Author Archives: Martha McCaughey

About Martha McCaughey

Professor of Sociology, Faculty Coordinator of First Year Seminar

How to Eat Healthy, Filling, and CHEAP in College


Enjoy a home-cooked meal for only $5 –and learn how to prepare one yourself — by attending a CHEAP cooking class.  CHEAP (Clean Healthy Eating Away from Parents) is a cooking class taught by students at ASU for students at ASU.  This is a relaxed, fun, easy cooking class and no skills are required!  The class fee of $5 per person pays for your meal and all proceeds that are made go directly to F.A.R.M. Cafe, a restaurant that helps feed the hungry here in Boone. CHEAP’s first class is next Wednesday (9/16) at 6:00 pm at the F.A.R.M. Cafe (on 617 W. King St.) and the theme is breakfast for dinner!  Spots are limited so please email Katie Konter at to secure your spot for next week’s class “breakfast for dinner.”


The Importance of Reading


If you went to Convocation last week and heard Ishmael Beah speak, you’ll have gained an appreciation for the books at your disposal to read.  And if you haven’t yet read A Long Way Gone, I hope you will now.  Let Beah’s experiences and speech remind you what a privilege it is to attend college, pursue any topic that interests you, and spend time reading and discussing what you read with others.  Sadly, many Americans have not read a book in the past year and low levels of literacy are correlated with poverty.  One college student once told me, just after graduating, that he’d gone through his entire college career without ever reading an entire book–as if this were something to be proud of.  As Beah said, so many people around the world wish they had the chance to pursue an education, to read books, and expand their minds. Take advantage of this opportunity you have–don’t think of your books, reading, studying, attending class, and writing as “the enemy” but rather as some of the best friends, mentors, connections, and opportunities you’ll ever have.

The True Meaning of Convocation


App State freshmen are the guests of honor at Convocation, which takes place this year on Thursday, Sept. 3 at 10:00am in the Holmes Convocation Center.   (But freshmen should please get there by 9:30am especially if you are meeting your FYS class there, and go in through the ticket booth entrance of the building, so you can be ushered to your seats.)

So what is the true meaning of Convocation, Charlie Brown? It is not that nobody has to go to classes Thursday morning.  Nor is it that Wednesday night becomes a huge party night because you can sleep in the next morning.  Come see the special celebration that is Convocation–the music, the costumes, the pomp and circumstance–where we celebrate our academic commitment to you, the students.  You are joining us with great potential and we want to mark this occasion.  Come take pride in the journey you’ve just begun and consider at this event what your education is really all about.

Human rights activist Ishmael Beah and author of this year’s common reading selection, A Long Way Gone, is the featured speaker. 

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Appalachian’s Common Reading Program invites incoming freshmen to read a common book as part of their orientation to the university. By participating in the Common Reading Program, entering students participate in a common intellectual activity that helps them develop a sense of community and introduces them to a part of the academic life they are beginning at Appalachian.

Published in more than 40 languages, the memoir was nominated for a Quill Award in the Best Debut Author category for 2007. Time Magazine named the book as one of the Top 10 Nonfiction books of 2007, ranking it No. 3. The book chronicles Beah’s experiences beginning at age 12 when he fled from attacking rebels in his homeland of Sierra Leone, his capture by the government army at age 13, which forced him to become a child soldier, and his rescue by UNICEF when he was 16. A graduate of Oberlin College, Beah is a UNICEF Ambassador, an advocate for Children Affected by War, a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Advisory Committee and a former visiting scholar at the Center for International Conflict Resolution at Columbia University. He is president of The Ishmael Beah Foundation, which helps children affected by war reintegrate into society by creating and financing educational and vocational opportunities.

Are You Safe? Are You Helping Others Stay Safe?


Tuesday, Sept. 1, App State begins its annual SAFETY WEEK.  Programs focusing on suicide, interpersonal violence and high-risk drinking prevention will be offered on campus Sept. 1-3.  Your FYS instructor may very well have encouraged you to attend some of the events as part of FYS’s goal of having you think about responsibilities of community membership.

On Tuesday, High-Risk Drinking Prevention Training will be offered from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in Plemmons Student Union’s Watauga River Room.

Tuesday evening features a HUGE outdoor gathering on Sanford Mall as students, staff, faculty, and community members take part in the annual, App State-specific “Walk for Awareness.” Beginning at 8 p.m., the film “Why Walk? – A Survivor’s Story” will be shown in I.G. Greer Auditorium. The film is an introduction to the annual Walk for Awareness.  The walk begins at 9 p.m. on Sanford Mall. The silent walk across campus commemorates lives lost to violence and supports victims and survivors of violence.  Those walking go to Schaeffer Center, where there will be live music and a presentation by App State alumnus and expert on interpersonal violence, Kit Gruelle.

Other activities to check out are:

Wednesday, Sept. 2
  • 9:30 to 11 a.m., Interpersonal Violence Prevention Training, room 169 Three Top Mountain, Plemmons Student Union
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Safety Festival on Sanford Mall
  • 4 to 3:30 p.m., High-Risk Drinking Prevention Training, New River Room, Plemmons Student Union
Thursday, Sept. 3
  • 3 to 4:30 p.m., Interpersonal Violence Prevention Training, room 169 Three Top Mountain, Plemmons Student Union
  • 5:15 to 7:15 p.m., Suicide Prevention Training, room 415 Rough Ridge, Plemmons Student Union

Additional suicide prevention training will be held throughout the semester. Visit http://preventsuicide.appstate.edufor more information.

For dates and times of additional interpersonal violence prevention training, visit

Training related to high-risk alcohol and drug prevention will be offered throughout September by the Wellness and Prevention Office. Call 262-3148 for details.

Are You an Emerging Leader?

See yourself as a leader? Then consider this.  Deadline is Aug 31st!
The Center for Student Involvement and Leadership is recruiting for a 10 week leadership experience call Emerging Leaders.  Emerging Leaders is a great way for 1st year, 2nd year, and transfer students to get involved, connected and meet new people. Below is some more general information as well as the link to apply on AppSync (our deadline is coming up on the 31st).
What is Emerging Leaders? 
The Emerging Leaders Program is a ten week experience designed for first-year, second-year and transfer students interested in personal growth and leadership development. The program introduces you to leadership through experiential activities, adventures and a retreat.
We meet one time each week during the ten weeks, and offer 4 different time and day slots for you to choose from depending on your schedule.   This is not a course or a for-credit experience; it’s a great way to build friendships and connections while learning and practicing leadership skills!
Our Fall 2015 Emerging Leader dates are: 
Tuesdays, 4:00 – 6:00pm
Wednesdays, 2:00 – 4:00pm
Wednesdays, 4:00 – 6:00pm
Thursdays, 4:00 – 6:00pm
Important upcoming dates and application deadline: 
  • First meetings will begin the week of  September 1st
  • Retreat: Saturday September 26th – Sunday September 27th (note: If you plan on going through sorority recruitment this conflicts, but please keep us in mind for Spring semester!)
  • *Applications are due Monday, August 31, 11:59pm  Click here to apply!

Any questions can be forwarded to Jordan Funk ( or Kim Mitchell (828-262-6252mtchllkl@appstate

What You Really Need to Know About the Freshman 15


The Freshman 15 You Really Need to Know

See Jane Fight Back

As September approaches, young people gearing up for college are inundated with information about freshman year – what NOT to buy for your college dorm room, tips for getting along with your new roomie, how to/why you’ll love freshman year, how to drink at college parties, and of course, the Freshman 15.

Now, all the data tells us that the Freshman 15 is a myth – the average weight gain for students is around 3 lbs (the same as for non-students of the same age), but the problem of sexual assault is not a myth.  So we here at SJFB are shamelessly co-opting the phrase “Freshman 15” to give you the top 15 things you actually need to know as college students, first year and otherwise:

  1. You get to decide what you do with your own body. That’s right – whether it’s what you…

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Welcome HOME to Appalachian State


This is a blog for new, first-year students at Appalachian State. . . .

Welcome home. I know that may sound strange, since it’s your first week here at Appalachian. But we academics like to think of home as something more than a place you occupy permanently or hang up all your clothes.

Let the green surroundings of our beautiful campus with plenty of places to contemplate encourage you to focus on your studies, your immediate goals, and your big dreams.  Find a place here that is uniquely your own: a favorite spot under a favorite tree, or a favorite room in a favorite building.  You’ll find some spaces seem to speak to who you are or who you want to become. (Try that under the florescent lights of your local D.M.V.!)

Interestingly enough, this year’s Homecoming celebration has the theme of “Home Sweet Home Appalachian,” and you’ll notice that weekend in October that the many alumni–who were once in your shoes and who’ve gone on to amazing careers and lives–still call Appalachian “home.”  I think you will, too.

And of course, while it’s a football game that sets up the Homecoming event, in the end our alumni were–as you are–here for something way beyond exciting games of football.  Ten and 20 years from now, your football will have deflated and your beer will have evaporated.  But your books, and the spirit of discovery and creativity they represent, will have only grown.

Perhaps I should come out from behind the curtain and introduce myself. I’m Martha McCaughey, not particularly great or powerful, simply a professor here at Appalachian.  I also coordinate our First Year Seminar program.  You probably know of this blog through your FYS class, and I hope you’ll sign up for weekly posts that include tips for navigating the complex world of the university.  But, of course, this blog is not required.  And if you’ve moved on to sophomore or junior status you are, of course, free to un-subscribe.

Welcome home.


Famous and Fun Scholar Tonight (Thur, 4/14) on Campus- 7pm


Few first-year students could possibly be aware of “who’s who” among world famous scholars. Sure, you know of some who have been dead a while, like the poet your parents almost named you after and that sort of thing.  So just take my word for this one.  Prof. Michael Kimmel is one of the most well known, well read, oft-cited scholars about American men and masculinity alive today.  But what’s more, and perhaps more relevant for your purposes, he’s a great, fun, and funny speaker.  Still more relevant perhaps, for your purposes, is that he’s speaking ON OUR CAMPUS TONIGHT AT 7:00pm (Schaeffer Center- you know, the big auditorium on Rivers Street) and the talk is FREE.   I mean, who should study the CRISIS AMONG MEN anyway? Who should go hear a talk about GUYS ON CAMPUSES TODAY? Hm, I’d say: (1) guys and (2) anyone who hangs out with guys.  Why attend? Kimmel will make the case that being a guy in today’s American culture is hard work and lacks the rewards young men feel they were promised.  It pays in more ways than one to question what being a guy means.

NOT the Way to Blow Your Mind: Student Drug Overdoses


Twelve Wesleyan University students and friends were taken by ambulance to the hospital in critical condition this week because, according to this New York Times article, they took an illegal drug known as Molly, a club drug also known, in various forms, as MDMA or Ecstasy.

Now, research has shown that younger people take more risks and worry less about consequences than older people.  No doubt these Wesleyan students and the friends at their parties last Saturday night thought they’d have a harmless night of fun with a feel-good mind-altering substance.  But what happened to these young people serves as a serious cautionary tale.

You’re at Appalachian to get smarter and grow as a person socially, emotionally, intellectually, artistically, etc., etc., etc.  And yes, I realize you can find a way to rationalize experimentation with drugs in that scheme.  And no, I have not forgotten that many of you are also here for the access to sexually active single people and perhaps also a good parking spot. But please keep your higher purpose in view while you are living and working here on the Appalachian campus.

We need you in our classes, in our community, and in the world.  And you should be functioning as your best self.  Please take yourself as seriously as we take you.  And remember, you are one of a small number of people in the world who has the privilege of higher education and the life it can open up for you.  We want the experience at Appalachian to blow your mind, and believe the new ideas and connections you make will give you a seriously addicting high.  Don’t blow that for one night of partying. The two highs, and the two lives you could have, really don’t compare.