Monday, November 25, 2013

[262] Hundreds of MTSU students turn out for Senior Day

University sees successful return of ‘thank you’ event for future alums
MURFREESBORO — With information packets in tow, Middle Tennessee State University senior Martrell Harris left the Student Union ballroom Tuesday satisfied with the knowledge that the Blue Raider community wants to stay connected to him once he secures his diploma.

Harris was among hundreds of seniors who attended “Senior Day,” a celebratory luncheon event in which several university departments set up informational booths to prepare prospective graduates for life beyond campus. Organizers estimated close to 400 students turned out, greatly exceeding expectations for an event now planned to be held each semester.

“It’s good to know the university is interested in us after we graduate,” said Harris, a music business major from Sweetwater, Tenn. “We can always come back and use things like the Career Center to develop us and get our resumes ready.”

Organized by Alumni Relations, the Development Office and the College of Graduate Studies, Senior Day returned this year after being on hiatus for a few years. Other participants included Financial Aid, Career Development Center, Young Alumni Group, Phillips Bookstore and the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center.

Paul Wydra, assistant director of MTSU Alumni Relations, said the event fills a “void” on campus by giving the university a final opportunity before graduation to formally interact with graduating seniors. His office was pleased with the turnout and is considering expanding the event to include organizations from the wider community.

“It has far exceeded our expectations,” Wydra said. “We’re very excited. We plan on doing this every semester.”

The wider community presence was felt early by a visit Tuesday from former Tennessee Titan Dennis Stallings, now a Nashville banking executive. Stallings met with university faculty and administrators to discuss student success initiatives and how he could become more involved.

“It’s a great opportunity to be here today,” said Stallings, who noted that some Titans players have expressed interest in opportunities to complete undergraduate degrees or pursue advanced degrees. “Anytime you can empower somebody to impact others, then you can count on me to be involved.”

Nontraditional student and Smyrna, Tenn., resident Tiffany Redding is set to graduate in December with a degree in animal science. She and her husband are raising three children while holding full-time jobs and with him also currently enrolled in the Graduate School.

Redding stopped by Senior Day — quickly — to get information about graduate school as well as basic details about the December graduation ceremony. While still undecided about graduate school, Redding said her undergraduate experience at MTSU has been great.

“I did have options for a lot of online classes, distance education and things like that,” she said. “It’s worked out well for us.”

Fellow senior Harris, who is wrapping up his studies within MTSU’s nationally recognized recording industry program, plans to pursue career opportunities with Universal Music Group after graduation. The aspiring recording artist admitted that MTSU wasn’t his first choice to attend college, but it certainly ended up being his best choice.

“There are more students here than in my entire town, so I didn’t know if I was going to fit in well. But MTSU has a great experience, from CUSTOMS until now,” he said. “I met friends from day one, and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to come here. It has been the best decision I’ve ever made.”

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