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The Daily Wildcat


    Advice from UA alumns for the Class of 2016

    Darien Bakas
    Photographer Dillon Driscoll with his graduation group popping bottles of champagne in front of the arches of the Forbes building on Sunday, April 3. Seven UA alumni gave advice to the class of 2016 for the coming years.

    Correction April 17, 2016: Evan Rosenfeld is an assignment editor at 12 News, not assistant editor as the article previously stated.

    Students of the graduating class of 2016 will throw their caps in the air in less than a month, marking yet another chapter as they leave their legacy behind in the UA community to begin their post-college journeys. These impressive Wildcat alumni share their experiences, advice and what UA students should expect in regard to life after graduation.

    RELATED: Department head of psychology Dr. Lee Ryan teaches us how to make some of life’s biggest decisions. 

    Kelly McGill

    Major: Family studies and Human Development

    Current Occupation: Real estate agent

    Graduating Class: 2012

    Current Residence: San Diego

    Previous Campus Involvement: Chi Omega sorority

    Ashley Cheatham

    Major: Public Administration and Policy; Minor in Sports Management, Communication and Leadership Studies

    Current Occupation: Sales, marketing and advertising for Arizona Sports 98.7 and ESPN Phoenix

    Graduating Class: 2014

    Current Residence: Scottsdale, Arizona

    Previous Campus Involvement: Sigma Kappa sorority, Sports Marketing Association

    Evan Rosenfeld

    Major: Communications

    Current Occupation: Assignment editor and AM content producer at 12 News (KPNX-TV), the Phoenix area NBC affiliate

    Graduating Class: 2015

    Current Residence: Phoenix

    Previous Campus Involvement: Daily Wildcat sports writer, UA News Student Associate

    Kelly Carton

    Major: Retailing

    Current Occupation: Corporate service manager at New York Cares

    Graduating Class: 2015

    Current Residence: New York City

    Previous Campus Involvement: Sigma Kappa sorority, Student Advisory board for the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing, Membership chair for National Retail Federation

    Laura Freeman

    Major: Retailing and Consumer Sciences

    Current Occupation: Wholesale planner at Burberry

    Graduating Class: 2012

    Current Residence: New York

    Previous Campus Involvement: SIFE, Sigma Kappa sorority

    Kim Rafacz 

    Major: Nutrition and Food Science

    Current Occupation: Physician

    Graduating Class: 1994

    Current Residence: Tucson

    Previous Campus Involvement: Phi Kappa Phi, Order of Omega, Sigma Kappa sorority, Mortar Board, Homecoming Court, Sophos, Optimi Alumni Foundation Honorary

    Jennifer “Stone” Sanchez

    Major: Environmental studies

    Current Occupation: Environment business leader

    Graduating Class: 1997

    Current Residence: Phoenix

    Previous Campus Involvement: Arizona Allegiance, Sigma Kappa sorority

    Why did you decide to go to the UA?

    McGill: The culture, the people, the sun, the professors, the energy … My first time touring campus as a junior in high school, I felt alive and excited. I knew this was the school for me.

    What are some tips or advice you can give to the graduating class of 2016 as they face their last couple weeks of college?

    Rosenfeld: Be tenacious, never stop networking and building up your contact base. Landing a job or at the very least moving toward the job-hunting process before you graduate makes the transition into adult life much smoother. Connections are super important. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t land your dream job at first and don’t stress out if you haven’t figured out exactly what you want to do yet.

    What are some major changes graduates may face during life after graduation?

    Freeman: You’ll miss your friends and the lack of responsibilities you had when you were in college. You may think you have responsibilities in college, but you don’t. Enjoy that while you can. Just know the first year out of college is the worst and you miss everything. It gets better and you grow a lot as a person in the first year.

    What are some things you miss the most about being a Wildcat?

    Cheatham: What don’t I miss? Every aspect of that school is magic … I even enjoyed my classes. Greek life, football and basketball games, seeing my friends everyday—don’t take that for granted—and just being on campus. It’s a vibe and a rite of passage you can’t describe.

    Are there certain opportunities you didn’t take advantage of during your time at the UA? If so, what were they? What would you do differently?

    Rafacz: I would have done more with International Outreach. My parents were pretty tight-reined, but that is one thing I miss. Once you start a career, you don’t really have the opportunity to pick up for a semester and travel somewhere totally new.

    What were some things that made you nervous about graduating?

    Rosenfeld: The lack of structure was definitely scary. Nobody’s on your case about getting things done. It’s all about self-motivation. Landing a job, in my case, was the top thing on my mind. The most important takeaway is to not be afraid to jump in and try a new career. Worse comes to worst, you’re not going to like it and you’re going to move on and try again at the next job until you find something that clicks with what you enjoy doing. Doing what you love is the most important thing.

    If you could go back and change something about your college experience, would you?

    McGill: Yes, I wish I gave myself less pressure and more confidence. The future isn’t scary if you believe in yourself.

    What advice can you give to soon to be graduates in regards to maintaining college friendships?

    Cheatham: It’s work. You don’t realize it, but friendships are relationships. It sucks when one person puts more effort in than others. However, remember that everyone is getting acclimated to their new [lives], so don’t take offense if you don’t hear from them as often as you used to. But make the time. … These are your life-long friends, the people who will be in your wedding and [who] will watch your kids grow up.

    What are some things soon-to-be graduates would want to know before graduation?

    Carton: Although there are of course exceptions, many employers won’t take candidates seriously if they don’t have a local address. If you’re applying to a job in a big city, consider getting a furnished sublease for the summer. That way, you’ll have a local address and can go to interviews until you land your first gig.

    In what ways did the UA help you grow as an individual?

    Rosenfeld: In every way imaginable. College is a time for screw-ups and learning through past experiences. It’s about maturity and expanding one’s intellectual prowess. I learned as much about myself as I did information wise.

    What are some things graduates can look forward to in regards to life after graduation?

    Rafacz: A chance to take what you’ve learned to the next level and, if there is something you are unhappy with, a chance to reinvent yourself.

    How do college and professional environments differ from one another?

    Freeman: Don’t be inappropriate (or too drunk at work functions) until you know your co-workers. You’ll be left with a reputation that you don’t want as a professional.

    What was your favorite class you took at the UA?

    Sanchez: Introduction to global change. It inspired the path I took professionally.

    What is your favorite part about your life now?

    Cheatham: I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. I have an awesome apartment in Old Town Scottsdale, my career is on the verge of taking off, I bought a new car, I’ve made great friends post-college and I really have zero complaints.

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