As a UNC Greensboro undergraduate, Claire King ‘15 recalled a piece of wisdom from her parents: “Your gifts will make room for you at the table.” And they were right: The Department of Community and Therapeutic Recreation alumna used her gifts as UNCG’s assistant director of undergraduate admissions before moving on to NC State, where she will graduate in May 2020 with a master’s in counselor education. “I have aspirations to become an academic advisor to help acclimate students as they enter the world of higher learning,” she said.
King grew up in Clayton, North Carolina, the daughter of African immigrants, who taught her work ethic and confidence.
My mom is the hardest-working human being I’ve ever seen. She always sees the positive in every situation. Things may not be going her way, and she’ll still smile and persevere. My dad always reminds me that hard work is the only way to get to success.
— Claire King
When she got to UNCG, King used that work ethic to hit-the-ground running not only in the CTR program, but outside of the classroom. She served as a Spartan Orientation staff member her sophomore and junior years and advertising chair on the executive board of the African Student Union. She also worked as an admissions tour guide, a Peer Academic Leader, and was a member of the Dean of Students Conduct Team.
“I am and will forever be a UNCG supporter because it gave me more than an education. My time as a student helped mold me into a critical thinker – the authentic person I am today.”
King said she has fond memories of her time in CTR, where she concentrated her studies in therapeutic recreation.
“I met phenomenal professors who imparted lessons about how to treat the people we interact with in the world around us,” King said. “The faculty and staff became extended family members, which is nothing short of the UNCG way!”
She learned the importance of “people-first” language from Dr. Stuart Schleien, CTR professor and department chair. Dr. Leandra Bedini, CTR professor, taught by example with her passion for ensuring that everyone receives the respect they deserve in the world.
When King’s grandmother suddenly passed away during her junior year, she recalled Kimberly Miller ‘01 MS, CTR AP associate professor, asking her to share stories about her grandmother.
In retrospect, she was helping me not isolate myself during a difficult time, having me voice my thoughts of my loved one, and I have always remembered that compassion can move mountains in one’s life.
— Claire King
As a senior terrified of the unknown, Dr. Bedini connected King with alumna Laura Kelly ‘10 MS, for an internship. King moved to Georgia and landed a position as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist with Kelly, working with older adults for a year and a half.
King loved collaborating with Kelly and working within her major post-graduation, but she also missed her friends and family back home in Clayton. When she saw a position posted in undergraduate admissions on a friend’s Facebook page, she knew it was the right time.
“I simply had passion for the University that gave me the opportunity to find who I wanted to become as an adult – someone who would think critically, be challenged to grow, and so much more.”
As assistant director of admissions, King was the Raleigh Regional Representative. She visited high school and college fairs and sat down for coffee with prospective students and their parents – a job that motivated her on a daily basis.
“I worked tirelessly to ensure that those I served had all they needed to make the best informed decision for themselves,” King said. “At the end of the day, ensuring that I did my best made me motivated to do it all over again.”
She enjoyed helping students navigate their concerns about entering college and encouraging them to try new things and be present during the college experience. But she soon realized that once the student was admitted, their conversations came to an end.
She wanted to continue supporting students through that first year and beyond, and a graduate degree in counseling would help her do just that.
As an academic advisor, King hopes to serve as a one-stop shop for students. She is now armed with an understanding of counseling and student development and embodies skills and techniques for assisting and advocating for students.
I thrive on a college campus. It’s beautiful to see how my experiences from therapeutic recreation and undergraduate admissions have culminated to this moment now. I am grateful for the many people who took the time to share words of wisdom. All you need is one person on your team who can cheer you on during the ups and downs of life.
— Claire King
Story by Elizabeth L. Harrison, School of Health and Human Sciences
Photography courtesy of University Communications