SYLVA – A few years have passed, but Jeremy Hyatt, an EBCI tribal member, vividly and fondly recalls the faculty and staff members who helped him start his higher education at Southwestern Community College shortly after he graduated from Swain High School.
Those experiences are a major reason he now wants to give back to SCC as a member of its board of trustees. Appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory to represent the Qualla Boundary, Hyatt was sworn in as a trustee on Wednesday, Oct. 8, at Southwestern’s Jackson Campus.
“I don’t believe everybody is ready for a larger university when they first graduate from high school,” Hyatt said. “This institution helps prepare you for that. Southwestern allows a young person to get started in college, and it allows you to figure out where you want to go in life. SCC certainly did that for me.
“It allowed a small-town boy like me to adjust to college life with the smaller classes,” Hyatt added. “And the faculty and staff, I could go on and on forever about them and the fine job they did in preparing me.”
After his time at Southwestern, Hyatt went on to complete his bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Western Carolina University in 2000.
He’s now the director of natural resources and construction for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. When Principal Chief Michell Hicks mentioned the opening on SCC’s board of trustees, Hyatt did not hesitate to accept Hicks’ offer to recommend him to the governor.
“I want to give back to this institution that has given me so much and done so much for me,” Hyatt said. “When Chief Hicks told me about this opportunity, I jumped at it. I am absolutely up for this challenge.”
Hyatt’s appointment is for a four-year term that will run through June 30, 2018.
“We’re are very proud to have Jeremy joining our board of trustees,” said Dr. Don Tomas, president of SCC. “He brings tremendous leadership skills, and his perspective as a former student is invaluable to us as we make decisions that will shape Southwestern’s future. We all look forward to working with him in the weeks and years ahead.”