Archive for the ‘GOLD Mine: Stories of Alumni’ Category

Written by: Megan O’Leary (BS07)

As a commuter at EMU, it was always hard for me to find ways to feel “connected” to campus.  During my time as an undergrad, I tried to join various clubs and organizations, but due to working a full time job and taking a full course-load, it never seemed to work.  During my 3rd year, I finally found a way to feel as if campus was more than just a school for me.

I had a hectic schedule and had large gaps of time in between classes.  Wandering around campus, I stumbled upon the Rec/IM, a building I had never really visited.  I realized there was a great workout facility right at my disposal.  Suddenly, I was bringing a gym bag with me every single day and making workouts a habit.  It was a great way to run into other students and relieve the stresses of my classes.   I tried my hand at most of the cardio equipment, but had a true passion for running on the treadmill.  I soon convinced some friends (including two other EMU students) to do a 5k race with me.   It was an amazing experience and one that encouraged me to live a healthier life.

After graduating, I took on a stressful job as the department head for the child care area of a fitness facility.  I soon felt overwhelmed and longed for the days at EMU where I could easily squeeze in a quick run at the Rec.  Despite working at a gym, I felt too stressed after a work day to make time to work out.

This past fall, I decided to go part time at the gym and work as a full-time nanny.  I craved the healthy lifestyle again and decided to make running a true part of my life.   I started running all the time and signed up for a 5k and a 10k.  I started a blog to chronicle my journey and keep myself accountable.  I had earned my BS in 07 with a major in Sociology and a minor in Communications, so writing was something I loved to do.  I signed up for another blog’s challenge to run 1,000 miles in a year.  I also came up with a tentative race schedule for the year to keep me motivated.  I took a leap of faith and signed up for the Freep 1/2 marathon (which will take place in October).  I finally feel as if I am living the healthy lifestyle I was leading at EMU.

Thus far, my blog has allowed me to meet many new people and has created excellent opportunities.  I’d love to pursue a real writing opportunity at some point.  I feel thankful for the time I spent at EMU,  which allowed me to pursue passions both on an educational and fitness level.

Read more about Megan’s fitness journey: http://justrunmego.blogspot.com/


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Emily Vincent, 26, recently graduated from law school cum laude this past May from Case Western Reverse University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio.  Emily completed her undergrad in April 2007 from EMU with a Bachelor of Science in political science and written communication with a concentration in professional writing.  During her studies at EMU, Emily shined academically by graduating with double honors from the Honors College.

On Nov. 8 she was sworn in as an attorney after passing the Ohio Bar Exam this past July. Emily spent months preparing for the exam that consisted of essays and multiple choice questions.  She will begin her new job as an attorney in late November with a law firm in Dayton, Ohio.

Eastern gave Emily the right tools and higher education she needed to make the next step in her academic career.

“The topics and cases discussed by professors in the Political Science Department were some of the same that I would review in law school, said Emily.  “And, the concepts I learned in my Professional Writing classes allowed me to transition easily into the formatted writing of the legal world.”

Emily wouldn’t say law school is just a three year breeze.  The school work and challenges she has faced were the toughest yet, both personally and academically.  She would suggest to those students wanting to pursue a law degree, that you must know what you’re getting into and be sure it is what you want.  Also, never be discouraged if you get a rejection letter.

“The legal market is very scary right now, said Emily.  “It can be frustrating, but just keep applying and trying to make connections in your profession.”

As a student, getting involved in student organizations and having internships on your plate will only help you in the long run.  Emily says it shows that you are a well-rounded individual.  It shows motivation, dedication, you are able to multi-task and manage your time while receiving an education.

Going into interviews Emily’s advice is to always prepare beforehand, relax and be yourself during the interview, ask questions and write a thank you note afterwards.

“A driven attitude, respect and professionalism towards others and those in his/her field is what will make you stand out,” said Emily.

“Whenever I’m asked by someone how I liked going to school at Eastern, my first automatic response to them is that “I loved it.” No other way to say it, it’s true.”

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“Learning to listen is one of the best ways to discipline yourself as a thinker.”

The GOLD mine series tells the stories of recent graduates their successes, challenges, and opportunities related to their EMU and post-EMU experiences. If you, or someone you know, would like to be featured in our GOLD Mine series  – please contact Dan Mathis at dmathis@emich.edu

Written by: Katrell Elina the newbie

Richard Brophy is an outstanding individual who strives for academic excellence.  Straight from his undergraduate studies, he began graduate school.  Although, Brophy was on the fast track, his best advice is to pursue graduate school when you’re ready.

He graduated from EMU in April 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in communication and theatre arts. Mr. Brophy went on to complete his MA in Communication Studies at the University of Alabama this past May.  He is now working towards his PhD in Rhetoric and Discourse at the University of Iowa.

During his four-year undergraduate program, he was a member of the forensics team.  His most emotional experience at EMU was his junior year when the forensics team won three national championships, multiple national finalists and a silver trophy for being 2nd in the nation!  This was a huge accomplishment for the forensics team and he is most proud of this moment.

Mr. Brophy stresses how important it is to market and differentiate yourself from others. “I like to think of EMU as the school of hard knocks, and the experience of being at a blue-collar, state institution prepares you for meeting and working with real people (and ultimately impressing them) better than any expensive college could,” Mr. Brophy said.

Fresh out of college, thousands of people have the same education and qualifications but what makes an individual stand out?  Brophy says you have to be tough to survive and thrive.  He would suggest separating yourself from the crowd and pursing every opportunity open to you.

“You have to find ways to differentiate yourself and show practical application of the skills you’re acquiring in school,” said Brophy.  “Not only do you get to hone those skills, but you develop great contacts that can be used in the future for references or to hear about job leads.”

Being a great listener, marketing yourself and being involved in student organizations and other extra-curricular activities are the most important things he would advise any student entering any job field.  It’s never too late to be involved and volunteer your time to organizations willing to give the opportunity to students.

Check out Richard when he was profiled  in 2005 related to his Presidential Scholarship.

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“It’s a place where you feel at home and welcomed and that you can truly be yourself and explore all that you want to.” –Laura Schulz

Fresh out the pack, Laura Schulz received a Bachelor of Science in psychology and minored in communications.  She has high hopes in continuing her education and earning a master’s degree in youth development.

While an EMU student, Laura made her face known around campus.  During her undergraduate studies she was and still is a proud member of the women’s fraternity Alpha Gamma Delta where she served as the vice president of scholarship, vice president of campus relations and Head Gamma Rho Chi for fall recruitment 2009.  She continues her commitment as an active alumna by being the adviser for open recruitment and a sweetheart for the men’s fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon.

“Being a part of Greek life allowed me to focus my life on what was important; scholarship, community, spirituality, friendships, contributing to the world’s work and volunteering,” Laura said.  “This is still my focus today and I have not only my family to thank but Greek Life as well.”

Like most would say, the outside of the classroom activities and student organizations on campus have contributed to Laura’s success at EMU.

“I learned more about myself, my university, my community and the world through those organizations than I learned in a classroom,” said Laura.

Her success at EMU landed her, her first job after graduation and the first she applied to.  Laura works for the Detroit Midtown Academy High School as the Afterschool Program Coordinator.  In this position, she oversees the afterschool program that is funded by a grant and coordinates field trips and extra-curricular activities.  The programs include yearbook club, young leader’s club, art club, chess club, fitness, cheerleading and tutoring.

Her background consists of four years of afterschool programming.  Laura believes her experience and involvement in campus organizations is what stood her out from other candidates and got her the job.

Laura encourages current EMU students to be involved with on campus activities, internships and network with students and professionals.  For students and recent graduates, she advises to be yourself during interviews and give answers that you believe in and not one they want to hear.  “By not giving a cliché answer it will make you look genuine and invested,” she said.

Her pride for the university is shown through her contributions and support for fellow students.  As an alumnus, she will never forget where she came from and how much EMU has played an active role in her stepping stones.

“I know it seems silly but it really is not what you know it is who you know and being a part of those things are going to build you those connections,” Laura said.  “You cannot wait for something to fall in your lap; you’ll be waiting a long time.”

Written by: Katrell Elina the Newbie

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“Being at Eastern not only gave me the tools to go out and be successful, but it taught me that I had to work hard too.”

Since receiving his Bachelor of Science in political science and journalism in 2002, Joseph Novak would describe his journey as a bumpy ride.  It was his senior year of high school when he discovered Eastern Michigan University was the only place for him.  During his senior year of high school, he took a tour at EMU for a school project.  It was his interest in journalism and the Eastern Echo opportunity that won him over.

“In the five minutes I was at Goodison Hall {now Marshall}, I spoke with an editor, got invited to a summer workshop and was told that if I was interested I could definitely find a spot as a reporter in the fall,” said Novak. 

“The opportunities at Eastern were by far the best for an incoming freshman.”

Little did Novak know it was only the beginning stage of his college experience.  During his undergraduate program an ample amount of doors opened up through the Eastern Echo.  He started off as a sports writer and eventually built his way up to editor in chief.  He was so eager to learn and experience as much as possible at EMU.  He was the men’s soccer beat writer freshman year and also laid out pages, took photos and spent a semester selling ads.

“Because there’s such a sense of community, it’s very easy to network with other students and alumni,” Novak said.  “That alone has helped me tremendously as I’ve progressed in my career.”

His most memorable moment at Eastern was on 9/11 when the World Trade Center was attacked.  He spent a great deal putting a story together, talking to students, professors and local authorities.  

Two months after the attack, eight workers of the Echo drove to New York City to see the aftermath up close.  It was the help of a grant from the Military Order of the Purple Heart that made this possible. It was with honor, Novak and his team was awarded the Pacemaker Award for overall excellence from their September issue.

Novak now spends most of his time traveling for work to different newspapers in the U.S. and Canada.  He works for a software company in Ann Arbor as an installer/trainer for MediaSpan. 

“We create software for newspapers — advertising, circulation, editorial and online services,” he said.  “I specifically work with the journalists in the newsroom, helping themuse the software to write and edit stories, process photos and designpages. I specifically install the IQue system, which includes NewsEdit and either InDesign or QuarkXPress, depending on what the customer
chooses to use.”

Novak’s best advice to students and recent graduates is to get as much experience as possible while still in school.  The experience is definitely a plus and employers will look at your pre-professional experience. 

“There are good and bad places out there, and you shouldn’t waste your time at a job that forces you to compromise your integrity,” he said. 

Novak still shares personal friendships with his colleagues from the Eastern Echo.

Written by: Katrell Elina the newbie

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April 25, 2010 Winter Commencement

I have to say that I am honored to be taking over Jessica the intern senior’s position here at Eastern Michigan University Office of Alumni Relations.  Congratulations Jessica on your senior standing and I wish you nothing but success. 🙂

I’m Katrell Duncan and I’m overjoyed to say, this is my LAST semester at EMU! It has been an amazing journey here at EMU.  I have one class left that I am completing (Case Studies which is the capstone course for public relations) now and I have already walked this past April.  My undergrad is almost completed and what better way to end my experience than with all of you?!

Over the next three months I will continue the GOLD Mine Series through stories of alumni in the last decade! I plan to connect alumni, reminisce and provide great advice for recent grads! So stay tuned to find your classmates, see what they’ve been up to and learn about future events!

I will also be the public relations intern for SOAR which is a student organization for alumni.  I will be working with a number of students and we have a lot of fun events going on this semester that are in the works now!

I’m so excited for you all to continue this blog with me.  Keep checking back for updates and ways you can be involved with EMU! Go GREEN!

-Katrell Elina the newbie-

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This is probably the saddest thing I’ve had to write on this blog.  THIS IS MY LAST POST as Jessica the Intern. I know, I know – TRAVESTY! I will miss this blog dearly, I mean this is almost like my child I played a part in making it, and through trial and  error I have watched it grow into something great.

My internship at EMU’s Office for Alumni Relations has come to an end.  I will never forget the experiences this internship has exposed me to. It was amazing to talk to and learn from all the different alumni I have come across. I would like to send a special thank you to EVERY alumni that allowed me to interview them for the GOLD Mine Series. In fact, I would like to thank every person that has made an impact on this blog in anyway. I would like to thank the Alumni Relations staff and student employees.  You have all helped me out so much and you made this internship one that I will always remember. I’d  like to give a very special thank you to Dan Mathis. Dan has been my biggest support system with this blog. We both came together with this vision to  provide a way for alumni to connect, share and inspire one another. I must say that this blog is doing just that. With out Dan none of this would have been possible… and by none of this I mean my entire internship 🙂  Last but not least, I would like to thank the blog readers.  Seeing how much support we’ve gotten from our veiwers has been so rewarding.

Now on to some good news – the blog is not going to stop coming out with great stories.  My position is being taken over by Katrell Duncan, who I love! So I KNOW you guys will to.   I am really excited that the blog is being passed on to some one so awesome.  I feel safe knowing the the GOLD Mine Series, as well as other blog happenings, are  in her hands.

More good news you ask?  Ok I’m going to give you some.  This fall is the beginning of my last year of undergrad.  I am a SENIOR! GO ME!!!   So pretty soon  I will also be a Graduate of the Last Decade YAY! So this fall I will be wrapping every thing up and preparing for my next step in life (grad school is the plan). I will also be making moves  (as I mentioned before) with EMU Student Government.  We have a lot of good initiatives and projects coming up so I am very excited about that. EMU better get used to my face because I’m all over the place (ha! that rhymed).  Ok, I feel myself getting long-winded and I don’t want to drag on. I just wanted to say THANK YOU again to everyone that played a role in this blog and my internship experience. I truly appreciate all of you and I hope that my work here (the office and the blog) is something that you enjoyed as much as I did.  Well that’s it. I’m done.

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, audieu, adios, buh bye, hasta la vista baby and all of that. I will miss you all.

Yours Truly,

Jessica the Intern Senior

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