Photo of Natalie and Mstt Ernst

Natalie & Matt Ernst '13: Siblings of Success

By Nick Watt '13

McKendree has always prided itself on the family ties that run throughout its history. Natalie Ernst ’13 and her brother Matt ’13 have become a part of that.

Natalie has been quietly working her way through a non-traditional 3-year graduation track as a psychology major, all the while achieving a high level of success academically. She has also taken an active role as an on-campus leader through Residence Life, Campus Ministries, and the Lyn Huxford Center for Community Service. Matt’s journey as a computer science major has been somewhat more recognized. An offensive lineman on the Bearcat football team, he has won several honors for his academic success including the Lincoln Laureate award and has been inducted into several national honor societies for history, science, mathematics and computer science.

However, the time has come for the siblings to share the limelight, as they will both be graduating from McKendree this May. What is even more impressive is that both are members of the honor society, Phi Kappa Phi. “It was an honor to be inducted in Phi Kappa Phi because it means my hard work has paid off in some way that others can see,” said Natalie. “It looks great on a resume because it demonstrates my dedication to my studies.”

Natalie has immersed herself in on-campus roles even though she is on an accelerated graduation track. “It has prevented me from taking on more active roles in some groups because I will be graduating sooner, but for the most part it is similar to any other experience.” Natalie has proved to be a key member of the community both on and off-campus. “My greatest achievement at the school was coordinating National Youth Service Day, where the McKendree football team, together with Lebanon Grade School students, volunteers around the community.”

When her brother Matt talks about how it has been having his sister in the same graduation class he admits it was initially apprehensive. “I thought at first it wasn’t going to happen and when it did I was like “c’mon!”” laughs Matt. “Overall though I feel it has been a good experience for both of us.” When asked about her academic success Matt feels immense pride not only for his sister but the accolades it brings for the family. “It shows that we can excel in different fields,” he said. “When she talks about psychology and explains some of its aspects I can really tell she has become an expert.”

As resident advisors, Matt and Natalie are also involved in day-to-day interactions with fellow students. “Being a resident advisor has been very beneficial because it has allowed me to meet more people, aid residents through several problems, and be more involved through programming and other activities,” said Natalie. “I have had several experiences that require quick decisions, calm reactions, and outstanding leadership. Helping residents through the most stressful times in their lives has been a wonderful experience because I learn when a response is needed and when people just need someone to listen.”

These experiences have proved extremely valuable for Natalie as she sets to pursue the next chapter of her life after graduation. “My career goals are to become a counselor,” she said. “I have been accepted into a master’s program for clinical mental health; however I am waiting to hear from other schools before I decide where to attend.” Matt also has high hopes for the future. After just finishing his internship at MasterCard Worldwide in St. Louis, Mo., he is now aiming to become a software engineer.

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