Mount Union Alums Work in Las Vegas

October 07, 2013

For many Mount Union graduates, relocating for a career is a difficult decision. For alumni Michelle Reda ’99, Tarion Young ’07, Danae Barrett ’91 and Adam Altwies ‘97, uprooting from their hometowns to Las Vegas was made easier by the exceptional education they received at Mount Union.

Michelle Reda ‘99
Michelle Reda ’99 works as the executive director of domestic and international marketing for Wynn Las Vegas, a resort and casino in the city. Responsible for overseeing casino marketing and outside networks, Michelle manages special events and oversees company agents as they send business to the resort.

While at Mount Union, Michelle majored in sport medicine with a concentration in sport science and sport management. She was also involved on campus as a sister of Alpha Chi Omega and a member of the dance team. She credits her familiarity with giving speeches in class at Mount Union with making her so comfortable in her current work environment.

“Public speaking was a huge part of the sport management major when I went to Mount Union,” said Michelle. “Everything I learned about speaking has been applicable to what I’m doing today.”

When discussing her years at Mount Union, Michelle said that she only has a few wishes for current students.

“I absolutely think my education at Mount Union has helped me succeed,” she said. “Knowledge is extremely important. I encourage students to learn another language, take strange classes and make themselves as diverse as possible.”

Michelle cites Dr. James Thoma and the late professor Dan Gorman as two influences, calling them great professors who left lasting impressions on her due to their involvement with students.

Tarion Young ‘07
Tarion Young ’07, nearly three years into his entertainment career, works in costuming for the Cirque du Soleil show Zarkana, a production featuring acrobatic stunts, acting, dance and art forms from across the globe. Along with costuming entertainers for the well-known show, Tarion is also a singer at the lavish Venetian Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas.

A double major in music and theatre, Tarion credits his time at Mount Union for leading him to where he is today. He was involved in choir, Mu Phi Epsilon and the Black Student Union on top of his duties designing costumes for the Department of Theatre.

“The ability to spend some years on stage and some years behind the scenes, as well as the education I received in the classroom, really made me multi-faceted,” he said. “Not a lot of schools can produce such well-versed students.”

Tarion believes the professors at Mount Union are what make students so successful in their lives after graduation.

“Majors usually only prepare you for one thing, but the education I received at Mount Union made me well-rounded” said Tarion. “It sealed my fate.”

Danae Barrett ‘91
As fate may have it, for the last nine months, Danae Barrett ‘91 has been working as a senior learning specialist at The Mirage, a 3,044-room hotel and casino, where she focuses on leadership development, consulting and new hire orientation. Previously, Danae was in the learning and development field for more than 10 years before starting with The Mirage.

At Mount Union, Danae majored in both international business and economics and German. She also completed a minor in sociology, which she acknowledges has aided her career in Las Vegas today. In addition, Danae credits her involvement in the Department of Theatre and as an SAE Little Sister, as well as membership in ski club and the dance team, for shaping her into the professional she has become.

“Combining business and sociology, helped me to think strategically about human behavior and employee engagement in the organizations for which I have worked,” said Danae. “The things I learned as an undergrad have helped me think logically about whichever business I am driving.”

Danae believes some of the most-loved people in her life found their way to her during her time at Mount Union.

“Not only did I receive a top-notch education at Mount Union, I also cherish the friends and relationships I made while I was there,” she said. “Those are parts of the close-knit, Mount Union experience that aren’t in the course catalogue.”

Adam Altwies ‘97
Adam Altwies ‘97 works as director of poker operations at ARIA Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, a job that entails running the daily and overall operations of the World’s Best Poker Room at ARIA. After working in Ohio for several years, Adam was encouraged to move to Las Vegas by his father.

“He was in a profession his whole life for which he did not have a passion, and he did not want the same for me,” Adam said. “I immediately took his advice and moved. That day was a complete transition for me in my life – I went from being a ‘sayer’ to a ‘doer.’ I get things done now instead of just talking about big plans. I followed a dream and have become very happy with my life.”

Adam said the most impactful experience of his life occurred while he was a student at Mount Union. He participated in Dr. Steve Kramer’s Social Responsibility class, traveling to the Dominican Republic and staying with families in their homes.

“Each family in the community helped one another,”  he said. “They just did what they had to do in order to live. The kicker – they were all the happiest people I have ever seen. I still refer to that experience when I make decisions with human beings today.”

As a student at Mount Union, Adam was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, was elected to the Greek Council and wrestled for two years. He said one of the most influential people at Mount Union was Dr. Michael Olin-Hitt, who passed on his knowledge of literature and also gave him tools for life.

“I would go to his office and just talk to him when I felt uneasy,” he said. “He always had his door open and welcomed me for a conversation. I was into poker back then so we would talk about it and relate certain things to life. He ministers to the students on their level. I do my best to listen and educate my people the same way he did to me.”

Adam said he has never second-guessed his decision to move to Vegas.

“I live in the greatest city in the world,” he said. “I drive to work every day and still say to myself after 11 years, ‘I can’t believe I live in this city and work in the most beautiful resort and casino in the world.’

"I have never had a day in which I do not want to go to work.”

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