By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Driver Blythe, an EBCI tribal member, will make history as he delivers the commencement speech at an upcoming Western Carolina University graduation. He will be the first American Indian student to ever deliver a commencement speech at the university as he is set to speak at the commencement for WCU’s College of Business, College of Engineering and Technology, and College of Health and Human Services on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 10 a.m. at the Ramsey Center.
“To be honest, I’m still surprised,” said Blythe. “It’s a great honor to be selected as the commencement speaker for my graduating class. I was informed that I’m the first Indigenous student to be selected as the student commencement speaker for WCU and this is something that I hope pushes my fellow Indigenous brothers and sisters to shoot for new heights. I’m grateful for everything WCU has done for me, and I’m grateful for what my Tribe has done for me. This isn’t just a big moment for me, this is a big moment for the EBCI as well.”
Lowell Davis, WCU associate vice chancellor for student success, commented, “We are pleased to have Driver delivering the primary address for our graduating students and their guests at the Saturday afternoon ceremony here at WCU. Driver was selected from many submissions through a thorough review process by a university committee. We know he will represent his class with true Catamount spirit and deliver some poignant reflections for us all.”
Blythe, a criminal justice major, went on a service-learning trip earlier this year with 13 others students and two WCU faculty members to Christchurch, New Zealand where they worked in the Riccarton Community Garden and saw how programs such as that help reduce crime. During his time at WCU, he also held a leadership role in Digali’i, the university’s Native American Student Organization, and was part of a WCU contingent to attend the CARE National Conference in June 2017 where the students got to meet with various members of the U.S. House and Senate and learn more about citizen advocacy.
Sky Sampson, WCU Cherokee Center director, noted, “Driver has overcome many struggles to get where he is today and we are so proud of him for stepping out of his comfort zone to represent our Tribe and all indigenous college students at the WCU fall commencement. We are so excited to hear his words of wisdom and to share with the world his story of inspiration. Congratuations Driver!”