Family first, then and now
by Susan King
Traci Royster's path to Appalachian State University and director of Parent and Family Services began in the summer of 1995.
Just before her high school
senior year, she worked for a short time at the textile mill, where her parents
were employed. For eight hours a day, in a room by herself, she loaded a
machine with yarn.
Knowing of her interest in
people, Royster's father introduced her to the factory's human resources
director, who subsequently invited her to shadow him in the mill as he
interacted with employees.
Royster's natural curiosity
about what makes people tick was ignited by this experience, as was her
interest in business.
One year later, after her
parents had insisted that she apply to a number of colleges or universities,
the diligent 18 year old received letters of acceptance from four of them: Elon
University, East Carolina University, North Carolina State University and
Appalachian State University.
She chose Appalachian twice.
Royster earned a bachelor of science degree in industrial and organizational
psychology in 2000 and a master's degree in human development and psychological
counseling in 2003, effectively combining her early interests to prepare her
for a career in what might be called "the business of people."
Her professional trajectory
has been formed, in large part, by the bedrock principles that shaped her life.
Luck is not in play here -- Royster's achievements are meritorious -- but
inspiration has always been a key factor in her accomplishments. She learned
her work ethic from her parents, both of whom held two jobs so that she would
have the chance to go to college.
Other noteworthy influences
were elementary and middle school principals who encouraged her to follow her
dreams and to remember that, "They all start with education."
When severe homesickness hit
during her freshman year, Royster credits Cindy Wallace, now vice chancellor
for student development, with a timely intervention that convinced her that she
could stay in school and succeed.
At Appalachian State
In the last decade, Royster
has succeeded in three areas of college student development: from 2002-06 as
director of Student Support Services in Appalachian's Learning Assistance
Program; from 2006-09 as internship and student employment coordinator in the
university's Career Development Center; and since 2009, as the first director
of Parent and Family Services. Here, Royster coordinates the summer orientation
sessions that deliver an in-depth introduction to the community at Appalachian
for incoming students and their parents. After that, she becomes an integral
part of these students' lives while they are at Appalachian and sometimes,
A member of the board of
directors of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of Boone, Watauga
Education Foundation and Yosef Club and past president of the Appalachian
Alumni Council, Royster is well-positioned to share her knowledge of the
greater community with students and parents. Her extracurricular on-campus
roles are many as well: adviser to Kappa Alpha Psi and Alpha Phi Alpha
Fraternities Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and recipient of the
William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations.
Royster deftly embraces both
the High Country and university communities and is an essential presence in
each, a servant leader whose professionalism is underscored by perennial
gentleness, humility and easy laughter.
What has kept Royster "on
the mountain" for 16 years?
Her answer is simple: "My
passion for students, parents and for Appalachian."
Learn more about the Office of Parent and Family Services at http://parents.appstate.edu/.