Your life’s work is waiting…

Your life’s work is waiting: start now.

Through the Alma Commitment, we will work with you to plan a college experience that includes all the classes necessary to complete a degree in four years, to have practical experiences (such as internships and research opportunities) that will look great on your resume, to include other campus opportunities that are important to you (performing arts, athletics, Greek life, etc.) and to prepare you not just for your first career, but for all of your careers.

Find out how Alma College can work for you!

Meet a few Great Scots - and when you’re ready to dive in to what’s next, find a major and apply to Alma.

Plaid Works

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    Recent graduate Katherine Vaillancourt participated in numerous activities that demonstrated a passion for working with underserved populations with an emphasis on empowering others.

    <em>Attendees of the 2016 history department honors luncheon. Katherine Vaillancourt is in the front row, second from the right.</em>Attendees of the 2016 history department honors luncheon. Katherine Vaillancourt is in the front row, second from the right.

    From volunteering in a hospital maternity ward in the African nation of Malawi to serving on community advisory boards in mid-Michigan’s Gratiot County, Katherine Vaillancourt is an exemplary model of Alma College’s commitment to community service.

    Katherine, a 2016 Alma graduate, assumed many campus leadership roles as a student. She served two years as co-chair of Alternative Breaks, traveling twice to the U.S.-Meixcan border to experience firsthand migrant-rights issues, and four years on the Service Learning Team.

    In the Alma community, she was a member of the Gratiot Family Practice Patient Advisory Board and the Pine River Community Action Group/Public Health Task Force. In addition, she served as a research assistant with a team from Emory University, in which she participated in data collection for the Michigan PBB Registry project

    <em>Katherine Vaillancourt addresses her classmates at the 2016 commencement ceremony.</em>Katherine Vaillancourt addresses her classmates at the 2016 commencement ceremony.A Positive Role Model

    “With an interest in medicine and public health, Katherine always believed that health care and social justice are inseparable,” says Anne Ritz, former director of service learning at Alma. “She took on many projects during her four years at Alma College that confirmed this for her. She was a positive role model, always encouraging her Alma College peers to follow their passion.”

    Additional health-focused volunteer work included certifications in Red Cross CPR, lifeguarding, neonatal resuscitation through the American Academy of Pediatrics, and being a trained birthing assistant for home births.

    Katherine, who majored in history with plans to attend medical school, also took her passion for service internationally. A three-time Posey Global Fellowship recipient, she spent her summers and portions of academic terms in India, Brazil and Malawi, which allowed her to coach Model United Nations teams, teach in classrooms and volunteer in maternity and women’s health clinics.

    On campus, she also was a member of the Public Affairs Institute and the Phi Alpha Theta history sorority.

    Her commitment to service was recognized statewide when Michigan Campus Compact honored her with a Commitment to Service award. Also receiving the award was Danielle Harm.

    In addition, Katherine was the 2016 recipient of the Barlow Trophy, Alma College’s most prestigious award for a graduating senior.

     

    Plaid Works
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    When Okwara Uzoh ’10 first set eyes on Chicago, he knew that someday he would call the city “home.” Alma College’s theatre and computer science programs helped him get there.

    <em>From November 2008: Okwara Uzoh performs in "Good Neighbors."</em>From November 2008: Okwara Uzoh performs in "Good Neighbors."Okwara Uzoh ’10 has a clear memory of his first visit to Chicago.

    When he and his family moved from Nigeria to Michigan, they landed at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

    “I’m in a van passing through on highway 90/94, and I see this Chicago White Sox sign,” he says. “I’m seeing over here to my left-hand side the city skyline. That was when I was 8 or 9 years old, and I remember that vividly when we were driving through on our way to Berrien Springs.”

    He knew that he had to make it back to the Windy City. It would be a dream he’d hold on to for another decade.

    “Chicago was just calling to me,” he says. “‘This is home — this is where you want to be.’”

    Applying at Alma: His Only Choice

    After he graduated from Berrien Springs High School, his family planned to move to Maryland. He knew he wouldn’t have his family nearby to support him during college, so that’s why he looked at small colleges, where he felt he’d be more likely to find a support system. He visited Alma College and auditioned for the theatre program.

    “Honestly, Karen and Joe really helped with my decision to come to Alma,” he says, referring to Karen Jezewski, who works in the Admissions Office, and Joe Jezewski, an associate professor of theatre.

    “Before my audition, Karen told me to be myself,” says Uzoh. “After that, I knew right then and there I would be receiving my college education from Alma.”

    He applied to just one college: Alma. He found a home in the theatre program and his fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon.

    The opportunity to go to Chicago came his junior year when he applied to an off-campus studies program through the Chicago Center for Urban Life and Culture.

    “It was the best summer of my life,” he says.

    Internship at the Chicago Center

    The Chicago Center connected him to an internship at Free Street Theatre, where he performed for kids at different neighborhood parks throughout Chicago. He spent the summer in the Hyde Park neighborhood where he lives now.

    <em>From February 2010: Okwara Uzoh performs in "Crimes of the Heart."</em>From February 2010: Okwara Uzoh performs in "Crimes of the Heart."After graduating from Alma with a double major in theatre and computer science, he returned to Chicago — this time for a year-long apprenticeship at the Chicago Center as its marketing and public relations coordinator. He helped them with their technology needs, including setting up webinars, posting videos to YouTube, upgrading computers, working on their database, and creating interactive emails.

    When the apprenticeship ended, he started working at the University of Chicago as an application administrator and is currently a systems manager. He helps maintain the databases for the Office of Enrollment and Student Advancement.

    During that time, he also got a Master of Science in Information Systems at Northwestern University.

    “Grad school was a cake walk compared to an Alma College education,” laughs Uzoh.

    He credits his computer science professors, friends and especially his theatre professor Joe Jezewski with helping him get to where he is now.

    “He is such an amazing human being, and he strives to make us better human beings,” he says. “I think one day, I called him ‘God.’ And we theatre folks always thought of him as a father figure.”

    Working in Field of Computer Science

    Uzoh says the theatre program helped in shaping who he is today.

    “It helped me so much because I came in as a student whom nobody understood; my dialect was not as fluid or clear,” he says. “My English skills are better, my communication skills are better, and my people skills are so much better because of the theatre program.”

    Even though Uzoh works in the field of computer science, theatre continues to play a significant role in his life. He hadn’t realized it at the time, but in addition to voice and language warm-ups, Alma’s theatre warm-ups included yoga — which he now does several times per week. And he tries to get involved with the community theatre in his neighborhood when he has time.

    “You have to be hard-working in order to get to where you are, and I feel that my Alma education really helped with that,” says Uzoh. “There is only one Alma, and plaid really does work.”

    Plaid Works
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    Mason Molesky receives the nationally competitive CyberCorps Scholarship to pursue graduate study and a career in cyber security.

    <em>Mason Molesky</em>Mason MoleskyMason Molesky, a 2016 Alma College graduate, was awarded the nationally competitive CyberCorps Scholarship to pursue graduate study and a career in cyber security.

    The scholarship, awarded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security, provides full funding for graduate school tuition, fees and books plus a living-expense stipend and professional development allowance for up to three years.

    A Passion for Cyber Security

    Molesky, a mathematics major with a computer science minor, will pursue his master’s degree in cyber security at George Washington University. After completing his master’s degree coursework, he will help protect the nation’s information infrastructure by working as a security expert for the federal government.

    “I am very excited and grateful to have received the CyberCorps Scholarship, and I look forward to my studies at GWU,” says Molesky. “The opportunities offered by the CyberCorps Scholarship are life-changing, and I am eager to see what the future has in store for me.

    “Cyber security is something I feel passionate about,” says Molesky. “At GWU, there is an application process that is used to shrink the applicant pool. I met with the program director and professors several times and completed an interview before receiving the scholarship.”

    A dual-enrolled student while in high school, Molesky was heavily involved in campus activities as a full-time student. In addition to his academic work, he was involved with such student organizations as Alpha Phi Omega (service fraternity), Barrister’s Society, Mathematics Club, Chemistry Club, Biology Club and the Alma Choir. He also worked multiple campus jobs, including network and system assistant for information technology, and served as a tutor for the mathematics and computer science department.

    <em>Mason Molesky</em>Mason MoleskyResearch at NASA

    In addition, he was a meteorite/asteroid research assistant for a NASA-supported project under the mentorship of chemistry professor Melissa Strait.

    “Alma College offers a wide variety of opportunities that have allowed me to succeed,” he says. “My research on meteorites with Dr. Strait provided an excellent opportunity to build professional skills, face intricate problems, work with leading scientists, and encounter many other experiences to prepare me for a future career.”

    Alma College’s Nationally Competitive Scholarship Committee identifies and nurtures exceptional candidates for nationally competitive scholarships, grants and awards. The committee helps finalists search for scholarships and reviews proposals and applications.

     

    Plaid Works
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    Nicholas Arnold’s research at the Center for Muscle Biology in Kentucky focused on the role of circadian rhythms in muscle biology, or the daily cycle of processes that get booted up or shut down at day and night.

    Reese senior Nicholas Arnold used his Alma Venture grant to do summer research and will soon have a publication to his name — something that will set him apart when he applies for graduate schools.

    In summer 2015, Arnold, who is majoring in biology and business administration, had the opportunity to work under Dr. Karyn Esser in the Center for Muscle Biology at the University of Kentucky.

    <em>Nicholas Arnold<br><br></em>Nicholas Arnold

    His research focused on the role of circadian rhythms in muscle biology, or the daily cycle of processes that get booted up or shut down at day and night. Up until 10 years ago, researchers thought that the brain completely controlled circadian rhythms.

    “Every individual cell in every tissue in every part of your body has a molecular clock,” he says. “They are really the powerhouses behind this.”

    The brain’s role is to keep these clocks in sync. Two genes called BMAL1 and CLOCK are responsible for telling cells to make proteins and express certain genes at certain times of day. Using cell cultures and mouse models, Arnold studied which genes were expressed and which proteins were created.

    “We actually had different models where we would remove the clock and see basically what went wrong — and the answer was ‘a lot,’” he says.

    Arnold first learned about Esser’s research when she visited campus to present her research to students in the Integrative Physiology and Health Science department.

    Professor Karen Ball invited Arnold and other students to go out to dinner with Esser. He spoke with Esser at the restaurant and found her work fascinating.

    “Two weeks went by, and Dr. Ball came back to me and said, ‘Dr. Esser really wants you to know that she’s got a research position available, and you’re welcome to come fill that position for her,’” he says.

    He eagerly accepted the offer — contingent upon receiving funding from the Alma Venture grant. He applied and was approved for the full $2,500.

    “Some students — and myself included — might not be able to take that jump to go somewhere new and not have a steady-paying job locked in,” he says. “The Venture grant enabled me to go on that journey, that adventure, without a risk or detriment to my future finances.”

    Before he completed his Alma Venture experience, he knew he wanted to do research in medicine, but wasn’t sure beyond that. The experience has given him a greater sense of direction.

    An abstract with his name on it was submitted to the Experimental Biology Conference, which took place in San Diego in April 2016.

    Plaid Works
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    Kyle Kansman’s internship at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Florida reinforced his passion for animals and wildlife rehabilitation.

    <em>Kyle Kansman</em><br>Kyle Kansman
    Farmington junior Kyle Kansman has known for a while that he’s wanted to pursue a career in animal rehabilitation — and his Alma Venture experience working with sea turtles cemented it.

    “My internship was in Sarasota, Florida, at a place called Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium,” says Kansman, a pre-veterinary major.

    “I would do food prep, water quality, salinity and temperature as well as give medication or take them out and assist the vets if they needed to give injections,” he says.

    His grandparents have a summer home in Florida, so he had visited Mote Marine before.

    “I fell in love with it, so I knew I wanted to acquire some type of internship there,” he says.

    His favorite part of the internship was going on four or five release trips to return the turtles to the wild.

    Sarasota is on the west side of the state, and because the turtles had to be returned to where they were found, some of these trips took them to the east side of the state. The long drives gave him ample opportunity to chat with the staff about their schooling and career paths and what he could do to further his own career.

    “It was really helpful to see what they could teach me,” he says. “Working with the turtles, seeing how the staff members benefitted from their experiences and being a part of these animals’ lives — that showed me that I really did want to do this.”

    <em>Kyle Kansman<br><br></em>Kyle Kansman

    He used the full $2,500 for which he was eligible through the Alma Venture grant. The funding covered his plane ticket, housing, food and transportation.

    “I was just really thankful to get that grant,” says Kansman. “Without that grant, I wouldn’t have had that experience.”

    The internship has given him an added advantage in his career preparation. He’s been focusing on the small details in school and is trying to get as much experience as possible. He’s hoping that this drive to gain an edge will help him get his name out there and set him apart from other vet school applicants.

    “The only thing I can say about my passion is that the internship made it even stronger,” he says. “I never had any doubt going into the internship — I wanted to work with animals, I wanted to be in wildlife rehab — but now it just shows me that I want to do this so bad. And it’s kind of just like a race now to see how quick I can get to it.”

    Watch Kyle’s Venture video.

    Plaid Works
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    A pre-student teaching internship in Rwanda helped Rachel Nemeth solidify her music education career goals. “I was able to see what a band director will do and have that glimpse of what my future might look like,” she says.

    <em>Rachel Nemeth with her students in Rwanda.<br></em>Rachel Nemeth with her students in Rwanda.
    Perry senior Rachel Nemeth, a music education major, has long been curious about what it’s like to teach music in schools overseas. A message at her church about making a difference in her community was the final nudge she needed. She approached her education professor, Mark Seals, for advice.

    “I thought, ‘Alright, I feel this call. I think I want to look into teaching overseas. What am I supposed to do now?’” she says.

    Seals connected her with Kerry Dembowski Bryan ’09 and Kelsey Merz ’11, Alma College alumni who are teaching at the Kigali International Community School in Rwanda.

    A month later, the school’s principal invited her to do a pre-student teaching internship with the music classes. She applied for the Alma Venture grant and received approval to use it to fund her trip.

    “I already felt like I was a part of things before I even went,” she says. “Kerry and Kelsey are just so energetic. Alma people love Alma people. We are so community-based, and everyone just wants to help other people.”

    <em>Rachel Nemeth, center, with Alma alumni Kerry Dembowski Bryan ’09 and Kelsey Merz ’11.</em><br>Rachel Nemeth, center, with Alma alumni Kerry Dembowski Bryan ’09 and Kelsey Merz ’11.
    And that’s exactly the kind of community she sought — and found — amongst the teachers at the Kigali School. The highlight of her internship was being able to teach and conduct in the final concert.

    “I got to be in charge of the children and help all the parent volunteers and actually conduct or play in over half of the pieces in the final concert,” she says. “I was able to see what a band director will do and have that glimpse of what my future might look like.”

    While in Rwanda, she also had the opportunity to substitute-teach for a week while her placement teacher was out of the country.

    “I taught a choir class for the first time in my life — never having taken a choir class before,” she laughs. “It was cool to have that experience and see that it’s okay to make mistakes and learn what I now need to work on.”

    Nemeth says that she’s “a band person,” and that she didn’t have much of an interest in teaching elementary-level or choir classes. However, after returning from Rwanda, she enrolled in a vocal pedagogy class.

    She realizes that she may have to teach everything — including sections of a class that she’s not very familiar with — and so she is working to strengthen those areas with her remaining time at Alma.

    “The Venture grant helped solidify my career goals,” she says. “I now know for sure that teaching is what I want to do.”

    Watch Rachel’s Venture video.

    Plaid Works
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    Josie Sabo’s spring term course in Italy helped her parse out what she is good and what she’s not — and gave her confidence in her own abilities.

    Imagine being in a foreign city with nothing but a suitcase, backpack and camera — and no plans for food or a place to sleep.

    That was just one of the many challenges that Coopersville junior Josie Sabo had to navigate during her spring term course on backpack filmmaking in Italy. Her experiences there helped her parse out what she is good at and what she’s not — and gave her confidence in her own abilities.

    <em>Josie Sabo<br><br></em>Josie Sabo

    “When I was first starting out, I was so scared, because I wasn’t very strong in my camera capabilities,” she says. “I thought I should stay in a group. But I realized I was getting frustrated with trying to coordinate with other people.

    “We were told, ‘You shouldn’t go off alone,’ but I found that was the best thing for me to do,” she says. “I grew a lot being able to go out and not worry about the group and more about my own work.”

    The students had one or two video assignments at each city. At first, the students were primarily worried about the visual aspects of their films, but later they started to focus on sound and audio quality. The students shared their videography on Vimeo and their photography on Instagram using the hashtag #bfilm.

    “Since I was a one-person camera crew, I learned what part of the production stages I’d like to work on after this experience,” says Sabo, who is majoring in new media studies and art.

    She realized that she enjoys thinking about the pre-production aspects of filmmaking.

    “I’m really good at planning,” she says. “There was a time when we had to go off on our own. We had 24 hours with no housing and plans, so I made a huge spreadsheet and figured out everything I needed to stay for the night.

    “Four other students really liked my idea, and so they all came with me, and I became the group leader for that,” says Sabo. “I feel like that was the moment I realized, ‘Oh, I’m really good at planning, I should be doing more of this kind of stuff for a crew.’”

    Being able to work solo helped grow her confidence.

    “I was very in-the-shell before I left on the trip, very reserved, and I didn’t really share a lot of my work,” she says. “After being in such close quarters with a lot of my other classmates, I discovered that it’s okay to share with others or ask for help.”

    Josie’s spring term experience in Italy was funded in part by her Alma Venture grant.

    Watch Josie’s Venture video.

    Plaid Works
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    Alesia Dassance’s Alma Venture cleared up any doubts she had about her career path in nursing. “I have a point of a view that others don’t have because I was able to experience health care in a different country,” she says.

    <em>Alesia Dassance, far right, with Michael Altman ’80 (center) of Flying Doctors of America.<br><br></em>Alesia Dassance, far right, with Michael Altman ’80 (center) of Flying Doctors of America.

    Eaton Rapids junior Alesia Dassance has always wanted to help people.

    “Everyone in my family is in some kind of career service that helps others, and so it’s always been a passion of mine,” says Dassance, who is majoring in nursing and plans to become a doctor.

    “A lot of people in my family have had medical problems, and they’ve either received great care or they haven’t received great care,” she says. “Becoming a nurse or going into the medical field is one way to ensure that others who are having health issues receive the care that they should.”

    So when Judy McKenna, the director of nursing education at Alma College, emailed students about an opportunity to serve on a humanitarian medical mission working with Syrian refugees in Jordan and Israel — Dassance jumped at the opportunity.

    An alumnus, Michael Altman ’80, is the chairman of the Board of Directors of Flying Doctors of America and had reached out to McKenna.

    “He wanted to give a scholarship to two nursing students to go with them,” says Dassance. She also applied her Alma Venture grant to the travel-abroad opportunity

    In Jordan and Israel, she worked in relief clinics providing much-needed medical care to refugees alongside dentists, physician assistants, doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, pediatricians and others.

    “Many of the Syrian refugees do not have the proper care that they need, so when organizations such as the Flying Doctors of America come to help, hundreds of people are waiting for care,” she says.

    <em>Alesia Dassance, far right<br><br></em>Alesia Dassance, far right

    Her experiences made her appreciate how fortunate Americans are to have the health care resources that they do.

    “I experienced practicing around someone’s religious beliefs, I learned a lot about how the body reacts to certain medicines, and I was able to experience how to help others — without having machines and medical files,” says Dassance.

    The trip was something she never could have afforded without the help of the Alma Venture grant. She now sees her coursework through a different lens, and that perspective sets her apart from her peers.

    “I have a point of a view that others don’t have because I was able to experience health care in a different country,” she says.

    Her Alma Venture cleared up any doubts she had about her career path.

    “This really made it set in stone in my mind that this is my passion,” she says.

    Watch Alesia’s Venture video.

    Plaid Works

Discover your world.

You design an amazing learning experience - travel, research, internship - and Alma College will help make it happen.
 
Programs such as the Alma VenturePosey Global Fellowships and others provide each student up to $2,500 to support experiential learning. 
 
So step out of your comfort zone. Explore. Grow. Be who you want to be.
  • Nick Wracan took advantage of our multidisciplinary new media studies major to create a mutant pizza monster that you have to see to believe.
  • Alma’s small size led Karol Chubb to big opportunities as a volunteer, intern, mentor and health care administration major.
  • With a passion for travel and and a knack for science, Fallon Koenig, our very first Alma Venture recipient, hit the ground running and studied medicinal ethnobotany in the Ecuadorian Amazon during her first year.

Make it happen.

The college search process is exciting, but it also can be overwhelming!

Our admissions and financial aid staff are available to sit down with you and answer your questions. We want to help you make the best decision. (It’s no secret; we hope you choose Alma!).

  • In the past year, Alma College awarded over $24.1 million in scholarships to its students.
  • Every student receives some level of award.
  • With merit scholarships, special awards and need-based grants, we are working to make the quality education that Alma provides accessible to you.