Liberal Arts Alumni Mentor Program
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Najee Rodriguez

Liberal Arts Major(s): History, International Politics
Minor: Global Security Studies
Hometown: Orlando, Florida
Experience Time: Summer 2021

Give us a brief summary of your experience?

The Liberal Arts Alumni Mentor Program has definitely changed my life for the better. It introduced me to my alumni mentor, and now overall life mentor, Sharon Callahan. Through weekly Zoom calls, resume reviews, and general conversation, Sharon has made me feel confident about the future that I want to have for myself. A future that I did not think was possible. I have visited Sharon in D.C., where we have talked about career prospects and how I can best prepare myself for the possibility of working within the federal government and fulfilling the national security needs of our nation. Most recently, Sharon has helped me identify internship opportunities and to secure a national security scholarship that will allow me to focus on my studies and not worry about finances. She really is the parent that I've never had! The magnitude of impact that Sharon has had in my life is indescribable.

How did this experience impact you academically?

As a first-generation college student, it was extremely difficult to acclimate to college. It was even more difficult to have a solidified support system throughout my time at Penn State. Sharon has given me the support and confidence that I've never had or felt before. Through discussions about the classes that she's taken, the language that we both have taken, and general tips on navigating the academics of college, I have been able to refine my study practices and the classes that are most important to the career field that I want to eventually find myself in. Sharon has guided me on presentations that relate to national security as well as provided general academic assistance to successfully navigate college on my own.

"The magnitude of impact that Sharon has had in my life is indescribable."

How will this experience impact your career goals?

There are a plethora of national security opportunities that reside within the federal government. It would have been impossible to navigate without Sharon, who is a seasoned expert and federal bureaucrat in the realm of national security. I know exactly what I want to do now, and Sharon has provided me the tools that I need to apply to the correct positions and specialties. I originally had immense anxiety about finding a job that I would love after college, but Sharon has alleviated so many of my concerns. I know what to expect when it even comes to the technical aspects of employment with the government, such as security clearances and qualifications. With her constant motivation and check-ins, we have identified areas that I would thrive in.

How has the College of the Liberal Arts helped you to find and/or succeed in this experience (e.g., adviser, faculty, staff, enrichment funds, etc.)?

Lauren Granese and the College of the Liberal Arts matched me with a mentor who has changed my entire future for the better. With the emails and the updates, I was able to identify the program and successfully take advantage of a program that exists to help students. I have been able to cultivate a meaningful and worthwhile relationship that has supplemented my collegiate experience in the best way possible.

For more information on the Liberal Arts Alumni Mentor Program, visit our website.
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