This year Rollins has five Valedictorians for the 2015 Graduating class: Shelby McGuire, Lisa Duemmling, Meredith Lax, Jessica Wilson, and Chelsea Penther. So what was each Valedictorian’s most rewarding experience at Rollins?
McGuire enjoyed her internship experience, Duemmling raved about her Immersion trips, Lax flourished working as a research assistant, and Wilson played volleyball.
McGuire interned for the Bonner program in the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement. “As an intern I acted as a mentor to the Bonner students, who are an incredibly inspiring group of young people, and gained valuable insight into program development and management. Everyday was different and challenging, and I was able to learn invaluable knowledge and skills from the people I was working with,” she said.
For Duemmling, it was the Immersion trips she took that had the most value. “I really felt like I had a positive impact on the community and on the lives of others. Also, it was great to meet other students in such unique and challenging environments because it lead to very insightful dialogue,” she said.
For Lax, it was working as Dr. Anne Stone’s research assistant in the Department of Communication. She elaborated on the position, saying, “I participated in the Student Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program for two summers and also did an independent study with Dr. Stone. Our research expanded Dr. Stone’s research on the quality of life of caregivers of loved ones/patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. We also examined the use of deception in the context of dementia care. I would not have had the incredible opportunities with Dr. Stone to present at local, national, and international academic conferences and be published in the Florida Communication Journal at any other institution.”
For Wilson, playing on the volleyball team was an indescribable experience. “Competing with passion and winning and losing as a team on the volleyball court is an experience like no other. I would not trade being a student-athlete for anything,” he said.
So what advice can the Valedictorians give to Rollins students?
McGuire advises students to study abroad: “Nothing will challenge you, shape you, or teach you like meeting new people and experiencing other cultures and ways of life. I would also encourage my peers to go somewhere in the developing or non-western world. I know it’s intimidating to think about living in a drastically different culture and perhaps without all of the modern amenities that we are accustomed to, but it will push you to discover some incredible things about the world and yourself.”
Duemmling advises the same, adding: “You learn the most about yourself and what you’re truly capable of in the most challenging situations.”
Lax encourages current students to take advantage of the opportunities Rollins has to offer: “I believe that the experiences the college offers, whether they be in the classroom, on the field, in the community, in the creation of life-long friendships, or in study abroad programs, are truly unparalleled.”
Wilson asks that students reflect on themselves: “Be happy with who you are. In regards to academics and school, I would advise students to focus on time management, have the eagerness and willingness to learn the material (it will help you much more than just getting the answers), and respect your professors.”
Penther advises academically challenging yourself: “Choose classes that interest you as opposed to ones that are reportedly an easy ‘A’; a semester can be very long if you are attending a class that does not peak your curiosity.”
McGuire, an International Relations major and German minor, plans to apply to MA/PhD programs in Peace and Conflict resolution for Fall 2016 and wishes to study in the United States or Germany.
Duemmling, a Physics major, has accepted a job offer at a management consulting firm in Miami, and she would like to attend graduate school to earn a Master’s degree in Operations Research.
Lax is a Communication Studies Major with a Health Communication Concentration. She is in the 3/2 Accelerated Management Program and is set to Graduate with an MBA from the Crummer School of Business in Spring 2016.
Wilson is an Economics major with a minor in International Business. She plans to move to Tampa to pursue opportunities within the financial services industry. After some work experience, Wilson wishes to continue her education in her major.
Penther is an International Business major and Spanish Language minor. This summer she will work at a law firm in her hometown of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, until the fall when she will move to New York City to attend law school on a full-tuition scholarship.