MURRAY, Ky. — Students at Murray State University learned how to seek out opportunities upon graduation during a recent “meet the pros” alumni panel sponsored by the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

The panel, titled “Professional Adventures of Alumni: What is Possible with Your Degree,” consisted of the following alumni: Pat Summerville, ’72; Chris Goodlett, ’95, ’98; Ashley Ireland, ’05; and David Schmoll, ’11. During the panel presentation, the four alumni shared with students how their undergraduate degrees led them to successful careers and discussed their life experiences along the way.

“The overall takeaway seemed to be to take time outside of the classroom to learn and apply yourself,” said Carrie McGinnis, director of alumni relations and the panel’s moderator. “The panelists inspired our students to be flexible and to not allow themselves to be limited by or attached to their job descriptions.”

Summerville obtained her degree in art education from Murray State in 1972 and went on to earn three additional degrees in education, hospital administration and law. Her career included stints as an art teacher, as a healthcare administrator and as a practicing lawyer until her retirement in 2003.

Summerville said her education prepared her for the real world, set her up to succeed and even allowed her to retire at age 52. But, she added, what mattered most was how she handled moments of adversity — for which Murray State provided her the tools for success.

“What I really learned here was how to grow up, how to be creative, how to think, how to talk to people, how to fail and how to get up and do it again. And those are skills that transcend art,” Summerville said.

Goodlett graduated from Murray State in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in history education and in 1998 with a master’s degree in public history. From there he worked as a curator for collections for 14 years at the Kentucky Derby Museum and later went on to become the director of curatorial and educational affairs. He also holds leadership positions in several professional organizations.

He, too, praised his education at Murray State for preparing him with sharp critical thinking and analytical skills.

“Critical thinking and analytical skills are very central — particularly now [that I’m] stepping into a project manager and strategic planning role,” Goodlett said. “And especially when it comes to listening to people that you’re working with on these projects and understanding what they expect to get from the project.”

Ireland earned her bachelor’s degree in English literature and sociology from Murray State in 2005. She returned to the University as a member of the library staff, including stints as the library liaison for the sciences and agricultural studies and as the director of user and instruction services, before ultimately becoming the dean of libraries in 2015.

“Most employers, whether they articulate it or not, are looking for potential employees who possess curiosity and who seek to fulfill that curiosity with a critical, discerning eye,” Ireland said. “College of Humanities and Fine Arts graduates have those characteristics. Their majors challenge them to ask big questions and to look to what is known, and what can be known, for their answers.”

Schmoll graduated from the Honors College at Murray State in 2011, majoring in political science with a minor in creative writing. Schmoll had a wide variety of internships during his time at the University, including positions with the Mississippi RiverKings, Indiana Ice, St. Louis Blues and WKMS radio. Shortly after graduation, he landed a job as the broadcaster and video relations coordinator for the RiverKings, continuing to move up in the organization to become the general manager in 2016.

As he reflected back on his time at Murray State, Schmoll said he is confident that his undergraduate degree allowed him to problem solve and recover from failure. He encouraged students to be persistent in their passions and remain open to lifelong learning.

“We want someone who is willing to learn and ready to learn,” Schmoll said. “We also want someone who is energized and passionate. It has to be someone who can communicate effectively.”

Summerville echoed that advice: “When you get your bachelor’s [degree], that’s just the beginning. The people that I find most successful are the ones who want to learn and keep learning and don’t stagnate. You will learn for the rest of your life.”

Photo Caption: Students at Murray State University learned how to seek out opportunities upon graduation during a recent “meet the pros” alumni panel sponsored by the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. The panel consisted of the following alumni, pictured from left to right: Pat Summerville, ’72; David Schmoll, ’11; Ashley Ireland, ’05; and Chris Goodlett, ’95, ’98.