Today, the Student Voice is collecting memories from the recent graduates of the Class of 2018! We’re talking pancake-making robots, Gossip Girl, and iced coffee with MTSU alumni Anna, Justin, Brad, Stephanie, Jason, April, and Jordan. This class has high hopes for their futures as Blue Raider alumni, so read below to get to know MTSU’s Class of 2018!
First off, what’s your college major?
Brad: Mechatronics Engineering with a minor in mathematics.
Stephanie: Psychology, with minors in non-profit management and social welfare.
April: Political Science, with a concentration in public administration.
Anna: Interior Design.
Jason: Journalism with a concentration in public relations.
Jordan: Criminal Justice, with a minor in political science.
What are your post-graduation plans?
Brad: I accepted an offer from Arizona State University to complete a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. There, I will complete research at the largest indoor drone lab in the country, developing control algorithms for autonomous vehicles and prosthetic devices.
Jordan: I’ll be attending Nashville School of Law in August.
Stephanie: I’ve accepted a Lead Preschool Teacher position at La Petite Academy. I’ll be attending graduate school in a year and eventually obtaining my Ph.D.! My long-term plans are to be a university professor and run my nonprofit, Through the Mind Into the Heart.
Justin: I’m currently working on my Master of Science in Chemistry at MTSU, and I plan to pursue a medical doctorate.
Jason: I plan on pursuing a career in student affairs. I’ve interviewed for several positions, and I’m very excited about them!
What’s one of the biggest obstacles you overcame to obtain your degree?
April: The adjustment. Coming from Linden and a high school of 350 students, MTSU was a big change. I took a class my second semester that was the size of my entire high school!
Anna: Balancing professional work with my college career was a challenge. The time that I had to devote to professional networking, finding internships, and working in my field was difficult to find during semesters full of rigorous courses. There were times that I believe my schoolwork suffered for the sake of growing professionally.
Stephanie: I dropped out of high school halfway through my senior year due to bullying (not just what I was facing, but also because of how bad it was throughout my school). I had developed Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which became my biggest hurdle to overcome while trying to achieve my academic goals in college.
Brad: Balancing my classes with my homework, projects, internship, research, and building vehicles for the EVP club. I easily spent over 70 hours on campus in any given week. I would bike to the lab around 8:00 am and not leave campus until typically around 10:00 pm almost every day the week. You could say I got to know campus pretty well, and it was well worth it in the end.
Justin: I was truly my own problem; I had gone through grade school as “that kid” that didn’t have to study much to get A’s. But, just like that third helping at Thanksgiving dinner, college was too much for me. In my first year at MTSU, I received grades that I didn’t even know existed! I knew something had to change, so in the next two years, I developed better study habits by focusing on my end goal of becoming a physician. Once I did that, I found myself with the opportunity to graduate a semester early!
Name one of your most positive influences during college.
Stephanie: Dr. Ariana Postlethwait. She was more than just my honors thesis advisor; she helped me with any and everything I needed.
Justin: Without a doubt, my mother. As I mentioned above, my undergraduate career didn’t start out very well, and the person that gave me sage advice and helped keep me focused was the amazing woman who brought me into the world 22-ish years ago. She helped keep me grounded when I was not, and she turned me towards God when I felt lost…so thank you, Mom!
Jason: Honestly? Dunkin’ Donuts. Iced coffee helps me destress. College is stressful. I drank a lot of iced coffee.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to incoming freshmen at MTSU?
Anna: Every semester is different in college. Don’t worry too much if you have a really bad semester; chances are, your life will look completely different in a few months.
Justin: Heed this quote from Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Never give up; no matter how bleak it is (or how great it is), find some way to better yourself. Your time in college is time spent building the foundation for the rest of your life. This is the rare moment of your life where you should be selfish: work on yourself and become the person you want to be.
Stephanie: MTSU has everything you need to go beyond personal success and achieve a lasting difference in the community or world. However, it is not MTSU’s job to make you use the resources. You have to put in the effort to find and benefit from them. You are no longer a child. MTSU is there to help, but not to coddle. You can handle it.
Brad: Have as many experiences as possible that are related to your major, and be able to market the skills you learned to your potential employer. Put it all on your resume; in the end, this piece of paper is probably worth more than the piece of paper you receive at graduation.
Name a professor you’d like to give a shout-out to for being awesome!
Brad: Dr. Slaboch, for being a great research advisor and ping pong competitor.
Anna: Dr. Thomas who teaches French in the Honors College is incredible. She works so hard to make sure that her students can be successful in her classes, and that they have fun along the way. I learned so much in her classes and I really enjoyed learning in such a positive environment!
Stephanie: Dr. Ariana Postlethwait in Social Work, and Dr. Patrick McCarthy in Psychology.
Jordan: Dr. Lance Selva in the Criminal Justice Department for all the advice that he gave me in my years at MTSU. I don’t know if I would have been able to make it without him encouraging me to be all that I can be. I would also like to give a shout to Dr. Dennis Powell, whom I had the privilege of knowing and working within the Criminal Justice Department. Dr. Powell passed away my sophomore year, but he always found a way to make the information that he taught me interesting and understandable. I have him to thank for my interest in the field of Criminal Justice.
April: The first is Mr. Kent Syler; he’s an amazing person! He taught me more real-life experience than any other class. The other is Dr. Kraus. He has a wealth of knowledge and will do anything to help you succeed.
Jason: Sharon Fitzgerald and Tricia Farwell. They’re both excellent instructors and will teach you everything you need to know about journalism, public relations, and advertising.
Justin: Dr. Justin M. Miller. His advice and guidance have afforded me great opportunities in these last two years.
What will be your fondest memory from MTSU?
Jason: Hanging out with friends and drinking iced coffee.
Stephanie: The snowball fight at Womack my sophomore year with my fellow RAs and a resident!
Brad: One of my fondest memories from MTSU would have to be the time that my senior project worked flawlessly for the first time. My team and I had to design and build a robot that could pour pancake batter on to a griddle, flip the half-cooked pancake, and then stack the fully coolest pancake on to a plate. All of this without any human intervention, other than putting the batter into the robot. When our robot did this for the first time, it was a moment that I will never forget.
Name a Netflix show that kept you going through college.
Jason: Gossip Girl.
April: Parks and Recreation. Li’l Sebastian and Mouse Rat got me through my hardest classes.
Anna: Gilmore Girls when I was homesick, and Portlandia when I needed to laugh!
What’s one of your bucket list dreams for the future?
April: I’m going to be an elected official. I’ll mark it off by the time I’m 40!
Anna: I would really love to build a custom luxury yurt in the middle of nowhere. No joke.
Justin: I know this may sound corny, but I can’t think of something I’d like to accomplish more than having a positive impact on someone’s life. I want to be a physician because of the ones I’ve met; one, Dr. Thomas W. Orcutt, literally shaped my life when reconstructing my face from bilateral cleft lip and palate. I think the most fitting use of my life would be to change others’ lives in a similar manner.
Stephanie: Pass three pieces of national legislation that benefit Social Emotional Learning in schools.
Brad: To design a robotic device that makes a positive impact on someone’s life in some way.
Finally, summarize your college experience with a movie or TV quote.
Anna: “I don’t know who Al Gore is, and at this point I’m afraid to ask.” – Andy Dwyer, Parks and Recreation
April: “We need to remember what’s important in life. Friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, work. It doesn’t matter. But work is third.” – Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation.
Stephanie: “Courage is not living without fear. Courage is being scared to death and doing the right thing anyway.” – Argo
Brad: “I don’t believe in luck, but I do believe in assigning value to things.” – John Nash, A Beautiful Mind.
Jason: “Sometimes you need to step outside, clear your head and remind yourself of who you are and where you wanna be. And sometimes you have to venture outside your world in order to find yourself. As for me, I’m happy right where I am. I only wanna be with you. XOXO . . . Gossip Girl.” – Gossip Girl.
Justin: “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done” – Rocky. It was either that, or Dory’s “Just keep swimming” quote. The same lesson is found in each character’s quip: Never give up.