Alumni Spotlight: Natalie Burns ’09

February 12, 2016

What is your favorite memory from Lees-McRae College?
The main reasons I chose to go to Lees-McRae College were the unique, beautiful, elevated location in the mountains, the small college experience, the student-to-faculty ratio, and sports. When I visited North Carolina from Florida, I instantly fell in love with the mountains and the campus. I loved the small college experience, coming from a high school with approximately 5,500 students. I was able to make friends of a lifetime.

The professors have been there from the beginning and still are as I pursue higher education. I also enjoyed the hands-on learning experience. The biology department was amazing. I worked with wildlife from year one, traveled to the Florida Everglades with my field biology classes, and traveled abroad on a class trip to New Zealand. I wouldn’t have found Lees-McRae without volleyball recruitment, and I loved playing all four years. I am proud to be an alumna of Lees-McRae and enjoyed my undergraduate experience academically, athletically and socially.

Can you attribute any of your current success to your time at Lees-McRae College?
I believe your past helps create your present and your future. I would have to contribute many of my successes to my time spent at Lees-McRae College. Going to a private school out of state was my first step to independence and national/world exploration. I was able to embrace and experience cultural diversity. I found a passion for travel with my first abroad mission trip to Guatemala. Since then, I've traveled to Australia, Italy and various other European counties. Traveling is addictive and opened my eyes to the world.

In addition, I was introduced to adaptive sports through the Bonner Leader Program where I served my community service hours at Beech Mountain Resort. This led me across the nation teaching the adaptive sports programs. Through this program, I discovered who I was and molded into the person I am today. I had to explore the world to determine the best career for me. From pre-vet to physical therapy, the journey has been incredible thus far and I look forward to the years to come.

What advice would you give to current LMC students?
My advice to all college students is to find a major you’re passionate about and learn as much as possible from your college experience. Lees-McRae College has so many opportunities to travel with alternative break trips and study abroad, so take as many of the opportunities as you can to go on school trips to travel through education. Learn different cultures, go out of your comfort zone to explore and give back with service trips. College is an adventure with many open doors of opportunity. It is up to you to make the decision to try something new, challenge yourself and be open-minded to change. 

Why do you feel it is important to give back to LMC?
It is important to give back to Lees-McRae College because a college experience is priceless. The people you meet are more than professors; they are like family and some are friends forever. The Lees-McRae family is something that will be with you forever, and it is important to give back and share with your family that helped you reach your achievements. Lees-McRae College also taught me to learn something new everyday, stay goal oriented, and challenge myself to strive for excellence in everything I do. When you attend LMC, you are given an opportunity of a lifetime to be part of a community that cares and will continue to be a part of your life forever.

What are you currently doing?
I am currently living in Winchester, Virginia with my therapy dog, Buddy. I am a graduate student attending Shenandoah University in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program. During my winter breaks, I spend my time in Breckenridge, Colorado teaching people with disabilities adaptive snow sports with the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center. When I am not studying or on the slopes teaching skiing or snowboarding, I am usually found performing massage on people from across the world at The Spa at Beaver Run or traveling to clients with my mobile massage business - L.I.V.E. Massage Therapy.

Last summer, I worked as a landscaping nursery supervisor in Breckenridge and enjoyed getting my hands dirty, being creative making custom flower planters and selling plants. When I wasn’t working, I was riding my road bike to an outdoor activity and trying to play as much beach volleyball as possible with wonderful friends from across the country. I have a passion for helping people and traveling and hope to work with the Paralympic Team as a Physical Therapist/Massage Therapist/Adaptive Coach in the near future.

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