After graduating from high school, the last thing on most students minds is life after college. As freshmen, graduation from college just seems so far away, but it arrives much quicker than anticipated. Now and again, it’s beneficial to see what recent alumni have been up to. Three graduates shed some light on life post-Seton Hill University (SHU), and also commented on SHU’s lasting effect on their lives.
By Jessie Krehlik
After graduating from high school, the last thing on most students minds is life after college. As freshmen, graduation from college just seems so far away, but it arrives much quicker than anticipated. Now and again, it’s beneficial to see what recent alumni have been up to. Three graduates shed some light on life post–Seton Hill University (SHU), and also commented on SHU’s lasting effect on their lives.
Valerie (Masciarelli) Reho, formerly editor-in-chief of The Setonian, graduated in 2008, along with Vanessa Kolberg and Nikki Klein. Both Reho and Kolberg majored in English, while Klein chose biochemistry for her field of study. Although Reho and Kolberg both minored in new media journalism and received certification in secondary education, Reho majored in English literature, while Kolberg majored in creative writing, with an additional minor in English literature.
College freshmen have a lot to think about while they attend classes for the next four years. What am I going to do with my life? When should I go to graduate school? What happens if I don’t find a job in my field? What if I can’t find a job right away? Luckily, Reho, Kolberg and Klein have a few answers to put some unnecessary stress at ease.
Of the three 2008 graduates, only Kolberg went on to graduate school immediately after graduating from SHU last May. Kolberg is currently enrolled in SHU’s writing popular fiction graduate program. Because Kolberg is still in school, she has put her dreams of becoming an editor on hold for the time being.
Plans for graduate school are still up in the air for the other two graduates. “I hope to [go] within the next two years, but I’m not sure what I’d take up or where I would go,” said Reho.
Klein agreed, explaining that she wanted to take a break from academia and make some money before attending graduate school. “Maybe some day, though,” she said.
Even with today’s economic problems, each of these graduates found work within their chosen fields of study. “I knew that I wanted to work in the medical field, in a hospital lab or some type of reference lab. Currently, this is the type of work I do and hope to do in the future,” Klein said. Klein works at a cancer testing company as a laboratory technologist.
“I found my current job about two months after graduation,” said Klein. “I contacted the company before graduation and was told that I would be notified when a position opened.” Klein found this career opportunity “thanks to [her] internship,” which she learned about from one of her professors at SHU.
Klein sees herself employed at the same company five years from now. Maybe down the road I will look for a position in a hospital laboratory. But, for right now, I love what I am doing and feel like I am making a difference in patient lives with my work,” said Klein.
Unlike Klein, Reho and Kolberg do not currently have full-time jobs. Both are working as substitute teachers for schools in the surrounding area. “I was able to find schools willing to hire me as a substitute almost instantly,” said Reho. “Subs are very hard for schools to come by, and the more you go to a certain school, the more that school will call you with day-to-day assignments.”
For now, Reho still pursues full-time employment at a school. “I’ve sent out a lot of applications in the south, because teaching jobs are so hard to find in this area of Pennsylvania. Schools are opening in Virginia and North Carolina, but they’re closing here,” said Reho. Reho dreams of having her own classroom, with her own students, who follow her rules, not those she subs for within the next year, before enrolling in a graduate program. “In five years, who knows? Maybe my husband and I will start on kids, but I want to be totally established by the time that happens,” said Reho.
Because of her commitment to her masters degree, Kolberg is content with being a substitute teacher for the time being. I did want, and still do, to be an editor, especially for books,” said Kolberg. After completing graduate school, Kolberg plans to pursue a career in editing, as well as have a book published, and move out of Pennsylvania.
Reho, Klein and Kolberg concur that their educations at SHU have opened additional doors for them. SHU has changed each of them for the better. “I am not the same person I was when I started college,” said Reho, “I’m more willing to start conversations with people I don’t know, and I have a lot more self-esteem. I owe a lot of that growth to the [SHU] community.”
Although Klein complained about some of the more difficult classes she had to take while at SHU, Klein admitted that those courses prepared her for real life challenges.
SHU had a lasting impression on Kolberg as well. “[SHU] gave me the knowledge and confidence that will help me as I continue to look for a job/work in any of numerous fields,” said Kolberg.
Reho feels that she received the most out of her education while attending SHU. “Sometimes I wish I’d taken advantage of study abroad opportunities, and now and then I really wish I’d done that Disney internship program. It just looks like it could have opened a few more doors for me. But I love what I learned, and I use it every day, so I’m happy in spite of those few minor regrets,” said Reho.
When she reflects on her time spent at Seton Hill, Klein praises the chemistry and biology programs. However, Klein regrets not enrolling in more Biology courses. “My job responsibilities focus more on the biology side of my education than the chemistry side. I could have been a little more prepared had I taken them (but would have had to go to school longer). But, I work with a lot of great people who are ready and willing to teach new concepts and answer any questions. I learn something new every day here,” said Klein.
Both Reho and Klein offered some advice to current students as well as incoming freshmen. “Everything goes by so fast, so even though you want to get good grades and make the dean’s list, live in the moment now and then. I always miss hanging out with my friends, and I took for granted little things like having them right next door to me in the residence halls,” said Reho.
Klein’s advice is a little more scholarly than Reho’s. “Find as many internships as you can throughout school, and take them seriously. Many times it will lead to a full-time position after graduation. Get as much experience in your field as you can while in college. Many companies are looking for prior job experience, and anything will help to make you look better than the other job candidates. Even work study positions in your field will help,” said Klein.
Every college student worries about life after school. Sure, it might be nice to not worry about earning good grades anymore, but once school’s over, all that’s left is real life. However, Reho, Klein, and Kolberg have all proved that success is possible.