Class of 2022 graduates offer this advice to incoming freshmen

Aerial photo fo people standing in the shape of an M and a U
It's a Mercer tradition to take an aerial photo of each new class forming "MU" on Cruz Plaza. The Class of 2025 is pictured here. You're next, Class of 2026! Photo by Matt Smith

Welcome to the Mercer University family, Class of 2026! As you prepare to embark on your journey as a Bear, check out these words of wisdom from some of our most recent graduates to help you make the most of your college career. Here, they answer the question: What advice do you have for incoming students?

Mikayla Alves

“Ask yourself: Who would you be if you weren’t afraid? Don’t be afraid to take risks!”

Mikayla Alves, Bachelor of Science in Engineering, electrical engineering

Shelby Ryals

“Establish good study habits early. Coursework difficulty for your major increases as you become an upperclassman, and you sincerely need to set yourself up for success. It pays off in the long run.”

Shelby Ryals, Bachelor of Arts, philosophy

Michelle Ferlita

“My biggest advice for incoming students is to try new things and get involved. During my first semester at Mercer, I used it as a trial run to figure out what organizations I enjoyed being a part of. Since then, I have become more and more involved each semester. My involvement at Mercer has taught me a number of skills that I will use beyond Mercer and has given me friendships that I will always cherish. Make the most of your time at Mercer — it goes by very fast!”

Michelle Ferlita, Bachelor of Business Administration, accounting and finance

Sheridan King

“When I was a freshman, I was only 17 years old, and I was terrified of trying new things and stepping out of my comfort zone. My advice to all incoming students would be to always challenge yourself to have new experiences. You should never be afraid of change because that is a part of maturing, and you will only regret the opportunities you did not at least attempt.”

Sheridan King, Bachelor of Arts, political science and communication studies

Natalie Galt

“I know everyone says grades do not define you, but there is truth in that. School is important, but so is your health, both physical and mental. So take time to take care of you, and I promise your grades will positively reflect your acts of service toward yourself.”

Natalie Galt, Bachelor of Science in Engineering, civil engineering

Olivia Cleveland

“Do what YOU want to do and not what others tell you that you want.”

Olivia Cleveland, Bachelor of Arts, art

Carlin Weinberg

“First, take advantage of every opportunity you can get! Mercer has so many opportunities available to prepare you for your future. Second, take the time to get to know faculty; they are here for you and desire to help you succeed. Go the extra mile, attend office hours and develop positive relationships with them. Most importantly, remember you are human and being a student is only part of you, not all of you. Take these four years as an opportunity to learn who you are and grow into who you want to be. Find your passion. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. It might be the best decision you ever make.”

Carlin Weinberg, Bachelor of Science, psychology and criminal justice

Mary Kathryn Stewart

“Don’t let others define you. And don’t let societal pressures mold you into something you are not. Stay true to yourself, have faith and keep on pushing — even when it gets hard, because it definitely will.”

Mary Kathryn Stewart, Master of Business Administration

Willie Fulks

“Make sure to set aside time to do your work. I made sure that every day I did some work outside of class, even if it was just for 10 minutes. Sometimes those 10 minutes will save you on a weekly quiz.”

Willie Fulks, Bachelor of Science in Engineering, computer engineering

Samantha Gonski

“I think everyone’s parents tell them this, and you don’t believe them until it happens, but trust me — your time here will be over in the blink of an eye. Have dance sessions to stay awake in the Tarver Library at 2 a.m. with your friends. Lose that extra hour of sleep to go on a late night Cook Out run. Take advantage of having your people live within walking distance from you while they still do.”

Samantha Gonski, Bachelor of Science, biology and Spanish

Jordan Leet

“Allow for growth and change! I came in with a set plan, and I thought that straying from that meant I would fail. However, without change I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am so happy with where I am and what I have accomplished, and I wouldn’t be here without accepting change! Enjoy the experience of Mercer, and do what makes you happy!”

Jordan Leet, Bachelor of Arts, psychology

J. Chad Capers

“Always remember, you deserve to be here.”

J. Chad Capers, Juris Doctor


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Jennifer Falk
Jennifer Falk is director of digital communications at Mercer. She edits and writes feature stories for The Den and examines web data and analytics to drive content decisions. She also creates and supervises the creation of content for primary University web pages and e-newsletters.