In my last blog post, I visited Nevada for the first time to explore the area and find an apartment. Not only was the experience eye-opening, but it helped me overcome my fear of relocating to a new city alone. Suddenly, starting a new life didn't seem as intimidating as it once did.
Okay, I won't lie...it also didn't hurt that we had just come out of the Polar Vortex back home. After dealing with what seemed like an endless winter spent trapped indoors, I was more than happy to go somewhere warm. After all, Reno boasts 300 days of sunshine a year--sold!
One of my favorite weekend spots: Zephyr Cove Beach, Lake Tahoe
After my trip, I returned home for 10 days before the official move. In-between packing and saying goodbye to family and friends, I did a few speaking engagements at SVC regarding the interviewing process and career development. It was fun presenting to the students and helping them learn through my experiences (and struggles) job-searching. I'll be sure to keep you guys updated on my public speaking ventures in Nevada. Stay tuned for my upcoming career series on the blog as well!
Speaking to Women in Business (WIB) and the Career and Lifestyle Planning Graduate Course
After all my plans were set in place, the big day finally arrived. That morning at 4:00am, I woke up; groggy, but excited to make this cross-country trip a reality. So what went through my head that morning? As my alarm went off I thought to myself, "This is it, I'm moving across the country today...and I really need a nap." Exciting, right? After all the planning and anticipation leading up to the move, I was more than ready to get on the plane.
The plan was to depart from Pittsburgh Airport at 5:00am, have a short layover at Chicago Midway, and land in Reno around noon. However, my simple cross-country flight somehow turned into an all-day travel fiasco! The story is actually quite funny...
It all started when a hold-up in security at Pittsburgh caused several of us to miss our flight to Chicago. The next flight to Reno wasn't departing until 5pm, so Southwest promptly put me on a flight to Nashville where they said to expect an 8 hour layover to the west-coast. Yikes! This was going to turn into a long day.
After landing in Nashville, I exchanged a quick hello with fellow Bearcat Chad Meholic who works for CMT (major foreshadow for an upcoming blog post!) Chad asked if I was in Nashville public speaking. No, I was just lost.
Once in Nashville, I needed to figure out where I was headed next. The service agent at the ticket counter made a few phone calls and told me a flight departing for Phoenix in 10 minutes had an extra seat. The gate was at the complete other end of the airport. Perfect.
After a quick sprint to the terminal, I got on my second flight of the day. By this time I was dizzy, hungry, and surviving on peanuts. At least I was laughing the whole time!
In Phoenix, I finally had time to grab lunch. As I was eating at the terminal, they announced over the loud-speaker that the plane to Reno was broken. At this point I really wasn't surprised.
While waiting I made a few friends who kindly saved me a seat since I was boarding without a ticket. Eventually they secured a working plane and I was off to Reno.
Three flights later I finally landed, picked up my rental car, and headed to my hotel where I practically collapsed into the lobby. The hotel staff from my apartment hunting trip a few weeks prior greeted me with excitement, "Allyson, you're back!"
Yes, I was back and here to stay for good this time! We all shared some laughs about my travel story before I fell asleep in my room. The rest of the day was spent filling out paperwork and working with my Insurance Counselor to finalize everything about the move.
With the travel fiasco finally behind me, I woke up Friday morning excited to pick up the keys to my apartment. The next day, the moving crew arrived with my household goods and delivered the boxes into my apartment.
Next, they unloaded my car. For those wondering how they got my car to Nevada, they shipped it in a trailer. Luckily, I did not have to drive that far!
The moving crew was great! They made the logistics of the move super simple and painless. After the movers left, I spent the rest of the weekend running around buying necessities and unpacking to prepare for my first day of work on Monday.
So, where do I work?
In Pittsburgh! This just happens to be a very different kind of Pittsburgh.
For my first business assignment in the FLD Program, PPG sent me to work in an Architectural Coatings Plant that manufactures latex paint. It's located about 15 miles outside of Sparks, NV in a region that's considered "high desert" due to its high elevation.
Yes, you saw that correctly. There are also wild horses that roam freely amongst the desert scenery and sagebrush. They often wander right up to the office windows. Expect to see lots of horse pictures here in the future!
In three days, the move was officially over and it was officially time to start my new life.
For some, entering the real-world means mundane routines and repetitive tasks to simply get by each day. However, SVC graduates have something special to offer the world. We're equipped with much more than degrees and job-titles; our education instills us with a sense of purpose and provides the foundation needed to lead a meaningful life.
With this in mind, I was ready think beyond the ordinary confinements of adult-hood and make an impact on my new community as a young professional. After all, with 300 days of sunshine to work with, my future was looking pretty bright!
Ok so I'll admit it...I'm not the world's best planner. Sure, I keep my tasks organized and get my bills paid on time and hate to be late for anything, but you know those last minute sales on Christmas Eve? Yep...those are for me. That whole call to schedule your doctor's appointment two months in advance? Nah, I'll give him a call and see if he has any open slots tomorrow. I'm a walk in to get my haircut kinda guy. I slowly start planning birthday gifts weeks in advance but don't actually go out and buy them until the week before and I didn't have a final plan for how I would propose until the week before it happened. And even then I realized that I had no back up plans if it rained that day (fortunately for me, it didn't!). I didn't plan on becoming an interface analyst at UPMC my freshman year at Saint Vincent. Actually, I didn't even plan on majoring in bioinformatics. My goal graduating high school was to get a physical therapy degree and go into a sports science or sports medicine field. But man how things change.
My cross country coach in high school would always tell us, "Failure to plan is planning to fail," and it seemed that at any point in my life I have had a plan for the future:
At age 13, I was sure that I wanted to be a priest.
At age 16, I was sure that I wanted to be a physical therapist, until I learned that me and blood/needles/broken bones aren't the best of friends.
At age 18, I was sure that I was going to graduate high school and major in Bioinformatics (no blood/needles/broken bones!)
At age 19, I was sure that I wanted to go to graduate school and earn my master's degree.
At age 20, I was sure that the research industry was not for me and that four years of college were plenty to get a good job.
At age 21, I was sure that whatever career I acquired, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with computers and coding.
At age 22, I was sure that I had just accepted a job working with computers and coding.
At age 24, (last month) I was sure that my role at UPMC was to remain an interface analyst, until UPMC went through a reorganization phase, and I am still awaiting the outcome.
You know what they say...The only constant in life is change. Good thing too...imagine what the world would be like with these goons running around:
Well...we might not have changed, but at least we are better dressed. I guess the takeaway is to be prepared for what life throws at you but at the same time, be open to changes. Don't let changes or the unknown hold you back.
Hello from Pittsburgh!
I'm here for a week on business and thought I'd stop in to say hello. It's hard to believe it's already been four months since I moved across the country on my own.
Before I jump into sharing what I've been up to out here, I thought I would back-track a bit and talk about my relocation to Nevada. It was such a fun and exciting experience that I wanted to share with all of you!
Side note: If you're interested in relocating for a job after college, talk with the Career Center at Saint Vincent College. Many companies will pay most or all of your relocation expenses. In my case, my entire relocation was taken care of by PPG. Keep in mind if you're planning to move on your own it will take additional planning and costs not covered in this post.
Alright, so let's start from the beginning...
When I first applied to the FLD position I had no idea where I would end up moving (good thing I love surprises, right?). Taking a leap of faith, I went ahead and sent in my resume and cover letter. Later that week I had a phone interview, where my recruiter told me I had two choices of location for my first assignment: Huron, Ohio or Reno, Nevada.
I remember not sleeping very well that night. Nevada? What? It seemed like a very random place to move. However, I was longing for an adventure and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to travel, start my career, and gain new experiences in a new city.
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
Was I afraid? Of course! However, my fear quickly turned to excitement. Often times we let fear hold us back when in reality we should embrace it. It's okay to admit that you're afraid, nervous or anxious about making major life changes. Graduating college poses tons of these "I AM FREAKING OUT" moments. Luckily, both Saint Vincent and the FLD program provided the support and push I needed to make the cross-country move. Honestly, I could not have done it on my own with out them backing me up.
While I started planning my move to Nevada, Josh Riggle, who also graduated in December with me, took the other FLD position in Huron, Ohio (Hi, Josh!).
Cake: always a good motivator!
Soon after I accepted my offer, I was assigned a moving counselor to help coordinate all aspects of my relocation. My counselor helped with everything from securing an apartment and setting move dates to ensuring everything arrived smoothly.
A few weeks before officially moving, the moving company sent me on an apartment-hunting trip. Keep in mind this was my first time traveling alone. It took me about a month before I worked up the courage to book the plane tickets. Literally, I tried to come up with every excuse of why I could not possibly take this trip alone. But you know what? I did it. And I loved it! It was such a fun and memorable trip. I really encourage traveling alone if you get the chance. Since this trip I have flown across the country eight times, something I never thought I would do alone.
Looking out the plane window as I flew over Reno was the first time I saw my new home! It looked just like Google Maps from up there...
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." ~ T. S. Eliot
At Saint Vincent I lived in a dorm all four years and really enjoyed the experience of living in close proximity to my classes, friends and campus activities. Moving into an apartment meant starting a whole new life; however, I wanted to keep some of the things that I loved about my life on campus. With this in mind, I searched for a place on the out-skirts of town that had a small community feel with a few trees and grass thrown in to add a touch of home to the dry desert climate.
During my trip I spent my mornings at the hotel researching apartments and setting up appointments. The hotel staff was very helpful and friendly-- it made my stay in Reno so fun.
In between appointments I explored the town, tried new restaurants and chatted with locals.
On the very last day of my stay, I signed a lease for my dream apartment with a beautiful mountain view. Although difficult to leave my home at Saint Vincent, this visit left me excited to return in a few short weeks. Overall, the week served as a nice little test-run for my new life.
Stay tuned for part II, where I'll talk about the final move!
Hi, Bearcats! Can you believe how fast summer went? August will always remind me of moving back to Saint Vincent, excited to reunite with my friends and ready for the mental stimulation of going to class. Welcome back!
Last month, I had an unexpected opportunity to go on my first-ever business trip. My boss, Tim, and I were invited to speak at the 2014 Wealth Counsel Symposium in Denver, CO. The Wealth Counsel is a national group of attorneys who specialize in estate planning, business planning, elder law and more.
You may be wondering, what place do marketers have at an attorney convention? At it turns out, there are plenty of attorneys who want to learn how to incorporate social media and video into their marketing strategies. It's hard for businesses to be seen if they lack a strong digital presence. Fortunately, with some thought and effort, any organization can get their message out to the right audience online.
The same is true when it comes to promoting yourself! If you are searching for a job or internship, I cannot stress the importance of crafting your own personal brand to stand out from the competition. Whether you're a history, math or communication major, anybody can do this! Here are some of my favorite tips for building your online reputation – and getting you one step closer to your dream job.
1. Create a Video Resume - In addition to a traditional resume, a video resume is a way to get creative and show hiring managers that you're willing to think outside the box. Like a cover letter, a video resume allows you to expand on your interests and talents in a unique, memorable way. Communication professor David Safin incorporates a video resume project into his lesson plan each year and has great advice on how to execute it.
2. Talk about your career goals and interests - Social media is a great tool for letting people know what you're interested in, especially companies looking to hire. If you read a compelling industry article, be sure to post it or discuss it on your LinkedIn profile (yes, you should absolutely be on LinkedIn). It also goes without saying to never post something you wouldn't want your future boss to see, no matter how private your profiles are.
3. Generate content - If you REALLY want to stand out, you should be writing about what you love, not just re-posting articles. If you're passionate about wildlife, start a blog. If you love fashion, contribute to a style website. Just write! Your content will show up when people Google you, setting you apart as someone knowledgeable and insightful.
4. Be yourself! - Building your personal brand is your chance to show the world who you are and what you aspire to be. If you're easygoing and creative or serious and buttoned up, what you post and write should reflect that. You are in charge of how people see you.
These tips merely scratch the surface on how to build your professional presence. If you'd like to learn more, any of the communication and marketing professors are great resources to use, as is the Career Center. Dr. Dawn Edmiston, a former SVC marketing professor, put together a very helpful presentation that explains some of these tips and more in greater detail.
Have you found other creative methods that helped you land a job or internship? I'd love to hear about them!
Growing up (and even still today) when I'm feeling overworked or overwhelmed, my dad always tells me, "Remember Aaron, pressure makes diamonds." Even though at the time, I may not always want to hear such simplistic and optimistic advice when I'm so busy that I forget to eat, it's true...you can't have the hardest mineral known to man (or the most beautiful stone known to woman) without a ton of pressure. As quite the involved student athlete with a crammed academic schedule, I'd be lying if I said that college was no sweat and that there weren't nights that I questioned my sanity (as illustrated in the picture below from a finals week one year). I may not have emerged a sparkling diamond when I graduated Saint Vincent, but it was those times when I was ready to throw in the towel that truly prepared me for life after college and taught me some important lessons.
Lesson 1: The little things are just that....THINGS!
I'm not talking about class work or finals or having a healthy lifestyle, because all of those are more than just little things. What I am talking about is the bad hair days that everyone has, the stress of paying $500 for books, the stress of not knowing your roommate or being nervous about who you will sit with at lunch. Sure, everyone has a bad day; even Veronica (the ever smiling cafeteria worker who made it a point to learn each and every student's name) had rough days. But remember: it's ok to be stressed; it's ok to be upset or anxious or nervous. The important thing to remember is that you aren't the only one who feels that way.
I will be giving two presentations in front of hundreds of other computer programmers this coming September in Wisconsin. Am I nervous? You better believe it! But the focus that studying at SVC taught me has helped me prepare my presentation far enough in advance. And the ability to ask other people for help that I eventually learned at Saint Vincent has helped me ask my coworkers' opinions of my presentation drafts. Which brings me to my second lesson...
Lesson 2: The only stupid question is the question that you never ask
Yep, I was that kid that walked into the wrong classroom on the first day of the semester at least my first three semesters at Saint Vincent. I was that guy who never listened to my teammates and scheduled with the toughest professors, because c'mon, how hard can the professor really make the class? I was the guy who spent hours in my dorm room banging my head against the wall trying to figure out each week's assignment when I knew (and was even invited to go work with) a group of my classmates who were meeting just down the hall to study together. Everyone needs their alone time, and not everyone is an extravert who can just walk up to anyone and start a conversation off the bat. But know that there are so many people at Saint Vincent who want to see you succeed. That support group will only grow as you continue your journey through college and into the real world. Never be afraid to ask for help, because you never know what life will throw your way.
Lesson 3: No matter how hard you try, you can't predict your future. So try not to lose sleep over it
This may not come as a shock to anyone, but even the most seemingly boring lives are subject to sudden changes. Stressing over whether or not you have selected the right major, or how you are going to have time to study for all three exams that you have this coming week, or how you will manage having to run home for your parent's birthday party with a huge paper due on Monday just isn't worth the anxiety. College is tough, there is no denying that fact. And post collegiate life can throw just as many curveballs. When all else fails, take a deep breath, step back from the moment, and re-visit lessons 1 and 2.
Lesson 4: Never stop trying
One of my favorite quotes is from runner Steve Prefontaine, who boldly exclaimed: "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." It is easy to feel down about yourself when the pressure is on and things might not be going the way that you had planned. My freshman year, I did not run a fast enough time trial join as a member of the cross country team. If I would've given up there, my entire life would have changed. But I didn't give up and retried the time trial a few weeks later and made the team. Did I go on to become the fastest runner that Saint Vincent has ever seen? Not even in the slightest. I only ran varsity two or three races my entire four year cross country career. But did I become a member of the first SVC athletic team to bring home a PAC trophy? And did I join a team that has become my family with whom I still keep in touch today? I sure did.
My junior year, I had a packed schedule and wasn't able to keep my grades where I wanted them to be. I thought long and hard about changing my major to find a less stressful road to graduation. But I didn't give up; I kept my nose to the grindstone and stuck with my major. Did I go on to become to become the smartest student to ever attend Saint Vincent? Hardly. I actually ended up getting a C- in one of my major core classes. But did it teach me how to stay focused and how to prioritize my time? It sure did.
College can be a stressful time, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Remember, no matter how stressed you may feel, there will always be people behind you, cheering you on. You just might not see them until after the stress clears.
Most people have seen the scene from Adam Sandler's movie Billy Madison where Billy comes back to the elementary school and tells the third grade kids how "great" high school is. "Gee," announces one of the third graders, "I can't wait to get to high school." Billy's face turns serious and he grabs the pudgy kid's cheeks and shakes him repeatedly while telling him "Don't you say that. Don't you ever say that. Stay here. Stay here as long as you can. For the love of God, cherish it. You gotta cherish it." (If you haven't seen the movie, or you are like me and still laugh every time you see it, see the clip below)
We've all been there. "I can't wait for vacation to get here." "I can't wait until the weekend." "I can't wait to grow up." Too often, SVC alumni read on social media sites or hear current Saint Vincent students exclaim "I can't wait to finish finals and be done with the semester," or "I can't wait for my senior year to get here," or "I can't wait to graduate." To these naive students, the response from the alumni is always the same: "Cherish it! Stay as long as you can!!"
What happens in those moments where we find ourselves wishing for something else? Sadly, far too often those become the moments that we wish we could have back. Personally, I know that if the 24 year old Aaron could go back in time and have a conversation with the college freshman Aaron, it would go something like this:
24 Yr Old Aaron: "Campus ministry trip to Italy. Why aren't you going?"
College Freshman Aaron: "I dunno, it's kind of a long trip and a big commitment and kinda inconvenient. Plus I can't wait to just have my summer off."
"Man up. it'll be one of your biggest college regrets. You signed up for the spring break service trip right?"
"Are you kidding? And give up my spring break when I get to go home and lounge around for the week?"
"What about the trip to Alaska?"
"Pull yourself together bro. You're really missing out on these opportunities."
"I did take a two hour nap today, so that's something."
"But for real, get out of your room, go meet people, and leave that comfort zone. Don't go wishing these next four years away or sit and watch them go by without doing anything."
I'm not telling you that I live everyday in the past and that I still live live my life as though I were still a college student. Nor am I saying that there weren't times that I couldn't wait to be done. My senior thesis - a long, in depth project with countless hours of research and meticulous planning. My 25 page biochemistry final - one of the toughest exams that I've ever taken. Staying up all night sitting with one of the residents in my hall who had too much to drink and waiting for the ambulance to come - knowing full well that I had an exam the next morning. But it was living through those moments (and each one of the countless others in my SVC career) that taught me an important lesson. Researching, computing, and presenting my senior thesis prepared me to approach, manage, complete, and present projects that are assigned to me today at UPMC. The biochemistry final taught me that you can never be too prepared or know the material given to you by your professor (or your boss) too well. And sitting with that student all night gave me confidence to handle situations that I would otherwise avoid as well as the ability to think quickly on my feet.
There is nothing wrong with being excited for a big event. Especially the events that break the "mundane" of your daily living, such as vacations, weekends, or graduating and moving forward to the next big step in your life. But remember that every moment is unique; there is nothing that you can do to truly relive or retrieve the moments that together, define the person that you are. What we can do is take a step back from our constantly busy lives and appreciate what we have right in front of us in that particular moment. Trust me, the you a few years down the road will be happy that you did.
Hello, friends! Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to look at my little corner of the blogiverse. My name is Sadie Stresky, and I graduated from Saint Vincent in 2013 with a communication major and minors in marketing and graphic design. Presently, I work as the Digital Marketing Manager at 321Blink, a full-service marketing and production agency in Aspinwall, PA.
I’ve always wanted to blog, but I felt like I didn’t have much to say about any one topic. It was only after working for a few months that I realized I had been jotting down notes to myself about how to succeed at work, maintain a sense of professionalism, and general life advice. I hope that through this blog, I can share some of my findings with you!
Saint Vincent played a huge part in shaping who I am today. It all started when my high school guidance counselor suggested I take a tour of the campus because it’s a “nice person school.” I’m glad I took her advice! We Bearcats are so lucky to have such a friendly, welcoming community to call home. It's something special when professors, neighbors, and even strangers (who won't be strangers for long!) go out of their way to help you however they can.
My four years at Saint Vincent gave me amazing friends and memories that will last a lifetime- not to mention an excellent education! As a student, I loved being involved in all sorts of ways, from running the communication club (which was once Ad Club, then Culture Pub, now MAD COMM) to being in Alpha Phi Omega, Women in Business, and other clubs. I had an amazing work-study experience at the Seminary and Archabbey Public Relations office and was in the pioneer group of Fred Rogers Scholars, which helped fuel my passion for children’s media issues.
All of these things helped me be well-prepared for my first job out of college. I use my degree every day at 321Blink. As a project manager, I oversee the making of creative campaigns from start to finish. Sometimes, I’ll also do some graphic design work and copywriting – I even got to be in a commercial for Sendell Volkswagen! It’s always amusing when people say, “Hey, I think I just saw you on TV!”
Just like at Saint Vincent, each day on the job brings new challenges and things to learn. I’m looking forward to sharing more of my journey with you!
Without going into a full blown discussion over alternative realities and butterfly effect theories, sometimes I wonder how many different opportunities have been presented to me throughout my short 24 years of living that could have changed who and where I am at this moment today.
I'm not going to break it down into the "what if I would have slept in yesterday and missed breakfast, and as a result I stopped at Starbucks on my way to work. At Starbucks, the man in front of me offered to pay for my breakfast so I was put in a good mood and feeling lucky so I played the Power Ball, won, and became an instant millionaire" type choices (although if that happens to anyone, it was my idea first and I promise to only take a small piece of the winnings).
But honestly, there were countless paths that I could have taken (knowingly or not) throughout my four years at Saint Vincent College. From knowing what classes to take, to finding someone to talk to when I was feeling down, to preparing my résumé and learning everything that I needed to know about job hunting, my Saint Vincent family was always there to offer the guidance that I needed.
The Saint Vincent Labyrinth, a recent addition to SVC campus as a path of meditation and self reflection (SVC Dedicates Labyrinth)
"Remember Aaron, your studies come first." "Are you still liking all of your classes?" "What exams do you have this week?" If I had a dollar for every time that my parents asked me these questions on my weekly calls home, I might as well have won the Power Ball. Leaving the comforts of home and starting down my new path at Saint Vincent my freshman year, even if it was only a 45 minute trip, (disregarding the fact that Mom made it feel as though we were light years apart) was an exciting, but also a stressful time. New friends, new surroundings, new schedules, new everything were enough to make any level-headed freshman's head spin.
Fortunately for me (and the rest of any incoming freshman classes), Saint Vincent had my back. The Orientation committee put together a great few days of sessions, speakers, activities, and games that truly calmed my nerves and helped me get acclimated to the new environment as well as meet a lot of my fellow freshman classmates. As an added bonus, being a member of a fall sports team meant an early move in for the athletes before the rest of the campus community.
Cross Country head coach Dr. Andrew Herr had that whole week planned to a T, which included the upperclassmen helping the freshmen move their belongings into the dorm; team bonding trips to the Latrobe pool, Sandcastle and a cabin in the Laurel Highlands; team meetings about the upcoming cross country season; grades; eating healthy; as well as the importance going to bed at a decent hour. Oh, all that plus the two-a-day practices.
But the part that truly stuck with me was the individual meetings between the runners and Coach Herr or Coach Steve Snider (the assistant coach). These meetings were not just for the freshmen and were not held exclusively during orientation week. Throughout any runner's SVC career, an almost weekly meeting was scheduled to discuss that week's goals, both on and off the course, how the team was doing from an athlete's perspective and how classes were going. These meetings were normally scheduled for fifteen minute timeslots, but we often found ourselves sitting for 30-45 minutes or however long it took for us to get everything off our chests. Our coaches were always there to offer advice on becoming better men, better runners and better students.
Freshman year wasn't the only time that I needed academic guidance, nor were my coaches and teammates always the final resource when it came to being a better student. Obviously, all SVC professors had office hours and were always available for specific questions within a given course. Other times I needed guidance in my major, or in making sure that all of my classes were lined up to successfully graduate in time. For these times, I turned to my advisors, who got to know me by my second week of classes. My advisors were the ones who helped me select classes for the upcoming semesters, prepare my senior thesis, and ultimately prepare for my career path. And for general career help, such as perfecting my résumé, finding contacts for job opportunities and interview tips, I could always rely on the Career Center.
But as prepared as all of these resources helped me become, there were plenty of unexpected twists and turns while on my Saint Vincent path. From coping with the deaths of friends and family members close to my heart, to relationship troubles, to the general anxiety of being a college student, the Wellness Center was a quiet, peaceful, confidential place that I (or any Saint Vincent member) could go and just talk and be heard by professionals who have heard it all.
It wasn't easy at first to talk with the members of the Wellness Center, because let's be honest, I was a man and everyone knows men don't have feelings (or at least aren't supposed to). It would just show that I was weak, that I was soft, giving my friends a reason to make fun of me. But how wrong I was on all accounts; I've never felt as free and as comfortable with myself as I did when walking out of the Wellness Center after talking with the amazing people that work there.
There are a lot of cliches that I could insert here about life and its available paths. "Life is a journey." "Life is a highway." "Footsteps in the sand." "Forward, always forward." But I'll spare the reader the eye roll and simply say that no matter what path life takes you on, there are always people along the way to lend a helping hand. But remember...you'll never get anywhere standing still.
My name is Aaron Seckar and I graduated from the most beautiful place in the world, Saint Vincent College, back in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in Bioinformatics. Currently, I am an Interface Analyst at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and am engaged to the beautiful Kimberly Yanicko. We will be coming back to Saint Vincent on the day of our wedding to be married in the Basilica, and we could not be more excited for one of the most special days of our lives to happen at the most special place in the world to us. You see, Saint Vincent means more to me than just where I went to college to get my degree; it is more than just a school that I call my alma mater and go back to visit for homecoming weekend; it was, and still is, a place that I call home.
Way before I was even born (I promise...I'll keep this part short) my mother and her whole family grew up in Latrobe. Her mother (my grandmother) worked as a switchboard operator at SVC way back in the day, my great uncle helped build Alfred Hall, and one of my father's cousins played on the SVC football team that made it to a major bowl game before football was discontinued, so my ties to the college were pretty strong before I even considered attending. None of those factors, however, really drove home the idea that I had made the right choice by applying to Saint Vincent. I will never forget the summer after graduating high school when the head coach of the cross country team called my house to talk about the track season that I had just completed (which was anything but extraordinary) and to talk about my summer training and what size jersey I'd need for the upcoming cross country season. It was at that moment that I knew the next four years of my life were going to be something special.
And how right I was. I can honestly say that my four years at SVC were the four greatest and the four fastest years of my life. From running around campus (and the whole Latrobe/Westmoreland County area) with the cross country and track teams, to prefecting in St. Benedict and Rooney Halls, to tutoring Computer Science students through the Collaborative Learning Program (CLP), and working for Fr. Max when he was the guest master in the Archabbey, (all while keeping up with my own studies of course), it was pretty rare to find me sitting around doing nothing.
When I did have down time though, I loved watching other SVC athletes in action, playing intramurals or midnight pickup games of two hand touch football, and appreciating that my best friends all lived within walking distance of where I lived. Don't get me wrong...I'm not trying to convince you that my four years at Saint Vincent were filled with rainbows and butterflies. I experienced the anxiety of studies, the 3AM fire alarms, the relationship issues, and the overall stress that comes with being a college student. But it was the SVC community (which later became my SVC family) that made attending Saint Vincent College such a blessing. I hope that through this blog, I will be able to share some of my experiences that made me a part of the place where everybody knows your name.
Hello there! My name is Allyson Lambert and I graduated from Saint Vincent College this past December with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance. It's hard to believe that just a few short months ago, I was finishing up my last finals week of undergrad and preparing for graduation!
In addition to academics, Saint Vincent College provided me with a number of formative experiences and activities that helped shape me into the individual I am today. During my time here I was part of the Women's Cross Country Team and a member of Women in Business (WIB). During the day, you could find me working at the McCarl Gallery between classes or giving campus tours for the Admissions Office. By evening, you could find me back stage rehearsing for a musical or opera. I truly enjoyed my time spent here learning and growing as a person.
After a whirlwind of tests and papers, it was finally time to receive my diploma. Surrounded by friends and family, I felt an overwhelming amount of support from the Saint Vincent Community as I walked across the stage. Although it was hard to leave the place that I called home for the last few years it did not feel like goodbye, just "see you later!"
Now that I had my diploma, it was time to focus on interviewing and planning for the next step...
So where did I end up after graduation?
2000 miles away in Nevada!
Shortly after graduation, I accepted a position with PPG Industries in their Financial Leadership Development (FLD) Program. The program allows FLD Trainees to explore different aspects of the business through a series of assignments. For my first assignment, I had the opportunity to relocate to Reno, Nevada for approximately 18 months. I couldn't have been more excited to begin this journey!
In the words of Boniface Wimmer, Saint Vincent College strives to teach “first what is necessary, then what is useful, and finally what is beautiful.” The liberal arts curriculum has done just that for me by developing the technical skills necessary for business, while also capturing the beauty of the humanities—the history, art and theology that unites us all.
Through this blog I hope to share how my education at Saint Vincent has impacted my life beyond the brick-walls and green fields of the college campus I once called home. Now, as I venture out into the "real world," I am ready to fully embrace all that life has to offer. I hope you will follow along on this journey with me!
After all, once a Bearcat, always a Bearcat.