Millennial College Grad Spotlight

By on September 9, 2019

by Julia Mungenast

As the youngest of the Millennial generation has recently graduated from college, we will take a look at some of our local Millennial college grads to learn about their journey to college graduation and a sneak peek at what their future holds. 

 

Rachel Ackles

Rachel Ackles

Rachel Ackles

Rachel Ackles, a 2014 graduate from Kendall High School, was born and raised in Hamlin. Rachel played soccer from the age of ten with travel teams and her school team and also played tennis. Rachel was a strong academic student and was part of the National Honor Society. Although Kendall is a smaller-sized school with a graduating class of 70 students, she received an education well-rounded in both academics and sports. 

She always enjoyed and excelled in science and math classes. Throughout her high school years, she was not sure what she wanted to do in the future; she just felt it would likely be math-related. Her mother worked at RIT and pointed her in the direction of engineering. During Rachel’s junior year, she decided to look at RIT. While looking at the engineering programs, she learned about a field called Industrial Systems Engineering. RIT had this program as a five-year degree, and it appealed more to Rachel. “I never saw myself as that technical,” she said. This engineering program focused on a systems approach to integrate people, materials, and technology in the workplace. During Rachel’s senior year at Kendall, she did the 3-1-3 program to get a jump-start on some of her college courses. 

Rachel applied and was accepted at RIT and began the Industrial Systems Engineering Program. This program was a better fit because it is focused on communication, working with people, business, finances, and problem-solving. Rachel lived on campus at RIT, met many diverse people, and found that she was enjoying her classes as well as the yoga and wellness classes they offered.  

Compared to many of her engineering student peers, she felt a bit overwhelmed at first. Many had exposure to the STEM program during high school. Basic engineering courses made Rachel question whether she was in the right program. Once her core classes started, she knew she had made the right decision. 

While at RIT, she had 50 weeks of co-op work to complete. She got internships at Wegmans, GE Aviation, and South West Airlines. At Wegmans, she was an Industrial Engineering Intern. At GE Aviation she was a Quality Intern based out of Wilmington, North Carolina. Her last internship at South West Airlines in Dallas, Texas, is where she worked as a Supply Chain Intern. She helped facilitate strategic sourcing with outside suppliers to improve quality and cost, as well as data improvements for airplanes. 

Early in her final year at RIT, Rachel began applying for jobs. It was not long before she was offered and accepted a rotational engineering position at XYLEM in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated this spring from RIT and moved to North Carolina, where she started working as a member of the Engineering Leadership Development Program. This is a rotational program where she will spend three to eight months being a part of various engineering programs working with new products, engineering, and marketing. She’s currently working with the New Product team and loving it. “The New Product Team is where marketing meets engineering,” Rachel said. She plans to continue working for XYLEM and looks forward to the travel opportunities that it might present. 

Rachel’s most significant influence was her mom, who pointed her towards engineering. “She pushed me to be the best I could be, and helped me be well rounded.” Rachel’s grandfather is also an RIT alumnus who was a chemical engineer; he was also an influence in her life. Rachel encourages high school students to try out a lot of different things and “escape your comfort zone until you find the best fit for yourself.” 

Ryan Wright

Ryan Wright

Ryan Wright

Ryan Wright, a 2015 graduate of Brockport High School, was born and raised in Clarkson. Ryan was active in sports throughout his high school years. He enjoyed skiing, playing lacrosse and soccer. Unsure where his life would go after high school, he began to research different fields and became interested in civil engineering, specifically the construction part of the field. 

Ryan applied and was accepted at Alfred State, where he attended all four years while majoring in Construction Management. When Ryan was a senior in high school, he began an internship program with Schultz Associates doing land surveying. He enjoyed this and returned to the job on his summer vacations throughout his college years.  

Being an avid skier, Ryan began looking at jobs in Colorado, hoping to find a good fit in the geographic area where he wanted to live. He had three interviews, two in Denver and one in Breckenridge. He received immediate job offers and accepted a position at Marcin Engineering, which is in the ski resort town of Breckenridge, Colorado. “This was a no brainer,” said Ryan who is now part of the Field Crew Chief for this Colorado land surveying company. Ryan said, “This was always my dream to live in the mountains.” 

Ryan is working in Colorado and living his dream.

Ryan is working in Colorado and living his dream.

Ryan graduated from Alfred State in May 2019 and went home for two weeks before leaving to go across the country and start his job. Ryan loves his new position, “I am outside all day in the mountains and living in this awesome ski town.” 

Ryan’s most significant influence in his career path was his family, but especially his brother, Robert, with whom he shared the dream to move out west. Sue Sodoma was also a significant influence on Ryan’s path. Sue was his teacher and a family friend who helped him get into the surveying program at Schultz, which ultimately created a significant impact on his future.  

Ryan encourages high school students to “Be open to anything and take risks. Don’t let fear get in your way and stop you. The best things in life are on the other side of fear.”           

Provided photos