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Millikin University > Alumni & Friends > Stay Connected > MY Times

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What is MY Times?

MY Times is a monthly online newsletter designed specifically for Millikin Young Alumni who have graduated within the past decade and features information about Millikin events, upcoming alumni events in your area and a closer look at ways to stay engaged with Millikin!

Jody Cox

Name: Jody Cox ’06

Current job position (or additional field of study) and where:
Owner and Lead Designer at An Affair to Remember

Millikin major:
Marketing, Spanish Minor

Why did you choose MU?
After a long weekend visiting colleges in northern Illinois, my mom suggested stopping by Millikin on the way home. The visit up north was relatively disappointing, so I was less than thrilled to make another stop. But Mom was right. We fell in love with the campus and really enjoyed the tour hosted by one of the students. I met some great people who were also looking at the university and spoke with a few professors and coaches who were impressive. After the tour, it was an easy decision: Millikin was the place for me. I liked the campus size — not too small so that you knew everyone, but not so large you would get lost in the shuffle. I wanted a smaller class size where my professors were accessible and participation and questions were welcomed in class. The faculty I met on our tours made me feel they were there to help me succeed, and they were. The professors at Millikin and especially in Tabor have a very hands-on, real-world approach to teaching that is unmatched.

What activities did you participate in as a student?
I’m not sure I can remember every organization I participated in at Millikin, but I know I tried to be involved in as many as I possibly could. I had four off-campus internships during my time at Millikin and participated in many clubs and organizations. Millikin stressed the importance of being involved and having internships to help build your network and your experience. That certainly helped me when I came back to Decatur and started a business. It also rings true in every aspect of a professional career after college. The more you get involved in volunteer work, professional organizations and an active social life, the larger your network will be and the more opportunities you will have.

What is your most memorable MU experience?
There isn’t one single experience at Millikin that comes to mind as the most memorable, as there were so many, both socially and educationally. But I believe that each experience, both good and bad, helped define who I am today in a personal and professional sense. College isn’t just about learning a trade; it’s about growing as a person and honing critical thinking skills. Millikin focuses on a well-rounded education and while there are rules and expectations, I feel the professors give students the freedom to make mistakes and correct them. Sometimes failing teaches you a better lesson than succeeding.

What is one concept you learned at Millikin that you use in your work regularly?
Self-discipline and a strong work ethic. My Tabor professors always treated us like adults. They expected us to problem-solve, both on individual and group projects; to turn in quality work on time and act professionally. I can’t say my classmates or I always met those standards, but there were consequences when we didn’t. I welcomed that environment because I was raised in a similar fashion. Not everyone thrives in an environment like that and, most often, those same people do not thrive in the business world. As a small business owner, I continue to use that work ethic, discipline and focus every day.

What do you enjoy most about your current job?
Owning a business is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, but I wouldn’t choose to have it any other way. The pride and rewards are unlike any other job I’ve held. Like most small business owners, I get to have my hands in every aspect of the business – from marketing and finances to day-to-day operations. Success and failure ends with you when your name is on the door. It’s exciting, it’s working 24/7, and it’s pouring your heart and soul into something that you’ve created so that hopefully you can watch it grow and prosper.

What have you done that you are most proud of since graduating from MU?
Having a successful business is something I am very proud of, but I am most proud of how I’ve tried to conduct myself in the professional world. I’ve tried my best to treat my vendors, my clients and other professionals I encounter like friends and family. I have formed some great relationships, helped lots of people and other businesses, and they have done the same for me. It’s rewarding on an entirely different level; it makes your work truly enjoyable. My parents taught me to treat others with respect and kindness and my professors at Millikin reiterated how important it is to network and work well with others. You catch more flies with honey, as they say, and it’s not just true in the business world, but for life in general.

Where do you hope to be five years from now?
We’re currently relocating the business to the St. Louis area, and I hope that in five years, we’ve expanded our team and our reach in that community. I’m always looking for new opportunities, so maybe we’ll add additional services, open another branch or start a new business!

What advice would you give to current Millikin students about preparing for life after graduation?
Just having a college degree isn’t enough anymore. You need to differentiate yourself from the rest of those who are graduating. While you’re in school, stack your resume with internship experiences, co-curricular activities at the executive level, and projects that you’ve started and executed. Be results-minded and take initiative. Employers want to know that you’re focused on results, that you’re goal-oriented and don’t need to be micromanaged. Always be thinking two steps ahead.

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Want to be spotlighted as the "Young Alum of the Month?" We are seeking recommendations and self-nominations for outstanding young alumni who have demonstrated innovative and responsible professional leadership and have the potential for future success. Email Jaclyn Weisenborn ’09, associate director of alumni engagement, with a short write-up of why you or your nominee should be considered for this profile. Please include a list of successes and achievements in your nomination, and attach a portrait or headshot (if available). One alum will be featured each month in MY Times.

On Saturday, March 22, Millikin hosted its first Field Day for admitted students. Under the coordination of Admission Counselors Shelby Larrick Baum ’11 and Nicholas Throop ’13, Field Day allowed students to “discover their field” and gave potential students the opportunity to see what life is like at Millikin. The day also served as a way to encourage undecided students to commit to attending Millikin in the fall.

“Field Day had been in the works since last fall,” Baum stated. “We had more than 50 students register within the first two weeks.”

Registrants had the option of arriving on campus the night before and staying the night with a current student to attend UCB’s “Big Event Concert” featuring 3OH!3. On Saturday, the students attended four, 20-minute mock classes taught by Millikin professors. After lunch in the cafeteria, the potential students could choose to attend an optional involvement fair that highlighted campus life activities and organizations and also take a tour of campus.

Parents and families were also encouraged to attend Field Day to meet with President White, deans and financial aid representatives.

Of the 1,700 students who have been admitted to Millikin for the fall, 100 participated in Field Day, with several committing to Millikin that day!

“We have plans to do Field Days in the future,” Baum remarked. “It was a very positive experience for everyone involved.”

Each encounter with another person is an opportunity to build a relationship. Successful networking is about maximizing those relationship-building opportunities wherever you find them -- and not just at networking events.

Start where you are. Networking with your colleagues in your current job position is a great place to start. Have lunch with that coworker that you consistently run into in the parking lot or elevator. Building connections with people who work in different departments or other aspects of an organization can be very valuable and will open you up to different perspectives and possibilities. Your next professional mentor may be right around the corner.

Take time to show appreciation to your colleagues. If you hear a great presentation or someone does an excellent job leading a meeting, let him or her know you appreciated it. It is easy to get lost in our own busy schedules and miss chances to acknowledge people for doing good work. Gratitude not only boosts morale but can also be an encouraging start to a more fruitful working relationship.

Small efforts can add up. Be motivated to take manageable steps that prepare you to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities. Networking with an open mind can offer low pressure/high reward prospects that yield professional and personal benefits.

Have a networking nugget of wisdom? Tweet it @CareerCenter_MU.

Plan now to attend the Millikin Mixer networking event Wednesday, April 23, from 5-7 p.m. at the Decatur Club. Take advantage of this great opportunity to connect with current students, fellow alums, faculty and staff. For more information, contact the Career Center at 217-424-6294 or email career-center@millikin.edu.

By Kristin Nisbet-White, assistant director of the Millikin Career Center

John and Michelle Regnern

Names:
John ’08 & Michelle ’07 Pickett Regner

Hometowns:
John: Denver, Colo.
Michelle: Gurnee, Ill.

Millikin majors:
John: B.S., Biology
Michelle: B.F.A., Musical Theatre

When, where, and how did you first meet at Millikin?
John: We met in tap class. I needed to take a fine arts course (art history or dance), and I figured since I played soccer, it would be best to take tap class. I also figured I’d be able to meet a couple of ladies. The plan worked like a charm!
Michelle: John is going to say that we met in tap class, but that is a blatant lie! We met first semester of my junior year at Mi Pueblito restaurant when we were introduced by his fraternity brother.

What do you remember about the first time meeting each other?
John: She swears we had met before (but I had to play it off cool) and acted like I didn’t remember her. But I remember her beautiful smile, bright blue eyes and a “take no BS” personality!
Michelle: All I can remember is his amazing sense of humor. He kept cracking these pun jokes at dinner followed by a sweet smirk! (Needless to say, he still tells the same pun jokes to this day, followed by the same sweet smirk.)

What did you do on your first date?
John: Went out to a movie … I think we watched “Beer Fest.” Funny, funny movie and her sense of humor matched mine, so I knew we would get along great. I was pretty startled when she first laughed (when she laughs, she laughs!). Michelle doesn’t hold back; you could probably hear her laugh across state lines!
Michelle: For our first date together, we stayed in and watched the movie “Dumb and Dumber.” We definitely have the same sense of humor and love to laugh! I think it took him by surprise that I wanted to watch it … either that or it was my ridiculous cackle.

Where was your favorite place to hang-out together at Millikin?
John: We loved hanging out at the Delta Sig West apartments or by the quad near Pilling Chapel and Kirkland.
Michelle: Delta Sig West for sure! Airsoft gun fights with the Cluver, Chase, Chris, Johnny and me! Late night laugh sessions, pillow fights — way too many memories to count!

What is your most memorable Millikin experience as a couple?
John: I always remember her screaming and cheering for us at the home soccer games! I loved it when she would heckle the other team and talk trash all game long. She’s still feisty and doesn’t take crap from anyone! It makes me feel safer living in Chicago with her by my side :)
Michelle: My favorite memory was going to the wedding-themed dance through Tri Delta. I was going as a bride left at the altar, and he was going as the runaway groom. I woke up with texts saying, “I can’t wait to marry you today,” and throughout the day he would call or message saying that he was getting too nervous to marry me. I couldn’t stop laughing all day at his messages. The night before our actual wedding, he promised that I wouldn’t receive any “cold feet” messages!

Where has your relationship taken you since Millikin?
John: It’s been a fun ride, from a long distance relationship to moving in together, moving from apartment to apartment and now owning our first home together! We’ve also been able to travel across the country to many states, and for our honeymoon, we went to the Dominican Republic and most recently on a cruise to the Bahamas. (Shout out to Rickey Spivey and Aaron Copley.)
Michelle: We are both still very independent, but we have grown so much closer through our eight years together. We are continuing our tradition of movie night Friday and adding new family traditions along the way with our boxer pup, Gunnar!

What advice would you give young couples in love at Millikin?
John: Be yourself and allow your better half the opportunities to chase their dreams. It’s amazing to be there for each other as you take on new adventures together in life! It’s really about finding your best friend that you respect and want to be better for each day.
Michelle: Make sure that they’re your best friend first! There will be ups and downs through life and having your best friend along to share the ride makes it worthwhile. Also, know that everyone has their own level of craziness … find a crazy you can live with. I’m a very crazy person, and John says it is just free entertainment for life! I love knowing that I can make him smile.

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Want to share your story of how you found love at Millikin? Email Jaclyn Weisenborn ’09, associate director of alumni engagement, with your expressed interest. One couple will be featured each month in MY Times.

Name: Sara Davis Kelly ’07

Current job position (or additional field of study) and where:
Instructional technology coach for Decatur Public Schools

Millikin major:
Elementary education

Why did you choose MU?
I felt that I would have a close personal relationship with my professors and receive a quality education. I appreciated that the class sizes were small enough that I would not just be another student in the room. I was looking for a school where I could be an active leader and Millikin felt like home the first campus tour that I took.

What activities did you participate in as a student?
I was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, served on the Millikin Homecoming Committee and active in Young Democrats.

Who was your most memorable MU professor and why?
Dr. Ngozi Onuora, or Professor O as we called her, was my most memorable professor while attending Millikin. She was caring and kind and actually wanted to know her students as people, too. She cared about where you were from and who you wanted to become. She enhanced my love for teaching and allowed me the opportunity to become a better educator by guiding me through her many courses. Whether it was book talks, her love for literature, or my first trip to Krekel’s, where she took all her students for lunch, I knew Professor O was the kind of teacher I wanted to be.

What is your most memorable MU experience?
That had to be the day I earned my degree and walked across the Kirkland stage. I am the only person in my family to earn a college degree and it was very emotional to accept my degree with my family there to watch.

What is one concept you learned at Millikin that you use in your work regularly?
Hard work and dedication pay off in the long run. I have also learned that teaching is about making relationships and connecting with others. Educators serve as much more than just teachers, and it is so important to know who your students are as people first.

What do you enjoy most about your current job?
I love my job and working with not only students in Decatur Public Schools, but also with the teachers. I enjoy integrating 21st century technology into our classrooms, being able watch the creative processes of the students and seeing their projects as an end result of hard work and effort. I enjoy seeing the pride in the students when they create presentations, iMovies, PicColleges and many more technology-based projects. Being a part of the technology team at Decatur Public Schools is inspiring and I love coming to work every day.

What have you done that you are most proud of since graduating from MU?
Recently, I left the classroom after seven years to accept my current position as an instructional technology coach. I also have presented at the Illinois Education Technology Conference.

Where do you hope to be five years from now?
I am hoping to complete with my master’s program in educational leadership and continue to be a front-runner in educational technology. I also hope to continue to educate students in Decatur Public Schools.

What advice would you give to current Millikin students about preparing for life after graduation?
Work hard, set goals and aim high. Take time to reflect often. Also, be involved at Millikin. Joining Delta Delta Delta was a wonderful opportunity to become a leader and make lasting friendships. I would strongly suggest leadership roles in some form since Millkin offers many opportunities.

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Want to be spotlighted as the "Young Alum of the Month?" We are seeking recommendations and self-nominations for outstanding young alumni who have demonstrated innovative and responsible professional leadership and have the potential for future success. Email Jaclyn Weisenborn ’09, associate director of alumni engagement, with a short write-up of why you or your nominee should be considered for this profile. Please include a list of successes and achievements in your nomination, and attach a portrait or headshot (if available). One alum will be featured each month in MY Times.

For the past several years, UCB (University Center Board) has sponsored “The Big Event” at Millikin, where a nationally recognized band is brought to campus each spring to entertain the community. This year, Millikin welcomes 3OH!3 as the 2014 Big Event on Friday, March 21.

3OH!3, started in 2004, consists of members Nathaniel Motte and Sean Foreman from Boulder, Colo. The group is named after the 303 area code of Boulder and their popular hits include, “Don’t Trust Me,” which reached number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, a remix of “Starstrukk” featuring Katy Perry, “My First Kiss” featuring Ke$ha (which sold 41,000 copies in the first week), and “Omens.”

UCB is Millikin’s student-run programming organization, comprised of 12 student executive board members and staff advisors. Their purpose is to plan, promote, execute and evaluate student events and activities. Past artists for The Big Event have included Motion City Soundtrack, All Time Low, Sara Bareilles, OneRepublic, The Roots, O.A.R. and Jason Mraz.

Tickets for the event are $20 for the general public and may be purchased at Kirkland Fine Arts Center Box Office, by phone at 217-424-6318 or online. Box Office hours are Monday-Friday from 10 a.m-5 p.m.

When job hunting, you may think one resume is enough. However, you will likely yield better results by developing multiple resumes targeted to each specific job opportunity.

  • Use each job description as a guide. Take note of key words and skills the employer seeks and be sure to mirror those words and skills in your resume (if you have them).
  • Consider other insights that you have about an organization, including its mission, vision, values or key projects that may be in development. This also may help you connect your resume to the organization’s culture.
  • Take note of industry trends and your skills and experiences that could help you benefit the organization. Ensure your resume serves as a marketing tool, highlighting the best you have to offer that employer.
  • Evaluate formatting options that allow you to prominently feature your most relevant experience.
  • Creating a tailored resume can not only help you to stand out, it can be great interview preparation as well. The more you evaluate the wants and needs of the employer, the better prepared you will be to address in person what you have to offer as an employee.

Take time to expand your resume repertoire. It doesn’t hurt to consider the ways you can adjust and expand your resume to connect to each unique purpose and audience.

By Kristin Nisbet-White, assistant director of the Millikin Career Center

Zach and Kirsten Williams Uttich

Names:
Kirsten Williams Uttich and Zach Uttich, both ’07

Hometowns:
Zach: Wheaton, Ill.
Kirsten: San Jose, Calif.

Millikin majors:
Zach: BFA Theatre (Acting)
Kirsten: BS Fitness and Sport Dance Minor

When, where, and how did you first meet at Millikin?
Zach: I think it was 10 years ago this spring. We have a picture together from Fairview Park by the tennis courts at the end of freshman year, but I’m sure we met at a party.
Kirsten: We first met through mutual friends during our freshman and sophomore year. I had known who he was for a while before we became really good friends in our junior year. I’d say we met in Blackburn or New Hall or Dolson ... can’t pinpoint the place ... it’s been a while!

What do you remember about the first time meeting each other?
Zach: My wife was the type of social butterfly I wanted to be, but didn’t have to guts to be. So, I remember her being fun, loud, outgoing and flirty. It took some time for me to figure out that she was just being herself and that’s what was most attractive.
Kirsten: I actually didn’t think too much of him until junior year. We saw each other in social settings, and I became close with many of his fraternity brothers, so we just gradually became friends. I do remember thinking about his gorgeous eyes and witty personality right away, though. When I first met him, I kind of gave him the cold shoulder.

What did you do on your first date?
Zach: I’d like to forget the first one to Forsyth and consider the first real date as a steak dinner and fireworks in downtown Chicago the summer before our senior year.
Kirsten: I think our official first off campus date was at Cheddars.

Where was your favorite place to hang-out together at Millikin?
Zach: Sunday brunch. Delta Sig events. The Gate.
Kirsten: We did a lot of hanging out in the dorms, but we were both very active so we had to see each other at various events around the campus. He would come to all of my dance shows, and I would watch him play soccer during intramurals.

What is your most memorable Millikin experience as a couple?
Zach: Spring break senior year in Myrtle Beach and the week of graduation.
Kirsten: We had lots of fun at the homecoming dance our senior year! And he spoke at graduation – a speech I will never forget.

Where has your relationship taken you since Millikin?
Zach: We’ve been married almost three years. Visited Paris twice, honeymooned in Greece, stood up in our siblings’ weddings, taken on new jobs (thrice over) and have been loving our dog, Petunia.
Kirsten: We’re married!!! And we have a cute pup named Tuni. Live in the Windy City and have a fun life together.

What advice would you give young couples in love at Millikin?
Zach: Don’t surround yourself with the other person and their business. Have your own life and let them have theirs. It’s easy to get wrapped up and get bored since you’re in college and on a finite time table. Breathe easy, and don’t take it too seriously.
Kirsten: Well, Zach and I didn’t start to date right away – we became friends first and laid down a solid foundation of what we meant to one another. We had time to grow up and be our own person before becoming a couple. Once we did, we committed to always be open with one another and support each other through life’s trials. Being in love is great, but it’s even better when you are in love with your best friend.

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Want to share your story of how you found love at Millikin? Email Jaclyn Weisenborn ’09, associate director of alumni engagement, with your expressed interest. One couple will be featured each month in MY Times.

Name: Meredith Hoefert Wessler ’09

Current job position (or additional field of study) and where:
Physician Assistant at Vita Center for Women in Decatur

Millikin major:
Biology

Why did you choose MU?
I liked the fact that it was only about two hours from my hometown. My dad attended Millikin about 25 years before me, and I remember visiting MU as a child and being in awe of the beautiful campus. When I visited again as a senior in high school, Millikin seemed like a great fit. It didn’t hurt that I ended up marrying my tour guide! I met my husband in 2004 during my college tour, and we got married in 2011.

What activities did you participate in as a student?
I joined Delta Delta Delta as a freshman, and I served in a leadership position in the sorority. I was also an orientation leader.

Who was your most memorable MU professor and why?
I learned a great deal from all of my professors, but if I had to choose one, I would choose Dr. Marianne Robertson, professor of biology. She taught with so much energy and passion that her classes became my favorites. She also took time to get to know her students, which made me feel even more invested in her classes. I still remember so much of what she taught during that time.

What is your most memorable MU experience?
Graduating. Knowing that my time as a college student was over was such a mix of emotions. I felt excited about what was to come, proud of what I had accomplished and sad that my time as a college student at Millikin was over.

What is one concept you learned at Millikin that you use in your work regularly?
I learned to accept and value people from different backgrounds. Millikin had a very diverse student population, and this prepared me to be more understanding and appreciative of people with different personalities and upbringings.

What do you enjoy most about your current job?
I love going to work knowing that I will hopefully help my patients feel better physically and mentally. I love listening to people and helping them to solve their problems and complaints. It is such a rewarding experience, and it reinforces why I chose the occupation that I did.

What have you done that you are most proud of since graduating from MU?
I began graduate school 10 days after I graduated from Millikin, and I received my master’s degree in physician assistant studies just 27 months later. I am proud to have chosen a profession that I thoroughly enjoy and to recognize how much hard work was involved in arriving at this point in my life.

Where do you hope to be five years from now?
I hope to still be practicing as a physician assistant at my current office. I recognize how lucky I am to look forward to going to work every day. I want to continue feeling that way until I retire many years from now.

What advice would you give to current Millikin students about preparing for life after graduation?
I would encourage students to appreciate this time in their lives and to not get too overwhelmed with the stress of finding the perfect job or planning their entire future immediately. Enjoy your time as a young adult, and accept the fact that you don’t have to have life figured out just yet!

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Want to be spotlighted as the "Young Alum of the Month?" We are seeking recommendations and self-nominations for outstanding young alumni who have demonstrated innovative and responsible professional leadership and have the potential for future success. Email Jaclyn Weisenborn ’09, associate director of alumni engagement, with a short write-up of why you or your nominee should be considered for this profile. Please include a list of successes and achievements in your nomination, and attach a portrait or headshot (if available). One alum will be featured each month in MY Times.

Last month, Millikin launched and enrolled its first class in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), a practice-focused doctorate. Two tracks are offered in the program:

  • Track 1: Nurse Anesthesia Track for professional registered nurses who hold a bachelor’s degree or master’s of science degree in nursing and want to become a nurse anesthetist
  • Track 2: DNP Completion Track for advance practice nurses who want to complete the doctorate as their highest-earned academic degree

Track 1 in the DNP program is a 36-month, full-time, year-round program with more than 2,400 hours of clinical practice. Decatur Memorial Hospital partners with Millikin for this track, with Dr. Rhonda Gee of DMH serving as the program director. Thirteen of the 16 students in the new DNP program are enrolled in this track and will graduate in December 2017. This track accepts up to 15 students.

Track 2 is a 24-36 month, part-time program. Three students are enrolled in this track, all with advanced practice nursing degrees (Midwife, Nurse Anesthesia, Clinical Nurse Specialist, or Nurse Practitioner).

Dr. Kathy Booker, director of the School of Nursing, identified the continued need for anesthesia providers and additional doctorally prepared nurses in the field. The program is off to a good start, she says, and Millikin may consider adding other DNP tracks in the future.

Applications are due July 1 each academic year, with a new class enrolled every January.

For more information or to apply, visit www.millikin.edu/nursing, call Millikin’s School of Nursing office at 217-424-5034, or email msn@millikin.edu.

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