Widening horizons: FSU shapes students into the people they are today

With graduation less than a month away, FSU seniors are reflecting on their time at FSU, beginning at orientation and ending when they take their final steps across the stage at the DCU center. 

Whether FSU shaped who they are today, taught them to be more independent, changed their lives for the better, or helped them face overwhelming challenges, at the end of each story, the message is the same – FSU radiates prosperity.

English major Diego Rocha said, “FSU has completely changed my life. At first, I was very insecure about career paths, and the school has helped me to understand that in order to be successful in the ‘real world,’ my academic life would have to be successful.”

Rocha, who received a bachelor’s degree in English in December, said the English department helped him get “ready to face the professional world” – improving skills like proficiency, professionalism, and articulation of thoughts and ideas.

He added that the campus environments, such as the library, and the positive relationships he has built with professors and peers, have helped him become more organized, comfortable, and focus-oriented.

“Desmond McCarthy as the chair of the English department certainly makes it all even more welcoming. He speaks to the students’ needs, and we feel valued as individuals,” he said.

Rocha said he wants to continue his education after graduation through a master’s program.

“I’m looking forward to the next educational opportunity,” he said.

Amanda Martin, biochemistry major, said, “FSU helped shape me into the person I am today by providing me with a knowledgeable faculty and involvement opportunities. Had I not been pushed by the school’s encouragement to join clubs and organizations, I don’t think I would have ever put myself out of my comfort zone.”

After graduation, Martin said she plans on enrolling in a Ph.D. program for biochemistry research. With help from chemistry professors Steven Cok and Shelli Waetzig, she hopes to see all the skills she learned here be put into action.

“My time at Framingham State has set me up very well to take this step and receive higher education. Not only am I leaving with a wealth of knowledge, but I am also leaving with new skills in leadership and hands-on lab work I received through countless labs, my experience as a supplemental instruction leader, my capstone research project, and my internship at a bio-pharmaceutical company,” she said.

Matthew Pellegrino, class president and business IT major, said FSU made him into the person he is today because of all the opportunities that were offered.

Two years after becoming a resident assistant his sophomore year, he became an administrative resident assistant, acquiring more responsibilities such as overseeing all other resident assistants in his building.

In addition, Pellegrino has also participated in two years of Alternative Spring Break (ASB) and became an ASB leader his second year.

“I have found my passion for leadership through this role. It’s nice to try to be an advocate for others, too. It made me value change and to always try to be open,” he said.

Pellegrino said, “I had a learning disability before college, and it was something that I worked hard to overcome. I still sometimes feel as though I have to try harder than everyone else. I honestly don’t tell people that, but I’m a strong advocate for trying to show others that if you work hard it will really pay off.”

Pellegrino said his role as class president has contributed to career skills and readiness because it motivated him to set goals for himself.

He added, “I would like to thank the Class of 2019 as it has been a long/fast four years here and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Stephen Donnelly, environmental studies and sustainability major and president of Hilltop, said, “FSU helped me become more independent, and it helped me to put more responsibility on myself. This allowed me to excel more than I ever imagined was possible. … I learned that some limitations or expectations are just guidelines. You don’t have to be trapped or locked into what others expect of you.”

Although he would love to work in the environmental field after graduation, he said performing on Broadway has always been a dream of his.

His position as Hilltop president has helped him learn how to plan an event, move forward with ideas, and work as a team with his other Hilltop members.

Donnelly said after graduation, he has a show booked and a couple of job opportunities.

Alexis Gomez, graphic design major, said, “Throughout my time here at FSU, I have faced a number of overwhelming challenges. However, FSU has allowed me to position myself to become a successful student in and out the classroom.

“FSU gives you the tools to be your own individual with great professors. Professors embrace your style of learning and make it easy to be successful,” he added.

One thing Gomez would like to see changed is class times to be more oriented around commuter students, giving them opportunities to find classes at all times of the day.

He said he has a few jobs that are of interest, and he is hoping to save money for grad school.

Ben Carrington, SGA president and management major, said, “I have definitely grown and changed here in my four years at FSU, and I will always be grateful for the experience. I have learned how to be a critical thinker, how to deal with conflict, how to deal with hate, how to lead, and so much more.”

As SGA president, Carrington is able to home in on his management skills. “I am now able to have difficult conversations. I no longer am scared to do public speaking. My communication skills definitely improved as I worked with professors, other students, staff members, and the administration,” he said.

Carrington acknowledged how even though steps are being taken, he would like to see more changes on campus, specifically to better University culture.

Suzanne Wright, history major, said, “The faculty and staff at FSU are second to none. I have been lucky enough to work with many professors, across departments and disciplines, and all of them have been passionate teachers dedicated to student success and achievement.”

She added that she would love to see more extensive resources for humanities majors, such as investing in more electronic databases, and improvements to May Hall.

Wright said after graduation, she will be continuing her internship on the Moon Landing in Context project, as well as beginning an interpretation and visitors’ services internship at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site in Brookline. After the two internships are complete, she ideally wants to find a job at a museum or historic site or apply for a post-graduate certificate or master’s degree program.

Megan Machado-Maitoza, criminology major, said, “FSU has definitely had an influence on my development as a person. … Some of the professors here have really shaped how I see and interpret the world. It’s kind of crazy to look back and realize how much I’ve developed because of a few classes.”
In regard to improvements, Machado-Maitoza said, “FSU needs to be more committed to being anti-racist. It feels like we only talk about race and racism when a racist event happens on campus. I think the strategies FSU uses are largely reactionary and don’t really address the roots of the problem.”

While considering her future options, Machado-Maitoza said she hopes after graduation she can work somewhere she enjoys.

“I think I’m most afraid of not knowing what to do next. The uncertainty of it all is pretty unnerving,” she said.

Many seniors are stressed about job availability in their fields and the “unknown.”

Wright said, “I do worry about job availability in the field, even though I am confident in the skills and experiences I have developed here. I am also afraid that I will be required to get a master’s degree before I can find any job in the field. Paying for graduate school on top of the debt I have incurred getting my bachelor’s degree is very scary.”

Martin said, “Obviously, getting a job is one of my biggest fears moving forward. In my field, many of the job opportunities require several years of experience. I also fear living on my own without roommate/community support.”

Carrington said, “Like a lot of seniors, my fears are the unknown – it’s scary not knowing where I will be working or where I’ll be living within the next few years, but I know it will all work out.”

Dawn Ross, director of Career Services, said, “Career Services is an excellent resource for graduating seniors who may be feeling a number of different emotions. Seniors might find it helpful to meet one-on-one with a career counselor who will guide you through the process and empower you to make important decisions and create your career tools.”

According to Ross, the office can assess your needs and skills, define networking possibilities and opportunities, research industries, professions, and companies, perfect and target your resume, help you write successful cover letters, conduct mock interviews, and so much more.

Rocha said when he visited Career Services, the women there were more than welcoming and extremely helpful. The career counselor who worked with Rocha went over his resume, pointed out his strengths and things he could improve.

“Nowadays,” Rocha said, “I have a very clean, sharp resume.”

Gomez said, “I had the opportunity to take advantage of the mock interview that they offer. I found it very informative and helpful for job hunting.”

Ross said while finding a job can be challenging, graduating seniors should keep a positive mindset and be determined to reach their career goals.

“Once you make the initial effort, don’t give up! Persistence, positivity, and following through are key,” she said.

For more advice, Ross said Career Services will be sending all seniors a “Life After FSU” newsletter, made by professional writing intern FSU English major Christen Caragian, which includes “several articles discussing important concerns seniors might have as well as a list of resources for finding and researching jobs.”

Andrew Lipsky, director of the Counseling Center, said, “Graduation can be a time of excitement, pride and relief for many students, as they feel ready to complete this chapter of their lives. … However, many graduates also feel confused, anxious and stressed about next steps, and suffer from loss associated with ending what had become a familiar and comfortable rhythm in their lives. Further, many have housing and other financial insecurity, causing additional anxiety and stress.”

Gomez said, “I have felt a huge relief as my time is coming to an end here at FSU. Being a commuter student who works full time and is a full-time student, sometimes it feels I don’t have time for myself and have become overwhelmed multiple times.”

Lipsky said he recommends students should consider their changing environment and who they are going to seek support from now before they graduate. This includes switching therapy providers or psychiatric providers depending on proximity.

“We encourage a thoughtful balance to their activities and self-care. … Stress is not always negative and counterproductive. Engaging in new activities or challenging oneself positively can be a way of stretching oneself to learn and grow, and to develop more options for what is possible,” he said.

He added, “Aside from their balance of activities, level of engagement, and self-care, we promote the use of exercise, meditation/yoga, and activities that they find soothing and less stimulating, like artistic pursuits, music, reading, taking walks, or hikes in nature, as generally being useful.”