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Western Carolina University will hold three commencement ceremonies over a two-day period – Friday and Saturday, May 8-9 – to recognize the academic achievements of what is expected to be the university’s fourth-straight record spring graduating class.

Commencement for WCU’s Graduate School will be held at 7 p.m. May 8. Commencement for the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education and Allied Professions, and Fine and Performing Arts will begin at 10 a.m. May 9, and that event will be followed the same day by a 2 p.m. ceremony for the College of Business, College of Health and Human Sciences, and Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology. All the ceremonies will take place at Ramsey Regional Activity Center.

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Foreign exchange program offers students chance to travel the globe

Before arriving in Franklin, foreign exchange students Kristina, a senior, and Toniee and Pam, both juniors, travelled through New York City to begin their journey studying abroad this semester.

The three girls, who each hail from a different European country, signed up for a semester abroad to travel the world and to build a foundation for their futures.

"It has always been a dream of mine to travel and to see as much of the world as possible," said Toniee a teenager from Germany. "I wanted to open as many doors as possible for jobs. I don't really know what I want to be or what I want to do when I get older, so this experience has better prepared me to figure that out. Having to practice my English and improve it will also make me a better candidate for more jobs."

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A new scholarship fund at Western Carolina University being established by the dean of the Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology and his wife is designed to provide financial support to students majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

Created through gift commitments totaling $10,000, the Hopkins and Ray FIRST Robotics Endowed Scholarship Fund will specifically benefit WCU students who have participated in FIRST Robotics competitions.

FIRST, an acronym meaning “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” is a not-for-profit public charity that designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math, while also building self-confidence, knowledge and life skills.

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Funding cuts weighing down budget process; School Board develops a ‘just in case’ budget

Since the recession, the budget planning process has been a daunting task for school officials in Macon County. With fewer and fewer dollars to work with each year, while student enrollment numbers continue to grow, the school board has pinched just about every last penny that they possibly can. Facing a $621,342 budget shortfall and having to ask the county for yet another increase, the school district can identify four significant budget items that are contributing to the issue this fiscal year. This year's request totals $7.9 million.

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