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Local University Guides Asheville Residents from the Classroom to a Career

Western Carolina University at Biltmore Park prepares students for the regional workforce.

By Jessica Walker Boehm on September 20, 2021

Western Carolina University Campus

When it comes to higher education, it’s tough to beat the offerings at Western Carolina University (WCU) at Biltmore Park.

Not only do students enjoy small class sizes and receive one-on-one support from professors, but they have access to a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs created with regional employers in mind. This helps ensure graduates walk away with in-demand skills and are ready to take on a job in the area and beyond.

“We have a beautiful facility in the Biltmore Park Town Square that’s located about halfway between downtown Asheville and downtown Hendersonville, right off of Interstate 26, making us a convenient choice for most Western Carolina students,” says Dr. Kevan Frazier, executive director of WCU programs in Asheville. “There’s so much that sets us apart, but we’re especially proud to have an incredible faculty that prioritizes applied education, and we regularly examine regional workforce and employment trends so we can continue catering our programs to meet our students’ needs as well as the needs of industries in our area.”

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Prepped for Success

WCU at Biltmore Park was established in 2012 as an instructional site, and today, it enrolls approximately 800 students annually.

Serving the Asheville metro area and all of western North Carolina, WCU at Biltmore Park offers four doctoral programs, 11 master’s programs and two undergraduate programs, along with more than 50 professional development and continuing education seminars and workshops, which take place throughout the year – all are designed to serve working professionals.

800 students are enrolled at WCU at Biltmore Park annually.

“The average student age at WCU at Biltmore Park is between 30 and 31, and that means most of our students have already entered the workforce,” Frazier says. “Typically, they’re making a career change or working to advance in their current career. To help accommodate their needs, many of our programs offer both online and in-person instruction via a hybrid education model, and daytime and nighttime classes are available.”

Frazier also emphasizes the importance of hands-on education at WCU at Biltmore Park, pointing to the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree that includes consulting work with businesses in the area as well as the Ed.D. Program in Educational Leadership that often requires students to complete dissertations based on their fieldwork experiences.

“Our goal is to give students practical work opportunities as often as we can,” Frazier says. “Many of our programs require students to complete internships and clinical, and that’s intentional. We consider it critical for students to go out in the community and the region and get real-life experience in their field while building their professional network.”

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On-the-Job Learning

For Nurse Anesthesia Program student Noel Morgan, WCU at Biltmore Park’s focus on hands-on education played a major factor in her choosing to enroll.

During her time in the 36-month program, Morgan completed several clinical rotations at facilities in Asheville and beyond, including recent rotations at Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and St. Luke’s Hospital in Columbus, North Carolina. She also plans to complete a two-month rotation at Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, before she graduates.

“WCU at Biltmore Park has gone above and beyond to organize clinical opportunities for my classmates and me,” says Morgan, an Asheville native who also earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from WCU at Biltmore Park. “Because of this, I think we’ll be extremely prepared to enter the workforce once we graduate.”

She notes how valuable the close-knit nature of her program is, too, and how she has appreciated the opportunities to receive individualized attention.

“Each of my classes include a cohort of 16 students, which is almost unheard of,” Morgan says. “I’ve gotten to know my professors well, and I feel comfortable with them. It’s nice to know that I can go to any of them if I need help, and they’ll be there for me because they’re truly invested in their students’ academic progress and the careers we’re building. The importance of that support cannot be overstated, and it makes me even more thankful that I chose WCU at Biltmore Park.”

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