MC Class of 2020 members pursue impressive post-graduation plans

MC Class of 2020 members pursue impressive post-graduation plans

May 29, 2020

Students at Maryville College study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away – and the Class of 2020 is a shining example of this. Ready and excited to move on to the next step, these graduates will soon scatter across the country – and world – to pursue internships, graduate school studies and jobs. Read more about these recent grads and their impressive post-graduate plans! 

Ashley Berry, a psychology (counseling) major from Chattanooga, Tenn., has accepted a position at Helen Ross McNabb, a not-for-profit provider of behavioral health services in East Tennessee. Berry will serve as a residential counselor at one of the long-term stay facilities that is part of an in-patient program for individuals with psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

“I’m there to make sure the clients have all their needs met, and just monitoring behavior and helping with group sessions,” she said.

She found the opportunity by attending the Maryville College Career Center’s senior networking event. Berry, who is taking a gap year before attending graduate school, wanted to find a job or internship within the field of psychology. She kept in touch with recruiters she met at the networking event, and they helped her with the application process.

“My plan during my gap year is to gain as much experience as possible so that I will feel more prepared once I attend grad school,” she said.

Berry credits her MC education – and the MC Career Center – for helping prepare her for the work force.

“I feel much more comfortable in job interviews because of mock interviews at the Career Center. I also have a better understanding of professional dress and take advantage of resources that were given to me,” she said. “Maryville’s interdisciplinary approach to education has made me a more well-rounded individual, which makes me a more likely candidate for jobs and grad schools.”

Jenna Delozier, a mathematics major from Maryville, Tenn., will continue an internship in scientific computing at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tenn., through September. During her internship, she is participating in research pertaining to optimizing a quantum chemistry application, which is also the basis of her Senior Study.

Delozier also has applied to the master's degree program in computer science at Georgia Institute of Technology, and she is awaiting an admission decision.

“I want to pursue this degree due to my continued interest in computer science and related research,” she said. “Georgia Tech is a well-ranked school with a fantastic reputation for its computer science program.

Delozier said that long-term, she hopes to pursue a career in research.

“Maryville College prepared me for my future by providing a broad background in mathematics, computer science and programming, as well as a variety of useful areas such as technical writing,” she said. 

Cassidy Forbes, a design major from Gallatin, Tenn., has been doing freelance design work for Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Foot Locker. As stores reopen while following safe social distancing procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic, Forbes designed glass barriers for stores to install, as well as an infographic for how to assemble and install the barriers.

“Stores now are going to have restrictions for a while, so when you walk into certain companies, there will be glass (or plastic) barriers between you and the checkout, as well as another barrier if you are going through a drive-through,” she said. “I made some of those for certain companies. This helps keep the distance and prevents both you and the workers from breathing on each other – and just less contact. I helped make what the barrier will look like and where they will be placed. I think there was one sign I made for Wendy’s explaining the purpose of the barriers we made. But I mostly just designed the actual barriers, the placements in the select stores, and an infographic for companies to know how to put them together and where they should place them.”

She got the job through a referral from her dentist, who used to be a graphic designer. He connected her with a friend in the design field, and they immediately started working together on projects.

“It’s really cool to see things you’ve helped design in stores!” Forbes said. “Especially with this crazy situation we are all in right now and knowing it’s helping take those precautionary steps.”

Forbes said the project has reinforced the fact that she has chosen the right career path and wants to continue to pursue a career in design.

“My teachers Adrienne Schwarte, Morgan Manning and Carl Gombert have helped me grow in my passion and have taught me so much,” she said. “I can’t thank them enough, and I will use what I’ve learned in each class and carry it with me throughout my career. 

Benson Galloway, a biochemistry major from Ducktown, Tenn., will attend the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy to pursue a doctor of pharmacy degree (PharmD).

“I chose to pursue this path because my mom is a pharmacist, and I’ve grown up in the pharmacy setting,” Galloway said. “Seeing how my mom has been able to make a difference in the community through pharmacy has made me strive to do the same. My long-term goal would consist of owning and operating my own pharmacy.”

During or after pharmacy school, Galloway also plans to work toward completing a master of business administration (MBA) degree to assist him in his business endeavors.

“MC prepared me by giving me the tools I need to succeed in graduate school, like time-management, how to research and how to study properly for exams,” he said. “My four years at Maryville College offered many opportunities to develop myself to be successful at the next level through school events, class projects and thesis.”

Andrew Garcia, an exercise science major from Plantation, Fla., received a graduate teaching associate position from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he will pursue a master of science degree in exercise physiology.

“I chose this degree because it will help me become a better strength and conditioning coach, and I also really enjoy physiology and one day hope to earn a doctorate,” he said.

Garcia said he chose UT-Knoxville after working and interning in the university’s strength and conditioning department for the last two years.

“MC gave me a strong foundation in the classroom,” he said. “It also prepared me for my teaching associate position by helping me learn leadership skills through the MC Peer Mentor program. Recently, I was promoted to Assistant Olympic Sports Performance Coach, and I will continue to work in this position, in conjunction with my GTA program.”

Brock Hodges, a biochemistry major from Gallatin, Tenn., will continue his work with the Sickle Cell Disease Department at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., while he applies to medical school. He has been conducting research with the pediatric sickle cell team for the past two years.

“In the Sickle Cell Disease Department, we worked to show that the decline in lung function in adults with sickle cell disease was similar in magnitude to adults with cystic fibrosis,” Hodges said. “We are also trying to figure out the epidemiology of silent strokes in adults with sickle cell disease.”

He plans to apply to East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine for early decision for fall 2021 and hopes to focus on pediatrics. He said he decided on pediatrics after working at Vanderbilt.

“Maryville prepared me for this next stage in my education by exposing me to graduate-level research and course work,” he said. “Maryville College allowed me to work more independently and perform upper-level instrumental techniques without constant supervision, and this helped to expand my knowledge and expertise on developing scientific methods and enhanced my research abilities.”

Hayden Hollingsworth, an exercise science major from Nashville, Tenn., will attend Belmont University in Nashville to pursue a master’s degree in sport administration.

“I wanted to pursue this degree because of my interest in sports,” he said. “Anything that I can do to be involved in a community revolving around sports is where I wanted to be. I chose Belmont because of its goal to use Nashville as a sports laboratory. This will allow me to intern with programs that I have been a fan of since I was a little kid in my hometown.”

Hollingsworth said Maryville College challenged him to broaden my interests.

“I changed majors and focused on exercise science and was able to minor in psychology,” he said. “I think the courses that I took in those subjects prepared me for communicating with a lot of different populations and providing insight in different settings.” 

Ryan Lay, a mathematics with teacher licensure major from Maryville, Tenn., will move to Chattanooga, Tenn., to teach math at Red Bank High School, where he also will serve as the head cross country coach and an assistant track and field coach. 

He learned about the position after meeting with talent recruiters for Hamilton County at the East Tennessee Education Career Fair, held in Knoxville in early March. After completing the application and screening process, he completed several interviews via Zoom.

“I was excited that Red Bank High School reached out with an offer,” he said. “On top of hiring a math teacher, the school also needed a cross country coach. I truly feel as if this was where I was meant to start my teaching career.”

Lay, who was a member of the men’s cross country team at Maryville College, said he is excited about the opportunity to gain experience in his chosen field and serve as a coach in a sport he loves. He also plans to continue his education in a few different areas, including obtaining USA Track & Field (USATF) Level I and II Coaching Certifications, Officials Certification, and Strength and Conditioning certification. In a few years, he plans to pursue a master's degree in curriculum and instruction.

“I foresee myself becoming the best teacher and coach I can be and using my statistics background to analyze data for my students and athletes – the rest will work itself out from there,” he said.

Lay said the teacher education program at Maryville College prepared him in a number of ways, specifically “a deliberate focus on planning, instructing, and assessing student learning.”

“Classroom experience, primarily through student teaching, has been one of my most valued experiences,” he said. “My statistics minor has been helpful as I am able to work with data in a multitude of capacities – not just within education but in the coaching field. In my MTH221: Inferential Statistics course, I completed a project analyzing data from the 2017 cross country season to observe runners' progress. Competing in cross country and keeping track of data for each runner has helped me learn how training is individualized for athletes.

“I also thank the Career Center for its focus on career preparation,” he added. “I felt confident in my resume and interviews because of the available resources and commitment to meet students’ needs.”

Daisy Martin, a biology major from Friendsville, Tenn., will attend the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tenn., to earn a Doctorate of Optometry.

“I have wanted to be an optometrist since I was 15,” Martin said. “In every interview, I tell an anecdote about how my dad held me responsible for looking at future careers, because I would be (and now am) the first in my family to have a college degree. I had to think of 40 jobs, and of those 40, choose 10 to do a one-page report for required education, salary, etc. I found optometry, and it became top of the list!”

After her sophomore year at Maryville College, she started her current job as a clinic technician at the Blount County Eye Center, which confirmed her desire to be an optometrist, she said.

She decided on the Southern College of Optometry because the school has an excellent program and offers generous financial aid. She also wanted to stay in Tennessee. After graduating from the program, she hopes to return to East Tennessee to work as an eye doctor.

Martin said she feels prepared for this next step, thanks to the education she received while pursuing her biology major and chemistry minor at MC.

“Many professors helped me along the way with their rigorous courses that will greatly prepare me for my graduate program,” she said. “For example, lab practicals will be important in the future when learning anatomy and physiology of the eye and body. Additionally, the Senior Study was a tremendous opportunity to conduct research on my own, and I was able to recognize strong scientific articles and methods. MC has greatly improved my ability in all areas that I will need in my future career!”

Zachary Plants, a religious studies major from Rome, Ga., has been accepted to the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) program at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.

“I am pursuing ministry in the United Methodist Church, and Candler is one of the top schools to attend that is also affiliated with the UMC,” he said. “The M.Div. is a professional degree that prepares individuals interested in a life in ministry. It forms a foundation in Christian texts, traditions, theologies and practices. You gain knowledge and experience of a multi-ethnic, intercultural and religiously diverse society, as well as basic proficiency in ministerial skills.”

Plants said that studying religion at MC has prepared him “greatly” for Seminary.

“My time at MC was spent reading numerous different theologians and philosophers, which should help a lot!” he said. “However, I think a lot of my extracurriculars helped even more than my major. My on-campus job with admissions, my numerous internships, especially the one in Ireland, and the committees I sat on helped strengthen a lot of skills that classes do not. MC does a great job at making sure students are able to experience these things, which I believe are incredibly important.” 

Natalie Tankersley, a religious studies major from Knoxville, Tenn., will start the Juris Doctor (J.D.) program at Lincoln Memorial University's (LMU) Duncan School of Law in Knoxville in August.

“I chose this degree because I wanted to pursue a career in community change,” she said. “Part of that change stems from policy change. My internships I had during the past couple of summers showed me how a person can play a part in this change. I am particularly interested in immigration advocacy and how our policies affect the immigrant community.”

Tankersley said she chose LMU because of the school’s commitment to the local area.

“They want their law students not to be a part of big corporations but form small, local firms that can help their community, especially Appalachia,” she said. “I hope to one day work in the community or closer to Appalachia, helping immigrants and advocating for change.”

She said Maryville College prepared her for this next step by “giving me an education that could go past my major.”

“Even if this major may not seem like a traditional major for law school, it still led me to the field of law and helped me develop the skills I will need for the future,” she said.

Abigail Tonos, a neuroscience major from Knoxville, Tenn., will attend the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Knoxville to pursue a master of science degree in speech-language pathology.

“I chose this career path because I am passionate about advocacy and providing resources to individuals who are vulnerable to oppression,” Tonos said. “Being able to use language and effectively communicate is an important part of an individual's identity, and I want children with language disorders to have social, emotional and educational tools that promote self-efficacy and confidence. I chose to attend the University of Tennessee because of the specialized services provided at the Pediatric Clinic. I also devoted time to observing therapy sessions at UTK's Speech and Hearing Center, and the faculty and staff were so inviting! It just felt like the perfect fit for me.”

Tonos said her long-term career goals include working in a hospital setting or having her own private practice.

“My goal is to mainly provide services for children with autism and cognitive language delays, so graduate school will give me the skills that I need in order to treat special populations,” she said.

Maryville College prepared her for this next step in several ways, Tonos said.

“From working in the Career Center to completing a thesis, Maryville College provided me with experiences that widened my worldview and taught me a wide range of skills that graduate programs prioritize,” she said. “Likewise, the internship I completed for the Maryville College Works program was a pivotal part of my college career. I worked with a speech-language pathologist working in the City of Maryville School system, and I co-facilitated individual and group therapy sessions with special needs children, ages 6-18. I spent approximately 100 hours working with children with traumatic brain injuries, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Down syndrome, delayed language acquisition, and severe learning disorders. The programs in place at MC pushed me personally and professionally, and I believe that the rigor, along with support from others, prepared me for graduate school.”

Compiled by Chloe Kennedy, Assistant Director of Communications 

Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”