As the class of 2017 prepares to cross the stage for Wittenberg's 167th Commencement Exercises, a few seniors take time to reflect on their time at Wittenberg. First up, 2017 Alma Mater and education major Ellen A. Martin from New Albany, Ohio.
Q. What are your career aspirations, and how did Wittenberg prepare you?
A. My career aspirations revolve around education and education administration fields. I will be moving to Idaho after graduation to work for Teach for America, teaching special education in a school close to Boise for the next two years. I am very excited and anxious for my adventure in Idaho to begin.
Wittenberg has really prepared me to take this amazing, fortunate experience that I have had, and bring it into the lives of students who have not had the same opportunities. Something I am constantly reminding myself of is that to be great a teacher, you do not necessarily need large amounts of funding or all of the latest technology; all it takes is passion, empathy and drive. Honing in on these strengths is what keeps me going every day. Building rapport with my future [students], maximizing their proficiency, and creating educational equality are my current goals for my future career, and I look forward to where my path will take me after the next two years.
Q. Who influenced you the most during your time here at Wittenberg and how?
A. I would have to say that a couple of very close friends of mine, along with a handful of faculty and staff, are the people who have really molded me into who I am today. Specifically, Kayla Villegas, class of 2016. She is my "big" in Delta Gamma and one of my best friends. She exemplifies what it means to be a strong, smart, admirable woman. She always reminded me to look at the bright side of things, even when they aren't going your way. She is no doubt a ray of sunshine wherever she goes, and I am really lucky to know her; she will be a lifelong friend and role model.
Also, Elizabeth Ames, former director of student activities, has been my mentor throughout my entire college experience. She was able to juggle 500 things at one time and do so with grace. She was my supervisor on Union Board, my boss at the Student Center, and a friend. I look up to her confidence and love for higher education, as well as her passion for building strong women and strong relationships with the people closest to her. She helped me through some tough times as a college student and was always a calm energy in the room. I love you, Elizabeth!
Q. Describe what Wittenberg means to you.
A. Wow, this is a loaded question! Wittenberg means so many different things to me. It means family, challenges, positivity, support, growth and so much more. Witt has been a place where I have grown incredibly as a person, met my best friends, met my boyfriend, made stupid mistakes, created professional relationships, and really discovered who I am. So many college students struggle with identity; I did for years. However, I have become closer and closer to who I really believe I am, living out the values and characteristics I truly believe in, staying committed the entire way. To me, Wittenberg symbolizes a home, a place that I can always come back to and feel welcomed and accepted. Not every second of my college experience was sunshine and rainbows, but those challenging times will be the ones that shape me the most. The time for change is now, and Witt gave me everything I needed to discover what those changes were going to be.
Q. What advice would you give to the current and future students of Wittenberg?
A. Some advice I would give to current and future students would probably be to just stay true to who you are. Try not to change who you are to fit in with a specific group of people, and don't do things you don't want to do. If you just be yourself, you will find the people who will be your friends and who will support you no matter what. College has a lot of stigma attached to it, and we are all guilty of falling into the pressure of those around us. Do what YOU want to do. Have fun, enjoy this extremely special time when you live less than a mile from all of your friends, soak it in. We are enduring the most fun time of our lives. Focus on what is important to you, and your path will be presented.
Q. Describe your favorite memory you made at Wittenberg.
A. Another hard question. I would say one of my favorite memories would be walking around campus with my friends in the fall. During the day, it's absolutely beautiful; at night, it's starting to get chilly, and everyone is so excited to be at school. This is especially true for Homecoming. I love seeing all of the old faces I used to see as a freshman and sophomore and reconnecting with old friends. It's so comforting to see that all of these alumni love Wittenberg just as much as you, and they get so excited to come back. I also just really love the memory of meeting some of the most important people in my life. Being a part of such a tight-knit community has been a great experience, and I will miss this place so much.