Thursday, 23 May 2019
BREAKING NEWS

Seniors Reflect on Their Time at St. Thomas, Offer Advice for First-year Students – University of St. Thomas Newsroom

With graduation just around the corner, we asked Tommie Award nominees about their time at St. Thomas. Here’s what the seniors who responded to our query had to say about memorable St. Thomas moments, post-graduation plans and advice they’d give to first-year students arriving in the fall.

Michelle Wise
Major: Operations and supply chain management with a minor in public health studies
Most memorable St. Thomas moment: When I was working as the Business Living Learning Community resident adviser and my residents surprised me by baking me a birthday cake and singing “Happy Birthday.” The sense of community and support came full circle in that moment.
Post-graduation plans: After I graduate, I will begin my master’s degree in healthcare administration at the second-ranked program in the country, the University of Minnesota. I’m ecstatic to meet my cohort and continue my journey in becoming a hospital administrator so I can serve my community during their most vulnerable times.
Advice to incoming first-year students: Regularly set goals and work to achieve them. I also suggest they get involved on campus and take advantage of all the resources and connections available while in college. You never know who could become your best friend or mentor.

Anne LoCoco
Major: Business administration with a double minor in Catholic studies and general science
Most memorable St. Thomas moment: I will remember living in Dowling Hall as a senior RA with my best friend who is a senior peer minister (and another Tommie Award nominee!). Being able to walk downstairs to see my best friend, and Jesus in the adoration chapel in Koch Commons has been the biggest blessing.
Post-graduation plans: I will be working as a sales consultant at an insurance company called Unum.
Advice to incoming first-year students: Focus on your classes. Grades matter. Everyone gets so excited about all of the big life transitions that college brings (living in dorms, new independence, a new social scene, etc.) that no one talked to me about the rigor of college classes. Remember that you are at college to LEARN.

Jayda Pounds
Major: Entrepreneurship with a theology minor
Most memorable St. Thomas moment: The time I was able to lead a club meeting. I was so tired – tired of being bogged down by the things plaguing our society, tired of having to deal with racism or racist acts, and tired because of finals. So, I decided to make everyone go around the room and give each other a compliment. The atmosphere changed and smiles became contagious. It was the best feeling and I know my week ended strong because of that.
Post-graduation plans:  Taking a year off to travel and to start a business before going back to school.
Advice to incoming first-year students: I know you know all of the clichés: take advantage of all of the opportunities, meet as many people as you can, make sure to step outside of your comfort zone – things like that. Honestly, just be yourself. A lot of people are as scared and excited as you are, so don’t let that deter you from doing what you enjoy. If you like being alone, it’s okay to eat by yourself – just don’t make it a habit. If you love socializing, join all the clubs you can handle – just don’t let it consume you. Most importantly though, don’t lose sight of why you are in college in the first place – to get an education. Get your work done and reap the benefits later.

McKenna Peplinski
Major: Mechanical engineering with a minor in peace engineering
Most memorable St. Thomas moment:
I played on the soccer team at St. Thomas, so my most memorable moment is when my team won the MIAC championship my senior year. 
Post-graduation plans:
Next year I will be starting a doctoral program in environmental engineering at USC.

Bisrat Bayou
Major: Neuroscience and public health
Most memorable St. Thomas moment: Being elected as student body president for this school year. My life has changed ever since and I am so grateful for the experience.
Post-graduation plans: After graduation, I will be working with the Minneapolis City Council as a policy associate, where I’m excited to begin my journey in intersecting neuroscience and public health.
Advice to incoming first-year students: Embrace who you are and don’t ever doubt yourself. Find self-assurance in the diligence that got you here!

Maddie Giesen
Major: International business
Most memorable St. Thomas moment:
My most memorable moment at St. Thomas occurred during my sophomore year. For my management class, my professor gave us the option to participate in the Hult Prize competition. The topic for the 2017 challenge was Reawakening Human Potential. My group and I made it to the final round of the competition, and although we didn’t win, I had such a fantastic time hearing the other contestants’ ideas and learning about refugee-related issues around the world.
Post-graduation plans: I will be working in the sales department at C.H. Robinson in Minneapolis. 
Advice to incoming first-year students:
Study abroad! St. Thomas has so many fantastic study abroad options for students in all majors. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and see the world during your four years at St. Thomas.

Shonni Krengel
Major: Psychology with a double minor in justice and peace studies and sociology
Most memorable St. Thomas moment:
It was recently. I am president of Asian Students in America (ASIA) Club and we had our annual ASIA Night, a multicultural dinner with performers. It was most memorable because I have been president for the past two years but on the eboard since the club was founded. We had a full house and had to bring in extra chairs because more people came that we could seat. So it was amazing to see the club grow over the years and to have a full house during my last big event for this club!
Post-graduation plans:
I am going to New York University (NYU) to get my master’s degree in psychology, with a concentration in social psychology. I hope to use this degree to work toward social justice and racial equity!
Advice to incoming first-year students:
I struggled a lot when I first came to St. Thomas because there are not a lot of people of color, so I struggled to find my niche. For students of color that are coming to St. Thomas, I found the most supportive and encouraging people in the clubs I joined. I especially recommend multicultural clubs because you can find affinity with other students of color, you can learn about new cultures, and have dialogues about topics that will challenge your worldview. It’s a hard transition for anyone so keep your head high and you will eventually find friends that will last a lifetime!

Micaela Flores
Major: Exercise science
Most memorable St. Thomas moment:
I don’t think I could pick just one moment. Working in the Athletic Department, mostly with the football team, and Campus Life as part of STAR, have given me so many memories. One highlight was working at the Tommie-Johnnie football game at Target Field. Experiencing that game on the field was such an incredible experience. Additionally, being part of STAR has allowed me to meet so many other students, whether it be other STAR interns or students attending the events. I have mad