2011 Sturgis Alumni Reunion (Spring 2012)

The annual Sturgis Alumni Reunion was held Thursday, December 22. It was great to see so many of you there. We had alumni from most of the classes. Matt French won the award for traveling the greatest distance from Abu Dhabi! We look forward to seeing more of you when we have the ribbon cutting celebration for Sturgis West. Plans are in the works and we will keep you informed as the plans develop. Stay tuned! For the time being, we need your input. Please take the online Alumni survey. The results will help us continue to improve the educational experience at Sturgis. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/alumsurvey2012

During the December reunion, alumni first gathered at Sturgis for coffee and a chance to touch base. During the morning, alumni met with the juniors and seniors to field questions and describe life after Sturgis. It was great to hear Sturgis graduates describe some of their experiences of searching for and finding the right fit in colleges, majors, internships and jobs.

Juniors and seniors asked a variety of questions including:

How many colleges do you recommend applying to?

What if you don’t get into your first choice?

How do college classes compare with IB classes?

Do you recommend working or planning a gap year before college?

Afterwards, we sent a note to alumni asking them to weigh in with advice to students concerning college and work. Many thanks to all alumni who responded!

Carly Larsson, Class of 2010

I will readily admit, I was far from an exemplary student my last 2 years at Sturgis. I frequently skipped school, and if I went, I showed up for lunch. My report cards senior year are shameful to look at. By some stroke of luck and a lot of support from Ms. Whaley and others, I got into my top choice art school and progressively realized what opportunities I threw away during my time at Sturgis. It’s not about getting the best grades or being the best, it’s about personal development and doing the best for yourself. I still think about what a wonderful education I wasted as a stubborn headstrong 18 year old. If I have any advice for students still in high school, it’s that even if you hate going to school, strive to make the best of your time there and invest in the things you love doing. My second bit of advice is to do what is best for you, even if it’s scary. After Sturgis, I moved to New York City for school knowing no one, completely on my own. It was a bit of a culture shock for sure, and I was pretty lonely for my first few months here. But it was the best thing I could have done for myself, and now a year later I am seeing my future career take shape and constantly seeing myself grow intellectually, emotionally, and artistically. The best advice I can give, having experienced it myself, is that doing what scares you (and maybe even realizing it was the wrong choice after all) is far more fulfilling than living the rest of your life wondering “What if?” Don’t be afraid to fail; realize that every failure (and success) is a learning experience. Having confidence in yourself and your abilities goes a long way.

Ben Porter, Class of 2010

During my senior year at Sturgis I did not search for colleges.  Instead, my plan was to attend a one year, gap-year school in Norway, which I did. I knew college was not for me right out of high school. I was young, overwhelmed by the possibilities.

The school I attended in Norway is designed like a college except for the fact that students do not receive grades. I studied traveling and tourism. My class traveled to Belarus, Lithuania, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Spain, Denmark, and around Norway. The year off helped me find what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do something within the medical field, but what though? After visiting several clinics in Thailand, I knew becoming a Physician Assistant was my best bet because it provides all the qualifications necessary to volunteer at a clinic in Thailand helping seriously ill children and adults.

I was not sure what I wanted to study in college after high school nor did I want to attend college right out of high school. I personally needed a break in education to live out some of my other dreams (such as the traveling) before college. It helped me mature, see the world more, and give me confidence going into college.

For those who are still unsure about what they want to do, there are other options besides college right away. Take some time to look outside the box. Use your hobbies, interests, and skills to your advantage to find a program that you would like to partake in.  I will be 22 starting freshmen year at Penn College of Technology. My major is Physician Assistant.

Lauren Wygonski, Class of 2003

After graduation in 2003, I went to Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA after applying early decision in the fall. As I look back on that time, I believe I made a great decision for me as an 18 year old but I wish that I had applied to  more well-known schools in the majors I pursued. While I had a challenging and fantastic experience pursuing a History and International Relations degree, I should’ve researched the majors better and listed the top schools for job recruiting and campus life.

Having a Sturgis degree, I was not sure what course of study I wanted to pursue.  Luckily, the liberal arts school I attended forced all freshmen into a broad range of academics with the liberal arts degree requirements. Eventually, I found my footing after sophomore year and really pushed for a dual degree. Even though I never “used” the lessons from Beginner Jazz Dance or Religion and Film courses, I found the courses outside of my major helped me narrow my interests and take a peek into other courses of study.  Right after Muhlenberg, I earned my Master’s degree at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, specializing in International Trade Policy. I’m currently an International Trade and Energy Analyst for an energy consulting firm in Washington, D.C. and I specialize in developing countries.  I can trace my language, analysis, and project management abilities back to Sturgis and the fantastic teachers that sparked my interest in History and development.

All in all, I’m happy I went to a small school after Sturgis so that I didn’t experience large-school-shock.  I was able to stay as involved outside of the classroom as I was at Sturgis. I highly recommend Greek Life as it provided multiple opportunities to get involved with the campus as well as students outside of my major.  Additionally, I wish I had  pursued more internship opportunities, especially in undergraduate study. I want to encourage all students to attempt an internship, paid or un-paid, in a field they are thinking about pursuing. I did my first internship when I was 23 and luckily, I fell in love with the experience. Having friends in and out of graduate/law/medical school programs now, I see the importance of internships so you can experience working in a field day-to-day rather than just reading about it.

Julia Woiszwillo, Class of 2003

Searching for the right college for you can be one of the most exciting times in your academic life;  it can also be the most daunting. During my college career, I went to three schools, yes three. I applied early decision to a small all girls school in upstate New York and thought I was set. Boy, was I wrong. I got there and it was nothing like I thought it was going to be. I ended up leaving after a semester and attending Cape Cod Community College for a year. While I was at Cape Cod Community College, I spent a lot of time researching my next move, as I knew it had to be my final one. I toured a lot more colleges this time around, asked more questions about the classes and academics, as well as the social atmosphere of the school. This search lead me to Lehigh University where I found my niche. My only wish is that I had the full four years there.

I am not sad for my experiences, nor do I regret them. I am grateful I found the right place for me, it just took me a little longer than most of my Sturgis classmates. My advice to you is to spend a weekend at your top two or three colleges (many colleges offer this option)  — interact with the current students, attend a few classes and truly get a feel for what the college is actually like, beyond the walking tour. This will help you get a feel for what your next four years will be like and will aid you in making the best and most informed decision when selecting your college. What I learned from transferring schools twice, is to ask every question possible, even the ones you think are irrelevant and silly. They are not! College is an important time in your life.  Everyone is different and is looking for different things when college searching, so take your time and find out as much as you can. Good luck and enjoy the process. It may seem overwhelming, but every step is worth it.

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