By Fatima Magana '22
ALLIANCE, OH- Think back to your senior year of high school. It was a bittersweet feeling because as a chapter ended, another titled “College” began. As you were excited to embark on the journey ahead, you understood that college can be scary, but you were excited for what’s to come in the next four years.
You found the college of your dreams; it offered the program you wanted to enroll in and the career you wanted to pursue after graduation. Making new friends within student organizations filled you with joy along with becoming independent. Yet, you felt lost because there was still so much uncertainty with this new chapter in your life.
Juniors and seniors at the University of Mount Union discuss how Mount Union fostered an environment that provides exceptional learning and real-world opportunities allowing them to excel in their future endeavors.
Leaders in their Field
As children we look up to fictional characters because of their many characteristics or physical virtues, like a hero who is strong or can run fast. Although in real life, we later realize our true role models are often those who spend many hours of their day with us. Seniors Christopher “Chris” Watson and Cla Figaro discuss how their leadership roles in student organizations have impacted their lives and future careers.
Watson '23, a physical education major and sociology minor found his passion for teaching when he had his first African American teacher in third grade.
“My experience in third grade not only influenced who I want to be in the future, but whose future I want to shape,” said Watson. “I want kids to enjoy school while they reach their full potential knowing that there is someone who wants them to succeed.”
After leaving Mount Union, Watson wants to pursue a master's degree in educational leadership to one day hopefully help underprivileged kids afford an education. On campus, Watson is the president of Brothers Building Bonds and is a mentor to a third grader through his student teaching. He admitted that he is a quiet person so he thought that he would never be a leader.
“I’ve learned that even the quietest person can be a leader in their area of expertise,” said Watson. “You do not need to be the loudest person in the room to consider yourself a leader because someone is always looking up to you.”
As an international affairs and diplomacy and French double major, Figaro '23 has obtained meaningful and leading real-world experience at Mount Union. In spring 2022, she joined Dr. Paul Tidman’s social responsibility trip to travel to Lake Charles, Louisiana and help with hurricane relief. Later that summer, Figaro spent two months in Lyon, France studying abroad and immersing herself in a distinct culture.
“Between my two travel experiences, my favorite one was studying abroad in France,” said Figaro. “This experience allowed me to meet and befriend people from diverse cultural backgrounds while learning about the French culture.”
On campus Figaro is a member of Sister Circle where she serves as the secretary, allowing her to engage with other women like her who want to succeed in their careers. With a wide array of career options, Figaro is unsure of where the future will take her, though she is sure that she loves to travel, so her job must allow her to explore new places. “As for the career I want to pursue, I either want to be a translator or a diplomat, but honestly, I don’t know what’ll happen after college.”
If you have ever broken a bone, your parents probably rushed you to the emergency room. Looking at the injured crying kid, the caring nurse gave you a lollipop, a sticker of your choice, and made conversation with you about school and your hobbies to ease the procedure. Personal stories and experiential learning are why seniors Ryleigh Jones and Haley Hunt chose to become benevolent nurses for children and people in underprivileged communities.
As a little girl, Jones ’23 was in and out of hospital visits due to her health; she knew that the career she chose needed to help people the way she was helped. That career has always been nursing.
“I am also a French major and the experience I’ve had is amazing!” says Jones, who in the fall of 2020 traveled to Lyon, France with Dr. Bertrand Landry’s class. This trip sealed the deal for Jones to declare her French major.
Though, Jones explains that being a nurse is her calling, specifically an obstetrics and pediatric nurse. Her favorite experience in Mount Union’s nursing program has been the clinicals and preceptorship where she has been able to make decisions and practice her problem-solving skills all while learning from a current nurse.
“I am not quite sure where I’ll be at in five years, which I think is the beauty of fate, the unknown,” said Jones. “Though, I hope that I am doing what I love most: helping others, especially kids in obstetrics and pediatrics.”
Hunt ’23 fell in love with all the opportunities that Mount Union’s nursing program gave her. Beginning her sophomore year, Hunt has been able to apply in class concepts and skills in the real world through clinicals around different hospitals in Ohio.
“My favorite experience has been the community clinical I completed where I worked with organizations like Help Me Grow and the Canton Fire Department to help people in the community with health needs,” said Hunt.
Nursing is a career that allows students to grow and be leaders in distinct pathways, and for Hunt, that pathway is helping underprivileged communities who need access to better healthcare by one day opening her own non-profit healthcare clinic.
“Upon graduation, I will be joining the Peace Corps and allowing God to guide me in the best direction to help those in need of my assistance,” said Hunt. “In five years, I hope to pursue and finish my master’s degree in public health.”
Were you the kid who wanted to do so many things once you got to college? You knew what you wanted to do with your career, but you also wanted to try another area of expertise. Mount Union gives students the opportunity to major in different areas so that they accomplish their goals. Junior Jacob Buttar ‘24 and senior Chloe Dragos ‘23 discuss what led them to pursue a double major and a career in media.
Buttar, a sport business and media double major is fascinated with anything sport related and the broadcasting world. Throughout his time at Mount Union, many doors have opened for him to gain real world experience and even travel across the country to conferences like the Sport Marketing Association in Las Vegas.
“As a student here at Mount and young broadcaster, I’ve worked on podcasts for 91.1 WRMU and am currently serving as its sports director,” said Buttar.
Buttar’s career goal is to work in media relations, either with sports sales or working in the nonprofit world for a sport organization, thanks to his involvement in campus radio and Alpha Phi Omega, a service organization on campus. Although, his favorite experience was working at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I met many Mount Union alumni along with experiencing the excitement of Enshrinement Week at the Hall of Fame,” said Buttar. “During Enshrinement Week, I spoke with actor Keegan Michael Key, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and Hall of Famers like Tony Dungy, Anthony Munoz, Chris Carter, and Joe Greene.”
Dragos, a media and Spanish double major and writing minor, has formed long-lasting friendships and relationships with fellow Mount Union students and faculty and staff. Dragos has interned at a company called “Art on the Go,” where she was able to attain research skills outside the classroom, write stories and articles, and help with the company’s marketing plan. Dragos also obtained a photography job with dance team, Beyond the Stars, where she has worked for two years.
“On campus I am quite an active student as I am part of four honorary societies, and a dance team member which has allowed me to travel to Disney. I’m also a member of the Cantus, Concert, and Kantori choirs, and work in student affairs and Raider Programming Board,” said Dragos. Through her on campus jobs Dragos has found new passions like planning and helping students.
“I fell in love with higher education thanks to the staff and directors working in student affairs who guided me towards the right path,” said Dragos. “Upon graduation I will be attending graduate school for my master’s degree in higher education.”
The Mount Union experience opens many doors, offering students a variety of opportunities to enhance their leadership skills in and outside of the classroom while developing skillsets through real world and hands-on experiences. These students, along with many others, have followed their unique paths to lead them with passion and excitement in their respective fields.