Countdown to Commencement: JT Vaughan, Christina Mealwitz, Jayden Stanton

Each spring we highlight members of the graduating class as we Countdown to Commencement. In 2021 -- a year like no other -- we asked 17 seniors to reflect on their ‘Berg experiences inside and outside of the classroom, their mentors and advisors and their plans after graduation. Each of these students was recommended for this special section by a ‘Berg faculty or staff member. 

Cheers to the Class of ’21. Here’s to sweet endings and new beginnings!

JT Vaughan

I chose Heidelberg because of the small atmosphere. I love that everyone knows everyone and you can create personal relationships with faculty and staff members. From my very first visit to the 'Berg, I knew that this was the place that would give me the best college experience, and I was not wrong!

I majored in Political Science because this is a subject that matters a lot personally to me. This field of study was challenging at times, but overall I feel that I have learned a lot and am in a better position to contribute to society, especially with the climate our world is in now. 

A major challenge I encountered while at Heidelberg was figuring out what I wanted to go into post-graduation. I had a few different majors before finally deciding to study Political Science, but my career goals are actually to go into Student Affairs. It was from my extracurriculars at Heidelberg that I found a love for helping students and working with the University to do so. While it did take a couple years to figure out, it all worked out in the end and I am grateful to all those who helped me during my time here.

Above all, Heidelberg has prepared me to work at a professional level with others. Through my coursework and extracurriculars, I have better developed my abilities to contribute to projects and work professionally. From meeting with the Board of Trustees to contributing to several different faculty and staff committees, I know if it weren't for Heidelberg, I would not have been able to receive these opportunities. 

Outside of the classroom, I was involved in many different aspects of campus. I am a very proud member of Rho Eta Delta, one of the five social fraternities on campus, and also a proud corollary member of both Delta Sigma Chi and Kappa Psi Omega. Other than Greek life, I was also involved in religious life on campus as a member of Berg UCC for four years and a former member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I was also able to work as a Chaplain's Assistant for the last two years under Paul Sittason Stark. Another large aspect of my time here at Heidelberg was being a Student Senator for four years. I was also the Student Body President for the '20-'21 school year. And finally, I was also able to be a Resident Assistant for three years, working in both Talmage and Williard residence halls!

My favorite extracurricular activity was Student Senate because through this organization I was given so many opportunities. From representing the Student Body at faculty meetings and Board of Trustees meetings, to being able to go to leadership conferences, Senate has had such a positive impact on my time here. Being able to represent the students as a whole is a difficult task, but with the help from my fellow senators and our advisors, we had an excellent year in Senate!

One staff member that impacted my 'Berg experience would be Jacqueline Sironen. Jacqueline is the director of Student Engagement and the advisor to Greek Life and Student Senate. Over these last four years, Jacqueline has always been there to help out in any way and cares very deeply about the students. Her passion for Student Affairs is definitely a factor that played into my love for higher education and college life as well. I give the biggest thanks to Jacqueline and every other faculty/staff member that has helped me during my time at Heidelberg University.

My favorite Heidelberg memory would be being elected the Homecoming King in the fall of 2020. It was such a fun experience being on court with all the other members and I had so much fun making the videos with my friends. Homecoming also being on Halloween was a very fun time! It was a very special day that I will remember for a long time.

My plans for after graduation currently are to pursue my MBA here through the PlusOneAdvantage program. After that I plan to pursue a master's in Higher Education and hope to work in the Student Affairs department at a college/university eventually!

Thank you Heidelberg for the best four years of my life!

Christina Mealwitz

I chose Heidelberg because it immediately felt like a second home when I walked on campus. All of the students I walked past smiled and said hello and I really loved the student-professor relationships/bond. 

I majored in Biology with hopes of pursuing Forensic Biology when I first came to Heidelberg. However, after taking Genetics with Dr. Kylee Spencer, I knew that Genetics was the field of study I wanted to pursue for my career! 

A major challenge I encountered at Heidelberg was realizing that there is more to college than your grades. This was a hard concept for me to understand at first; however, by talking with my professors and setting aside more time for myself and friends on a daily basis, I was able to achieve a nice school and social life balance. You have to realize that your time at Heidelberg will go by very quickly and it is important you make memories with the people you are surrounded by! 

Above all Heidelberg prepared me to enter the working world with a strong educational and cultural background as well as a desire to give back to my community no matter where I end up!

Outside of the classroom I was involved in World Student Union, TriBeta, Residence Life, Student Alumni Association, Zeta Theta Psi, Rho Eta Delta, PACE and Habitat for Humanity.

My favorite extracurricular activity was the International Dinner that World Student Union puts on each fall because it allowed me to meet people from all over the world as well as make our campus more culturally aware of the different students present on our campus!

One faculty or staff mentor or advisor who impacted my 'Berg experience is Dr. Kylee Spencer because she helped me find my passion and excitement for Genetics as well as offered me support throughout my entire career at Heidelberg. I cannot put into words how grateful I am for Dr. Spencer and how much she has impacted my experience here at Heidelberg!

My favorite Heidelberg memory is going to the Children's Research hospital in Memphis, Tennessee my freshman year spring break with 10 other peers I did not know. This trip introduced me to genetics, Dr. Spencer, and 10 of the most genuine people I have met on campus. I had an incredible experience learning more about the field of genetics, the medical profession as a whole, as well as hearing about all the other opportunities available to Heidelberg students that my fellow peers had taken advantage of or were involved in at the time. 

My plans after graduation are to attend Case Western Reserve University and obtain my master’s degree in Genetic Counseling!

Jayden Stanton

I chose Heidelberg because of the family environment. 

I majored in education because I wanted to have an impact on students’ lives.  

A major challenge I encountered while at Heidelberg was staying on top of all of the work required by coaches, professors, groups and work. I handled it by leaning on the people around me for help. 

Above all, Heidelberg prepared me to conquer any of my doubts. I got comfortable being uncomfortable. 

Outside of the classroom, I was involved in HUCTM (Heidelberg University Council of Teachers of Mathematics) and football. 

My favorite extra-curricular activity was football because it gave me something to focus on outside of the classroom and build relationships with a lot of great people.

One faculty or staff mentor or advisor who impacted my ‘Berg experience is Dr. Lindsey Haubert (education) because she was always there to help with any obstacles in school and in my personal life. 

My favorite Heidelberg memory is winning the Bendo Bowl in a close game to win the OAC West this spring.

My plans after graduation are to teach and coach.


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