Stephen F. Austin State University

Lumberjack Success Stories

Lumberjack Success Stories

Conner Saul
Conner Saul - Military Police Officer Educational Background: Major: Business Management; Graduated: May 2015.

Employer: United States Army

Biography: I came to SFA to get a business degree because my long term goal in life is to run some form of a business. While at SFA, the Army ROTC program caught my attention, and I signed up freshman year. I participated in ROTC while studying business management and eventually got accepted into Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honor Society. I commissioned as a 2LT into the US Army upon graduation.

Experience: While participating in Army ROTC at SFA, I learned how to manage my time between studying, classes, early morning PT, and extracurricular field training. These skills are helping me to this day in my career.

What was an important lesson learned from your work experience while at college? Never take your time for granted. You will always have time to get everything you want accomplished, but it is all a matter of your priorities and how hard you work. Everything you accomplish is up to your determination and discipline.

What career-related advice would you like to share with current students, you wish you knew prior to graduating? The transition from full-time student to full-time Soldier makes you realize how amazing your life is and puts everything in perspective. Enjoy your time in college, because it's a unique environment and one of the best experiences of your life.

Emilie Kestner
Emilie Kestner - Administrative Assistant Educational Background: Major: Psychology; Minor: Sociology; Graduated: May 2015

Employer: McMurry University

Biography: My name is Emilie Virginia Kestner and I am a May 2015 Stephen F. Austin Graduate. I majored in Psychology and minored in Sociology during my time at SFA. I was a member of many different organizations including Pride Nac, Psychology Club, and Phi Theta Gamma. I am studying Marriage and Family Therapy at Abilene Christian University. My goals are to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist after two years of training. I'm also interested in gaining a certification for sex therapy and performing psycho educational outreach programs for middle and high schools around the country in order to better educate the youth of America about sex.

Experience: While attending SFA, I worked in a variety of departments. My first job on campus was as an SFA 101 assistant instructor. I really enjoyed teaching students what it meant to be a lumberjack. My next job was for the Disability Services on campus. I gained so much experience from this job and really felt as if I was making a difference. I had many roles, some of which were note-taker and reader. I helped students with disabilities on campus take notes in their classes and read tests or other materials to them.

What was an important lesson learned from your work experience while at college?I learned the value of time management. Assuming too much responsibility without understanding what's being asked of you can really be a hassle. Plan out every hour of every day to make sure you can get everything done. If you have class, work, a meeting for an organization, and practice in the same day it can be very beneficial to take 10 minutes in the morning to develop a schedule.

What career-related advice would you like to share with current students, you wish you knew prior to graduating? Professionalism goes a long way. Always put your best foot forwards and dress for the career you want. Your employer shouldn't have to tell you that your outfit or behavior isn't appropriate.

Jaciee Sawyer
Jaciee Sawyer - Middle School Math Teacher Educational Background: Major: Interdisciplinary Studies; Graduated: May 2015

Employer: Nocona Independent School District

Biography: My major at SFA was interdisciplinary studies with a math specialty. I graduated May 16, 2015. I am currently employed as the 7th grade math teacher at Nocona Middle School in Nocona, Texas. I worked at Nocona Middle School for 2 years as a paraprofessional while finishing my degree online through SFA and transitioned to a teaching position with the beginning of a new school year.

Experience: I worked as a paraprofessional which gave me hands on experience while working on my teaching degree. I also had a semester of student teaching as experience

What was an important lesson learned from your work experience while at college? Time management skills

What career-related advice would you like to share with current students, you wish you knew prior to graduating? For students that are going to college to be teachers, they need to be aware of what they are putting out onto social media. Possible employers will be looking at your social media!

Kofi Ankamah
Kofi Ankamah - Health and Fitness Professional Educational Background: Major: Master of Science in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Fitness & Human Performance; Graduated: May, 2015; Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology; Graduated: August 2013

Employer: 24 Hour Fitness

Biography: Hi my name is Kofi Ankamah. I am a Health and Fitness Professional currently working at 24 Hour Fitness in Grand Prairie, Texas. I was a Kinesiology major and a history minor for my Bachelor's degree, which I received in August 2013. I also received my Master's degree in Kinesiology Human Performance in May 2015. My siblings and I were first generation students to go to a four year institution and graduate.

Experience: In my time at SFA I worked at the Campus Recreation Center for 3 years. In those years I had a variety of positions including service assistant, operations manager, and personal trainer. I loved the environment of the gym so much that I decided that is where I wanted to be forever. I knew I wanted to stay in the fitness field because I enjoy helping others and I have the knowledge and background to educate people. I started applying for jobs closer to my hometown about 4-5 months prior to graduation. The interview process was intimidating, but I was prepared due to all the professional development I received through career services and campus recreation.

What was an important lesson learned from your work experience while at college?
I learned many tools at SFA that have led me to success in my journey after college. I learned how to problem solve within customer service, how to manage a small staff, how to work with other team members to achieve a common goal.

What career-related advice would you like to share with current students, you wish you knew prior to graduating? Advice that I have to give to future graduates is to start meeting people in their career field. People you are interested and building relationships with. I did not have any internship experience while I was in college. If you have the opportunity to work or do an internship you should do it. Also, take advantage of all the tools that career services offers because they do a very great job with resume critique, mock interviews and help with the job search all free of charge.

Maddison Rees
Maddison Rees - Elementary Teacher Educational Background: Major: Interdisciplinary Studies; Graduation: May 2015

Employer: Frisco Independent School District

Biography: My name is Maddi Rees and I am from Frisco, Texas. I graduated from SFASU with a Bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, Elementary Education in May of 2015. My four years at SFA were the best of my life and I cherish them so very much! Since graduation, I have started my career as a first grade teacher in Frisco ISD at Anderson Elementary. The Elementary Education program at SFA helped me become the teacher I am today, and I was blessed to work with many wonderful professors and mentors in the program, and at the SFA Early Childhood Center and Charter School. I completed my student teaching at Anderson in the spring semester of 2015 in kindergarten and first grade, and was officially a hired employee by the end of April, just in time for May graduation! It has been an incredible journey to get where I am today, and I am so thankful for the experiences that got me here.

Experience: While at SFA I held executive positions in my Greek organization Alpha Chi Omega and finally Chapter President. I also served on the Service Committee of Order of Omega, and worked alongside other Pan-Hellenic women and IFC men. My part time work at SFA consisted of being a Teacher's Assistant in the Toddler I room at the Early Childhood School, as well as an SFA 101 Student Instructor. Throughout all of these positions, I was able to strengthen my leadership, organizational, and collaborative skills that have prepared me tremendously for the working world.

What was an important lesson learned from your work experience while at college? An important lesson that I learned during my work experience and involvement at SFA was the ability to cooperate and collaborate with many different kinds of people. In the field of education, and in many other careers, collaborating with other professionals is the key to being successful. I am grateful to have been given many opportunities during my time at the university to strengthen those skills.

What career-related advice would you like to share with current students, you wish you knew prior to graduating? My advice for current students is, while nothing can fully prepare you for what the world outside of college will be like, there are many opportunities at you should take advantage of SFA that will help you. Get outside of your comfort zone, attend job fairs, work on your interview skills, join many organizations, learn from your mistakes, build your professional wardrobe, and meet all kinds of people. Networking is so incredibly important; you never know where the person standing next to you may end up one day. Basically, always say YES and embrace opportunity.

Marquice Hobbs
Marquice Hobbs - Graduate Student Educational Background: Major: Philosophy; Minor: Psychology; Graduated: May 2015

Graduate School: Emory University

Biography: I graduated from the great institution of Stephen F. Austin State University on May 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a minor in Psychology. During my tenure at SFASU, I was elected Student Body President for two consecutive terms, held various leadership positions in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was Chaplain for Men of Achievement multiple semesters, an active member and co-bible study leader for the Wesley foundation, and a dear friend to many of my peers and faculty and staff whom worked for the university during my years as a student. I am currently enrolled at Candler School of Theology at Emory University studying to receive a Masters of Divinity in order to become an ordained elder within the United Methodist Denomination.

Experience: While at Stephen F. Austin State University, I worked for Career Services. Working here was no easy task. Everyday there was something new to do, some new skill to acquire, a presentation to be presented, or some new program to learn. We interacted with students, alumni, faculty/staff, and even employers, yet all was done to market SFASU students in the world of employment. One of the major ways we accomplished this was through our many job fairs held every semester. I enjoyed seeing the opportunities for SFASU students these fairs brought especially for accountants and teachers. Although the job was taxing, it was manageable and my supervisors were the best at keeping our spirits high and helping maintain work and school. They were very personable and caring, which lead to a happy team. I often remember times we laughed and joked in the office about different kinds of things. The skills I took from this job were how to develop and present presentations, how to critique certain business documents, how to network , interpersonal skills as we worked one on one with students, and I also gained confidence in myself by doing things I've never done before. I was expected to operate, execute, and perform on the level of a top rated professional.

What was an important lesson learned from your work experience while at college? An important lesson I learned from my work experience is that networking is key. As a Student Career Advocate, we were trained to value the importance of networking. It is the key to many doors of opportunities of which otherwise could not be opened.

What career-related advice would you like to share with current students, you wish you knew prior to graduating? I would say begin now investing in your future. Don't wait until you graduate to start taking the necessary steps to build a solid career. The world is yours for the taking so go and take it for yourself.

Myra Cowart
Myra Cowart - Language Arts Teacher Educational Background: Major: English; Minor: Secondary Education; Graduated: May 2015

Employer: Huffman Independent School District

Biography: My name is Myra Cowart and I graduated from SFA in May 2015. While at SFA, I majored in English with a minor in Secondary Education. I am currently working in Huffman ISD at Huffman Middle School as an 8th grade Language Arts and ELA Development teacher. After graduating from SFA, I began interviewing at tons of school districts around the Houston and South East Texas area. I had many job offers but choose the job where I felt most comfortable and felt like I could have the biggest impact.

Experience: I was given many opportunities while at SFA. I worked part time for Disability Services. That opportunity helped to prepare me for working with some of my Special Needs students. I also completed an internship at Central Heights High School and student teaching at Lufkin High School through SFA. These internships helped me to become more comfortable in my future career. The most important opportunity that I was given at SFA was being able to be a part of the Confianza Project, where SFA trained and paid for students to take the ESL certification test. Because of this project and the hard work of the Secondary Ed department, I received my ESL certification which played a huge rule in receiving my job.

What was an important lesson learned from your work experience while at college? During my work experience in college, I learned that I am always learning. We all make mistakes, but it is important to learn from those mistakes. As a teacher, I am faced with many challenges and I am always expected to say and do the right things. Through my experiences at SFA I learned that it is okay to admit that we are not all perfect, even as a teacher.

What career-related advice would you like to share with current students, you wish you knew prior to graduating? The best advice I can give to current students is to use the resources available to you. If you are given an opportunity, TAKE IT. I almost turned down an opportunity that has not only helped me in getting an amazing job right out of college, but also has already played a huge role in what I want to do in my future. There are so many resources and opportunities at SFA; you should take advantage of them all while you can.

Nick Pinelli
Nick Pinelli - Touring Actor Educational Background: Major: Fine Arts, Emphasis in Acting & Directing; Graduated: May 2015

Employer: Madcap Puppet Theatre

Biography: During my time at Stephen F. Austin, the faculty and staff in the School of Theatre continuously preached to all students one basic concept: professionalism. In order to complete my last year of undergraduate school, SFA required that I complete a year-long internship with a professional theatre company. This meant that I had to find my way to a prestigious company and work alongside some talented theatre artists. After successfully navigating my first real trial in the professional world, I landed an internship with a wonderful company called Texas Nonprofit Theatres (TNT). Another lesson I learned from the School of Theatre is always look for bigger and better things. The needs to continue on my professional career path lead me a nationwide audition for many theatre companies. This is where I was able to land my job at Madcap Puppet Theatre in Cincinnati OH, as a touring performer. As an actor, I am fortunate enough to work for a well-established company for a long period of time- I would not have had the opportunity to audition for this company, had it not been for the drive to do well in my chosen profession, given to me by SFA faculty and staff.

Experience: While attending SFA, I had two major work experiences. One was on the SFA campus, working for the Fine Arts Box Office, where I learned customer management skills, as well as how to manage my time between work, school, and theatre. It also gave me the opportunity to be in more invested in the School of Theatre than I already was. The other major work opportunity that I had was an off-campus internship. I was fortunate enough to work as an administrative intern for a company located in Fort Worth, Texas Nonprofit Theatres. With this company, I was able to understand the business side of theatre, including what it is like to apply for nonprofit status, how to get in contact with theatres across Texas, and professional communication and advertisement skills necessary for promotion of a theatre company. Knowing that I will one day need these tools in order to further my career as an artist, this internship was invaluable to me.

What was an important lesson learned from your work experience while at college? The most important lesson that I learned from college was not something that any faculty or staff member could have told me, but something I needed to discover on my own. I learned that every job that I do, I can learn from, as long as I am willing to learn. For example, I remember being asked to throw out the trash while on my internship- as I went to the dumpster, I saw that the artistic director of a company that worked across the hall from TNT doing the same thing I was- I realized then that it doesn't matter what your title is, if a job needs to get done, you must get it done. I try and remember this lesson and many others from each and every opportunity that I am given. The concept of continuous learning from even the strangest activities has leaded me to a renaissance of knowledge in my last few years at SFA.

What career-related advice would you like to share with current students, you wish you knew prior to graduating? Learn what makes you happy, and do that. I can't begin to describe how many times I have gone into an audition room and done what I thought the people casting wanted me to do, only to find out that my work was sub-par. if you go into the room, present your material, and are genuinely happy with what you have to show for whoever is hiring, I can almost guarantee that your work will be the best it could have been.

Nicole Adamcik - Internal Audit Educational Background: Major: Master of Professional Accountancy; Graduated: May 2015; Major: Business Administration; Graduated; May 2015

Employer: GameStop

Biography: I was an Accounting major while at SFA and received my Bachelor of Business Administration and my Masters of Professional Accountancy in May 2015. I currently am working at GameStop in Grapevine, TX in the Internal Audit department. I was given the opportunity to apply for an Internal Audit internship with GameStop in the summer of 2014 and after interviewing multiple times, was offered the internship. I immediately accepted and never looked back. I loved my internship and worked with some amazing people and had the opportunity to travel to Canada while interning. I was lucky enough to get a full-time job offer contingent upon my graduation in May once my internship ended. I interviewed with a few other accounting firms, but soon realized that I loved being an Internal Auditor at GameStop. I accepted the position in October 2014 and started working in June 2015.

Experience: I worked for Campus Recreation in the Intramural Sports program area during my 5 years at SFA. I started out as an official and worked my way up to a Site Manager. This job didn't have many things that you could tangibly tie to accounting, but it gave me the people skills that helped me land my first job. I quickly learned that I needed to manage my time throughout the semester appropriately and that has carried over into my corporate work life.

What was an important lesson learned from your work experience while at college? I learned how to work with and interact with many different types of people in Intramural Sports, which has made the corporate world slightly less intimidating. I also learned a lot of crisis management skills that have carried over in the workplace and allow me to work well under pressure. All of my superiors were encouraging and willing to help me develop into a professional in whatever way I need them to. Campus Recreation was a great place to start my career and it enabled me to gain skills that have helped me tremendously since graduation.

What career-related advice would you like to share with current students, you wish you knew prior to graduating? My advice would be to take any professional development opportunities seriously and strive to gain all of the knowledge that you can before leaving SFA. In the real world, people aren't always so quick to help you better yourself. At SFA you have numerous individuals and organizations that are willing to assist you in your professional development.

Shannon Harms
Shannon Harms - Athletic Trainer Educational Background: Major: Master of Science in Athletic Training Graduated: May 2015

Employer: Rice University

Biography: This is currently my first year with the Rice University athletic training staff, working with women's swimming & diving in addition to men's tennis. Most recently, I worked with the Sugar Land Skeeters minor league baseball team as the assistant athletic trainer for their 2015 season. Prior to this, I received my Master of Science in Athletic Training and related certifications from Stephen F. Austin State University in May of 2015. There, I worked with various SFASU athletic teams, primarily with women's softball. A native of the St. Louis area, I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology in 2013.

Experience: My time at SFASU was spent primarily caring for the athletic teams while earning my Master's degree. I can say for certain that this learning experience allowed me to grow into my field more than any other experience I have had to date.

What was an important lesson learned from your work experience while at college? My two years at SFASU taught me an unbelievable amount of discipline and responsibility. My athletes', coaches', and co-workers' well-being was put before my own, and this was done by design. It taught me to be selfless no matter the situation, as this is a key step in becoming an Athletic Trainer.

What career-related advice would you like to share with current students, you wish you knew prior to graduating? Students, who are reaching for their career goals by completing their degree, whether it is a Bachelors, Masters, or Doctorate, should know just that: keep reaching. Ambition and accountability are the key ingredients in impressing an employer. If you make a mistake along your path (and you will, everyone does), own up to the mistake! Do not hide your unintentional errors. Ask for help and explain what went wrong. You will not be punished for your honesty. In fact, many times you will be rewarded for your openness and willingness to learn and prevent future mistakes. Finally, if you show that you have an inner drive and initiative to take on extra tasks, or you offer to do more than what is expected, you will be rewarded. You will be acknowledged for your hard work.

Tiffany Skillern
Tiffany Skillern - Assistant Manager Educational Background: Major: Business Administration; Graduation: May 2015

Employer: Sherwin Williams

Biography: I am Tiffany Skillern and I graduated spring semester, May 16, 2015 with my Bachelor's in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources. My current employment is with Sherwin Williams Paint Store as an Assistant Manager. My journey started with my senior year on the line and landing a job was my biggest obstacle. Using Career Services as my guide, I interviewed with a company that I really took interest in but unfortunately did not land the job. I figured that I needed to polish up on my professional skills such as interviewing, resume, and a couple of other skills. I took control of my future with just a click of a button. I scheduled a mock interview and learned all that I could. In spring 2015, the biannual job approached and I nailed the interview with Sherwin Williams. I took all the tools that career services hand me and used them to polish my professional skills. Now I am very proud and love my job. Thank you so much, I encourage everyone to utilize career services.

Experience: My work experience includes working for Financial Aid for 2 years, which I learned time management, and will never forget my wonderful supervisors and coworkers. I also partook in many clubs such as NAACP, Student United Way, SAM, FnM, and Student Government Association. I have made wonderful friendships and lifetime commitment to my alma mater!

What was an important lesson learned from your work experience while at college? The most important lesson I have learned from my work experience is time management. Being able to study or complete homework while at work was amazing! Of course, you had to complete your task first.

What career-related advice would you like to share with current students, you wish you knew prior to graduating? I would say that don't give up. Work hard for your degree and prepare for your interviews. Nothing is handed to you and if you work for what you want, nobody could ever take anything away from you. Remember, main purpose we attend college is to ultimately get that career that we feel makes the world better. Don't forget that!

Tony Holmes
Tony Holmes - Conference Center Manager Educational Background: Major: Master in Public Administration; Graduated: August 2015; Major: Bachelor of Interpersonal Communication & Bachelor of Sociology; Graduated: May 2012

Employer: Houston Food Bank

Biography: Undergraduate: Interpersonal Communication & Sociology (Double major); Graduated May 2012. Master in Public Administration; Graduated August 2015. Head Start Nacogdoches (Family Service Worker/Case Manager): July 2012-February 2013. Houston Food Bank - Social Services Outreach Coordinator, February 2013 - December 2013. Corporate Volunteer Coordinator, December 2013 - September 2014. Conference Center Manager, September 2014 - Current.

Experience: Front Desk Associate, Baker Patillo Student Center August 2010 - May 2012. College Career Specialist, Lufkin High School, September 2010 through January 2011. Orientation Leader, spring, 2011 through summer 2011. United Way Intern/Student United Way Founder, summer, 2011 through February 2013. (Internship) These positions taught me the importance of communication and how it is an effective tool in the workplace. I learned the value of email and face to face communication. This experience also taught me how to prepare presentations and speeches, as well as speak in public in front of groups. Each role taught me different components of communication, and has played an important role in my current career today.

What was an important lesson learned from your work experience while at college? The value of working on teams; through school work, and my work experience during college I learned how important it is to be an effective team player. In life and in your work career you will be required to work in groups and deliver projects as one unit. Sometimes your colleagues may rely on you to meet deadlines collectively, or on your own. Understanding the value of teamwork will allow you to understand the importance of this whether you are the one on the team, or the one asking for the deadline to be met.

What career-related advice would you like to share with current students, you wish you knew prior to graduating? I would encourage each student to get involved. First, every area of study has opportunities to connect with other individuals who share your education interests. I would encourage students to get to know those individuals because one day you may need their help when seeking out a job or career advice. At the same token you may find opportunities to share with them in their search for employment. You would be better served by making acquaintances with those who share your major in the long run. Secondly, I would suggest seeking other volunteer opportunities within the university. The best experience you can gain while in college is that in which you don't get paid for. Once you are in the real world you will quickly learn that most employers want to see your work experience. Many college graduates complain about not having adequate work experience when seeking employment; however there are a multitude of volunteer opportunities within the university that you should take advantage of that will put you ahead of your peers in the long run. Lastly, get involved with the city of Nacogdoches. There are many great leaders and professionals that can offer great advice to you. I learned this toward the end of my tenure with SFASU; however this was an invaluable resource for my career and professional life today. *And bonus, be careful what you put on social media! This could harm your career opportunities and become detrimental to your future.

Amberly Johnson
Amberly Johnson - Graduate Assistant Educational Background: Major: Family & Consumer Sciences; Graduation: May 2014

Employer: Stephen F. Austin State University, Career Services

Biography: Hello, I am Amberly Johnson. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in May 2014. After graduation I started my teaching career at Marshall High School in Marshall Texas. At MHS I taught Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Principles of Education. I enjoyed my first year and learned many lessons that impacted my career and life. Fall 2014 I also started working on my graduate education. I am currently studying secondary education at SFA, and hope to receive a Master in Education August 2016. During my first year of teaching I had a beautiful baby boy and decided to take a year off from teaching to focus on him and fishing my master degree; which has lead me to an awesome graduate position within Career Services at SFA.

Experience: While a student at SFA, I became a member of Alpha Phi Omega community service fraternity and was also inducted into the prestigious Delta Sigma Theta Incorporated sorority. As a student assistant, I had the honor to work for the Dean of Education my last 2 years of undergraduate, where I started to focus on my career development.

What was an important lesson learned from your work experience while at college? One lesson I learned in college is establishing connections with people you work with or for. You never know who you may need. I still have great relationships with my former supervisors. I am to still able to ask for reference letters and advice when needed. Even after college you may need people you met in college or you may need people from previous jobs, so make sure to establish positive relationships with people you meet.

What career-related advice would you like to share with current students, you wish you knew prior to graduating? I would encourage students to think about their future now! Do not wait for your graduating semester. Prepare for your future by attending career fairs, submitting your resume to be critiqued through career services, and practicing interviewing techniques. There is no excuse for why you are not professionally prepared after college. There are so many resources available at SFA that will help you become confident in approaching life after college. Also, be humble! Do not say what you are not going to do or not going work, sometimes you have to go through things to get where you're going. Remember after college you are still young and the world is your oyster. Don't limit yourself!!