Enrolling in college is an act of hope for a brighter future. It can be reassuring to prospective or newly-enrolled students, though, to hear from other students about how they landed rewarding jobs after they graduated.
To connect the dots between enrolling and reaching the point of succeeding in a good job, National Louis University’s College of Professional Studies and Advancement organized an Open House Alumni Speaker Panel event on Feb. 1 at NLU’s Chicago campus.
Several successful alumni shared with students about their journey through college, the choices they made and how they made it to the positions they have now.
Here’s a brief rundown on some of the points each alum made.
NELY RENTAS, M.S. in Human Resource Management and Development
Current employment: “Earning my degree helped me both personally and professionally. Today, I am a Recruitment Coordinator at the University of Illinois Chicago. HR is a field with many areas under its umbrella, and earning my degree helped me connect with the areas of HR that I have not had job related experience in.”
Advice: “There’s going to be this voice in your head asking, ‘Is it worth it?’ Just keep remembering, it’s going to be worth it.”
BETH SCHAEFER , M.S. in Written Communication, Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership
Current employment: “After 12 bright years in the business world, I decided to switch careers and return to academia. In order to do so, I needed two things: vaster knowledge and a master’s degree in communications. Now, thanks to my NLU degrees, I am actively working in my dream roles as educator, curriculum designer, project manager and professional writer.”
Advice: “What I really took away from the written communications program was confidence.”
AGNIESZKA WAJDA, B.A. in Criminal Justice
Current employment: Police officer at the Harper College Police Department.
Thoughts: “Earning the degree helped me achieve success both professionally and personally. Many police departments require candidates to have 60 hours of college credits. The degree allowed me to distinguish myself amongst my peers.
“Getting a degree from National Louis—it helped a lot because we had the same subjects in the [police] academy. It made it so much easier.”
Accomplishment: “When I first started at National Louis, I was a bit shy about talking in public. As a police officer, I have to speak to people all the time. Just being here practicing in classes—it really helps me now.”
Sacrifice: “What was the biggest sacrifice? Time. I live in the suburbs. I was taking Metra trains, so it took a long time.”
JANINE KNIGHT, M.S. in Human Resource Management and Development
Current employment: “Today, I am a Corporate Recruiter at Redbox, a company specializing in DVD, Blu-Ray, and video game rentals via automated retail kiosk. I assist field hiring managers in the Central United States to locate candidates for their openings.”
Thoughts: “Each company would not be successful if not for human resources. And that’s why I will always have a job.”
Advice: “If it wasn’t for going through this cohort I would not have known anything about compensation…I learned all that here.”
SHERICKA ARMSTRONG, M.S. in Human Resource Management and Development
Current employment: Human Resources Administrator at Fresenius Kabi Pharmaceuticals.
Thoughts: “I’ve learned many things since I’ve been in HR, and I owe most of that to what I learned in the classroom. National Louis University gave me the building blocks to start my career, and I’m looking forward to a very successful one.”
Advice: “It’s like being on a diet. If you cheat, you’re cheating yourself. But if you get your degree, you’re rewarding yourself.”
AGGIE HANNI, M.A. in Psychology, Ph.D. in Community Psychology
Current employment: Assistant Director of Enrollment, National Louis University
Thoughts: “The Master of Arts in Psychology prepared me to work better with others by understanding what drives people’s behaviors and how their actions can be affected by various internal and external factors. While earning my doctoral degree and following the completion of that milestone, I was able to continuously share my work together with faculty, other students in the program, as well as other professionals in the field through professional presentations and publications.
“I live and breathe National Louis.”
Advice: “From my experience, I would have come to National Louis much sooner. I wish I had known about it sooner. The time will pass anyway, so as long as you find the program you’re looking for, it’s going to be worth it.”
TERRI POPE , M.S. in Counseling
Current employment: Therapist and group facilitator at The Center for Advancing Domestic Peace. She works with men and women who have perpetrated domestic violence in their intimate partner relationships.
Thoughts: “I love my program. I feel like the work we do in this program and work we will do as a result, is not just for me and my family–but to the community at large.”
MERCEDES WARCHALOWSKI, B.S. in Management
Thoughts: “I’ve been able to come to school after my 12-hour shift of work—and still be able to do online classes as well—and pursue my future at NLU.”
Advice: “Starting the BSM program, they taught me right from the beginning: you need to know your priorities, and you need to put them in order.”
ROBERT E. SMITH, B.A. in Applied Behavioral Sciences, M.S. in Written Communication
Current employment: Published author of the recently-released book, “Justice Delayed, Not Justice Denied: How the Chicago Murder of My Sister, Mary H. Smith, Was Finally Solved After 23 Years.”
Thoughts: “It started me off writing my book and my writing degree with Dr. (Joanne) Koch…It all started in Dr. (Wytress) Richardson’s program.”
“Once I got that first C, I never got another. I graduated 3.8”