The Alumni Mentor Program has opened up opportunities for students to relate to past graduates and learn from their experiences.
Currently, there are 78 pairs of alumni and students united. The success of the program is sure to progress and enhance the bonds of graduates and students.
Micala Priola '07 and Mike Harding '12
Why did you choose W&J?
Micala: I was looking for a small college that provided a credible academic program with small class sizes, but still allowed me to have the opportunity to play soccer at a competitive level. I visited many schools similar to W&J’s size, but in the end chose W&J because I loved the friendly atmosphere and energy.
Mike: I chose W&J because I knew I wanted a smaller school and one that had more than just small class sizes, but truly distinctive faculty and student relationships. After visiting and taking my tour I absolutely fell in love with the campus and it truly continues to exceed my expectations simply based on the opportunities that I have been afforded.
What do you remember from your first week as a freshman?
Micala: During freshman orientation, parents were supposed to attend and stay for a lunch in the afternoon. My dad came with me and instead of staying for lunch (like everyone else’s parents) he said, “See you later and told me to make sure I had fun.” I immediately panicked because I only knew one other person, and he was nowhere to be found. I admit that I was definitely scared that first day, but later realized my dad actually did me a favor because I came out that day with a new set of friends that I still hang out with today.
Mike: My first week as a freshman legit seems like yesterday, but despite being over 3 years ago I remember the anxiousness of finding classes on a “huge” campus. I also recall how quickly you can make friends as everyone is equally freaked and going through the same process. I also definitely remember being ditched pretty quickly by my rents who were “going to check out the new outlets” that opened the same weekend as orientation.
What advice would you give to the incoming freshman class?
Micala: This is the first time in your life where you get to call the shots and your future is uncertain. Make the most of your college experience by choosing whatever career path you want to follow, not what someone else wants you to follow.
Mike: There are countless things that you can learn from a place like W&J, but some of the best advice I could give would be to step completely outside of your comfort zone and try something new like an Intersession to Japan or a Magellan to Ireland! Both experiences have truly impacted me in ways that I would have never seen possible.
Who is your most influential professor?
Micala: My most influential professor was Mr. Tim Murphy who was the head of the Entrepreneurial Studies Program. He had a unique teaching style in his class where participation was an extremely large percentage of your grade. This method of teaching was very beneficial because it started a group conversation and you really learned from your classmates instead of only your professor.
Mike: Dr. Kinder. You have some of the hardest laughs in his class while still learning way more than you ever thought about finance and life in general. He is also my advisor and his real people approach is much appreciated.
How has W&J prepared you for the future?
Micala: I believe the best take away I took from W&J is my ability to think outside the box. The academic mentality at W&J forces you to become creative because the common answer to a question is not acceptable. W&J teaches you how to set yourself apart from the norm.
Mike: W&J has a unique way of challenging you not only in the classroom, but also numerous other aspects from taking leadership roles to creating your own experiences. Whether you create your own major on campus or have a travel experience on the other side of the globe W&J is constantly preparing you for the future with new and exciting endeavors.
What do you hope to get out of the mentoring program?
Micala: There were so many people who influenced me at W&J throughout my 4 years and who still help me throughout my career path today. I would like to be able to provide this same experience for someone else.
Mike: I am the oldest and while I am fortunate enough to have great role models in my life by means of my parents I was psyched to be paired with a mentor who is close enough in age to be an older sister. It also doesn’t hurt that Micala is fun and legit too. Having someone who has more recently been there done that is a huge benefit even for the littlest things such as interview tips!
As a mentor, what kinds of advice or help do you give to your protégé?
Micala: Honestly, I learn just as much from my protégé, Mike, as he hopefully learns from me! I I have given advice on interviews, continuing education, workplace culture, etc. Mike and I are only a years apart in age, so I feel that it makes the relationship more comfortable since it was not that long ago that I was in his shoes.
Mike: Micala has been such a huge help. Being so approachable and fun has made her a great reference point on numerous different things especially going through the whole internship application and interview process last spring. Countless quick emails and BBMs really gave that quick peace of mind opinion and it was greatly appreciated!
Is there any advice you would give to a student thinking about applying for the mentor program?
Micala: I believe many students have a better idea of what major they would like to pursue when they go to college than what career path they would like to follow when they get out. There are so many different careers available today and making this type of decision is difficult. A mentor can help be that sounding board for a student who is not quite sure which direction to take. You are not giving them the answer but asking them questions to point them in the right direction. Lending a few hours every month to help your protégé become successful is personally gratifying. When Mike does well, it makes my day too! Mike is more than protégé in my eyes…he is good friend.
Mike: It is a resource that once you have, won’t know how you lived without! It brings full circle the W&J family vibe and gives you an older brother or sister to bounce ideas off of to get advice and to be just plain good old fiends! So take full advantage of the opportunity and have fun with it because you just never know where meeting new people will take you!