Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Letter from Michael Sojka ('12) (previously published in the Winter 2014 Michaeleen)

I met with my academic adviser a few weeks ago to discuss what courses I’ll take next semester. As she pulled out my list of completed courses from her filing cabinet, I realized that my time in college was beginning to wind down. It wasn’t that my years at the University of Missouri had flown by, quite the opposite really; the past five semesters have been jam-packed full of new experiences and memories. My adviser showed me the remaining courses I needed to take, and the list was not long. It didn’t hit me until that moment: this is what the Mount had been preparing me for. I guess I had known it all along, from the welcome picnic in 2008 to my college orientation in 2012. I knew Mount Michael was focused on preparing me for college, I just didn’t realize how well it would do that.

I came to Mizzou in the fall of 2012 with a considerable amount of credits from AP courses I had taken at the Mount. This was no surprise to me, all my friends in high school took Advanced Placement courses, and we had been hoping to earn some college credit. I started my first semester with second-semester sophomore standing. This meant all my classes were with sophomores and some juniors. In addition, I tested into 3000-level Spanish, a medical terminology course with juniors and seniors. I completed a minor as a sophomore, after taking just four courses. I can honestly say that I owe that to the years of AP courses and Spanish I took at Mount Michael. The study techniques and passion for learning given to me at the Mount were without a doubt the catalysts for my success.

I also wanted to get involved in college. At Mount Michael, I was a part of numerous organizations and groups. This helped me connect with other students and learn to manage my time. My first semester, I joined the club rowing team and pledged a fraternity. I had a part-time job in addition to 17 credit hours, but I was able to make it all work, largely in part to the time-management skills I learned at the Mount. I would set aside time to make sure I was getting my work done, something instilled in us with nightly study halls at Mount Michael.  I was able to get highly involved while still maintaining the GPA and social life that I wanted. I can’t attribute that to anything but the years I spent at the Mount.

Another facet of Mount Michael that I appreciate now is the professionalism it afforded me. Other than the ability to tie a tie and look professional, I’ve been able to build healthy relationships with faculty members, advisors, employers, and the list goes on. I’ve landed internships, served in leadership positions, and done freelance work with several clients. Over the summer, I developed, shot and produced videos for a local carpenter and for the Office of Advancement at Mizzou. I did this through my own networking and efforts. I’m able to do these things because I already have the skills needed to succeed, and they don’t teach you those things in classes. Those are the attitudes and behaviors expected in the real world, and the ones that were expected of us at Mount Michael. 

Currently, I’m the copy editor at Mojo Ad, a student-staffed full-service advertising agency that produces work for national clients. We are developing a campaign to increase trial usage and brand awareness of Blue Diamond Almond Breeze in 18-24 year-olds. I’m the only junior in a team full of seniors, but I’m not intimidated: I have the education, professionalism, interpersonal and time-management skills needed to succeed. And I accredit much of that to my time at Mount Michael.

Sometimes I take a look at my college career and wonder where I would be had I chosen to attend another high school. I’m attending the world’s top journalism school, and it’s no walk in the park. But I don’t feel overwhelmed or under prepared; I feel like I’m exactly where I should be. I’ll be graduating next fall with minors in business and Spanish and a degree in Strategic Communication.

After graduation, I plan to apply at various agencies in Chicago, Kansas City, San Francisco or Los Angeles. Ideally, I’d like to get into video advertising, but I’m keeping my options open. I’m confident that I’ll find something that is both challenging and enjoyable, and I’m able to have that confidence largely because of the years I spent at Mount Michael.