Meet the Online Ambassadors

Zoey Locklear '21

Aug. 2020

Hometown: Clinton, NC

Home High School: Clinton High School

What's your favorite part of NCSSM Online?
One of my favorite things about the Online Program is that I can engage in high-level and engaging courses that challenge me academically while being able to stay involved in my home community. It is important to me that I stay close to my tribal community and stay involved with programs at my home high school, and the NCSSM Online Program allows me to do all of that and more!

What's the biggest challenge you've encountered in the Online program?
One of the biggest challenges that I have faced in the Online Program is getting out of my comfort zone to get in touch with my peers and my instructor. The rigor and workload of the courses was something that I was not used to, so in the beginning I struggled with trying to handle and complete all my assignments without any help or input from others.

How have you met that challenge?
Before coming to NCSSM, I was a very reclusive student who did not like to and felt uncomfortable relying on another person for help, as I felt that I was asking too much from someone if I was inquiring about something that I felt I should already know. However, being in the Online Program and taking courses that are more challenging and engaging than anything I have previously experienced, I have learned that there is nothing shameful about asking questions and reaching out if you need help. I now actively seek out advice and ask my instructors about any questions that I may have, because if I or someone else has a question, then more than likely someone else has the exact same question too!

What's an "aha" moment you've experienced in one of your Online classes?
When I took Honors Ecocriticism, I was expecting to just read a lot of literature about nature and the environment then analyze them. However, I was so surprised when we were studying literature and articles that were much more obscure and complex than the basic or typical texts that would be considered about the environment and nature. In my Ecocriticism course, my eyes were really opened to the vast amount of influence that nature and the environment has over almost every type of art, literature, and media creation. I learned so much about critical and imaginative thinking in this course, and it has ultimately changed the way that I view cultural and societal matters involving our world and its natural elements.

What are two of your greatest interests or passions?
I am very passionate about Health Disparities and Inequities in minority communities, specifically in Native communities. In my home tribal community and in other tribal communities, there are a multitude of health related challenges that stem from the lack of adequate and equitable resources for proper health care and wellness. Due to geographical and environmental factors that have been put in place by unjust health systems, my people suffer at great lengths due to our location, our socioeconomic statuses, and our access to equitable and preventative health resources. I see and have personally experienced the way Indigenous People have been subjected to live health wise, so I want to change that. Through my education, I want to use my passion for food and health sovereignty to help my people gain access to proper food and health resources that enable us to reclaim our indigenous wellbeing.

I am also very interested in genetics and understanding how different body types and functions are affected by genetics. I think it is fascinating that certain traits, characteristics, diseases, conditions, etc., can be transmitted and received by offspring simply because of one’s genes! I am really looking forward to taking Classical Genetics this semester, as I feel it will help me to further understand and develop my interest in studying genetics.

If you had one year of freedom, what would you want to do?
If I had one year of freedom, I would travel as much as I could and experience as many new things that I could fit into a year!

What have you missed most during the pandemic?
I have really missed being able to participate in different activities and programs that were scheduled during the past couple of months. I was especially looking forward to participating as a P.A. in the Summer Leadership and Research Program on campus and engaging with the incoming juniors and the other senior P.A.s, all of whom I made great friendships with the previous summer during our initial program!

How are you coping during the pandemic?
With all of the free time I have had at home during the pandemic, I have been rekindling my love for reading and dedicating more time to my beadwork. I have always been an avid reader and wanted to read the Harry Potter series, but I just have not had the time to sit down and truly enjoy the books. However, I’ve been using all of this time at home to divulge in the books. As of right now, I am almost finished with the whole series and only have a few more chapters in Deathly Hallows left! Also, I have been using my time at home to connect deeper with my culture through beadwork. Through experimenting with different styles and patterns in my pieces, I have been able to cope during the pandemic and still be able to creatively express myself, which is something that is so important to keep doing during these stressful and unprecedented times.

What are you looking forward to in the coming school year?
Even though this is going to be quite an unusual school year, I am excited to take on the unknown and to help make it possible to still make all of the memories that I can with my classmates in these challenging times. One thing is for sure though, my senior year will be a memorable one!

What words of wisdom do you have for Online students?
My advice for Online students would be to get ahead and try to stay ahead in your courses. Whether that be making note of the upcoming week’s assignments and required readings, getting started on your work early and turning it in before its due, etc. Making sure that you have your assignments and requirements in order will benefit you in the long run, especially because you never know how your week will turn out so it is best to be proactive and prepared! I would also advise Online students to not get so caught up in their course(s) that they forget to have fun and enjoy their time. Learning is what you make it and how much you get out of your course is up to you, so try to enjoy your courses and truly take in what you're studying, that way you'll make the most of your time at NCSSM!!!