Skip to Content


Class of 2024 Students Advise Incoming Purple Raiders

May 03, 2024

By Fatima Magana '22

ALLIANCE- As commencement nears, graduating seniors experience nostalgia, remembering the good and bad times as college students, and nerves about further steps post-graduation. However, graduating and closing another chapter to begin another one is exciting!

As college students get ready to gain adulthood responsibilities, they also are ready to embark on a new journey as professionals. Mount Union students from the class of 2024 discuss their favorite memories about their time as Purple Raiders.

Katlynn Zurbrugg ’24, chemistry major, reminisces about the times she and her friends spent together outside of class and work. Zurbrugg is grateful for the academic opportunities she received such as serving on the Honors Council and the American Chemical Society and, stemming from that involvement, she advises students to try new things while in college.

Zurbrugg '24 on a trip

“I was told once that college is what you make of it; while college is a place for learning, it is also a place to discover yourself and do things you’ve never done before, “said Zurbrugg.

Zurbrugg explains that aside from her professors, work colleagues, and classmates, every person she has interacted with has become part of her family. Therefore, leaving Mount Union and her Raider family is difficult. Zurbrugg states that while she received plenty of advice entering college, no one prepared her for the feeling that she’d feel upon graduating.

“I’ve created such unique bonds with my professors that leaving them at this point is just so sad,” said Zurbrugg. “My freshman self thought she knew what she was getting into, but I can say with certainty she was wrong.”

Though she learned how to navigate college early on, Zurbrugg explains that college is filled with highs and lows, but students should not give up on their dreams. Zurbrugg hopes to begin working in the quality control industry to gain experience and be marketable for employers.

Jacob Buttar ‘24, sport business and media double major, has gained a valuable skillset throughout his time as a Purple Raider. Amongst the skills his majors and involvement on campus have given him are communication and time management, which he applies to his projects in and outside the classroom.

Buttar '24 at a conference

“Something I wish that I was told was to let loose and have fun, enjoying the overall college experience,” said Buttar.  “Early in my freshman year, I did not take advantage of the many great social opportunities that Mount Union offers because I focused strictly on academics.”  

Realizing that the college experience is comprised of both achieving academic goals and befriending people, Buttar joined a wide array of student organizations and on-campus jobs to connect with others and build his network. Therefore, he advises incoming students to embrace every opportunity offered to them, as Mount Union provides its students endless opportunities to step outside their comfort zone and build their professional image.

“I would tell my freshman self, four years ago not to come into college with expectations and just to enjoy the next four years,” said Buttar. “Coming to Mount Union, I did not imagine that I’d engage in all the experiences I have thanks to all the opportunities I took advantage of; these have shaped me into the person I am.”

Like Jacob, Avery Wengerter ’24, criminal justice and psychology double major, advises incoming students to go out on campus and engage in opportunities offered by Mount Union. Engaging in activities outside the classroom allowed Wengerter to meet friends within student organizations and on-campus jobs. For this, she thanks her professors as they helped her learn about clubs and organizations on campus as well as find her interests and passions.

Wengerter '24 on a trip

“A piece of advice I’d give to incoming students is to leave their rooms when they have free time. While it is easy to stay in and take a nap or study a few more minutes, exploring campus is beneficial for your mental health.”

Wanting to enter the criminal justice field, Wengerter is prepared to begin her journey post-graduation as her double major and double minor in sociology and national security and foreign intelligence have helped her be more marketable as she enters the real world. Wengerter wants incoming students to know not to be shy and to speak and interact with people as this will help them befriend others on campus.

“If I were speaking with my freshman self, I’d tell her that she’ll find her people, therefore, there is no need to stress about finding the group of people that understand her,” said Wengerter. “There are endless opportunities for you to make friends, which will allow you to form your group of people.”

While the Coronavirus pandemic affected everyone, for the Class of 2024, it impeded their collective final year of high school, making memories one last time. Starting college is something to which every incoming student looks forward; however, Garrett O'Connell '24, public relations major did not enjoy his freshman year and could not envision himself succeeding academically before becoming a Purple Raider as a sophomore.

O'Connell '24 at a Mount Union event

"As soon as I transferred to Mount Union, I wanted to have a good time and get the full college experience, I started meeting people and joining different groups so I could make friends," said O'Connell. "Eventually I founded and became the president of the Mount Union rugby team."

O'Connell explains that while he was getting ready to begin college, his grandfather gave him the best piece of advice: smile! Regardless of the attitude or environment you are in; your positive attitude could get a person through their day. Though, O'Connell adds that while grades are important in determining one's academic success, students should not worry about the "little things" as their time in school will fly by.

"If I were to meet myself five years post-graduation, I'd ask him many questions, like 'Is my bachelor's degree being used?' 'Am I still friends with people from college?' and 'Do I make a lot of money?'" said O'Connell. "I'd like to know the answers to these questions because I've been told that college gives you lifelong friends and because I want my own company and that company to succeed."

While walking down memory lane can be sad, it also fills us with excitement for what the future holds. These graduating seniors and the rest of the Class of 2024 wish that the incoming class has as much fun at Mount Union as they did!