Alumni Spotlight: Paige Roberson

Western Carolina University alumni Paige Roberson is set to become Sylva’s new town manager on July 1.

Roberson graduated from Western Carolina in May 2011 and has quickly climbed the ladder in the Town of Sylva Administration department. In August 2011, she began in a part-time position as the Main Street Economic Director and moved forward as assistant to the town manager in April.

Roberson, excited about the anticipated promotion to town manager, said her new duties include budget and employment related activities as well as any nonspecific issues. Also, the job of town manager means Roberson will work closer with the public rather than businesses like in her position of Main Street Economic Director.

She already planned a list of goals she wants to accomplish, including helping Sylva build its new police station and updating Sylva’s ordinances. Her long-term goal is looking at new opportunities for the town.

“Growth is going to happen,” said Roberson. “I think Sylva needs to grow in the right way as far as roads, infrastructure, sidewalks… As far as businesses, I love the small town aspect of our businesses, but I also know that things don’t stay small forever.

“Sylva should always stay a mountain town,” Roberson continued, “but we need to manage change in the correct way. Alcohol will hopefully encourage students to take more advantage. I’d like to see more students coming to shop and coming to eat. I think the partnership between Western and Sylva will increase.”

Roberson studied at Western Carolina in the Public Affairs master’s program after graduating with an economics degree from NC State. Roberson planned to head to law school in Alabama, and two weeks before her anticipated departure, she changed her mind and enrolled at WCU.

“I had always wanted a master’s degree,” Roberson said, adding that the program fit her better because “… it balanced budgeting and policy, government and government impacts,” which had always interested Roberson.

“All of the instructors are Western were in engaging. There was a lot more studying,” she said about graduate school. “I enjoyed the area and the recreation opportunities, but they were limited because of the amount of work.”

Roberson, who was raised in Sylva, graduated and was offered the job of Main Street Economic Director.

“I looked at a lot of places. I just found a job here first, and I enjoyed it,” Roberson said.

Excited to continue to work in her hometown, Roberson is looking forward to starting at the position of town manager later this summer. She had three pieces of advice for the latest batch of Catamount graduates.

“Not to get discouraged if you don’t get a job right off the bat … Make connections and keep them … Look for opportunities that are related to your long-term career goals and stick to those. You can really build your resume with opportunities that are related to what you want to do,” she said.