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Winter graduates prepare for futures

Many Pitt State students are preparing for more than just the holiday season this December, as graduation approaches. With graduation a week away, December graduates are also looking forward to job placements and future aspirations, as well as looking back on time spent at PSU. 

Students from departments across campus are both excited and anxious for this stepping stone in their collegiate careers. 

Adriel Madison, senior in early childhood education, looks forward to applying her knowledge inside her own classroom one day. 

“I am very excited to be graduating,” Madison said. “I’m excited to be able to close this chapter of my life and know that I will be able to close it with a sense of peace and accomplishment because I’ve put in my effort, I’ve put in my time, I’ve done what I feel is the best that I could do to reach this point. And now, I get to take what I’ve learned and go on to the real world and do what I came to Pitt State to do, which was to teach.” 

Madison is currently student teaching in a first grade classroom and feels that she has already had the opportunity to begin applying what she has learned from her time at Pitt State. After graduating, she plans to substitute teach for a semester and solidify a teaching job.  

Jessica Premer, senior in digital and print media, is graduating with a couple prospective jobs within the graphic design field, though she plans to return to school to earn her master’s degree eventually. Premer is excited to have the opportunity to apply her graphic design knowledge at her future job. 

“You learn a lot and you don’t really know you learn a lot until you actually go to do a project or do something in your work because you’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, I remember how to do this,’ or, ‘Oh, yeah, I learned this in this class,’ you don’t realize you know something until you actually have to learn to do it,” Premer said. “And so having that aspect of having the knowledge behind it but not knowing, and knowing you actually have learned something from school, is good.” 

Premer transferred to PSU her sophomore year and was extremely satisfied with Pitt State’s Graphics Imaging Technology (GIT) department. Premer’s deciding factor in choosing PSU was her interaction with faculty and how caring everyone was to her. 

“… I did a tour of the whole (GIT) department… I got to learn just how it is to be a student, and not a lot of places when you go for tours are willing to take you in and help you there more than normal,” she said. “… Everybody’s friendly here, they’re not like ‘just come here because we want your money,’ you know, come here because we want you to learn, we want you to succeed, and that’s really why I came here.” 

Dalton Foster, senior in construction engineering, received a job offer from Crossland Heavy Contractors in August and will begin work there January 7. He gives kudos to his professors within the School of Construction for preparing him for his job after graduation. 

“… Our teachers through our classes have put us into situations that we would need to problem-solve, use critical thinking,” Foster said. “So, they’ve put us into as good of real world situations as possible… And I think that’s what’s helped out a lot… I’ve made a lot of friends within my field and elsewhere that I can one day look to for advice and so forth. Again, I had great mentors with my instructors in the School of Construction, so I use them for advice… going forward.” 

Foster knew he wanted to study construction because he watched his brothers in the field and received firsthand experience from it. He further knew he wanted to attend Pitt State because of its good reputation and the involvement of its alumni. 

“… I knew some Pitt State alumni and you could see how much the alumni care for this university and they’re very proud of the institution… And I wanted that some feeling upon graduation, to have that pride and that love for my university,” he said. “I would say that’s really what drove me here, and it was a great decision.”  

Though, not all students graduating are first time graduates, such as Tracy Stahl, who is an instructor in the Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing and is receiving her fifth and final degree. 

“Returning to a student role added a personal perspective to being an instructor,” Stahl said. “I was reminded as to what it feels like to be a student again, and that has changed my teaching philosophy to some degree…” 

Stahl has a bachelor’s of business administration, a master’s in business administration, a bachelor’s of science in nursing, a master’s of science in nursing, and is now graduating from the doctoral nursing program. She plans to use this fifth degree to advance her current role at Pitt State and hopes to qualify for a tenure position. 

“The faculty at Pittsburg State University have best prepared me to succeed,” she said. “I always knew that the faculty at PSU were qualified, exceptional, and caring instructors, but to be in a student perspective’s role again actually opened my eyes to the level of excellence that is instilled and expected of the students…” 

Many of Pitt State’s winter graduates will continue to further their knowledge in their desired field of study, such as Madison, just as Stahl has done. 

“Well, as teachers, we learn that teachers really are just lifelong learners themselves and that if we want to be the best teachers we can be for our students and implement the best practices, then we have to be involved in professional development opportunities …” Madison said. 

Overall, Pitt State students will leave campus with memories of campus life, Gorilla traditions, football games, and more, along with high hopes for their futures. 

“… Pittsburg State is a great school and the School of Construction is a great program that we have here,” Foster said. “Again, we have a lot of great students, a lot of great faculty. I’m just really proud to be a Gorilla.” 

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