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P. Roger Clay ‘61

President, Rentwear, Inc.

What about your career do you find most meaningful?
One thing I enjoy most about my job is working with our employees and customers. Whether it be just a casual conversation or working with an employee on a project, meeting a new customer or helping a current customer – seeing those relationships evolve and strengthen is very meaningful.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?
I’ve thought a lot over the years about how I got to where I am and what got me here. I found that it was both my education and my family that have shaped my life. My education at Mount Union was truly varied and well-rounded in all aspects, meaning that I graduated with a degree in chemistry, and here I am working for a textile rental company.

As a student, I learned so much more than just chemistry. I learned about teamwork, religion, communication, problem solving, English and mathematics. I learned a wealth of knowledge and developed skills that I’ll use for the rest of my life. Right out of college, I worked as a research chemist, and in my role I played a small part in the development of a product. I didn’t like that because I’m an end-result kind of guy. I didn’t like doing my part and just passing it off to someone else. Instead, I wanted to start a project and see it through until it was finished. Mount Union helped me realize that I had to think big, and to not just settle. My education at Mount Union opened my eyes to what a meaningful career is. I knew I wanted to communicate with people and interact with others on a day-to-day basis. So when I started my company, I learned all the ins and outs of running a business … everything from how to sweep the floors to how to make an executive decision. I’m so very grateful for what my Mount Union education taught me.

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?

In 1972, I started this company with no customers and big dreams. We’ve grown from one employee to more than 80 and from $0 to $6 million in revenue. Collectively, we’ve accomplished a lot, but we’re not finished. I’m lucky that my two sons get to run the family business with me. People caring about me, supporting me and encouraging me is what helps me carry on. My entire life has been about taking some calculated risks with a lot of great people by my side and a whole lot of hard work. I can’t imagine where I would be if I didn’t take those risks.

Casey Fish ‘96

Chief Executive Officer, ACI Holdings, LLC

What about your career do you find most meaningful?

The most meaningful and satisfying thing about my job has been working with and developing a fine group of employees and watching them grow both personally and professionally along with our company.  I believe the recipe for our success can be found in hard work and loyal team members.  Some of these relationships have developed into long-lasting friendships.
 
Although financial success is important, it is equally important to reward the people who have made your business successful.  We pride ourselves in treating our team like family.  At the end of the day, we all have a job to do, and we can't blur the lines between our business lives and our personal lives.  Those who understand this practice have enjoyed longevity with our group and aggressive advancement of their careers.  A couple of examples that come to mind include an individual who started with us about 10 years ago while in school.  He worked his way to department manager, assistant general manager and general manager, ultimately becoming vice president of operations.  Another person who began working with us about six years ago as one of our general managers was promoted to regional manager then to vice president of operations and finally, just over a year ago, to the position of president of our company!  Both have become personal friends of mine through the years, and these are just two examples that illustrate the meaningful gratification my career has provided. I’ve not only been involved with their successes, I’ve also had the opportunity to watch it extend to their families as well.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?

Mount Union instilled many qualities in me that allowed me to recognize the importance of finding a meaningful career.  This wasn't as much through academics—which of course gave me the tools to begin a successful career—but rather through the faculty.  The personal interaction and mentorship the members of the faculty and staff provided is what ultimately gave me the guidance to find more meaning in a career than just financial gain.  At the end of the day, this balance leads to overall happiness and well-being.
 
Making a difference, giving back and helping others is what ultimately provides for a purposeful career that makes you happy.
 
If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?
I have no regrets with the career I've chosen.  Almost 14 years ago, I was fortunate enough to set on my current career path, and this is something for which I will always be grateful.  I look forward to staying on this course for many years to come and being involved with both our current and new team members’ successes as our company continues to grow. I also hope to develop more friendships along the way.

Dr. April Mason ‘77

Provost and Senior Vice President, Kansas State University

What about your career do you find most meaningful?
I think the most meaningful part of my job at Kansas State University is watching students succeed and knowing that I played a small part in their success, whether it be by hiring faculty members, helping modify a course or helping them find an internship. It’s really exhilarating to see students get excited about learning, and then watch them turn right around and begin applying their knowledge into their everyday life.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?

I loved Mount Union because I truly felt empowered that I could do anything I set my mind to. I could get involved in many student organizations, choose from an array of majors or play an intercollegiate sport, all alongside the wonderful faculty and staff members who were there to help me along the way. Mount Union also instilled in me a love for research and made me realize that research could ultimately be my career if I wanted it to be. In fact, Dr. Charles Brueske in the Department of Biology was instrumental in engaging me in undergraduate research and was the one who inspired me to pursue a career in higher education.

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?
Absolutely, I would definitely choose the same career path. And, I wouldn’t even have to think twice about it. What was so rewarding about my education at Mount Union is that it set me on a path, in which I knew that no matter where I ended up I would be fully prepared. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Para (Heropoulos ’77) Jones

President, Spartanburg Community College

What about your career do you find most meaningful?
Knowing that the education we provide will transform the lives and futures of students and their families is the most meaningful part of my job as president of Spartanburg Community College. I also enjoy working to meet the needs of business and industry by providing graduates who are well prepared for their career fields and/or developing education and training programs for incumbent workers. Another meaningful part of my job is that I have the privilege of working with bright and talented faculty and staff members who are committed to our students’ success.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?
I personally experienced the impact professors can have on their students at Mount Union, as several professors helped to shape my educational and career choices including professors Vasile Calesi, Paul Chapman, Sam Geonetta and Lyle Crist. They prepared me for my first career in corporate marketing and communications, which ultimately led me into higher education and community college leadership. I also served as editor of The Dynamo for two quarters, which provided meaningful experiences in leadership, project management and time management (particularly since I triple majored and graduated in three years and a quarter). Finally, Dr. Geonetta was both inspirational and motivational in getting me involved in speech and debate and helping me to secure a graduate fellowship at a prestigious school of journalism.

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?
That’s a great question, and I’d love to hit the “rewind button,” beginning with being a student at Mount Union, and then let you know! I think I might choose the same career path, but then who knows? I think having great professors reinforced my love of learning. I can still remember being absolutely captivated by great lecturers like Dr. Paul Chapman (who could forget his charming pronunciation of William Faulkner’s fabled Yoknapatawpha County?) and Dr. David Ragosin (who had no problem engaging his 8 a.m. American literature students). I associate my Mount experience to William Butler Yeats’s poetic metaphor, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” It is that fire that continues to inspire me.

Mark Allen ‘77

Senior Vice President, International, Legal, FedEx Express, Brussels, Belgium

What about your career do you find most meaningful?
During my 30 years with FedEx I have had the opportunity to help build the company’s international business. After moving from the Memphis headquarters in 1992, I lived and worked in Canada and Asia.  I am now based in Brussels, and as the senior vice president and general counsel for FedEx Express, I oversee the legal, government relations and security activities throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the India sub-continent and the Americas. When I joined the company in 1982, we did not have operations outside the United States. Since then, FedEx has changed the way the world conducts business, and it has been enormously satisfying to be a meaningful part of a global enterprise that touches many lives and communities in a positive way. My job is an endless learning process. I work closely with talented colleagues, and I am constantly engaged on a wide array of projects with people from many different cultures.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?
Mount Union’s foundation in the liberal arts introduced me to a broad range of information and ideas delivered by outstanding teachers who took a personal interest in my studies and me. I was a philosophy major with no clear idea of what I might do following graduation. I chose to go to law school because I came to appreciate the close connection between law and philosophy and I believed that by becoming a lawyer I could have a useful, challenging and productive career. Mount Union helped me gain the confidence to pursue my goals and I have always been very grateful for that.

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?

I feel very fortunate to say that if I had the chance to start my career again from the beginning, I would make the same basic choices. My work is very fulfilling and it has taken my family and me to places in the world that we would not otherwise have reached.

Rita (Salah ’76) Allen

Retired Business Consultant, Brussels, Belgium

What about your career do you find most meaningful?
I spent the first half of my career working for a Memphis, TN entrepreneur – Clarence Day – who owned several companies, was very active in the arts and had a private charitable foundation. Over time, my management responsibilities extended to include serving as the administrative trustee for The Day Foundation. As a result of that work, I went on to do consulting in the non-profit sector, including establishing a deferred gifts program for the National Alzheimer Association of Canada and acting as a business advisor to The Samaritans/Befrienders International (a suicide prevention group) in Hong Kong. Serving organizations that help other people in need was a very rewarding experience.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?
A major in accounting was established mid-way through my studies at Mount Union, and I was one of the first to choose that as a major. I interviewed on campus with one of the largest accounting firms at that time and was told that they already hired their quota of women and were talking to me only as a formality. Needless to say, this made me more determined to pursue a meaningful career, and I am truly glad that the business world has opened up much more for women. Mount Union instilled in me a life-long interest in learning, and after working for many years while raising a family, I went back to school and earned a master of business administration degree. I believe this showed our children that education is a life-long process and not just a part of your youth.

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?
Throughout my life I have learned to change and adapt to new circumstances and challenges. Mount Union provided me with a solid foundation on which to build a career that has been widely varied and never boring. If I had to do it all over again, I would! At this very moment, however, I am enjoying my retirement, studying French and taking full advantage of life in a “foreign country.”

Daniel Keller ‘72

Chairman, Keller Capital Investments Ltd.
Retired Vice President and General Manager of Cedar Point, Cedar Fair L.P.


What about your career do you find most meaningful?
I spent a significant portion of my career in the entertainment industry, specifically with CedarFair LLP, one of the largest regional amusement park operators in the world.  Each and every day, I had the opportunity to provide fun-filled, exciting experiences for guests while also offering rewarding careers for our employees.  How many people are fortunate enough to say that they spend their days creating enjoyment for their customers and their staff members?

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?
First and foremost, Mount Union provided me with a foundational value system that prepared me to work with employees in a manner that was morally, properly and legally correct.  The education I received at Mount Union also ingrained in me the importance of making a difference in society.  On a personal level, during my time on campus, I grew to better understand that success in any career field requires a high level of determination and dedication.

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?
Unequivocally, I would say absolutely.  I enjoyed every minute of my fulfilling 35-year career in the entertainment industry, and I’m not done yet.  I think it used to be that people came to the end of a career and that was it, but I’ve entered the next phase of my life - private equity and venture capital investments.  Now I have more control over my day, providing more time to sit on boards of businesses and non-profit organizations.

Careers, in and of themselves, provide many turns on the road to success.  Along that road you have to make sure you develop good solid action plans, allowing you, on an on-going basis, to react to certain situations and circumstances.

Carrie Coon ‘03

Broadway Performer

What about your career do you find most meaningful?
Telling stories is one of the oldest human arts, and it is something that we need.  It sustains us, it’s part of the way we think and remember, and it’s an honor to be able to participate in that process.  It feels like quite a legacy and a tremendous responsibility.  Certainly there are things in the industry that can be trite from a business sense, but telling stories through theatre in a way that describes human nature is very fulfilling.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?

I think the very size of Mount Union afforded me the opportunity to be flexible about the type of education I was getting.  I was able to change majors, and I also was able to make personal arrangements about how I was spending my time.  I could go to my coaches and say, “I want to be in this play.  How can we make this work?”  I credit Mount Union’s liberal arts setting for creating an environment in which people were open to such flexibility and involvement.  

Faculty members were also open to conversation, and again, I believe that the size of the institution allowed for the one-on-one student-faculty interaction and small class settings that afforded such discussion.  I remember a particular literature course that encouraged me to explore and exchange ideas, and this type of discovery is essential for true critical thinking.  

In addition, the size of the theatre program was conducive to what I hoped to accomplish.  Actually, it was a theatre professor, Dr. Doug Hendel, who saw that I had strength in the field and encouraged me to explore graduate school options in theatre.  He opened new doors for me and set me on a course that I had never expected.  Without his guidance, I am certain I would not be doing what I am today.  It was a very unanticipated path.

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?
I’m not sure that I could possibly be doing what I am today if I had it to do all over again, because it was all so unexpected and just sort of fell in place.  There are so many variables that would have to come together again. As a student, there was something wonderful about feeling that anything is possible, and that was really exciting.  At the same time, I can’t really picture myself doing anything else.  I don’t know if I would have found it inevitably, but certainly before my time at Mount Union, I didn’t even realize it was a possibility.

Shawn Douglass ‘87

Lecturer of Theatre, Northwestern University

What about your career do you find most meaningful?
As an actor and director, I focus a lot on how best to tell the story I have been given by the playwright so the audience is entertained, engaged and sometimes provoked.  I have had the good fortune in my career to be able to work on plays based on exceptional ideas and written by true wordsmiths – William Shakespeare, Tom Stoppard, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde.  I hope that an audience goes away from one of my shows saying, "That was a great time!  Do you think that character was right when he said that thing about how power works?"  I hope the work makes people feel deeply about human issues, and think deeply about them as a result of being moved.  It's meaningful to me to be the conduit for great ideas.
As a teacher of acting at Northwestern University, I try to instill in my students the importance of empathy.  To understand a character, you must understand where he or she is coming from – politically, personally and culturally.  When I see those realizations happen, I am completely jazzed.  If my students walk away with a stronger understanding of our shared humanity, I hope that will go a long way toward creating a future that is less rancorous and divisive than our current one.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?

I had two wonderful professors in the Department of Theatre – James Vincent, who instilled in me a lifelong passion for language, and Dr. Doug Hendel, who helped me to get more "human" in my acting.  But it was also people like Dr. George Thomas in philosophy who challenged me to think critically and carefully about how arguments were made, and Dr. Don Hobson in religion who helped me to understand you can, through your work or through your advocacy, make a difference in the way people see the world.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?
Yes.  The theatre has challenged me to become a more complete person as I investigate role after role, or play after play.  It is a never-ending look at our own humanity.  Not every job requires or encourages you to do that.  That investigation has been my great reward for doing the kind of work I do.

Dr. Bradley Carman ‘84

Surgeon, Marietta Memorial Hospital

What about your career do you find most meaningful?
One of the most meaningful aspects of my job is the ability to care for the people that I have known most of my life. I feel extremely grateful that I am able to practice general surgery near my hometown. I returned to Washington County (Marietta, Ohio) after completing a surgical residency in Columbus, Ohio in 1993. Since then, I have been caring for friends, neighbors, their families and many others in our rural area. It has been fulfilling and at times heartbreaking depending on the illness, but I wouldn’t give it up.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?
Mount Union (with an enrollment of about 1,000 in 1980) was a perfect fit for me coming from a small town. I feel strongly that I would have been lost at a large state school. At Mount Union, I was able to complete the necessary pre-med requirements for medical school as well as obtain a degree in political science since I have had a long interest in government and politics. I have been active in hospital governance as well as state medical societies. I enjoy participating in local, state and national political campaigns, along with the practice of surgery. The close-knit environment at Mount Union with the direct involvement of our professors allowed me to develop both interests.

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?
I would do this all over again without a second thought. The stress, family sacrifice and long hours of a general surgeon are taxing, but I believe the rewards in helping those in need are great. My father (Don “DO” Carman ’57) was an extremely busy family practitioner with very long work hours. I grew up in that environment, so it wasn’t foreign to me. Balance is difficult, but definitely obtainable.

Dr. Richard Drake ‘72

Director of Anatomy and Professor of Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University

What about your career do you find most meaningful?
I truly enjoy teaching and the opportunity to help students learn. Seeing students light up when they understand a concept is really rewarding.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?
I had Dr. Leonard Epp as a professor, and I truly enjoyed how he encouraged us to learn, stimulated our minds, challenged us and got us excited about education and science. This is exactly what I’m trying to do in my current role as professor of surgery. I had a lot of great professors at Mount Union, but Dr. Epp had a huge impact on my life. From the classroom to the lab, his influence was immeasurable. The path I chose in life is a direct result of my experiences at Mount Union.

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?

Yes, but only if all the same things would have happened in my life. I started out at Mount Union majoring in chemistry and having a dream of teaching high school chemistry and coaching football. I didn’t do a complete 360, but I graduated with a degree in biology and headed off to earn a doctoral degree from Indiana University. I’m really doing something I hadn’t planned on doing. I’m a faculty member at a medical school, I’ve written a textbook and I’m an editor of an academic journal. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Dr. Arlene Roble ‘95

Pediatrician, Metrohealth Medical Center

What about your career do you find most meaningful?
Taking care of children is the biggest joy of my career. I enjoy interacting with the families and help them learn based on all the information I have learned and practiced over the years. It is an honor how they trust me and let me treat them.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?

I truly believe that, because of the tight-knit atmosphere of Mount Union and the personal connections that are such a major part of it, I feel I am better at relating and connecting to others. Mount was a great place to have relationships with other people, and it instilled in me the ability to appreciate people.  At Mount Union, as opposed to a larger school, I never felt like I got lost in a crowd. I have carried that with me, and I feel I am a better doctor because I can relate to my patients and their families.  

I so appreciated the small atmosphere that I continued to similar places to further my education, including where I chose to do my residency and practicums, simply because I did not want to be lost in the crowd.  

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?

Yes, absolutely.  Even though it is not an easy path, and there are many trial and tribulations I went through to get to where I am today, I would still not chose to do anything different.

Pierre Garcon ‘10

Wide Receiver, Indianapolis Colts

What about your career do you find most meaningful?
One of the most meaningful things about my job is that, whenever I step out on the field, I'm representing so many different people around the world. I'm representing an organization, my Indianapolis fans, my family, Mount Union, my hometown of West Palm Beach, FL and my country of Haiti. I have a lot of people who are in my corner and I don't want to let them down.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?
When going to Mount Union, a Division III school, you have to realize the importance of an education. Football has always been a dream, but my education was even more important. Mount Union was able to provide me with the tools and information to receive my degree in communication with a minor in sport business.

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?
If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing. Coming from the very bottom with all the odds against me just made me work harder to get to where I'm at today. I am just living the life that God has planned out for me.

Ed Warinner ‘84

Offensive Line Coach and Co Offensive Coordinator, University of Notre Dame

What about your career do you find most meaningful?
The number one reason I got into coaching was to work with young people and develop who they are.  It is very meaningful to help shape their characters and assist with molding them into responsible adults.  I enjoy watching students learn from sports and see the eagerness and energy as they develop and prepare for the real world after sports.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?
The people, the education and the opportunities on campus provided great guidance to ensure finding who I wanted to be as a person and a career professional.

I truly felt all the people I came across were great people – students and faculty alike.  I found it was the culture - that the campus was full of givers who wanted to give back to their local communities.   The people were all helpful and friendly, and because of this type of atmosphere, I learned what I wanted out of life and out of my career, most importantly.

I was impressed with how the faculty took the average student and drove the student to become the best he or she could be. The environment allowed students to experience opportunities, take chances and creatively think outside the box.  The unique part of our campus was that, as fellow students, we would help facilitate this way of thinking and live it.

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?

Yes.  When I first went to college, I wanted to be a pediatrician, but my path obviously changed. I knew I wanted to work with young people and eventually learned I wanted to teach and coach the level of skill of college students.”

I would definitely do it again and go to Mount again.  A lot of who I am is because of Mount Union.

Ron Lynn ‘66

Director of Player Development, Stanford University

What about your career do you find most meaningful?
One would think that going to the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl as a football coach would be the most meaningful part of my career, but actually the joy that I feel when I influence and mentor a younger person at the collegiate level is what I have found to be most rewarding.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?
It was the atmosphere Mount Union created, and it was not just in the athletic realm.  It was beyond that, and it was echoed by faculty and students.

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?

Yes, I really would.  Obviously there were some Saturdays and Sundays that my team’s tail was getting kicked on the field, and I would think that maybe I should have done something with my chemistry degree, like be a doctor.  However my desire to be a coach was far greater.  That is why I got my master’s degree and began coaching - so I could hopefully provide an opportunity to another like the one that was given to me.

Dom Capers ‘72

Defensive Coordinator, Green Bay Packers

What about your career do you find most meaningful?
In order to have a meaningful career, the most important thing is to pick a profession that excites you and for which you have a passion.   I enjoy competing, and at Mount Union, I played both on the football and baseball teams. I knew that I wanted to find a profession where I could take that same passion and apply it to everyday life.

How did Mount Union instill in you the desire to pursue a career that is meaningful?
I have said many times that I feel fortunate that I went to Mount Union.  I felt my education and college career was more than just what I learned in the classroom or through books.  I also feel what I learned through the overall college experience provided me direction in life that I was able to apply later professionally and personally.

Competing in athletics helped me understand what I wanted to get out of life.  Since I knew that was a path I professionally wanted to take, I paid attention to those at Mount that influenced me.   The many coaches I had inspired me on and off the field.  Coach Wable and Coach Ron Lynn were big influences and, in fact, Coach Wable set me on my path to career success by working with me to become a graduate assistant at Kent State University, a step that catapulted my career as a coach.

Plus, interaction with my teammates at Mount has also played a factor in how I now coach my teams.  The bond created with my teammates help me to better relate to what I do daily.

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?
There is no question I would do it over again. I feel so blessed that I was able to do something my whole life and have enjoyed all of it. Personally, I have always felt that, with the amount of time and effort put into a career, you need to be able to enjoy it because you’ll do it for a majority of your life.

I was once given advice that, if you want to be successful, find someone who you feel is a standout in that profession and study that person’s qualities.  The characteristics that make that person a success are what you should mirror.  That will take you to the path of your success.