GTCC graduate reaches for the stars to achieve their long-term goals

Published on: August 1, 2023
Portrait of GTCC alum Elise Weaver.
After graduating from GTCC and continuing their education, Elise Weaver now works at Appalachian State University as head of their department.

Elise Weaver has been interested in the night sky for as long as they can remember. Having moved homes more than most by the time they were 18, Weaver always saw the night sky as a constant in their life, giving them a sense of peace and playing off their curious instincts.

"I wanted to get out of the uneducated situation I was in," Weaver said. "To be an astrophysicist was as far as I could get from that."

When Weaver began attending Guilford Technical Community College in 2002 to earn their GED, they learned of the physics and astronomy courses that the college offered. Once they completed their GED, they enrolled in the college's general science program.

Weaver took every astronomy course GTCC had to offer, leading to a close relationship with astronomy instructor Tom English.

"I wanted to be Tom when I grew up," Weaver said. "Tom is extremely humble, more than he should be. He's very passionate and it was wonderful to have that role model early in my education."

Weaver spent their years at GTCC as a volunteer in the Cline Observatory, an experience they say set them up for success in their future career. They were given free rein in the observatory, and it taught them that they loved to interact with public and share their passion with others.

"It taught me to be useful, and not condescending when talking to the public," Weaver said. "It's one of those places you can't walk out of without changing."

After graduating GTCC in 2005 with an associate degree in science, Weaver continued to pursue higher education degrees, eventually earning their bachelor's and master's degree.

After several years of internships and teaching opportunities, Weaver finally landed at Appalachian State University, where they now work as the director of undergraduate astronomy labs.

"I come from a very poor background, so it's weird to now be considered an expert in my field," Weaver said. "Something I always tell my students is that you're going to make mistakes. Learning is a physical process, and it takes time. I tell them to give themselves time to learn, because what they're doing is hard."

Back to All Articles