: Ashley Brim

Ashley Brim

Junior computer information systems and supply chain management double major Ashley Brim, from Fuquay Varina, North Carolina, describes herself as personable, diligent and ambitious.

She most recently served as the organization's vice president and previously served as its marketing chair. In addition to her AITP roles, Brim was a 2020 Holland Fellow, a member of Appalachian's Student Academic Service Society, a campus dining student employee, and a past Residence Hall Association Representative for Cannon Hall.

"As a student who pays her own way through college, it was important to me that I found a great school for the right price," she said when asked why she selected Appalachian. "I found that there were so many opportunities provided to me in such a short amount of time [in the Walker College of Business]. I continue to be amazed by the benefits the Walker College has to offer."

Brim's most memorable professor is finance professor Austin Eggers. "I have never seen a professor so lively so early in the morning," she joked. "He genuinely cares about his students, and I believe that is part of the reason why he makes the class as entertaining as he can."

After graduation, Brim - who says her most significant personal accomplishment is "discovering my drive to push myself to do things I never thought I could do" - hopes to work for a company with a technology for good mindset so she can make a positive impact.

Top student in the Association of Information Technology Professionals: Anne Bureau

Anne Bureau

Junior computer information systems and supply chain management double major Anne Bureau is from Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Bureau, who most recently served as AITP president, has also held the positions of secretary, webmaster and officer-elect. She was also a member of club volleyball.

Bureau's most memorable professor in the Walker College was finance professor Ivan Roten. "Dr. Roten is a very real and personable professor who has true passion for what he does," said Bureau.

After graduation, Bureau, who considers herself benevolent, genuine and determined, hopes to find work with the US Government or become an officer in the US Military. She says advocating for women in STEM related fields is important and she hopes she will "be a mentor to women interested in taking a similar career path."

Top student in the Association of Student Entrepreneurs: Lauren Coats

Lauren Coats

Winston-Salem, North Carolina native Lauren Coats has been named best by the Association of Student Entrepreneurs (ASE). ASE promotes inspiration, creativity and expertise on how to start and/or operate a successful company.

Coats, a finance and banking and risk management and insurance double major who describes herself as determined, hardworking and creative is ASE's president. She is also a member of Gamma Iota Sigma, which she said has allowed her to participate in many industry events and get to know her most memorable professor, Dr. David Marlett.

Coats, who earned her NC P&C license along with CPCU credits toward her designation while at Appalachian, is seeking employment in Charlotte, North Carolina. Further in the future, the entrepreneurial-minded Coats hopes to run her "own insurance company, restaurant and gym."

Top student in Beta Alpha Psi: Brooke Lane

Booke Lane

Brooke Alexandria Lane was named best from Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), the international honorary organization for financial information professionals.

Lane, a senior accounting major from Granite Falls, North Carolina is ambitious, conscientious and passionate. She most recently served as BAP's vice president of membership.

"BAP has given me the opportunity to become a leader and to give back to the community in a meaningful way," said Lane of her experience with the organization. She says she chose Appalachian "because of the high first time CPA exam pass rate and because of the school's strong desire to take care of our planet."

Lane names Dr. Tracy Reed as her most memorable professor. "She is determined to help her students succeed and has always motivated me to be the best that I can be," she said. "Dr. Reed has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and to become a leader. She is a perfect example of a hard-working, determined accounting professional."

Lane will begin Appalachian's Master of Science in Accounting program after graduation and plans to work for CliftonLarsonAllen as an associate beginning in October 2021 with an aim to "serve and build strong client relationships from the beginning to grow to be someone they can trust and who they know will always have their best interests in mind."

Top student in Enactus: Isabella Riley

Isabella Riley

Sophomore marketing major Isabella Riley has been named best by Enactus, a group that drives innovation to create a better world while developing the next generation of leaders.

Riley, from Carthage, North Carolina, describes herself as ambitious, optimistic and friendly. She most recently served as the organization's president. In addition to her role with Enactus, Riley has served as vice president of Eggers Hall Council, and a member of both Women of Walker and Phi Beta Lambda.

Of having been elected as president so early in her college career, Riley said it's one of her most significant accomplishments. "Knowing that they saw potential in me and believed I could step up to the challenge meant a lot to me."

Riley was a 2018 participant of the Martha Guy Summer Institute (MGSI); it's how she first learned the benefits the Walker College of Business offers. "During the program I was able to physically see how many opportunities and resources Walker had for a driven student like myself. I saw how the counselors and professors cared about my personal and academic success."

MGSI Program Director Barbara Rule is Riley's favorite professor. "Ms. Rule kept in touch after the program and has played an important role in my time at Appalachian. She encourages me, challenges me, and cares for me."

Riley hopes to earn an Appalachian MBA after completing her bachelor's degree, and her ultimate career goal is to become a chief marketing officer.

Of Appalachian, Riley said that "being surrounded by the mountains leads to both serenity and adventure. I'll always smile when thinking about sledding down the football field, taking pictures during a sunset on the parkway, or exploring a new waterfall.

Top student in Executive Impact: Jacob Parlier

Jacob Parlier

MBA candidate Jacob Parlier is the top student from Executive Impact, the student organization of Appalachian's business graduate programs.

The Hickory, North Carolina native is passionate, trustworthy and supportive. He has served as both president and vice president of Executive Impact and also worked full time through school. "Balancing school and full-time work was tough, especially in a management role," said Parlier. However, it "allows me to do what I love doing and that is helping my fellow employees in the workplace. I plan to take a human resources position after I graduate."

Parlier is paying forward the notion of being part of an Appalachian Family. "I chose Appalachian because it felt like home," said Parlier. "When I toured campus for the first time, the atmosphere was very welcoming. Everyone I met was supportive and excited. It caused me to carry those same traits throughout my time here."

After becoming an alumnus, Parlier plans to remain engaged with the university, "possibly getting the opportunity to speak to MBA students, and coming to App State football games."

Parlier noted that the resources provided by the Walker College of Business are unparalleled. "The Walker College has provided an amazing experience. It allowed me to travel internationally twice, and observe how the concepts we learn in class translate into a real world application. The college embraces people from all backgrounds and cultures, and I love that!"

Parlier adds that Dr. Charlie Chen, who led his study abroad trips to Japan and Spain, is his favorite professor. "Dr. Chen is a close friend and mentor to me. I thank the college for connecting me with great professors like him!"

Like Dr. Chen, Parlier hopes to inspire others throughout his career to be the best they can be, and to bring light during hard times. "Life isn't easy, but it can be easier with a friend or co-worker who cares about your well-being." Long term, Parlier hopes to be a director or vice president of human resources.

Top student in the Finance Student Association: Madeleine Beardsley

Madeleine Beardsley

Madeleine Beardsley, from Greensboro, North Carolina, is the top student from the Finance Student Association (FSA).

Beardsley considers herself passionate, balanced and organized, characteristics she's utilized as both secretary and vice president of FSA. Beardsley is also update editor for the Bowden Investment Group.

Beardsley considers her most significant accomplishment attending college. "I had no intentions of attending college until I entered my senior year of high school, and making it to this point is by far my greatest personal achievement.

My most significant collegiate accomplishment has been being a member of the Bowden Investment Group. Being a member of this group has provided me with resources and opportunities that have helped me grow both personally and professionally.

Beardsley selected finance and banking as her major because she "wanted a career that applied lots of math, but also opened doors to use my skills to help others."

While she "encountered some of the most wonderful people at Appalachian," Beardsley names finance lecturer David Brooks, who challenged her most, as her favorite professor.

Beardsley will begin her career in Texas as an internal auditor for JPMorgan Chase. As far as career aspirations, Beardsley wants to serve others. "Whether this be financial advising, audit or even investment banking, I want someone else to benefit from the resources that I can provide."

Top student in the Hospitality and Tourism Management Student Association: Marley Spencer

Marley Spencer, a hospitality and tourism major from Cary, North Carolina, is the top student from the Hospitality and Tourism Management Student Association (HTMSA).

Spencer is creative, ambitious and compassionate — skills she's used in her part-time work at Marriott of Boone and as vice president of HTMSA. Of her time leading HTMSA, Spencer said it's been most rewarding because "we have built each other up, taught each other so much, encouraged each other to participate in new industry opportunities and had a ton of fun along the way!"

Spencer said that App State was the only school she visited that felt like home. "I entered college not fully sure of my career path, and the number of high performing programs here helped secure my decision." She added that the Walker College's hospitality and tourism management program is "the perfect mix. We are lucky to have a program that not only teaches you about hospitality but allows you to learn about business as well."

Spencer said that Dr. Dana Clark is her most memorable professor, "because he motivated me to continue building my brand as a business professional, exposed us to a wealth of knowledge through the use of guest speakers in class, and supported all of our exec team's ideas for the development of our club. He truly held us to a high standard, and all of us that have and will graduate from this program will be better members of the hospitality community for it."

Spencer has big goals to use business for good. "I hope to lead the charge of economic growth through the development of tourism within communities of Appalachia," she said.

Of the Appalachian Experience, Spencer says "the first truly warm day after winter when everyone is out on Sanford hanging out, and the energy of game days because they can't be beat. Most importantly though, I will remember the community. I have found some of my closest friends here and lived a unique college experience that will provide stories to tell for years to come."

Top student in the Institute of Management Accountants: Kristine Reynolds

Kristine Reynolds

Boone, North Carolina resident Kristine Reynolds is the top student from Appalachian's student chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).

Reynolds, a Master of Science in Accounting candidate, considers herself determined, hard-working and passionate. She's used these skills as a member of Beta Alpha Psi and as president of the Appalachian's IMA chapter. Reynolds, who may be the only student in the MS Accounting program with an undergraduate degree in biology, said her business professors go "above and beyond to help teach their students and deeply care for them." She names Dr. Kimberly Zahller, who she had in class and for whom she served as a graduate assistant, as her favorite.

"Appalachian is a place that taught me who I am," said Reynolds. "College is hard, and you need people on your team to help you get through the rough patches. Without [those] friends and professors, I would not be where I am today."

Someday, Reynolds sees herself "as a CFO for a sustainable company and leading a great team of people who work hard, innovate and always strive to be better."

Top student in the International Business Student Association: Laura Harkleroad

Laura Harkleroad

International business and supply chain management double major Laura Harkleroad is the top student in the International Business Student Association (IBSA).

Harkleroad considers herself determined, itinerant and competitive. She is president of IBSA, the college's international club working to expand awareness of international business and issues, as well as a member of the Appalachian Supply Chain Club, Women of Walker, and Intapp — the university's international club.

The Swansboro, North Carolina native is most proud of having self-funded and traveled to more than 20 countries, and for having received the 2019 Global Citizen award from the Walker College. Of the Walker College, Harkleroad is thankful for all the study abroad opportunities, and of her favorite professor, Austin Eggers, she credits with an incredible passion about law.

Harkleroad plans to work for a logistics company, after graduating while also starting up an import company. Later, she hopes to earn a law degree and someday "own a law firm for international business and trade in Spain."

Top student in National Association of Business Economics: Will Robinson

Willard (Will) Montellous Robinson, IV is the top student from the National Association of Business Economics (NABE), which promotes interaction between economics students and faculty.

Robinson is a senior economics major who said that "picking up a mathematics minor in my senior year has been a challenge, but I'm glad to have accomplished it."

Robinson describes himself as honest, inquisitive and compassionate. Most recently, he has served as NABE president and was also a Walker College peer mentor and member of the college's Transfer Student Association.

After graduation, Robinson will attend Montana State University to earn a Master of Science in Applied Economics. Afterward, he hopes to continue his education with a PhD in economics and return to academia as a professor. 

Robinson, who enjoys outdoor sports, also hopes to summit Everest and "explore as much of the Himalayan Mountain Range as possible."

Top student in Phi Beta Lambda: John Dostert

John Dostert

Junior computer information systems and supply chain management double major John Dostert, Jr. is the top student from Phi Beta Lambda.

Dostert is from Cary, North Carolina and considers himself dependable, decisive and determined. He served as PBL president as well as secretary for Walker Fellows and a member of AITP, the Kramden Institute (a nonprofit that refurbishes used computers for students in need), and Meals on Wheels

Dostert says he picked Appalachian based on a tour given by a Walker Fellow. "I quickly realized the Walker College of Business had everything I was looking for: accessible professors, clubs I wanted to join, and a high internship and job placement rate."

Austin Eggers is Dostert's favorite professor, "Dr. Egger's real-world experience made his class enjoyable. He took complex terminology and explained it in a way that I could understand. He also was very enthusiastic about the class and really wanted to help us succeed."

Dostert's hopes to someday be a chief information officer or head of a corporate information technology department for a large company and possibly owning a consulting firm.

Two students earned the Pruett Award for Outstanding RMI Graduate. They are Harrison Cameron and Devon Goolsby.

Pruett awardee for Risk Management & Insurance: Harrison Cameron

Harrison Cameron

Charlotte, North Carolina native Harrison Cameron is a risk management and insurance and finance and banking double major who considers himself disciplined, analytical and thorough.

Cameron has most recently served as president of Gamma Iota Sigma. Cameron is also a Walker Fellow (and past chair of its social and service committee) and a member of App R.I.S.E. (Risk Initiative for Student Engagement)

Cameron picked Appalachian because he felt like the Walker College of Business would "prepare me well for post-graduation." As for his future, he plans to begin his career in Charlotte as an underwriter associate with Risk Placement Services and aims to "put [himself] in the position to help others."

Pruett awardee for Risk Management & Insurance: Devon Goolsby

Devon Goolsby

Devon Goolsby is a risk management and insurance and marketing double major from Cornelius, North Carolina.

Goolsby is thoughtful, gregarious and driven, and she has used these assets to serve as executive vice president and past vice president of marketing for Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS). In addition, Goolsby is a worship leader for Campus Crusaders and works two part-time jobs in the insurance industry.

"My most significant personal accomplishment has been working a part-time job since I was 16 years old and working two jobs my senior year of college," she said. I found it extremely rewarding to work and support many of my own needs. Also learning about my work ethic and the ability to grow as a part of the workforce throughout the years while managing school and extracurricular activities."

Her most significant collegiate accomplishment was the year, working alongside Harrison, developing the students coming in and working to make Gamma Iota Sigma the best it could be while learning what teamwork and success looks like for an entire organization. In addition to that, leading different research and teams for university projects were brought on through this which opened doors and allowed me to develop my strengths more fully. I was able to invest in my peers and give back to the university.

Goolsby selected Appalachian especially for the Risk Management and Insurance program. "I was drawn in by the niche program and the competitive edge that the Walker College of Business program has over other universities," she said. "Plus, the investment in students is unmatched and creates a space for great success."

Dr. Lori Medders is Goolsby's favorite professor. "Dr. Medders provided guidance in class and a space for life application," said Goolsby. "I am exceedingly grateful for our relationship and her mentorship."

After graduation, Goolsby plans to work as an account manager for Granite Insurance in Granite Falls, North Carolina. Goolsby looks forward to supporting individuals and guiding businesses through hardship, and "no matter what, developing relationships with people with intent and purpose.

Top overall student for 2019-20

The traditional Honors Day Convocation is also the forum to announce the top student overall for the academic year. 

Nick Bailey, who earned the best awards for both accounting and finance and banking, has also earned the top student overall honor for 2019-20.

Bailey is the 42nd Appalachian student to be named to the list of top students since 1984 online, business.appstate.edu/top-students.


Walker College of Business names 30 students to App State's Best List
Published: Apr 30, 2020 12:09pm