Supporting one another through difficult challenges

Published September 13, 2014

Dear Fellow Mountaineers,

I am heartbroken about the news of Anna’s untimely death. The thoughts and prayers of our entire Appalachian Community are with Anna’s parents, family and friends as we all mourn this tragic loss.

Please know that even in the darkest times, we can find hope. Let’s work to share this hope with one another and remind one another that none of us is alone, as long as we are members of the Appalachian community.

A community needs to rely on its members for support. But a caring community also needs resources.  It is important you know that you have a number of resources available, and I encourage all of you to use them, and know you can refer a friend to them.

  • Staff in our Counseling Center are on call now, and as always, are available on an on-call basis when the center is not open for walk-in hours. Call 828-262-2150 to reach a counselor after hours.
  • The Counseling Center will have walk-in hours tomorrow (Sunday) from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Residence Hall staff are trained to assist students, but if you just need someone to talk to, they will listen and support you.
  • Your faculty, as well as the staff you interact with every day, are also great resources for you to talk to and share concerns.
  • In response to concerns from parents, our University Police will be increasing patrols on foot, bicycle and vehicle. If you notice anything that concerns you, you can use one of the blue light phones located throughout campus, you can call them at 828-262-2150.
  • Safe Ride, a free shuttle service, provides rides to and from campus locations from 6:30pm – 2:15am. Call 828-262-RIDE(7433). Anyone who might need a ride after Safe Ride hours can call University Police at 828-262-2150.
  • All of these, as well as a number of other resources, can be found on the website and the AppCares mobile phone app, which is available free for iPhone and Android mobile phones.

Please remember what you are feeling right now is OK, no matter what it is. There are many people here to help support you and help you manage what you might be feeling now, or in the future.

Those of us who were touched by Anna’s presence on our campus and in our community are bearing a heavy burden. Whether you knew Anna or not, our entire campus has been profoundly touched by her disappearance and her loss. Already, the Chancellor and I have heard from many students asking about ways to reach out and support Anna’s family, as well as ways to honor her memory. We are listening, and have begun planning with student leaders to address these requests.

As we move forward into the days ahead, there will be times that are not easy, but we will face these times together. Please continue to reach out to and support one another, and talk about your concerns. As Mountaineers, we must continue to help one other. I am always proud to be a Mountaineer, and will be here for you, as I know we are all here for one another.

J.J. Brown,
Dean of Students

With a heavy heart

Published September 13, 2014

Dear Members of the Appalachian Community, 

I am deeply saddened to share with you that the search for our missing student Anna Marie Smith has ended tragically. According to the most recent Boone Police Department news release, initial evidence located at the scene indicates that the deceased found off campus earlier today, Sept. 13, is Anna. Our thoughts and deepest sympathy are with Anna’s family and loved ones during this very difficult time. Having one of our own missing struck the Appalachian community very hard, and this very sad news is heartbreaking for us all. 

The loss of Anna will continue to weigh heavy on our hearts. I ask that we all join together to support and care for one another as we mourn. 

Over the time Anna was missing, countless people were dedicated to finding her. I express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to law enforcement, her loved ones and friends, our students, faculty and staff, and the many others who devoted countless hours to the search and to ensuring that the message about Anna was seen by so many. We had hoped so much that this search would end differently, yet all of these efforts underscore our belief in just how integral each of us is to this community. 

Later this evening, Dean of Students J.J. Brown will send a message to our students, assuring them that resources are available to help students cope with this news. Next week, Student Development will place a memorial book in Plemmons Student Union for Anna’s family. This book will be given to them as an expression of our concern and care. As we receive information regarding services for Anna, a notice will be sent to the campus community with those arrangements. Please keep Anna’s entire family in your thoughts during this difficult time. 

It is important for each of us to remember that we are not alone. There are always people in this Appalachian community to whom we can turn for solace, caring counsel, and assistance. I find strength in the great power of our community to support those with broken hearts and burdened spirits who have been powerfully affected by the loss of this bright young light. 

With a heavy heart, 

Sheri N. Everts,