2018 grads pursue impressive post-graduation plans

2018 grads pursue impressive post-graduation plans 

May 18, 2018

Maryville College students go on to do great things after graduation, and the Class of 2018 is no different. Ready and excited to move on to the next phase of life, members of Maryville College’s Class of 2018 will scatter to all parts of the country – and world – to pursue internships, graduate school studies and jobs. Read more about some of these graduates and their impressive post-graduation plans.  

Joshua Anderson, a political science major from Knoxville, Tenn., will attend the University of Tennessee College of Law in the fall to pursue a doctor of jurisprudence (J.D.), with a concentration in advocacy and dispute resolution.

“I want to pursue law because I have a passion to fight for justice and be a voice for those who can't speak for themselves,” Anderson said. “It is critical that the rights of all people around the world be defended and that they receive the best possible outcome in the legal process. I believe the University of Tennessee College of Law has a superb program, where I will gain the knowledge and experience necessary to become a successful lawyer.”

Anderson said his long-term goal is “to do my best to help as many people as I possibly can, and make their lives better.”

“I hope to work with my soon-to-be-wife to advocate for the rights of the disabled around the globe. I plan to pursue a career engaging the political process to help bring change,” he said. “Maryville College has prepared me to face any academic challenge that I am faced with in my law school experience. Most importantly, Maryville has instilled into me the value of serving others – inspiring me to truly strive to ‘Do good on the largest possible scale.’”

Tristin Baker, a computer science major from Athens, Tenn., will be an ICQA program developer for Amazon at the company’s distribution center in Chattanooga, Tenn.

 “I will be developing software which will be used by managers and other associates on the warehouse floor,” said Baker, who found out about the position through his aunt, who works at the Amazon distribution center in Charleston, Tenn. “Most of the software I will create will be helpful in managing inventory. Other software might include associate incentive programs and things like that.”

Baker said he had no programming experience before attending Maryville College, and his Maryville College education provided him with the programming skills necessary for the position.

“Maryville College also helped me prepare for this by helping me be

comfortable speaking in a technical sense,” he said. “I think my main bonus while interviewing was the fact that I was comfortable discussing different programming concepts during both technical interviews I had.” 

Chris Blankenship, a music major from Maryville, Tenn., will attend Florida State University to pursue a master of arts degree in music.

“This degree, like my BA in music, is an untethered degree program that more or less lets me pick anything in the field of music that I want to focus on. It only made sense to me that I choose a graduate program with as much flexibility as my undergraduate path,” Blankenship said. “When I say that it's an ‘open degree,’ that might come off as a copout and could be interpreted as I don't know what I want to do with my life, but my situation is actually the exact opposite. There are so many things that I specialize in in the field of music, that any one degree program would have been very limiting for me. Most music degrees on the master’s level are honed in on specialties like conducting or performance or education or therapy - and that's all you focus on for your 2 years in that degree program. FSU is one of the only schools in the country that I know of that has a program this flexible - and that was a major selling point for me. It gives me the liberty to perform in chamber ensembles, arrange/orchestrate music for local groups, conduct, teach, and even do my music librarian duties such as archiving and preservation/restoration.”

While he said music librarianship in his future, he would like to be a band director, much like his advisor, Dr. Eric Simpson, director of bands at Maryville College.

“I always thought I wanted to be a high school director, and I sat on a lot of different ideas such as composition or performance or conducting, but everything kept pushing me back to being a band director - it took me a while, but I eventually got the push I needed to look in the direction of being a collegiate director,” he said. “I can still manage a music library or teach music theory or tuba – things that I like to do and am relatively adept at – but nothing would be more fulfilling than to do that while also being a collegiate band or orchestra director. I think both Dr. Simpson and Alan Eleazer (adjunct instructor of music and conductor of the MC Community Chorus and Orchestra at Maryville College) have done well in preparing me to move forward in that role as I step into graduate school.” 

Maddie Carpenter, a history with teacher licensure major from Maryville, Tenn., will teach 9th and 10th grade social studies at Clayton-Bradley STEM Academy in Maryville, starting this fall.

She said that teaching at Clayton-Bradley has been her “absolute dream,” so even when there were no positions open, she sent her information to the school quite a few times.

“After months of not hearing back, I finally received an email inviting me to come in for an interview. I was overjoyed!” Carpenter said. “I never thought that I would land my dream job right out of college; I especially didn’t expect to get it as soon as three days before graduating! Teaching the Humanities at a school as amazing as Clayton-Bradley Academy is truly my dream job, and I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity.”

Carpenter said her time at Maryville College has prepared her for this position in many ways.

“The Education Division and Teacher Licensure Program have provided me with many meaningful opportunities that have served to shape the teacher that I am today,” she said. “In addition, the Humanities Division has provided me with a remarkable education in my content area. I feel confident and very well-equipped to teach the Humanities at a high academic level, and I owe most of that to my amazing professors!”

Mariah Franklin, a political science and history double major from Knoxville, Tenn., will start Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) program this fall at the SAIS Europe campus in Bologna, Italy. She will spend one year in Italy and one year in Washington, D.C., to complete a master of arts in international affairs.

“I was interested in pursuing this degree because, in the long-term, I'd like to do foreign policy analysis for the U.S. government,” Franklin said. “I applied to SAIS, specifically, because I felt that its ability to provide students with both relevant practical experiences and access to rigorous scholarship would help me achieve my professional goals and enable me to make my own contribution to the scholarly conversation.”

Evan Heffner, a management major from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., is going to work for Total Quality Logistics in Knoxville, Tenn., as an account executive. In this role, he will make sales pitches to owners who have freight to ship, and he will manage daily shipments to ensure that they are delivered on time.

Heffner, who was looking for a sales role to start his career, said he found the opportunity through LinkedIn, and the company contacted him.

He said Maryville College helped prepare him for this next step, thanks so the Maryville College Career Center, which provided assistance with the interview process and creating a professional resume, and the College’s liberal arts curriculum, which gave him preparation in many different subjects.

“I am confident that Maryville College has prepared me for life after college,” he said. 

Byjan Kajaei, a Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) major from Antioch, Tenn., will depart in August for Japan to start a position as an assistant language teacher, teaching English with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program.

“During my time there, I will be working with the Japanese government to teach English in local Japanese schools for one to five years,” Kajaei said.

She said she first learned about the JET Program in high school and brought that interest with her when she came to Maryville College.

“Fortunately, the coordinator for the program comes to the College once a year to do informational sessions at the Career Center or at one of our fairs, which I used to my advantage to get my name out there and learn more about the job,” she said. “Participating in the JET Program will allow me to gain valuable experience in my field as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher before I attend graduate school, and it will also help me understand the problems Japanese speakers face while learning English."

Trysten Kienzl, an exercise science major from Knoxville, Tenn., will attend Baylor University to pursue a master’s degree in athletic training.

“I am a student athletic trainer at MC, and I really loved learning under (MC Director of Wellness and Athletic Training) Sharon Wood and the other head trainers, so that is why I decided to pursue a degree in athletic training,” Kienzl said. “I decided on Baylor because I wanted to go to school in Texas, the school is diverse and the people who run the program are amazing.”

After completing a master’s degree in athletic training, she hopes to get a job as an athletic trainer for a high school, college or professional team. 

Austin Loo, a music major from Maryville, Tenn., will move to Hickory, N.C., to serve as a worship leader at Christ Church’s Northside campus.

After a weekend-long interview, which included leading rehearsal and worship services, he was offered the position in January as an internship until he graduates this month, with a permanent position starting in June.

“My job has two parts: Sunday morning Northside campus worship leader and student ministry worship director,” Loo said. “This means that I lead rehearsals and services for our Northside campus, and I lead and/or coordinate worship for student ministries across all campuses.”

Loo said a position like this is “exactly what I plan on doing for the entirety of my career until I move on from the platform role of the job and into more of a leadership and guidance role as I get older.”

He said his Maryville College education helped prepare him for this new role.

“My time in choir helped me learn how to think about vocal blending, which translates well into leading vocal rehearsals in a band setting at work,” Loo said. “The little time I spent in Jazz Band helped me learn how to rehearse with a band. The work I put into my Senior Study allowed me to focus on songwriting and work on that craft for an extended time.”

Chauncey Padilla, a finance/accounting major from West Palm Beach, Fla., will become a full-time staff accountant with Crisp Accounting and Tax Service in Maryville after graduation.

Padilla was introduced to owner Regina Crisp through the Maryville College Career Center and Maryville College Works program. After an interview, he was offered an unpaid internship in August 2017, which led to a paid internship five months later.

“When I began in August, my internship was primarily training – getting an understanding of the field of accounting, learning how to do basic taxes, understanding the different programs that relate to my type of work,” he said. “In January, I was offered a position to stay as a paid intern through tax season. After that, I was offered a paid position to stay on the staff of Crisp Accounting.”

He said he plans to stay with the firm for a while and would like to help the business grow.

“I’m really thankful for the opportunity that the Career Center provided, and to [owner] Regina Crisp for helping me be here at Crisp Accounting,” he said.

Katie Rogers, a psychology and criminal justice double major from Knoxville, Tenn., will attend Illinois State University to pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice.

“I chose this program because I met a professor at a criminology conference when I presented my thesis last fall,” Rogers said, adding that she received a full scholarship from the university. “She and I are now working together to publish a paper.”

After she completes her master’s degree, she said she would like to pursue a Ph.D. in forensic psychology or counseling.

“My ultimate goal is to work with juveniles who have been incarcerated, and help them become productive members of society,” she said.

Kathleen Staller, a biochemistry major from Seymour, Tenn., applied for admission to a 4+1 program through the University of Tennessee Medical Center Medical Laboratory Science Program in Knoxville, Tenn., that will allow her to earn certification as a Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS, or clinical laboratory scientist, and medical technologist).

The competitive program accepts up to 12 students per year and begins in January.

Staller said her ultimate career goal is to attend medical school and focus on the field of pathology.

“I chose to apply to this program because in one year I will earn a certificate and be eligible to sit for the American Society for Clinical Pathology national board examination to become board-certified as a medical laboratory scientist,” she said. “This program specifically has a 100 percent job placement within three months of completion. I hope to use this as a way to gain valuable experience in a medical lab which will help me to be an even more competitive medical school applicant.”

Miranda Tyler, a finance/accounting major from Maryville, Tenn., will be a staff accountant at Blackberry Mountain, Blackberry Farm’s new resort that is opening next year in Walland, Tenn.

She found the opportunity by attending one of Maryville College’s career fairs, where she met Blackberry Farm General Manager Brian Lee.

“I applied and was interviewing for a front desk position, but during the interview it was decided that I would be a better fit for a different job that included some billing work,” Tyler explained. “Over time, I began to work more with bills. The director of lodging knew I wanted to get into the accounting department, so he helped schedule some meetings with them for me to introduce myself. In late March, a staff accountant position opened up and after three interviews, they offered the position to me.”

Starting May 21, Tyler will be training for her new position at Blackberry Mountain while doing accounting work for Blackberry Farm.

“This relates to my career goals since I wanted to be an accountant, and I realized that I did not want to work for a large accounting firm as I learned more about them,” Tyler said. “It’s also really helpful, since most entry-level accounting jobs want two to three years of experience, but Blackberry Farm was willing to hire me without that since they already were acquainted with me and knew my work ethic.”


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2018 semester is 1,146.