Millennial College Grad Spotlight

By on June 10, 2019

by Julia Mungenast

As the youngest members of the Millennial generation graduate from college this spring, we will take a look at some local Millennial college grads to learn about their journey to college graduation and take a sneak peak into what their future holds. 

Millennial - Taylor LightTaylor Light

Taylor Light from Hamlin is a Brockport High School graduate (2015) who just graduated from the University at Albany with a degree in communications. She played volleyball, basketball and softball for Brockport High School. Taylor’s travel softball coach Chris Switek played a big part in her career direction after high school. “He helped me establish myself in the collegiate athletic world and he was a great mentor for me,” said Taylor. Her parents’ support also played an important role in her direction. Taylor knew that she wanted to work in professional sports. “All my experiences as an athlete definitely contributed to my love for sports and my passion to continue with it as a career,” she said. 

Taylor’s favorite sport was softball. As she began her college search, she limited herself to only D1 softball schools in the New York area. She accepted an offer at the University of Buffalo because it was close and she enjoyed being able to go home, but also having some college independence. Taylor spent her first two years of college playing softball and working on her communication degree. At the end of her sophomore year she made a decision to transfer to the University at Albany to play on their team and finish her degree closer to New York City. Albany was an “ideal location” according to Taylor. She was able to get involved in programs and internships in NYC and Boston but also still able to drive home when she wanted. 

Taylor had internships with organizations such as the Rochester Red Wings, Triple A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. She worked in the sales and marketing department. Taylor also worked as a student athlete mental health counselor. She said, “Going through a tough transition into college from high school I had wished that I had someone with a positive outlook who has been through it all to guide me.” This is what fueled Taylor’s passion to help and mentor incoming freshmen athletes. “I wanted to be the light for people,” she said. During Taylor’s senior year, she pushed herself to get out there and to make connections with professionals in the sports industry. She used connections and LinkedIn to gain knowledge and find opportunities. Taylor accepted a position at Madison Square Garden as a sales representative for the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers. After graduation and a much needed vacation, Taylor moved to Manhattan to start her new career.

Taylor’s advice to high schoolers looking at colleges, is to focus on yourself and what you need to do to pursue your goals, make connections, and don’t take criticism to heart, instead use it as a learning tool to improve. Taylor is excited for her journey and plans to continue to work hard and stay focused. 

Millennial - Joshua MichelsJoshua Michels

Joshua Michels graduated from St. John Fisher with a degree in sports management and a minor in marketing. Joshua is a Brockport High School graduate (2015), and was an avid athlete throughout his high school years. He played basketball, soccer and his favorite sport football. When he was finishing high school he knew he wanted to pursue a career in Sports Management and he also wanted to continue playing football. Josh decided on St. John Fisher, playing sports and was chosen as student athlete. “I played multiple sports growing up and continuing these sports was a great way to show how I am as a person. The influence of sports on my life is what has made me the person I am today.” Josh’s love for sports is what fueled him to choose his career path, especially since he is so passionate about it and gained leadership skills, which he knew would be important in the workplace. 

When Josh began at college he started off with a wide variety of classes to open up his options and to gain experience. This helped him realize that he chose the correct career path. St. John Fisher provided Josh with hands-on experience through the Sports Management Department. Josh was involved in two internships. His first one was with the Bills Training Camp where he spent 120 hours working with the team and setting up the facility. His second was also with the Buffalo Bills, but he was more involved with helping the coaches. Josh smiles as he reflects on his opportunity to play catch with Josh Allen. “All the experiences allowed me to build up my résume, get connections, and network so I am ready for the real world when it comes time,” he said. He is grateful for the opportunities. 

As Josh approached the completion of his degree, he began seeking opportunities for employment and to work on his graduate degree. Thanks to the help of his professors and LinkedIn, he was able to network and decide where he would be going to school. Josh accepted an offer to continue his education for his masters at Wagner College, with a two-year contract for the grad assistantship starting this summer. Josh also accepted a position at Wagner College as their Equipment Manager. Wagner is a D1 college, and Josh is excited to be working closely with the head coaches while he finishes his graduate degree. Looking back at his high school and college years, Josh was heavily influenced and motivated by his teachers at Brockport High School, and his family. “They were very supportive of what I wanted to do and always tried to help me grow and make the best decisions,” Josh said. His advice to high schoolers looking at colleges is, “Be sure to visit the colleges you are interested in. Try to meet with the professors and see what programs they offer. Make sure it’s the best fit for you as your home for the next four years.”  

Millennial - Alyssa McArdleAlyssa McArdle

Alyssa McArdle graduated from Brockport High School in 2013. Right out of high school, Alyssa was uncertain of what path she wanted to choose for her career. English and social studies were her favorite classes in high school so after graduation she began studying English as her major at Genesee Community College. This was a good starting place for Alyssa as she was a bit shy and the environment at GCC was comfortable and helped her come out of her shell and ultimately discover her true passions. After her two years at GCC she transferred to The College at Brockport to finish her English Major, still a bit uncertain about what she wanted to do after college. She chose Brockport because it allowed her to be close to home while still figuring out her next career step. During this time she had a job at one of the Lifetime Assistance homes and started working with the residents. It was there, through her interaction with the residents, that she realized her passion for taking care of people and helping others learn. She loved working with the residents and felt a connection to helping those with disabilities. “It was my job at Lifetime that inspired me to become a teacher,” Alyssa said.  Alyssa’s father was also influential in her path, he encouraged her to pursue her teaching degree and motivated her to follow her passion. 

While at The College at Brockport Alyssa did her student teaching in the third grade at Brockport’s Barclay School. She felt a special connection to the students who needed some extra attention. “I am drawn to students who need that extra love and attention,” she said. These experiences solidified Alyssa’s interest in working with the Special Education population. She graduated from The College at Brockport in December 2018 and took a position at Wheatland-Chili K-5 as a full-time substitute teacher. She plans to continue substitute teaching while working on her masters degree in Special Education at Roberts Wesleyan College. Alyssa looks forward to her future in helping children to learn.

Alyssa’s recommendation to others who are about to start their college journey is to consider taking a summer class. She found great benefits in taking a summer college class before it officially started. “I had a lot of anxiety in starting college and by starting with a summer class, that helped me to get comfortable with the campus and make friends,” she said.

Note: The Millennial College Grad Spotlight will continue next week. If you, or someone you know, graduated this year from college and went to Spencerport, Hilton, Churchville, Holley, Bergen or Kendall High School and would like to be featured in this series please send an email to editor@westsidnewsny.com.