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Seniors step into life after college

Come May 3, the graduating class of 2014 will step onto the stage at the Mabee Center, and step off into the future they’ve worked up to for the past four years. The question is whether or not they know exactly where they will be going.

Some seniors have intricately planned out their next big step, while others are still testing the waters.

Senior Modern Foreign Language Education Major Noelle Smits will take her degree to Strasbourg, France, to teach English abroad for one year.

“I would eventually like to teach English in a third-world, French-speaking country, using my language skills to create literacy programs and minister to children and families who are disadvantaged,” Smits said.

Through teaching abroad, Smits says that she “hopes to create an environment of international education and ‘pay forward’ what incredible opportunities [she has] been given in [her] life.”

“One of my greatest desires is to integrate my passion for modern languages and international education with ministering, worship and teaching the Word of God,” Smits said. “I am excited to see how the Lord’s plans for my life come to pass.”

Some students still aren’t sure what to pursue after graduation, but other students like Holly Davidson, an elementary education major, have know for years.

“My mom was a teacher and I watched how she was with her students and I watched her really change lives, and I decided I wanted to do that,” said Davidson. “I want to stick around Tulsa, and teach here.”

Fellow senior Michael O’Brien will be using his engineering degree in the Lone Star State working with Texas Instruments (TI).

His previous internship with TI back in his Texan hometown will allow him to pick back up where he left off last summer. Only this time, O’Brien will be a hired engineer.

“I always liked building and destroying and that’s basically engineering, and I am excited because I won’t have homework and paychecks are nice,” O’Brien said.

Within the last year, O’Brien has stepped into the new role as a husband and a soon-to-be father.

“A lot of things are changing very quickly,” O’Brien said. “But long term, I’m probably just going to continue on creating things and eventually be running my own company or making my own apps, and taking care of my new family.”

While some students have already figured out what they will be doing once they graduate, seniors such as Amber Vanderburg are still trying to put their careers into place.

Although her exact plans are unknown at the moment, in the mean time, Vanderburg plans to work full time in human resources with the Saint Francis Health Systems with her degree in organizational interpersonal communications.

Through networking and experience, Vanderburg won a local Saint Francis scholarship and met the director of human resources at Saint Francis at an awards ceremony.

“Saint Francis took a chance on me, and hired me on for a three month internship in the human resources department. Over a year later, I am still with Saint Francis, working full time post-graduation,” Vanderburg said. “God is good.”

As her peers begin to cross their T’s and dot their I’s in securing jobs, Vanderburg continues to push through, seeing failures as a winding avenue to success.

“The biggest advice I could give is to persevere, network and be flexible,” Vanderburg said.

Her current position at Saint Francis has provided Vanderburg with the means to secure a short term job.

“This position is a great stepping stone in launching my career,” Vanderburg said. “I have learned a lot about business and communications that will be helpful in my future aspirations.”

Whether or not the class of 2014 knows exactly what they will be doing once they approach the stage, shake hands and grab their diplomas, they leave with an education that is difficult to find anywhere else.

“ORU has prepared me in a way that no other university could,” Vanderburg said. “ORU instills in its students a sense of purpose and mission. Being surrounded by supportive and caring people who are passionate followers of Christ certainly makes an impact on the decisions that I make in post-grad life.”


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