Seniors finalize post-graduation plans

Megan Reed, Campus Carrier Editor-in-Chief

With the spring semester drawing to a close, seniors have begun planning for their lives after Berry, which will include careers, graduate school and for some, moving far away from home.

Ashlee Melhado has chosen to attend veterinary school at North Carolina State University in her hometown of Raleigh. She currently lives and works at the Gunby Equine Center on mountain campus and hopes to become a veterinarian specializing in either equine or zoo medicine.

“I actually worked with a veterinarian in upstate New York at the Seneca Park Zoo this past summer, and so I worked in all the different animal exhibits,” Melhado said. “I also did a research project with the orangutans and their cortisol levels. I got really interested in primates there.”

                                                             Photos by Jason Huynh, Photojournalism Editor
Top: Senior Ashlee Melhado cares for Cadillac, along with the other horses, at the
Gunby Equine Center.  She has decided to attend North Carolina State University
for veterinary school.
Bottom: Senior Paton Roden presents at a budget meeting.  She is the SGA
president and plans to attend graduate school for higher education and student

Melhado said her work experience at Gunby has prepared her for her future career as a veterinarian. She has also volunteered at the dairy, tutored in chemistry, researched with and assisted one of her animal science professors and worked with study hall and in the Dining Hall.

She started her experience for veterinary school applications during her freshman year of high school.

“I’ve grown up with animals and horses. We have extensive pets at home,” she said. “A snake, dog, cats, turtles, lizards, chickens, but we don’t live on a farm.”

Like Melhado, Paton Roden plans to continue her education after graduating from Berry. She will be attending graduate school at the University of Virginia, Indiana University or the College of William and Mary and plans to study higher education and student affairs. She hopes to eventually work at a college or university, and she said she feels prepared after serving as SGA president this year.

“I think I’ve had a great deal of experience here at Berry with SGA and other activities with leadership,” Roden said. “I’ve definitely developed a passion to really help students have the best possible college experience, and I think that higher education is just where I want to spend the rest of my life.”

Haley Sawyer will be leaving her home state of Georgia and moving to Anchorage, Alaska with her fiance. She met her fiance when they were in high school, and she said they had always wanted to go to Alaska. They visited Alaska over spring break and got engaged there.

“We both really love the cold and the adventurous spirit up there, and I felt right at home. It’s the most beautiful place in America, if not the whole world,” Sawyer said. “I recommend everyone visit at least once in their lifetime.” 

Sawyer, a double major in visual communication and studio art, will be working full-time for the website Etsy. She operates two Etsy shops, FandomFox and TeacupOwl, where she sells original artwork and handmade keychains and mugs. 

“Through Etsy in the past few years alone I’ve shipped my work to over 30 different countries, and to every single populated continent in the world. I’m really proud of that, and what I’ve managed to create while I’ve been in college,” Sawyer said. 

She said her classes at Berry have helped her expand her online businesses. 

“Having taken classes in entrepreneurship, graphic design and studio art has helped transition me from a hobbyist to a professional vendor,” she said. 

Natalie Boyd has also gained experience during her time at Berry. The marketing and management double major has been the marketing consultant for Harvest Moon Cafe on Broad Street for the past two years, and after graduation, she will be working in marketing for Duluth-based U.S. Lumber. 

Boyd, who is on the softball team, said U.S. Lumber was specifically looking for student-athletes. 

“I think that there’s a mindset that student-athletes have about their willingness to go over and beyond and to make a deal happen,” she said. “They have a competitive nature … especially in marketing, you want to seal the deal, make the deal.”  

Seniors who are still looking for jobs or graduate schools can go to the Career Center to learn about what is available. Underclassmen can also get help with internships and resumes there. 

“We want (students) to know what their interests are, what their skill levels are, helping them get experience,” Sue Tarpley, director of the Career Center, said. “By the time senior year rolls around, we want them to have done some soul-searching and have gained some experiences that will give them the skill set that they’re going to be wanting to put into action in terms of a job.” 

The Career Center also hosts mock interviews with alumni and professionals and maintains an alumni network that connects students with alumni working in their field. Tarpley said the Career Center also teaches students how to use social media, especially LinkedIn, to network and find employment. 

Students can visit the Career Center to look through the Career Shift database. 

“You can look for employers within a particular geographic area, you can look for companies based on a key word search,” Tarpley said. “Those companies have a description about who they are and what they’re looking for.” 

The Career Center website also links to the College Central Network, which lists job openings nationwide. 

Tarpley said the Career Center also assists students with the graduate school search and application process. 

“We have a lot of information about how to go about writing that personal statement, we can help people with basic questions about the GRE, GMAT, any of the testing,” Tarpley said. 

Seniors will be graduating on May 9. 

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