February 23, 2023

By Haley Dittbrenner ’25

Larry Herrold Jr. '19 at the Postgraduate and Fellowship Opportunities session. Larry Herrold Jr. ’19 at the Postgraduate and Fellowship Opportunities session.More than 500 Susquehanna students networked with over 100 alumni volunteers at the annual Break Through professional conference. Open to all majors and class years, Break Through connects current students to SU alumni in similar career paths and provides students with guidance on making the most of their time at Susquehanna, careers after graduation, internships, professional skills and everything in between.

During Careers with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, alumni panelists Tara Cutshaw ’22, Johanna Kantz ’20, Hannah Kronenwetter ’14, Alysha Melnyk ’14, and Jack Preston ’21 described the ways in which Susquehanna prepared them for the workforce. Melnyk, who now works for ECRI, a patient safety organization, described Susquehanna’s science program as robust.

“I will always value my science education at Susquehanna,” Melnyk, a biology major, said.

The panelists described having a familiarity with lab settings that their non-SU peers did not, whether that was in graduate school or early in their professional careers. One noteworthy discussion was the experience science students obtain while at the university, which employers describe as equivalent to four years of lab experience.

“Employers look at the work we do as an internship,” Preston, a biomedical sciences major, said.

“If you show promise, show you’re a hard worker, people notice,” Cutshaw, a biochemistry major, added. “People care, and I feel SU trains students to do really hard work.”

The Rocking Your Humanities Degree panel featured alumni from across the majors of religious studies, creative writing, history, education and the self-designed luxury brand marketing and communications major. Alumnae Madison Clark ’15, Sarah Myers ’12, McKenzie Sweet ’18 and Ashley Spoto ’17 attributed their success to their time at SU.

Spoto encouraged students to muster the courage to change things that aren’t working for them, such as majors, jobs and career paths. Spoto was indecisive regarding her major when she attended Susquehanna, ultimately creating her own luxury brand marketing major during her junior year. Today, Spoto is a senior planner for L’Oreal Paris.

“Don’t feel pressure to stick with your degree or major,” Spoto said. “There’s always something new to learn.”

Studying abroad was also identified as a life-changing experience for the humanities graduates. Sweet, who visited Hawaii, incorporates Hawaian culture into her classroom today. She refers to her classroom as an ohana, or family, and models kind behavior through that lens. Sweet came up with the idea for her self-designed major while abroad in London.

The four alumnae also identified the soft skills they found most helpful in their current jobs —project management, presentation, creativity, patience, professional appearance and critical thinking.

Similar advice was shared in a panel for business students: Building a Public Relations Career. Alumnae Megan Annecchiarico ’19, Melissa Barracato ’20, BreAnna Cherry ’20, and Erin Wetmore ’20 all spoke of the Susquehanna public relations experience.

Like their humanities counterparts, they stressed the importance of building a skillset and having an open mind regarding career choices. They also described the importance of making connections as early as possible.

“It’s who you know, not only what you know,” Barracato, now an account executive at Coyne PR, said. “Find your people, then dazzle them with what you know.”