Forever Red hosted “5 Under 5” on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. as part of I Heart SV Week.
“5 Under 5” brings back five SVSU alumni, one from each of the five colleges, who have graduated within the last five years to talk to current students.
This year, the featured alumni were Shawn Schutt, Miah Cooper, George Copeland, Derek Williams and Alanna Peake.
Schutt, a 2015 graduate and health science major, works at the Underground Railroad as a prevention education coordinator.
Cooper, a 2018 graduate and English for secondary education major, teaches the sixth grade at Cramer Junior High School.
Copeland, a 2016 graduate and business management major, works as a public school academy transition coordinator.
Williams, a 2014 graduate and science major, works as a doctor of optometry.
Peake, a 2018 graduate and psychology major, works as a chiropractic technician.
Emma Kirsch, the vice president of Forever Red’s Enhance pillar, said alumni contacts were provided by Alumni Relations.
“Knowing that I will soon be in their position makes the advice and information they provide extremely valuable to me,” Kirsch said.
The alumni had a lot of wisdom to share with students. They stressed the importance of getting involved.
“Take every opportunity you have,” Copeland said. “There are a lot of opportunities here. Don’t let money stand in your way. There are plenty of scholarships and other ways to get support.”
Williams echoed Copeland’s statement.
“When you look back at your time here, you aren’t going to remember sitting in a classroom,” Williams said. “You’re going to remember what you did with your friends and organizations.”
Schutt told students to enjoy their time at SVSU.
“Have fun,” Schutt said. “Whatever that looks like for you, do it. You’re only here for a couple years, so enjoy it.”
The alumni also admitted that leaving college for the real world wasn’t what they expected.
“I wasn’t expecting to find a job so quickly,” Cooper said. “But I love the job I chose, even though I’m living in a permanent state of exhaustion.”
Peake struggled to find a job relevant to her degree, and Schutt applied to jobs that seemed out of reach.
“Apply for the jobs you don’t think you’re qualified for,” Schutt said. “Who knows? You might get them anyway.”
Though their stories intimidated more than a few seniors, the alumni had some encouraging final thoughts.
“It’s the best feeling when you realize you know what you’re doing and you can help people with that knowledge,” Schutt said.
Peake found comfort in having more say over how to spend one’s time after graduating.
“You finally have free time to do what you want and to figure out what you want to do,” Peake said.
Cooper told students that finding work “in a field you love” is key to being happy post-graduation.
Kirsch was pleased with the turnout and the advice the alumni shared.
“After attending the panel, I hope students feel confident that SVSU will prepare them for the future,” she said.
Kirsch believes that “5 Under 5” helps students think about post-graduation life.
“These alumni were engaged as students inside and out of the classroom, and hearing their stories hopefully inspires current students to tap into all SVSU has to offer,” she said. “By doing so, they will be well-prepared for life after SVSU.”
Reporting by Hannah Beach, Vanguard A&E Editor