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As her plane touched down again in her home state of New York, Emily Mielcarek watched the clouds and tiny houses whoosh past her plane window. When her feet finally touched American soil, instead of feeling overwhelmed with joy and peace, she immediately felt an empty space in her heart. A desire to turn back around and hop on the next plane flooded her thoughts.

Unfortunately, Mielcarek was forced to leave the airport because her senior year of college was about to begin. Soon after, exams and deadlines would be whooshing by—just like the clouds and tiny houses.

For a moment, she closes her eyes and wants to feel alive again—alive in the sense that she is somewhere else, learning and living in a brand new culture. 

This is a familiar feeling for Mielcarek as an International Studies major at Waynesburg University with minors in both Sociology and Theatre. The feeling of “wanderlust,” or the strong desire to travel, is like a sixth sense to her, which is part of the reason why she chose her specific major—and university.

“I actually chose my major around studying abroad because I do love to travel,” Mielcarek said. “When I chose Waynesburg as my university, I made sure that the International Studies major had a study abroad department. It ended up being required for my degree, so I knew I was destined for Waynesburg.”

Prior to returning to the United States, Mielcarek lived in Northern Ireland for five months, studying and falling head-over-heels in love with the culture during the spring and summer of 2016. During her stay, she got to experience the boisterous and short-tempered civilians, the clamor of the pubs and breweries and the crisp cliffs and Scottish architecture.

While in the UK, Mielcarek also had the opportunity to backpack in Belgium, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and the Netherlands.

Although Mielcarek is technically required to travel for academic purposes, she is a firm believer in everyone getting a chance to see the world for themselves.

“As an International Studies major, I feel it's important to go and experience other cultures, live in the countries and truly immerse yourself,” Mielcarek said. “Full immersion is surrendering yourself to another culture, not comparing it to your own.”

Mielcarek is unique at Waynesburg in that she is currently the only International Studies student. Although this created a few bumps in the road when it came to planning for her study abroad program, she said the faith aspect that Waynesburg University offers has helped her to stay calm amongst the storm.

“If it weren’t for the strong faith foundation at Waynesburg, I don’t know where I’d be,” Mielcarek said. “Through the stress of traveling and planning my trip, it was Waynesburg University that kept me grounded.”

After graduation, Mielcarek intends to get her master’s degree and pursue a career in teaching English as a second language. She also hopes to work with refugees, specifically from Burma and southeast Asia. But hopefully before then, Mielcarek will get another chance to lean her head against the headrest of her seat with her plane ticket in hand—just to watch those clouds and tiny houses whoosh by.

Written by: Mattie Winowitch, sophomore communications (journalism) major

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b2ap3_thumbnail_floyd.pngDave Floyd
Assistant Director of Admissions

Dave has kept himself very busy over his 4+ years in Waynesburg University Admissions and has accrued various responsibilities that include traveling to college fairs, visiting high schools and community colleges, hosting personal visits and organizing educational events for high school students. When he's not out on the road, Dave can be found in Miller Hall, room 102-A.

How did you end up at Waynesburg University?

When I was looking for colleges, I wanted a small school that had my major and where I could play soccer. WU fit those criteria, and its Department of Communication set it apart. I worked in Admissions as a student ambassador for three years, and when a full-time position opened up near the end of my senior year, it seemed like the perfect fit for me. I started a few weeks after graduation, so you could say I came here in August of 2008 and haven't left!

What's your favorite spot on campus?

As a student-athlete, I spent a lot of time on both the fourth floor of Buhl Hall and at Wiley Stadium, so those two places definitely hold a lot of memories for me, but I also love the sidewalk behind Miller Hall that runs parallel to the building. With the trees hanging over it, it's a pretty awesome spot, especially in the fall or spring.

What's your favorite fun fact about WU?

As a former Communication student and student-athlete, I always think it's pretty cool that WU's football team played in the first-ever televised college game and that we're 2-0 against Penn State.

Tell us something we may not know about your job at WU.

In Admissions, our staff spends a fair amount of time on the road, particularly in the fall. In the past four years, I've had the opportunity to travel to 12 different states to share information about WU with students and families, including two trips to Texas. I have a more local travel territory now, but our four other counselors - Renee, Bob, Matt and Kyle - are out there right now, and I certainly appreciate all the long hours they're logging away from home this fall!

Editor's note: you can follow Matt McNeil's travels this week on Snapchat! (Username waynesburgu)

What's your favorite annual event?

Freshman move-in day is always a rewarding event for us in the Admissions Office. We spend a lot of time communication with prospective students and families, so to see them all on campus at the start of their four years at WU is great. And of course, as a WU alumnus, I always enjoy seeing friends and former classmates every year at Homecoming!

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b2ap3_thumbnail_dessart.pngJamie Dessart
Professor of English

Jamie is in the midst of her 16th year at Waynesburg University, where she teaches composition and literature while also advising students. Her office is located on the 3rd floor of Buhl Hall.

How did you end up at Waynesburg University?

Funny story: I never actually applied for the job at WU. Dr. Marilyn Roberts, who at the time was chair of the English department, got my CV through her husband (who worked at another school in the area that shall remain nameless), and he passed my credentials on to her. So, it was a surprise to get the call. The second I drove up between Stewart Hall and the gym for my campus interview, I fell in love with the place and the rest is history!

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

I’ve always loved the top floor of Eberly Library with its quiet spaces, great views from the windows and hidden rooms. It’s a great place to sit and read.

Tell us something we may not know about your job at WU.

Along with teaching and advising students, I serve on the Curriculum Committee as well as the Assessment Committee. I actually like doing the work of organizing curriculum proposals and keeping up with changing ideas about how to assess our goals.

What’s your most memorable WU moment?

I’m going to cheat and say the moment at every graduation day when the faculty process through the lines of graduating seniors. Seeing those smiling faces, some I’ve seen every day, some I’ve had only once in class, truly reminds me of how God works on our campus.

What do you consider the most special or unique part of your job?

Sharing things I love and watching students get excited about it. A student just said he’d never enjoyed a writing class until he was in mine. That’s the special part of the job.

To learn more about English and Foreign Languages at Waynesburg University, click here!

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_vikki.pngVikki Beppler ('11, '14)
Assistant Director of Alumni Relations

Despite graduating with a degree in public relations in 2011, Vikki Beppler never really left Waynesburg University. She began her career in Alumni Relations shortly after graduation and obtained her MBA from WU in 2014. You can find her in the Office of Institutional Advancement on the second floor of Miller Hall, where she keeps over 16,000 alumni engaged and connected with their alma mater!

What's your favorite spot on campus?

I have two. First is the fourth floor of Buhl Hall where I spent a lot of time as a student and where I met my husband, Josh. The second is the bench that sits behind Miller Hall and faces Johnson Commons. If you find the right time during the fall season, you can sit there and watch the leaves cascade from the trees; it's absolute perfection. Plus, there's a great view of Roberts Chapel.

What's your favorite fun fact about WU?

Bruce Springsteen and Kansas played a concert here in the 1970s!

What's your favorite annual event?

Homecoming! And I'm not just saying that. I love meeting alumni who haven't been back to campus since they've graduated (sometimes it's been decades since they're been back!) and hear how much it's changed.

What's your most memorable WU moment?

I got to ring the Hanna Hall Bell at Commencement in 2015. It was quite an honor!

How has WU changed in the time you have worked here?

You wouldn't think a lot has changed in five years, but it definitely has! When I started, Roberts Chapel was just being completed, and they were just starting to work on renovating Stewart Science Hall. It's been exciting to see so much growth here.

BONUS: What does Homecoming at WU mean to you?

Homecoming, to me, is exactly what it sounds like - a time for alumni to come home to WU and celebrate with us. There's so much to do and see, and I can't wait for October 7-8!

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b2ap3_thumbnail_sumpter.pngJosh Sumpter
Instructor of Biblical & Ministry Studies and Assistant Chaplain

After spending some time as an adjunct professor, Josh started as a full-time employee at Waynesburg University on August 1, 2016. He assists Reverend Jim Tinnemeyer in being a resource to our students in regards to campus ministry and Christian life at Waynesburg University, regularly assisting with Chapel on Tuesday mornings and serves as a support system for the variety of Campus Ministries that take place on campus. His office is located in Buhl Hall 213, but you can usually catch him floating around the Stover Student Center as well.

How did you end up at Waynesburg University?

I was previously employed as a youth pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Waynesburg, PA. It was an incredible ministry opportunity that allowed me to partner with the incredible students at Waynesburg University. It was in that partnership that I began to enter the world of teaching as an adjunct in 2015 within the Biblical & Ministry Studies Program. When the need arose for an assistant chaplain and faculty member within the department, it seemed like a perfect match for my gifts, goals and calling.

What's your favorite spot on campus?

I’ve got two! First, Robert’s Chapel is one of the most peaceful and beautiful spaces on campus. Second, the Rudy Marisa Fieldhouse is a favorite location because I love rooting for the WU basketball teams!

Tell us something we may not know about your job at WU.

As the assistant chaplain, I try to be a resource to others across campus. Over the years, I have led devotionals and prayer times with the WU men's basketball team.

What's your most memorable WU moment?

It was a blessing for me to preach during the Chapel service in which over 600+ people attended, including the entire freshmen class. It was standing room only!

What do you consider the most special or unique part of your job?

I get the behind-the-scenes look at how hard our Chapel Worship Teams & Upper Room Worship Team work to be effective in leading worship! It has been a joy to spend time with such talented students!

BONUS: What does Homecoming at WU mean to you?

Homecoming is a time of excitement and memories! It is great to see generations of alumni return to campus to celebrate the way that Waynesburg University played a role in their life!

Click here to learn more about Biblical & Ministry Studies at Waynesburg University!

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