Alumni Profile

Victoria Barnum

Graduate Assistant at Ohio University

What are you doing now? How did you come to be where you are now?

            I am enrolled in a 2-year master’s program at Ohio University and am working towards a M.Ed. in College Student Personnel. The best part about the program is that my tuition is completely covered, since I serve as a graduate assistant on campus. My graduate assistantship is within the Higher Education and Student Affairs program, so I spend my time on admissions events, recruiting initiatives, attending our sponsored events at conferences, and coordinating the interview weekend for our programs. My experiences working with the Admissions office and Student Association Executive Board were really helpful in my transition to this role. My experience talking with prospective students as a tour guide and serving on the Curriculum and Education Policy Committee as Secretary of Academics transferred well. Additionally, my 2 summers working in the Summer Housing Office with Catherine Welch really contributed to my ability to take direction and work autonomously.


Are you where you imagined you would be in your career at this point in your life prior to graduating, or did things work out differently than you planned?

            When I started at St. Mike’s, I thought I wanted to go into Museum Education. But as I became involved with the Residence Hall Association and Student Association, I realized the amount of staff and faculty required to run St. Mike’s. After this realization during my sophomore year, I started meeting with various people on campus to learn more about what it takes to run a college. I then started looking into graduate programs in Higher Education and Student Affairs. This early start allowed me to cultivate my experiences at St. Mike’s to give me the best start in my future graduate career. Everyone on campus was so helpful in answering my questions and helping me to find the right experiences, from Dawn Ellinwood helping secure my position in the Summer Housing Office to the President’s Office and others letting me attend the Summer Seminars usually reserved for new staff.  Without this assistance, I don’t think I would have had the same post-graduate opportunities.


What made you choose St. Mike's?

            I chose St. Mike’s because it felt right. I really fell in love with St. Mike’s after attending a Pre-Orientation Weekend (POW) trip. That environment was perfect for easing my worries and finding answers to my questions. After that trip, I was hooked and wanted to move in right then!


What was your most memorable experience at St. Mike's?

            Winning the Katherine Fairbanks Memorial Award at graduation was definitely memorable! When it comes to memories from the rest of my time, it was so great to make such close connections, not only with students but with faculty and staff. I still keep in contact with many professors and staff members, and this is definitely unique amongst my graduate school classmates. I loved my 2 years serving on the Student Association Executive Board and the group from my senior year will always be close to my heart. Also, I will always remember helping start the Quidditch tournaments with my boyfriend Jack Loomis, who is actually in Ohio with me. Meeting him my first year at SMC is memorable for sure.


 Who was your favorite professor, or a professor that influenced you in a significant way?

            I had such a great time with my professors during my 4 years. My experiences with Maura D’Amore, Ray Patterson, Sajida Jalalzai, Doug Slaybaugh, and Suzanne Ouellette were transformational. I felt wonderfully prepared for my graduate work and their courses played a large role. I am the only person in my cohort with a Religious Studies/American Studies/Art History background and I think it is a real advantage when it comes to completing my reading and assignments. The ability to complete large amounts of reading in a way that allows you to participate in class discussion is instrumental for success in graduate school. Their encouragement and mentorship was crucial and I am forever thankful.


 What was it like adjusting to the 'real world' after graduating?

            I sometimes feel that I am still not in the ‘real world’ given that I still operate on the college schedule. I think the transition from the traditional residence halls to the townhomes/apartments with kitchens for senior year was very helpful. It was great to have experience cooking on my own before I had to cook every meal for myself. While it was hard to leave St. Mike’s, by the time graduation came around I felt ready. When it came to moving to Ohio, it was hard to move so far away from home but I think the distance really contributed to my transition to post-grad life. It was important to see if I could be successful in another completely new place and I truly think my experience at St. Mike’s played a role in my post-grad success.


 Where do you think you would be right not if you had not gone to Saint Michael's college? How would your life be different?

            I don’t think I would have pursued the same set of majors if I went to a different college. The combination I chose really contributed to my academic development and is particularly relevant as of late. My experience also led to my change in career aspirations, which might have differed if I did not meet the wonderful faculty and stuff of SMC. My life would also be very different, as I would not have met my boyfriend during those first months. I am so grateful for every aspect of my SMC experience and recommend the college to anyone I meet.


What would you say to current seniors who will be graduating soon?

            Utilize Career Services! The wonderful staff were so amazing with reviewing my resume and offering advice about interviewing. During my graduate school search, I ended up completing at least 15 interviews and I would not have been nearly as ready for the challenge if not for Aislinn Doyle and the other talented staff. I would also say that graduating isn’t as scary as it seems, especially if you have a plan for what you will do after. Knowing that I was going to graduate school made the transition out of college much easier. While it might be tough to have something completely set up by graduation, having some leads and a plan will make you feel much more confident with your departure.




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