By Jonathan Snyder, firstname.lastname@example.org
It has only been a few short years since Megan Bonomo was walking on Ivy Lane for the first time during a campus tour. In that time, the 2016 LHU graduate has accomplished many things. Megan, who is originally from West Wyoming, Pennsylvania, was set to tour another local PA state school. She decided to tour Lock Haven on a whim, since she was in the area.
“I came across LHU by happenstance when I was browsing the state school system. I scheduled a tour at a nearby university and when I came across Lock Haven, I thought it would be a good opportunity to compare. After the tour, I ended up cancelling my other tour. I knew I wanted to attend Lock Haven University. It became home.”
Bonomo, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (with focus in Public Discourse & Performance) and minors in Biology and Environmental Studies, credits Lock Haven’s individualized feel and community atmosphere as key reasons that she chose LHU.
“I didn’t want to go to a super-huge school or a super-tiny school. Lock Haven seemed to be the perfect mix of both. I like how the University offers a lot of opportunity for individualized instruction, attention, and extracurricular programming. It was an environment where I was a name and face, not just a number. The way professors connect with and prepare the students is incomparable. The professors always showed a genuine interest in how you were doing. They didn’t want to set you up for a job, they wanted to prepare you for a career.”
Megan knew how competitive the job market is and wanted to take every opportunity to garner experience. She knew actual experience is just as important as the education obtained in the classroom. To help build her resume, Bonomo took part in the 2015 Walt Disney World College Program in Florida. She spent an entire semester with Disney. She worked as a Lifeguard and in Transportation Operations at Epcot, all while also taking classes through Disney that transferred six credits back to LHU. To ensure that she wouldn’t fall behind, Megan also took the initiative to take nine credits online from LHU.
In her final summer as a student before graduating in December 2016, Bonomo still wanted to further cultivate her resume. Her two passions are animal conservation and public speaking. What better experience would there be than working for an aquarium?
“I was a seal and sea lion trainer at Oceans of Fun in Hershey. I executed 2-3 public presentations a day, educating guests about conservation issues and the care of the animals. I was also responsible for diet prep and nutrition for the seals and sea lions each morning. The internship also helped me obtain credits toward my two minors, as I completed an independent project and presentation entitled Marine Mammals in the Media.”
The reason Bonomo chose Communication as her major is clear.
“I have the communication degree to help me bridge the gap between the scientific community and the public. On the science side of issues (like pollution and greenhouse gasses), people are more likely to become interested and involved to help guide change if they better understand the actual issues. The communication degree has helped me develop strategies to better educate others on these issues.”
One of Megan’s favorite classes at LHU was her Capstone class. The class required students to develop an online e-portfolio.
“The online e-portfolio is very beneficial. It has helped me market myself to stand out when applying for jobs. It catches people’s attention. The e-portfolio contains my resume, success stories, writing samples, testimonials, photo gallery, and my video resume. I had the opportunity to present my e-portfolio to the Board of Governors at the 2017 PA State System of Higher Education Conference. I truly credit the e-portfolio with getting me employment. It has blown people away.”
“In Capstone, students have to develop an e-portfolio and hers was the best I have ever seen, Dr. Conne Reece, professor of communication, said. “I'd say Megan's success is based on being very bright, very experienced before she left school and also very savvy about how to market her skills.”
Bonomo would tell any student to take advantage of every opportunity presented to you and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Develop relationships with other students and professors. Know that they will have your back and support you.
“Build your resume early and often. It may be challenging, but it will be worth it. Network and make connections. The support system at LHU is tremendous. Show people what you can do and always be willing to learn,” Bonomo added.
Before graduating, Bonomo was offered a position with a communications firm in the Washington DC area. Her responsibilities included public relations and strategy for National Geographic. After a year in the position, she wanted a change of environment.
“I sent my e-portfolio to the Chief Ranger of Visitor Experience of Pocahontas State Park in Virginia. She thought that the e-portfolio was super cool and they had a position open for an Interpretive Park Ranger. After a 45 minute phone interview, I was offered the position. I wrangled snakes and turtles. I also developed and implemented programs to enhance the community experience at the park. The job was perfect because it encompassed both communication and nature.”
Although Bonomo loved her position with Pocahontas State Park, when a job opportunity arose in South Carolina, she chose to leave her position. She considers South Carolina a perfect location to assist her in reaching her ultimate career dreams, since it is near the ocean.
“My dream career is to one day be a Communications Director or Program Development Coordinator at an aquarium or marine non-profit. Plenty of opportunities in this industry in South Carolina. What drives me is my passion” she said.
Megan is the new Recreation Development Coordinator at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina. Her prior hard work and networking paid off, as she made connections during her time with the Disney College Program.
“It just so happened Disney was hiring. I was able to interview for this position. I will be implementing new programs to create memories and build interpersonal relationships with guests. All transferable skills, which is key.”
In her new role she will be serving the recreation department in coordinating and implementing recreational activities and opportunities for resort guests, including water activities, nature programs, family games and campfires. She will also undergo training to become licensed to assist in life guarding and first aid.
Megan attributes some of her success thus far to her first steps on Ivy Lane, which will always be her favorite location on campus. The walk on Ivy Lane helped Megan select LHU, and LHU helped her set the foundation for her future.
“I think of the time that I took the tour of campus often. I think of how beautiful Ivy Lane is. Memories from congregating around the fountain with my friends between classes, meeting with groups for projects outside the library. It was nice before, but it is extra special now with the commons and renovations. It is a place to sit and clear your mind. I felt at home on Ivy Lane, which ultimately led to me creating memories and being at home at Lock Haven University” she said.
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Lock Haven University is a member of Pennsylvania’s State System, the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas of study. Nearly 520,000 system alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.
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