Bobcat Stories

Meet Kayla Long

Graduation Year
May 2017

Yadkinville, North Carolina

Academic Program
Pre-licensure Nursing

After Graduation
Clinical Nurse at the Duke Raleigh Hospital

Lees-McRae Activities
Lees-McRae Student Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society, Peer Mentor

After earning her Psychology degree, Kayla decided to pursue a career in nursing.

Kayla was looking for a college with one-on-one interactions with her professors. At Lees-McRae, Kayla overcame challenges as she worked the third shift as a nursing assistant at Cannon Memorial Hospital while completing classes, labs and clinical hours. Through it all, she had support from faculty and staff.

“Lees-McRae has prepared me for after graduation by promoting holistic, patientcentered care. The advanced technology has allowed me to gain confidence in various nursing skills.”

After graduation, Kayla will work at Duke Raleigh Hospital in the Progressive Care Unit as part of their new graduate nurse residency program.

“I aspire to make a positive difference in the lives of others, especially to those who are less fortunate.”

What’s her advice? “Find a school that has faculty, staff and administrators who are as invested in your future as you are.”

Meet Callie Gregg

Graduation Year
May 2017

Roanoke, Virginia

Academic Program
Elementary Education

Dream Job
Elementary School Teacher

Lees-McRae Activities
Pi Lambda Theta, Chi Alpha Sigma, President of Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Vice President of Order of the Tower, Captain of Women's Lacrosse Team

Callie’s journey didn’t begin at Lees-McRae.

At first, Callie attended a university in Virginia. After a semester, however; she discovered that a larger school was not for her.

She decided to pursue lacrosse at Lees-McRae—something she couldn’t do before. Banner Elk was unfamiliar, but she knew she would enjoy the location and size. She fell in love with the small school atmosphere, the surrounding mountains and the lacrosse team. She felt at home. So she transferred.

She graduated in May 2017 with her degree in Elementary Education.

“Lees-McRae prepared me for the real world,” she said. “It was a great transition where I could be independent and enjoy college, but also have someone there to support me because of the close-knit community.”

Callie’s advice? “If you think you want one type of school, try visiting something completely different.”

Meet Quinn Reeves

Graduation Year
Spring 2020

Northlake, Texas

Academic Program
Plans to major in Health and Wellness Science with a concentration in Human Performance, while minoring in Outdoor Recreation Management

Dream Job
Cycling coach and/or working in the outdoor and endurance sport industry

Lees-McRae Activities
Honors Program, Cycling Team, Rock Climbing Club

Quinn longed to race in collegiate mountain biking. He soon learned about the Lees-McRae cycling team and knew he had to visit. He made the journey from Texas to visit, and quickly realized his love for the unique location and the school’s diverse and strong sense of community. 

Banner Elk was the place for Quinn. 

In addition to joining the cycling team, Quinn was granted the 2016 Shelton Scholar award–a full-ride scholarship given only every four years.

What’s Quinn’s advice? “If you want a small school in a small town with a lot of great outdoor activities, this is the right place. Come visit and see what is out here.”

Quinn hopes to work in the outdoor or endurance sports industry. “As long as I’m in the mountains, I’ll be happy,” he said.

Meet Johnaliz Cotte

Graduation Year
Spring 2018

Bayamon, Puerto Rico

Academic Program
Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing

Dream Job
Own a Puerto Rican restaurant in the United States

Lees-McRae Activities
Women's Volleyball

Johnaliz’s dream of studying in the United States was coming true, and her volleyball talent was going to get her there.

Johnaliz was recruited to play volleyball for Lees-McRae, so she decided to transfer from her previous school: University of Puerto Rico, Rio Peidras. She knew that moving to the U.S. had its challenges, but this would be the opportunity of a lifetime she could not pass down.

Arriving in the U.S. a week before classes, she began her training for the upcoming volleyball season. Every day, Johnaliz had to face her language barrier. But soon, with the help of the Lees-McRae community and her family at home, her confidence grew, and her English followed.

Her advice? “Push yourself, never be scared and never give up.”

Meet Alexandra Wright

Graduation Year
Fall 2018

Charlotte, NC

Academic Program
Criminal Justice and Religious Studies

Dream Job
Supreme Court Justice

Lees-McRae Activities
InterVarsity, ProCo, Outdoors Club, Resident Assistant

She didn’t know it at the time, but for Alexandra, the words, “Find your passion, diversify it,” would forever influence her story.

Currently a sophomore Criminal Justice major and a Religious Studies minor at Lees-McRae (an interesting combination, right?), Alexandra plans to graduate fall 2018. But that’s only one of Alexandra’s goals, she hasn’t even gotten started yet.

Alexandra’s ultimate goal is to one day be a Supreme Court Justice.

A resident of Charlotte her entire life, Alexandra liked the idea of living somewhere different—somewhere outside of the big city—when she began considering her higher education.

When she learned about Lees-McRae, she wasted no time scheduling a visit and fell even faster in love. “It felt natural and just made sense,” she said.

Always having been a huge part of her life, all signs were leading her to study Criminal Justice and Religious Studies.

“Any law that was created was influenced by religion, you can’t have one without the influence of the other,” she said.

Her parents taught her how to defy every stereotype that would go against a young, African-American female. And with all the events happening around her, she discovered that the best way to fight is to join the law.

“I want to make as much influence in the world as possible,” she said.

With regard to the Black Lives Matter movement, she said, “Racism is everywhere, but it has been buried. These activities have created a platform for people to open up about it.”

Before becoming a Supreme Court Justice, Alexandra is planning to apply to the Winston-Salem Police Academy this spring. After her training, she hopes to work with child assault and violence cases.

If anyone can do it, Alexandra can.

Meet Bayleigh Machaffie

Graduation Year
Fall 2016

Dalton, Massachusetts

Academic Program
Double Major in Wildlife Biology and Psychology, Concentration in Wildlife Rehabilitation

Dream Job
Wildlife Conservationist with breeding program for endangered species

Lees-McRae Activities
Order of the Tower, Honors Program, Varsity Softball, Senior Supervising Mentor at the Wildlife Center, Research Assistant for Wildlife Biology and Rock Climbing Club

Sitting in her home in Dalton, Massachusetts, Bayleigh pulled up Google and searched: “Wildlife Rehabilitation Colleges.” Seconds later, she was on the Lees-McRae website.

Bayleigh always knew she wanted to work with animals. She was looking for a program that was hands-on and specialized, so when she found the Wildlife Biology and Rehabilitation Program at Lees-McRae it felt perfect.

It was intimidating looking at a college in North Carolina, having never traveled farther south than Maryland, but after attending Scholar’s Day, Bayleigh felt more at ease. She even noticed similarities between Banner Elk and Dalton.

She instantly fell in love.

Living 15 hours away was not easy. However, Bayleigh made it her priority to become involved and make Lees-McRae her home, and that she did.

Bayleigh’s advice for students? “Follow your instincts when deciding where to go even if it might be scary,” she said. “Especially if you are looking at a school where you don’t know anyone, that’s far away or that’s just different.”

After Bayleigh graduates in December, she will be traveling to New Zealand for four weeks with the Wildlife Biology Program in order to volunteer at rehabilitation centers across the north and south islands.

Ready to start your journey at Lees-McRae?