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About Feature 1

The Marietta Effect

Mike Cress

Michael Cress '10

Major: English

Minor: Adolescent/Young Adult Education (7-12 teaching license)

Additional Education: Coursework/additional licensure through Georgia Department of Education

Current Job: Seventh Grade Language Arts Gifted Teacher & Department Chair with Gwinnett (Ga.) County Public Schools; Curriculum Specialist with Teach For America

Hometown: Atlantic City, N.J.

Clubs/Organizations: College Union Board, College Democrats, Erwin Knights Education Association

Athletics: Men's Rowing

Favorite Professor: Dr. Bev Hogue — I appreciated her balance of being extremely knowledgeable and yet so down to earth.

When did you know Marietta College was the right school for you?

I had a true transformation after my first year at Marietta; I followed the advice of many in The Long Blue Line and got myself involved with a number of roles, activities, and organizations I felt passionate about. Marietta College gave me the not only the confidence and the opportunity to do this, but also the space and network of an incredibly supportive and inspiring group of friends, alumni, and faculty who helped me develop. As an education student, I got to work hands-on as a teacher at the Ely Chapman Education Foundation just a few streets away from campus. When I worked with the College Democrats, I got to work on the campaign trail and met Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as Joe Biden. When I began immersing myself in the opportunities that Marietta College made possible for me, opportunities that had a major impact on me both personally and professionally, I realized I had chosen the perfect school for me.

Favorite Marietta moment?

Delivering one of the two Jewett commencement speeches at the graduation of the Class of 2010. As the first person from my family to graduate college, it meant a lot to me to be able to deliver a speech as my mother sat in the audience, along with some of my best friends, favorite professors, and alumni who helped paved the way for me.

Describe what life was like during your time at Marietta College.

In one word, exhilarating. My years at Marietta truly helped me transform from a curious and soft-spoken adolescent into a confident and passionate adult. Being a Jersey boy from a sheltered family finally on my own in this extremely different part of the country was something extraordinary, and I’ll never forget the warm feeling of hospitality I got, whether it was from the teachers I student taught with at Parkersburg High School, the professors who opened their homes to me in downtown Marietta, or my friends’ families who welcomed me over for Easter dinner. This period of my life was so exciting because I had the freedom to try new things, think in new ways, learn from new people, and blaze a new trail for myself.

What impact did Marietta College have on your career?

A profound one; I believe the versatility of my liberal arts education helped my thinking evolve while never allowing me to become complacent within a comfort zone. However, the English and Education programs I was so fortunate to be a part of really helped solidify my passion and purpose to work in education reform and advocate for at-risk children and families across the country. As a Teach For America alumnus who now leads a department and trains incoming new teachers, I’ve been able to help bring waves of positive chance and empowerment to students in Atlanta, New Orleans, and Nashville, and hopefully after this year, the San Francisco bay area. The confidence, depth of knowledge, and leadership skills I utilize on a daily basis to carry out this work would not be available to me had I not matriculated as a Pioneer.

What does it mean to be a Pioneer?

To me, being a Pioneer means blazing your own trail and paving the way for others in the process. Given the quality of the programs and the tightknit community at Marietta College, every one of us develops as a Pioneer and blazes that new trail. Being a Pioneer means having both passion and compassion, being brave and yet humble, and fulfilling your potential.