5 soon-to-be EMU alums share their stories

*Briana Griffin, 23 *

Major: social work (concentration on youth and family)

First attended EMU: 2011

What she’s looking forward to after graduation: Attending Wayne State University to receive her master’s degree and officially begin a career as a social worker.

Favorite memory: “I’ve met some of the best people ever in Marshall. Friends for life, like they’re still people that I still talked to. We may not have had a class for many semesters but I can still give them a call so EMU introduced me to a lot of great people.”

“I would have to say that the professors at EMU taught me a lot about knowing who I am to make me a better social worker,” she said. “They taught me how to look down, deep inside pull out certain qualities and just embrace who I was to become the best social worker I could possibly be.”

Her most rewarding experience: Participating in an internship with the Adolescent Diversion Project working with troubled youth charged with misdemeanors and serving as mentors.

“My focus was always towards children but now I’m leaning more towards juvenile justice because I feel that kids deserve a second opportunity.”

From her experience at EMU, if there’s a word of advice she’d tell herself in 2011 when she came to campus it would be:

“Be ready! Be open to everything you’re going to be learning because you really have to come in with an open mind because social work test you. It tests your ethics, it tests your values, it tests everything about you and you have to put yourself to the side and understand what’s going on in a certain situation.”

What lessons she learned on campus: “Partying and being everyone’s friend was a bump [in the road]. Learning that everyone isn’t your friend and people are here for different reasons and a lot of people weren’t here for the same reasons I was.”

Robert Laba, 41

Major: Master of Science (M.S.) – candidate, historic preservation and conservation

First attended EMU: 2012 after transferring from University of Michigan

His experience at EMU: “It was great, they were very accepting and very inclusive with the department of Historic Preservation. They were happy to have me come on board and the campus was very accessible and the department was very accepting. Then included me in a lot of activities and through that received a great education.”

What professor he has bonded with the most: “Dr. Tedd and I were the closest because he put me under his wing and pulled me up through the program.”

His advice to students: “Keep an open mind and get involved with programs, get involved with some of the student leaderships, get involved with some of the faculty that you see advancing and get involved with programs.”

Last words: “Have an open mind and know not everything is perfect. I don’t expect everyone to feel as though this is a perfect campus or a perfect world. Every student’s opportunity to come to Eastern have an opened mind and learn as much as they can and at the same time realize even though things seem frustrating or things seem hard, there’s a reason for this. It helps to build you up. If they [students] can have an input on how they can make a change for better, feel free to say it. Without them starting a spark and putting it in the air for somebody that can actually change things at Eastern, then nothing is ever going to get done.”

Brandon Gladden, 23

Major: communications

First attended EMU: 2008

First impression of the campus: “My first impression when I got here, to be honest with you, I was a little intimidated and the reason why I felt like I was intimidated is because of the high school I graduated from was in Detroit. Mostly black kids and I was intimidated because I wasn’t used to being around other races but when I realized that I got this, it clicked. It really helped me to become a people person especially in the workforce.”

What he learned about himself: “Study, because to be honest, in high school that was something I always winged. I had to teach myself how to study because it was something that I never really did in high school. So when I came here, I taught myself how to study.”

Favorite Memory: “Definitely the events. I always went to events, especially during my first three years here. Events are kind of what helped me broaden my spectrum on how I view people. A lot of the events that were held on campus or in the freshman dorm, I always attended those and really liked it a lot and I’m going to miss attending some of those.”

If he could say something to the intimated Brandon who stepped foot on campus in 2008, it would be: “I would tell the Brandon in 2008, the intimidating Brandon that came on to campus not knowing anybody, to be confident in himself, study and give myself to people and don’t be afraid of what you’re not used to.”

Maria Velasquez, 30

Major: master’s degree in music

First attended EMU: 2012 after transferring from Eafit University in Colombia

Life after the degree: Pursuing an Artist Diploma at University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

Looking back at her time here at EMU: “I feel very good. I feel like I learned a lot and learned especially to be self disciplined.”

What she learned about herself: “I learned to really know my strengths and my weaknesses and take advantage of those strengths and pursue in improving those weakness and really knowing myself.”

Her advice to students on campus: “We’re here for studying – we’re here for learning many things.
We’re here for preparing to be professional and also for being really good human beings. Preparing a person internally: a person who’s a good professional and a very good human being. It’s good to combine those things oppose to pursuing to being a professional and forgetting the other part. People who come here to Eastern Michigan University become very good professionals and very god human beings.”

Andrew Abad, 21

Major: double major in political science and communication

First attended EMU: 2010

First impression of EMU: “My first impression was that there were a lot of really wonderful people here, and that our campus was such a beautiful place.”

What has attending a university taught you overall about yourself?

“A university is a very special place that really allows everyone to learn and grow more than they ever have before. I think that living on my own [both on-campus and later off-campus] allowed me to grow up and learn to provide for myself. I also think that you begin to develop an adult mindset as a student, looking towards adult life more than you would have before. It’s scary how close we are to entering ‘the adult world’ as students here, but it’s a fact we all must realize at some point.”

Looking at your experience overall now that you’re graduating, if you could say something to the Andrew who first stepped foot on this campus what would it be?

“I would tell him that college really wasn’t as hard as you think it might be if you can keep track of your work and manage your schedule effectively. And also to never, ever, ever, procrastinate on your senior thesis project – that was a bad idea.”

His aspirations after graduation: “I’ll be entering a graduate program next fall in political communication. Ultimately, my goal is to graduate with either an MA or a Ph.D and get a job either teaching or working in the political world.”

His advice to students on campus:

“If I could give any advice to students, it would be to utilize the resources that are available to you as students at Eastern. Tuition is expensive, but there are ways to make it less so with scholarships and on-campus jobs. We pay hundreds of dollars in student fees to provide for us facilities like CAPS and the Rec/IM, and yet many people are unaware of the things they can do [largely for free] as students. Take a look around sometime, and what you’ll find may surprise you.”


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