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Alumni say VSU crucial in their career path

There are numbers of VSU Alumni that, since graduating, have made their mark in the world. As current seniors graduate and move past this school they will become Alumni as well. 

Kara Jones, marketing director at U.S. Press has worked with this company since she graduated from VSU in 2014. U.S. Press is a commercial printing company located in Valdosta. 

“I coordinate and develop our company’s marketing activities to build brand awareness and connect with customers through direct mail, our website, SEO and email marketing,” Jones said. “In addition, I also manage some of our client’s accounts.”

Jones also graduated with a MBA in 2017. 

“I have the opportunity to work on new projects at my company each year,” she said. “My favorite project has been developing our new website, which we are getting ready to launch now. It’s been exciting and rewarding to see it transform from just an idea to a working platform.”

Abby McCuen graduated from VSU with a BFA in theatre, with an emphasis in dance, fall 2007.  She is currently a theatre teacher and director for St. Vincent’s Academy in Savannah, GA.  a Page at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, CA. 

“Being a Page was the best job ever, McCuen said. “I worked under the Guest Relations Department and managed audiences for all live taped shows on the lot. I met a ton of celebrities and had the opportunity to learn about the film and television industry everyday. To even apply for a position in a Page Program, you have to have a college diploma.”

Her BFA went on to provide much more than a job as a page. 

“My time at VSU completely prepared me for my time in Los Angeles,” she said. “After my time in LA, I scored a job at Savannah Ballet (a professional dance company in Savannah, GA). During my time at SB, I developed a program for children with autism. Savannah Ballet was the first dance company in the state of GA to offer performances just for students with autism. I was featured on NPR, in several magazines and on the national news for the program that I set up.” 

These alumnae have used their education to accomplish many things, and share advice to those graduating in the spring.

“When you graduate, you likely have a specific plan or career path you want to follow,” Jones said. “Having a plan or a goal in mind is certainly important, but be open to change and realize it can take time to figure things out. You don’t have to know all the answers or have your life mapped out at 21 or 22, so be patient and embrace opportunities as they come to you. Work hard, and things will work out the way they’re supposed to.”

“My best advice is to soak up every experience that you are given,” McCuen said. “Sometimes the smallest thing can lead to the biggest, life changing opportunities. Reach beyond your college department “bubble” and make new friends where-ever you can. College is just as much about networking, as it is about and education.” 

They also give advice when it comes to transitioning out of college.

“I wish I had been told about the lifestyle change going from a college schedule to a “9-5” work schedule,” Jones said. “College offers a lot of flexibility and freedom in choosing your schedule, whereas the workforce often does not. So while you might not have to worry about studying at 1 a.m. anymore, work can have its own demands and it can take time to adjust to that new type of lifestyle and schedule.”

“Although many of my professors mentioned this, I wish I would have taken it to heart sooner: Find what makes you happy at any age,” McCuen said. “We are always growing as professionals and people.Don’t be afraid to pivot to find what makes you happy. Don’t let your degree define you. Your degree will get you in the door, but your experiences, resume and personality will get you jobs.”

Both Jones and McCuen wouldn’t change their VSU experience as it gave them both valuable lessons.

“I don’t think I would change anything about my college experience or what I did after graduation,” Jones said. “I loved attending VSU and will always look back on my college years fondly. Naturally, I’ve made mistakes in my twenties, but they’ve taught me valuable lessons that have helped me become the person I am today.”

“I wouldn’t change anything about my time at VSU,” McCuen. “I jumped in head first and had a blast. I’m so grateful for the experiences that VSU offered. I will always be a Blazer and my time in Valdosta holds a very special place in my heart.” 

Written by Gwen Friedman, Assistant Social Media Editor. Photo courtesy of Kara Jones. 

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