Seniors start reaching for the stars with the semester winding down

(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) – Some are calm, some are excited and some are panicking. It sounds like a typical April at a university for seniors.

Commencement is creeping up on the University of Central Missouri, so some seniors have been using their knowledge and connections to land jobs and internships.

Kameran Huffman, a criminal justice major, plans on starting his career in law enforcement. He is currently in the hiring process with multiple police departments in the area.

Huffman said he came to UCM as a psychology major at first, but then switched over to criminal justice when he decided psychology just wasn’t for him.

“I have greatly enjoyed all of my criminal justice courses. Professor Gasaway (Tony Gasaway, assistant professor in criminal justice) has been a huge influence during my time here,” Huffman said. “He is always willing to help a student that needs it and takes feedback really well when it comes to his classes.”

Huffman said he hopes to have settled with a police department and have reached the sergeant level within 10 years. Huffman said he wants to continue to work the road, but he also wants to help lead other officers.

He said it’s important for students to get involved and take every opportunity they are given.

“Sign up for the study abroad programs, get involved with organizations and develop a good working relationship with your professors,” he said. “But most of all, ask for help ­­– there are no reasons for every student not to be successful.”

Bryan Dotson, a design and drafting technology major, is also on track to start working after graduation, but has big plans for his personal life as well.

“My plans after graduating are to start working at Burns & McDonnell, buy a house and get married to my best friend, Melody Dixon. This is a busy year for me,” he said.

He said he hopes to be working toward a management position and have a couple of kids in 10 years.

Dotson said he had one professor in particular, Jane Minihan, who truly encouraged him during his time at UCM.

“She taught most of the product design courses for the CADD (computer aided design and drafting) department as well as a few others,” he said. “Her high standards for learning and detail are some of the things that helped me see what it would take to be a designer.”

He said he thinks it’s necessary for students to find something that drives them and propels them forward in life.

“My advice for underclassmen in the drafting program is to find something they are excited about and go after it,” Dotson said. “The people who succeed are those who pursue their passions and use them to positively impact others.”

Dotson said his time at UCM taught him about himself just as much as it taught him curriculum.

“As a freshman, I only really had two post-grad goals, and they were to graduate and get a job,” he said. “Since then, I have learned more about myself and the person that I want to be, which helped me drive myself to do things that I never expected doing.”

Dakota Persinger, a criminal justice major, used his time at UCM to stay busy and get involved. He was involved in the American Criminal Justice Association Lambda Alpha Epsilon Gamma Epsilon Delta, a criminal justice fraternity; Alpha Phi Sigma, a criminal justice honors fraternity; and Pre-Law Students Association.

Persinger plans on attending law school at either Washburn University or the University of Missouri – Kansas City.

He said that his classwork alone didn’t push him to reach his goals at UCM.

“All of my success is owed to the professors of the criminal justice department, especially Dr. Ashley Wellman, Professor Tony Gasaway, Professor Benecia Carmack and Dr. Lynn Urban,” Persinger said. “Those four people have made such an impact on me professionally and personally; I will forever be in their debt.”

He said he wants underclassmen to know they can take chances to further themselves and the words of their peers shouldn’t discourage them – they should fuel them.

Tristan Wendel, an automotive technology and design major, came to UCM make connections and land a job – he’s done just that. Tristan will be interning at Cocentrix, a health and human services software company, this June.

Wendel said he owes the inspiration he has for his field to Alex Richards, an assistant professor in the UCM School of Technology.

“He has been a great support of my college career and has taught me so much,” Wendel said.

He hopes to head to Michigan soon to start a career with Fiat Chrysler Automotive.

Wendel said his advice to underclassmen is to stick to the recommended course guidelines when signing up for general education classes.

“I took most of my automotive class the first couple of years, and now at the end, I’m taking a few freshman gen-eds that I skipped that I now need to finish my degree,” he said.

To stay on track to graduate, keep in contact with your adviser and to make more connections for jobs, visit Career Services in the Ward Edwards Building.

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