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Planetary Science major Emily Etheridge ’23 stood before a small group of high school students to talk about planetary science and geology during a late-winter Discover Engineering Day.

Coordinated through Building Bridges to Careers, the day drew 54 high school students from 10 schools to Marietta College’s campus to learn about careers in engineering and related fields. Etheridge’s students looked at rocks and gems through microscopes, taking note of some of the properties she discussed. Smiling at their excitement and their questions, Etheridge confidently talked about planetary science and how studying rocks related to it.

It wasn’t long ago that Etheridge and her fellow classmates were beginning their academic journeys at Marietta College, trying to find their career paths and passions in life while also adjusting to a new environment. Though they still have a few weeks left at Marietta, many of the soon-to-be college graduates already have their plans set for what’s next.

Etheridge, who is the first student to major in Planetary Science at Marietta, is headed to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville to begin the Earth and Planetary Science Ph.D. program.

“The project I will be working on will involve characterizing thermal and chemical signs of the initiation of subduction within rocks at the southern Mariana Trench forearc,” she says. “This is the deepest point of the Earth’s ocean. The Pacific Plate is subducting beneath the Indo-Australian plate along this forearc, causing the rocks in this area to experience extremely high temperature and pressure conditions.”

Next year, she will participate in shipboard work to collect the rock samples by using a robotic submersible.

“(Assistant Professor of Planetary Science) Dr. Andrew Beck has been an excellent mentor to me within the Planetary Science program,” Etheridge says. “He has helped me find internships, fellowships, and projects that have helped me grow as an early career scientist, both in confidence and skill. For example, I had the opportunity to intern with the Lunar and Planetary Science Institute and NASA Astromaterials and Explorations Science (ARES) this past summer. I met so many wonderful scientists and even got to present my research at a conference with over 2,000 people in attendance. He is passionate about helping students find their passion within the geosciences.”

Before the end of the academic year, seniors attend a GradFest celebration, which gives them an opportunity to share what their immediate plans are after graduation, including direct employment, graduate school, or still looking. The Registrar’s Office coordinates the event, which also features staff from the Career Center and the Advancement Office.

Like Etheridge, Marissa Milham ’23 found that having relationships with her professors played a key role in helping her gain skills, knowledge, and confidence during her undergraduate years.

“Marietta has prepared me well for after graduation,” says Milham, who is a Journalism/Broadcasting major with minors in Sport Management and Coaching. “Being part of the Communication Department, I have been able to have hands-on experience with multiple areas such as TV, radio, video editing, and online article writing. I have been able to build skills with the help from a variety of professors in the Communication Department to feel prepared in a variety of different roles. I have also been able to take part in a variety of different job shadow experiences with Sport Management. (Associate Professor of Sport Management) Rick Smith has allowed me to attend job shadows with the University of Pittsburgh and Michigan, the Boca Bowl, and the Savannah Bananas. Throughout these experiences, I was able to build hands-on experiences while finding my passions in the sports industry. I was able to take part in a variety of different roles, including ticketing, facilities, and media.”

Outside of her academics, Milham worked as the manager for the men’s basketball program and with WCMO-TV, WMRT-FM, and The Marcolian.

After graduation, Milham will intern full time with Court Management at The Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, where she interned last year. This fall, she will begin the Master’s in Sport Administration at the University of Cincinnati. She is grateful to the professors and staff on campus for supporting her growth for the past five years.

“Marietta College allowed me to find passions that I originally didn’t think I was going to do when I first got to campus,” Milham says. “A small school like Marietta allowed me to take part in a variety of different experiences that shaped my path to where I want to go in the sport industry. Through job shadows, internships, media involvement, and on-campus work-study positions, I was able to build experiences that will be vital to any role I take on post-graduation. The professors and staff always have the best interest for their students and will help in any way possible. If it wasn’t for the professors, I don’t think I would have been able to take part in a variety of different experiences that have shaped my learning. The experiences with media involvement and job shadows allowed me to translate classroom work to real hands-on experiences.”

Ask Hannah Jamelo ’23 about her success as a Petroleum Engineering major with multiple job options after graduation — she’s naming names.

“Professor (Dave) Freeman, Professor (Paul) Paslay, Professor (Craig) Rabatin, Professor (Chris) Jacobs, Professor (Ben) Ebenhack, Dr. (Susan) Peterson, Dr. (Ahmed) Algarhy, Dr. (Rakibul) Sarker. I also want to mention Professor Michelle Jeitler for being the best math professor ever.

“Every professor I’ve had in the Petroleum department has been some of the most understanding, helpful, knowledgeable, kind, and overall, just the best professors a student could ever ask for,” Jamelo says. “Since freshman year, they have always offered great advice and made sure we knew what to expect after graduation, and we start our careers. They also incorporate this in how they handle their class.”

Oddly enough, Marietta College was not even on the radar when Jamelo was in high school.

“I did not even apply because I thought the tuition was very expensive, especially having lived my whole life in the Philippines where most colleges are free,” Jamelo says. “However, Marietta College reached out to me after asking the high school I attended for my transcripts. They invited me to compete for the Charles Sumner Harrison Scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship. Out of the 100-plus people who competed, I was one of the five who were selected. I look at this as one of my greatest blessings in life that I will forever be grateful for. I selected my major because before receiving my scholarship from Marietta College, I was planning on getting a degree in Safety Engineering. Marietta College has one of the best Petroleum Engineering programs, and I thought I would give it a try.”

Being a Charles Sumner Harrison Scholar not only helped her attend Marietta, but it also helped her break out of her shell by involving her in community volunteering and social justice advocacy. She also made a lot of friends from different backgrounds who taught her about their cultures.

Though she has not decided which job is the best fit, she does plan to earn a master’s degree while working.

Similarly, Erin Hahn ’23 knows what direction she’s going in but is still figuring out what location best fits her needs. She plans to attend graduate school this fall to study school counseling and hopes to earn a graduate assistant position with a women’s basketball program.

“A big part of my time at Marietta was being a part of the women’s basketball team,” Hahn says. “My teammates have made my time at Marietta so enjoyable. They are some of the best people in my life. We were very successful this past season, we were able to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time. Our achievements as a team have helped me grow as a person because we have fought through a lot of adversity to get to where we are.”

Hahn chose Marietta because of its Education Department and to play basketball.

“Marietta has helped me prepare for life after graduation in numerous ways,” Hahn says. “I have been able to grow as a person through all of the different experiences I have been through while I have been at Marietta. My professors, especially Dr. Amanda Rider, have helped me prepare for life after graduation. She has helped me figure out where to apply for grad school, as well as helping me when I am overwhelmed and stressed out. She has been able to help me throughout my four years.”

One of the more remarkable outcomes this year comes from the Biochemistry Department. Faculty and staff in the department hosted an intimate celebration this semester to mark a milestone that they hope repeats year after year.

“Every year, we are thrilled with our seniors, but we’ve never had 100 percent of our people get into graduate school, medical school, and PA schools, so this is phenomenal,” says Dr. Kevin Pate, McCoy Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the Department Chemistry and Biochemistry. “And it’s their first choice, too, which is the best part.”

Under the guidance of Dr. Suzanne Parsons, McCoy Professor of Biochemistry, Julie Schlanz ’23 has been researching and presenting research on how to kill melanoma cells. Most recently, she presented at the NASA Ohio Space Grant Consortium Symposium in Cleveland, just weeks after presenting at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting in Indianapolis. Schlanz is one of seven Biochemistry majors attending a graduate program this fall. She was accepted into all three of her top Ph.D. choices: The Ohio State University, the University of Cincinnati, and Case Western Reserve University.

“I was very shy coming into freshman year, but I’m not as shy anymore, and I feel like that has a lot to do with the faculty,” Schlanz says. “They really plan a lot of events for us and try to get us to open up and meet new people. I really appreciate that. I feel like I’m comfortable with the faculty and my fellow classmates. My biggest accomplishment so far, I’d have to say, is the research that I’ve done outside of class. I’ve been doing research for my Honors Thesis Capstone Project, and I feel like I’ve worked very hard on that since freshman year. I’m very proud of myself for doing that, and it has influenced me to apply to graduate school. Dr. Parsons is my advisor and the main professor I’ve worked with. She started with me freshman year, guiding me in the research lab, teaching me how to grow cells, and connecting me with older students in the research lab so they could help me. All of this is a reflection of the work she put into me.”

Also attending a Ph.D. program is Colton Hall ’23, who will attend the University of Cincinnati. He’s still deciding whether to work in the field or to pursue working in higher education, but he knows he’ll be ready for either or both.

“I tutor for Chemistry subjects, and I really enjoy it, and I also have had great professors,” Hall says. “They help with every single step of the way.”

When he was ready to apply to graduate programs, he met with Professor Parsons first.

“She explained the process completely to make sure I was ready and knew what to expect,” Hall says. “When it came time to apply and I needed letters of recommendations, I knew I could ask any of my professors in the department. They were happy to do it. They want you to succeed and they’re ready to celebrate when you do.”

Jaden Koren ’23 and Dylan Beaver ’23 will be attending medical school. Koren will attend the University of Cincinnati and Beaver will attend Ohio University.

A naturally anxious person, Koren says Professor Jim Jeitler and Professor Parsons supported and mentored her through the application and interview process, making sure she had the right shadowing and internship experiences, and helping to calm her anxiety. She says the faculty make it a family atmosphere, right down to the common room outside of their offices.

“This room is open to us at all times so we’re able to come in to study, and Dr. Parsons is always providing snacks and makes sure we have food and anything we need to be successful,” Koren says. “It’s really a family environment, a home away from home.”

Beaver was undecided when he first came to Marietta but chose Biochemistry — and medicine — soon after taking a course from one of the Chemistry faculty.

“Biochemistry is a challenging major, and when you’re taking these classes — I don’t know how to explain it best — but they make learning things like biochemistry and organic chemistry as easy as possibly could be, despite being as difficult as it is. How they do that? I guess one of the things is making you feel so comfortable that you’re never hesitant to ask questions. Their door is always open, and you can always email them. For me to pinpoint ways they make things easier would be impossible.”

Three Biochemistry students — Annie Carpenter ’23, Parker Dinan ’23, and Talitha Hochstetler ’23 — will attend their first-choice Physician Assistant Studies Graduate Program: Marietta College.

“The day before my interview with the PA Program, Dr. Parsons was helping me prepare and walking me through different ways to go through the interview process,” Carpenter says. “Anything you need, they’re ready to help you achieve it. And I know I’ll be ready for PA school because I’ve had so many hard classes that prepare me to work hard. I cannot thank my professors enough.”

Dinan agrees, adding that the dedication it’s going to take to complete his graduate studies was developed as an undergraduate.

“This program is not easy by any means,” Dinan says. “We were tested from the first class we took up to now. Organic chemistry and biochemistry are some crazy classes that really require a lot of work. The program itself has shown us how much work must go into these upper-level classes that I’m going to be taking in this master’s program. Studying 10 hours a day — that kind of work ethic — they’ve taught me how to have it.”

Hochstetler says the confidence that her professors have helped her develop has made all the difference.

“I came here really shy and really nervous, but it’s like a community here and a family environment, for sure,” Hochstetler says. “Even when I’m going through something that’s a more personal matter, the professors have always been here for me, which is really sweet. Dr. Parsons will make you tea and sit with you if you’re struggling. She has been so sweet and kind to me. As a class, we’ve even gone on a little walk before an (Organic Chemistry) exam to chill out and calm down, which helps our nerves before the exam. Have you ever heard of professors doing that? It happens here.”