Carly Hester ’23

Carly Hester ’23

Sept. 2022

Hometown: Sylva, NC

Home High School: Smoky Mountain High School

What's your favorite part of your job as an Online Ambassador?
My favorite part of my job as an Online Ambassador would have to be talking to prospective students/families and connecting them with opportunities to further explore their passions. Seeing people get excited about STEM is a really special feeling that I enjoy so much!

What's your favorite part of NCSSM Online?
My favorite part of NCSSM Online would have to be the incredible people involved with the program. I have met other students that have become my best friends and have adored each of my NCSSM teachers and mentors thus far. Everyone is incredibly supportive and I don't feel "out of place" like I sometimes do at my home high school.

What's the biggest challenge you've encountered in the Online program?
The biggest challenge I've encountered in the Online Program would be keeping on top of assignments if they didn't have strict deadlines. You have to have a decent amount of mental discipline to sit down and work on your class each day, and I definitely struggled with this during the first semester.

How have you met that challenge?
I met this challenge by communicating with my instructor and letting them know what was happening. The NCSSM instructors are excellent at supporting their students, so after I reached out, we made a plan to get caught back up and I bought a planner to start writing EVERYTHING down.

What's an “aha” moment you've experienced in one of your Online classes?
The first class I took at NCSSM was Public Health. We had a really cool project where we did a full (or as full as we could get with the data available) public health survey of the county we lived in. I found myself looking for statistics and data that were directly related to where I lived and I absolutely loved seeing the real-world application of the assignment. I noticed that my county was ranked extremely low in the healthcare sector, and it got me thinking about ways we could improve that ranking.

What are two of your greatest interests or passions?
My newest and most current interest would be studying mushrooms! I had the opportunity to do a research project at Duke through NCSSM Summer Mentorship where I was studying the genetic interactions of mushrooms and symbiotic tree hosts. Since coming home from that summer experience, I have been excited to identify and catalog all the mushroom species around my home and school. Other than mushrooms and biology in general, another interest I have would be crocheting. I learned from YouTube when I was little, and have been stitching away ever since!

If you had one year of freedom, what would you want to do?
If I had a year of freedom, I would most definitely catch up on all the books and shows I have been wanting to read/watch. I would probably go somewhere tropical so I could sit at the ocean all day, read books, and get tan, hahaha!

What are you looking forward to in the coming school year?
I am looking forward to going to schools to talk about NCSSM Online and getting to participate in all the Senior activities. It is going to be crazy to think about finishing cheer season, school musicals, classes, and Student Council this year!

What words of advice or wisdom do you have for Online students?
Do NOT underestimate yourself. Imposter syndrome gets the best of us and it is easy to look at your peers at NCSSM and compare yourself to them. Remember that most of us feel this way and you are not alone. You deserve every good thing that happens to you:)

Why should prospective students and their families consider NCSSM Online?
Students and their families should consider NCSSM Online because of the incredible opportunities the program can provide. The courses that NCSSM Online can offer are specialized, allow students to explore their interests before they get to college, and are most likely different from course offerings at a typical high school. Not only are the courses amazing, but there are also opportunities to start clubs, become an ambassador, make connections with colleges, conduct independent research at a university, and so much more. The possibilities are limitless and NCSSM gives its students the resources they need to turn their interests/dreams into a reality.