How McKendree’s Class of 2017 Made Their Mark


By Allison Donofrio, Staff Writer

As the McKendree class of 2017 graduates and sets their eyes on future goals, I set out to discover what some of the students have planned for their future, what motivated them throughout their time as a student and what they would change during their time at McKendree.

The majors represented by the interviewed students included Psychology, Religious Studies, Speech Communication, Biopsychology, Business Administration, Pre-Professional Biology, Economics and Finance, Philosophy, and Health and Wellness.

Brandon Nabors

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Brandon Nabors, from Mount Vernon, Ill., majored in Sport Psychology and competed on the men’s tennis team from 2013 to 2017.

Q: What motivated you as a freshman, and what motivates you now as we graduate this month?

A: When I was a freshman, I was excited for this 4-year adventure. I wanted to learn as much as I could. I originally planned to go to medical school, but I quickly fell in love with psychology. I was motivated to see what I could do as a career in psychology and I worked hard to make that happen. Now, as a senior, I am motivated by the people who have made this long journey with me, especially the few individuals who will be by my side for this upcoming endeavor. I would not have succeeded without my brothers on my team and my close friends at school.

Q: If you could, is there anything you would change during your time here at McKendree?

A: I would have studied harder. Also, I missed a lot of good times with my mates and I regret every missed adventure.

Q: What is your favorite memory at McKendree?

A: My favorite memory is freshman year at the first round match of the conference tournament. Our senior, Luciano, was the last match playing in a 4-4 match and he came back to help us win a stunner against UMSL. We stormed the court and went completely crazy. I will never forget how awesome that feeling was. A close second is probably the last night of freshman year.

Beginning next fall, Brandon will pursue a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at McKendree.

Dutch Nave

Dutch Nave

 

Dutch Nave, from Morris, Ill. majored in Religious Studies and Philosophy. He was the Assistant Resident Director of the Suites and President of McKendree’s Chapter of ‘To Write Love on Her Arms.’

Q: What motivated you as a freshman, and what motivates you now as we graduate this month?

A: In my first year at McKendree, I was deeply motivated by my faith in God to pursue a Bachelor’s in Religious Studies and pursue ministry as a pastor after I graduated. I have and still enjoy looking at the “big questions” of life and what God had planned for me. Over time, I found that my career path and passions were changing. While I am still deeply motivated by my faith, I had been challenged by my work in Residence Life and found that working with students and Student Affairs is my true passion. Now that I will be graduating, I am still motivated by my faith as well as making an impact in the field of Student Affairs and in the lives of college students.

Q: If you could, is there anything you would change during your time here at McKendree?

A: If I could change any of my past experiences at McKendree, I honestly would not. I’ve honestly been blessed to attend this university and recognize that all of the joys, regrets, celebrations, setbacks, and mistakes I have made while at McKendree have made me who I am today. I have absolutely no regrets attending here and would not change a single thing.

Q: What is your favorite memory at McKendree?

A: My favorite memory at McKendree would be this past year. While going through my last year as a McKendree student as well as my last year on the Res. Life staff, I am amazed at how much I have been challenged and have grown from those challenges. While it is bittersweet to leave many friends, colleagues, and professors that I wholeheartedly love and respect, this past year has made the largest impact on me as a person, student and professional. I have a feeling that I will never forget my senior year at McKendree!

After graduation, Dutch will attend Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich. to obtain a Master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs.

Dylan Cassidy

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From Dublin, Ireland, Dylan Cassidy graduated from McKendree with a major in Psychology and a minor in Sports Psychology. He was a Midfielder on the men’s soccer team from 2015 to 2017.

Q: What motivated you as a freshman, and what motivates you now as we graduate this month?

A: As a freshman, I was mainly motivated by my athletic career and doing well in soccer. Now, I’m motivated by the academic side of things, and hoping to achieve my best grades to date.

Q: If you could, is there anything you would change during your time here at McKendree?

A: As a transfer, it took me a while to really get involved around campus, so if I were to change something it would be to jump straight into activities and meet more people sooner.

Q: What is your favorite memory at McKendree?

A: It is hard to choose just one memory, as there many that come to mind. One that stands out is my last soccer season. It wasn’t my most successful season, but I learned a lot about myself and it gave me the motivation to pursue a career in sport psychology so that I can help athletes in the future to become successful.

Dylan plans on attending graduate school at McKendree to complete the psychology MBA program. He has also accepted a graduate-assistant coaching position with the men’s soccer team.

Grace McDowell

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Grace McDowell, a 2016 McKendree graduate from Mount Vernon, Ill, majored in Speech Communication and Business Administration.

Q: What motivated you as a freshman?

A: As a freshman, what motivated me was to keep my grades high, I always strived to do my best in my classes and work hard to earn the grades I wanted. I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a freshman, but that only motivated me to broaden my horizons and learn from a wide variety of classes.

Q: If you could, is there anything you would change during your time here at McKendree?

A: I wouldn’t change much about my time at McKendree. Maybe just to make even more of an effort to branch out, meet new people, and try new things (clubs, travel, etc).

Q: What was your favorite memory at McKendree?

A: I have so many great memories at Mckendree! My favorite include being in McKendree Idol and singing at the finale (twice) with fellow students. I was able to do what I love with others who love performing and singing. Walking dogs at Stray Rescue is a favorite memory as well. I looked forward to Monday’s and volunteering to walk dogs in downtown St. Louis. It made a stressful day happier.

In March, Grace accepted a position as a marketing executing for Mt. Vernon Tourism. She works in an office at the Mt. Vernon Convention & Visitors Bureau where she promotes, plans and works events. Her other duties include submitting ads, writing press releases and traveling to different businesses.

On her position with Mt. Vernon Tourism, Grace said, “My main goal for this position will be to bring conventions and conferences to Mt. Vernon that will cause visitors to stay in our hotels.”

Ronald Drummond

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Ronald Drummond, from New Baden Ill., majored in Biopsychology. He was President of the Green Team and Vice President of The Student Government Association.

Q: What motivated you as a freshman, and what motivates you now as we graduate this month?

A: As a freshman, I wanted to find the real me. I wanted to figure out what I was going to do for the rest of my life and that is not an easy task. As I move forward to graduation, what motivates me is making it past today. I am not concerned with tomorrow because today is right now and I want to embrace every moment I have left here. What motivates me is all that I have accomplished in three years at McKendree because coming in my freshman year, I really struggled. The change I have experienced in just three short years is a good motivator for the future because I learned that I can achieve real excellence if I devote enough time and effort to it.

Q: If you could, is there anything you would change during your time here at McKendree?

A: One thing that I really strive to change at McKendree is the attitudes about recycling and sustainability. I think that positive change can come about from a little extra work, and I hope I left my marked instilled in the McKendree Green Team, as I will be transferring my presidency, so that there can be sustainable changes on this campus in the near future.

Q: What is your favorite memory at McKendree?

A: My favorite memory at McKendree was made just weeks ago at the 44th Annual ILLOWA Conference in Monmouth, Illinois. Several students from Dr. Guy Boysen’s Psychology Research Methods class drove three and a half hours North to present our senior theses accompanied by Dr. Gerald McDonnell. I made some real connections with students I would not normally connect with, and it will definitely be one of the most memorable moments of my McKendree career.

Next year, Ronald will attend the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program at the prestigious Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

JT Russell

JT

JT Russell, from Marion, Ill., majored in Business Administration and was a member of the golf and bass fishing teams at McKendree.

Q: What motivated you as a freshman, and what motivates you now as we graduate this month?

A: As a freshman, my motivation was a goal to get straight A’s and a focus on sports. As I have gone through school, my focus shifted towards growing my relationships with people. Now, a goal of mine is to find a job where I can use my personal strengths.

Q: If you could, is there anything you would change during your time here at McKendree?

A: I would definitely go to more events and try to meet more people.  I did a very good job of that at the first college I attended, but not so much here at McKendree.

Q: What is your favorite memory at McKendree?

A: My favorite memories at McKendree revolve around the relationships I have made with my teammates, both golf and bass fishing.  They have really become my brothers.

While his plans post-graduation plans are still undecided, JT has several job interviews lined up.

Rebecca Nauman

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From Yorkville, Ill., Rebecca Nauman majored in Pre-Professional Biology and was a setter on the women’s volleyball team.

Q: What motivated you as a freshman, and what motivates you now as we graduate this month?

A: Motivation as a freshman: I have aspired to be a physical therapist since I was young. I always wanted to be in a profession where I could help people learn and grow on a daily basis. Coming into freshman year, I knew getting into physical therapy school would be very competitive. The only way I thought I had a chance to get into a PT school was to give everything I had at every second of the day. I worked hard in the classroom and developed relationships with my professors in order to guarantee success. I worked extremely hard outside of the classroom by studying on my own and with small groups. My biggest motivation was that every day I was one step closer to my dream career and I knew I would only make that a reality if I was 110% dedicated to my course work.

Motivation now: Currently, my motivation is to be the best version of myself in order to have a positive influence on the people around me.  I have learned in the past four years that if you are not happy with where you are or what you are doing, than you must make a change. I have been able to make changes in my life including surrounding myself with like-minded people to prepare myself for a successful future. I am motivated to better myself, my family and my friends in order to live a long, happy and healthy life.

Q: If you could, is there anything you would change during your time here at McKendree?

A: If I could change anything, it would be to not fear the unknown. Spending to much time worrying about the future doesn’t get you there any faster. It is difficult to not wonder where life will take you, but God has a plan for everybody and time will tell exactly where we are supposed to be.

Q: What is your favorite memory at McKendree?

A: My favorite memories are the times that I spent with my closest friends. I realized that I would never get these “college nights” back and I am grateful for soaking up every second I had with them this last semester.

Rebecca will pursue her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Northern Illinois University.

Jack MacLean

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Jack MacLean, from Lincoln, Neb., majored in Economics and Finance and Philosophy. He was also a setter on the men’s volleyball team.

Q: What motivated you as a freshman, and what motivates you now as we graduate this month?

A: I came to McKendree as a volleyball athlete, so my motivation as a freshman was geared heavily towards athletics.  But over the years, you begin realizing the athletics won’t last forever and that your education is much more important, so I became much more motivated by my ambitions after college.  So now, as a senior and graduating in two weeks I am very forward focused, and motivated by my goals after graduating.

Q: If you could, is there anything you would change during your time here at McKendree?

A: I can honestly say, no.  I have had a tremendous experience at McKendree.  There really is nothing I feel I missed out on.  I was an athlete, an honors student, I started and ran a campus service organization and was able to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship and became the first McKendree student to be named an alternate for that award.  So all in all, I got more than I could have ever imagined out of my four years here.

Q: What is your favorite memory at McKendree?

A: That is a tough question. I would have to say all the memories I’ve made with my friends and teammates.  I really feel I have made some lifelong friends while at McKendree and I wouldn’t trade any of those memories for anything. Some of the most exciting and memorable moments have been being named a semi-finalist for the Fulbright and also getting to see my campus group successfully install a community garden in East St. Louis.  Those are two moments I was very proud of and was very lucky to share with some amazing people!

While Jack has long terms plans of attending law school, he is currently looking into jobs in order to gain experience before applying and attending law school. On his long-term job goals, Jack said, “I want to find meaningful work where I can make a difference for people.”

Jack has applied for a variety of jobs that range from economic research positions to paralegal positions at law firms that work for economic justice. “Nothing is set in stone yet!” Jack said.

Alyssa Reiniger

Alyssa Reiniger

From Maryville, Ill., Alyssa Reiniger majored in Health and Wellness and was a defender/forward on the women’s Soccer team.

Q: What motivated you as a freshman, and what motivates you now as we graduate this month?

A: What motivated me was going to nursing school. I applied my freshmen year at McKendree for Goldfarb school of nursing which is a very prestigious nursing school so I was determined to keep my GPA as high as I could so I could attend that school. I also had to complete a lot of science based prerequisite classes with a grade standard to keep my enrollment in the program. I have always been a hard worker and held myself to high standards, so I have expected myself to have my school work and grades to reflect that. I played soccer and success on the field was a big motivating factor through my years as well.

Q: What is your favorite memory at McKendree?

A: My favorite memory is a tough one to pick, but I think winning the GLVC tournament for soccer is my favorite memory.

Starting in September, Alyssa will attend Goldfarb School of Nursing through Barnes Jewish’s accelerated 12 month BSN program.

Kaitlin Pennington

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Kaitlin Pennington, from Creal Springs, Ill., majored in Psychology and was a outside hitter/defensive specialist on McKendree’s JV volleyball team.

Q: What motivated you as a freshman, and what motivates you now as we graduate this month?

A: What motivated me as a freshman, academically, was getting good grades in my classes. I was very focused on trying to always push myself as a student, even if I didn’t completely enjoy what I was doing. What motivates me now, as a graduate, is learning material that will further me emotionally and spiritually, especially when it comes to my future career.

Q: If you could, is there anything you would change during your time here at McKendree?

A: If I could change anything about my time at McKendree, it would be utilizing the library more. My last two years at school were mostly spent studying in the library and I learned that it’s a very peaceful place to get some work done. I wish I would have implemented that mindset in my first two years.

Q: What is your favorite memory at McKendree?

A: My favorite memory at McKendree was probably the first time it snowed my freshman year. There were students on campus that had never even seen snow before, so it was really heartwarming to see so many people out on the quad having snowball fights and running around, even if the temperature wasn’t ideal.

After graduation, Kaitlin plans on attending graduate school to receive her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

While these ten students are only a small sample of McKendree’s class of 2017, they represent how McKendree students can leave their mark. Congratulations to the class of 2017, and good luck in each of your future endeavors! Once a Bearcat, always a Bearcat!

Feature Image Credit: McKendree University.
For questions or concerns, comment below or contact Allison at allison,donofrio15@mckendree.edu.

 

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