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Meet The Graduates

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Matt Kitchie

Degree:    M.B.A. with concentration in finance

Time it took to complete: Three and a half years, mostly one class per semester; sometimes two

Highlights: International immersion experiences in Chile, Argentina and the United Kingdom

What will you do with your free time? 
  Reading for pleasure. A long running list of things to do around the home he and his wife bought last year. Reflecting on the experience and considering his next step.

Advice to colleagues? 
  “It’s an investment in time, so make sure you have the support of your loved ones and your supervisor. They’re your biggest cheerleaders. I would also encourage people to take graduate classes just to learn, even if they don’t want to pursue a degree.”

Katrina Kraft

Degree:    M.Ed. in Globalization and Educational Change with a concentration in Project Management               
Time it took to complete: Four years, taking one class per semester   

Highlights: Making great friends and hearing diverse perspectives from international classmates

What will you do with your free time?   Spending time with her mom, who is still energetic in her 80s. But…. “Well, I was actually thinking about maybe doing an M.B.A. . . who knows what’s on the horizon?”

Advice to colleagues?  “I actually did tell one of our employees to consider it, and she spoke with Iveta Silova and now she’s in the program . . . It was worth every minute. Some days you would say ‘Why did I do this? I don’t have the time?’ but then somehow you find the time and do it. If I didn’t do it, especially at this point in my life, I would look back and really regret it. I’m really really happy that I did.”

Alexis Leon

Degree:    M.A. American Studies   
Time it took to complete: Four years. She couldn’t take summer classes because it’s all hands on deck in the Iacocca Institute from June until August.   

Highlights: Courses with names like Zombies, Vampires and Human End; creating a graphic novel about the extraordinary women in her family in James Peterson’s class; learning about Queer Theory with Mary Foltz; being invited to revise her thesis into a journal article.

What will you do with your free time?   Stage managing at the Allentown Public Theatre, catching up with friends

Advice to colleagues? “It’s not a bad thing to take longer to finish your degree. I’m glad I knew four years out what I wanted to write my thesis on so I could cherry pick my classes and the reading I did to prepare me for that. I was reading the literature of the subject and learning where to look for material to support my research.”

Casey Petroski

Degree:    M.Ed. in Educational Leadership
Time it took to complete: Two years, mostly two classes per semester.
Highlights: Leadership: Self and Groups class; projects where she could create programs related to her work in CAS; becoming more comfortable with speaking with new people and making presentations.

What will you do with your free time?   Work on her jewelry-making, which she set aside during graduate school, and reading for fun.

Advice to colleagues? “I would say do it, and I’ve told friends here. For newer employees, give yourself a full academic year to see what the work flow is like and then do it before too much time passes. The longer you wait, the harder it is to go back. It’s such a great opportunity, and Lehigh is so prestigious and has many options. When you add up the dollar amount of the graduate education it really is an amazing benefit. If you’re invested in working in higher education and have a passion for supporting others in pursuing it, then why wouldn’t you send yourself in the same direction?”

Dave Ramsay

Degree:   M.S. in Healthcare Systems Engineering
Time it took to complete: Two years, two classes per semester and one during each summer session
Highlights: Using software to build a visual simulation with his team to find ways to streamline shipping for an oil company. Collecting and analyzing data to help optimize wait times for St. Luke’s family practice.
What will you do with your free time?   Projects around the house have been piling up. “Before I started graduate school, I promised my kids I would build them a playhouse, but the project fell by the wayside. One day, my daughter asked me when I would build it, and my son said to her ‘I don’t think he’s ever going to build it.’ So, as soon as I finished my classes, I took two vacation days and built it in secret and surprised them.”

Dave Ramsay and his family are enjoying the playhouse he built in his free time since finishing his graduate degree.

Advice to colleagues?  “It’s kind of like that first jump into the pool in the summertime. Don’t feel the water, because you know it’s cold and you’ll psych yourself out. Just jump in. That’s the best way. Jump in and you’ll get through it. And then you’ll be happy when you finish.  I think too many times I hear ‘maybe I’ll get around to it,’ but it’ll never happen if you don’t just get started. Even if you never change jobs and just stay where you are, you’ll still have that knowledge. And, along with that knowledge, it just makes you feel good.”

Moe Rinkunas

Degree:    M.B.A. concentrating in entrepreneurship       
Time it took to complete: Three years, one class per semester

Highlights: Winning the Lehigh Start Up Weekend competition with her team. The start up they pitched, Impatient, is a crowd-funding site to support drug research moving into phase 2 clinical trials. Impatient is now moving forward as a non-profit.

What will you do with your free time?    Working on launching Impatient. Reconnecting with her social life. “Friends are like ‘oh, yeah, we kind of remember you.’”

Advice to colleagues? “For me, part of it was that it’s this great gift that you have available to you. To not take advantage of it means you could be walking away from something that could really shape your career in a positive way. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve had a lot of colleagues and friends that have chosen to do different programs and you really do see people transform. You may not change your job title at the end but it gives you the chance to get in deep and learn something new which I think makes you better at your job.”

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