The Commencement Stage at Graduation

Where Our Graduates Are Headed

by Alec De Yong '20



Madison Cowman ‘19

Photo of Madison Cowman ‘19


  • Sport Management and Marketing major from Clayton, North Carolina

  • Guest Services Host at the St. Louis Blues

  • Sales Development Assistant at the Atlanta Hawks

  • Student athlete on softball team

  • St. Louis Regional Business Council Mentee

Many athletes dream of remaining involved in sports after they have hung up their cleats, jerseys, or gloves. For sport management and marketing major Madison Cowman ’19, the dream became a reality not just once, but twice, and now she is moving over 1,000 miles to put that experience to work in the field.

Madison was afforded the opportunity to work with two separate sports franchises while at McKendree. One of these opportunities was right across the river, for the St. Louis Blues. “When I worked with the Blues, I was a part of their Guest Services Department,” she said. Madison scanned guests in and out of the arena and ensured that guests made it where they needed to go. This was all a part of her working at the ground level to make sure that “guests were enjoying the event safely and without any problems.”

In the summer of 2018, Madison was able to take advantage of another opportunity to work in the field that she loved, this time for an NBA team. She worked as a sales development assistant with the Atlanta Hawks. “When I worked with the Hawks … I worked in their sales department specializing in season tickets,” where she said that she reached out to previous season ticket holders and potential future ticket holders. She was also able to experience more of what goes into the business, adding “When I was not making calls I was either emailing to follow up with clients, going on appointments, or working on projects for the sales managers.”

Madison’s internship with the Atlanta Hawks was actually the first of its kind. In early 2018, she attended a sales conference in Cleveland, Ohio where she was invited by the Hawks to their Sales Development Academy. There she learned more about the organization and went through rounds of interviews that apparently went very well. “A day after I returned from the academy, I got a full time offer,” she said. It was, unfortunately, an offer that she was unable to accept, as she had a year remaining until graduation.

At the time of the offer, the Hawks did not have an internship program. This quickly changed, however. “Once the internship program was finalized, I received a call and had an offer to intern with one other student in the sales department,” Madison said. Working in the field of sports marketing for two very different leagues both affirmed her love for sports and made Madison realize that she could take the skills that she has learned into a different industry.

After two amazing opportunities, yet another door was opened for Madison that will take her all the way to Texas. “After graduation, I am moving down to San Antonio where I have accepted a position as a Sales Recruiter for Proliant Inc.” Madison explained that McKendree played a huge role in her ending up where she is now, saying:

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“McKendree has helped me realize that sales intrigues me and is the right path for me to take. McKendree has also helped me realize that with my Sport Management and Marketing degrees, I can take my skills to any industry and be successful.”



Andrew Wagner ‘19

Photo of Andrew Wagner ‘19


  • International relations major with Spanish and speech communication minors from Waterloo, Illinois

  • Lincoln Laureate

  • Member of the Speech and Debate Team

  • Placed fourth in the nation in Extemporaneous and Impromptu Speaking at the 2019 National Speech Championship

  • Placed 25th in Extemporaneous Speaking at the 2019 National Forensic Association Championship

  • Finished first in extemporaneous speaking, informative speaking, individual sweepstakes, second in persuasion, and third in impromptu speaking at the Missouri State Tournament in 2019

  • Secretary General of the Model United Nations Club

  • Participant in the Technos Trip to Japan

  • Honors Program

  • Outstanding International Relations student
  • President of Alpha Phi Omega
  • President of the Board for Kappa Kappa Sigma
  • Member of Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Sigma Alpha, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Societies
  • Member of the McKendree Marching Bearcat Band, Concert Band, and Wind Ensemble

When he enrolled at McKendree University, international relations major Andrew Wagner ’19 had never considered teaching or had much interest in it. It is fortunate then that teaching found him, as it has lead him to the opportunity of a lifetime.

In high school, Andrew had a passion for global cultures, societies, and politics. After coming to McKendree, he found himself right at home in the international relations major. “After sitting down with Dr. Frederking and hearing more about the program and opportunities that McKendree offered, it was hard to pass up as I felt it fit me perfectly,” he said.

Andrew wasted no time getting involved and has racked up his fair share of experiences. He had the opportunity to write and present an academic article with Dr. Brian Frederking, professor of political science, at the International Studies Association Midwest conference. “I felt this experience really gave me insight into the educational process and also gave me a better idea of what academic research really looks like,” Andrew said.

He has also put his skills to use in the community by coaching public speaking and argumentation with the Monroe County Fair Queen Pageant and the St. Louis Internship Program’s Mock Trial Competition. “I really owe a lot of my confidence and speaking abilities to my time with Speech and Model UN, as I learned to think on the spot and present information in an interesting and exciting way,” he confessed. From opportunities on and off campus, Andrew has grown as a person, a learner, and an educator.

It was not until Andrew’s junior year that the idea of teaching occurred to him. He was approached by Associate Professor of Spanish Dr. Aurélie Capron to teach Spanish at Trinity Lutheran Middle School in Edwardsville, Ill. Andrew decided to take up the opportunity and found it to be a natural transition.

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“I found that my passion for language and world cultures translated well into my classroom presentation. I actually found that I enjoyed teaching and helping others quite a bit.”

Teaching opened up a completely new experience to him, one that he was keen to dive deeper into when the opportunity to teach at Technos International College in Tokyo in August. “I felt like I could put my teaching experience to good use and have the joy of teaching again,” he said. His love for Japan, and the connections he had built through a previous two-week summer trip to Technos College, further sold him on the opportunity.

Andrew made it through the initial application phase to a Skype interview with the program’s coordinators in Japan. “I can honestly say I’ve never wanted anything more in my life, and receiving a ‘yes’ was a major relief for me,” Andrew said. He will be working closely with students to help students inside and out of the classroom. He will also be in charge of some social media and newsletter related tasks. After his year at Technos, Andrew plans to attend graduate school for communication and pursue a career in journalism, media or education.



Daniel Rapp ‘19

Photo of Daniel Rapp ‘19


  • Pre-professional biology major and chemistry minor from Dahlgren, Illinois

  • Member of Alpha Delta Gamma fraternity

  • Member of Phi Eta Sigma, Sigma Zeta Beta, and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies

  • Honorary member of SIUE Pre-Optometry Society

  • Dean’s list

Since he was a child, pre-professional biology major Daniel Rapp ’19 has had a love for science. “It allows us as humans to understand and answer phenomena in our everyday lives,” Daniel explained. “Science is always changing and evolving, so as a learner, I really respect the challenges it brings to the table.”

Over time, Daniel’s interest only grew, but it also found its focus on the human body—and one part in particular. “I have always found the eye to be really fascinating. The eyes alone make up one of our five senses. With our eyes, we are able to visualize and perceive the world around us. If that isn’t neat, then I don’t know what is,” he said.

Daniel has been interested in the field of optometry for quite some time. While some might dread going to the doctor, he says that he has always been excited to go to yearly eye exams. He recalls when he first began having vision problems in fourth grade and how amazed he was when he tried on his first pair of glasses. “I want to return this feeling to others in the future, whether it is just helping correct someone’s vision or fixing something much more serious,” he said.

Daniel has made great strides to continue his education and love for optometry in parallel. After hearing from optometrists that he had job shadowed, and doing research, he applied and was accepted to the University of Missouri–St. Louis College of Optometry. One reason he chose the UMSL College of Optometry was due to its similarities to McKendree. “They are very personal and honestly care about their students,” he said. “With their small class size, transferring from McKendree to UMSL College of Optometry should be a fairly easy transition.”

Daniel also had no shortage of praise for those who helped him get to where he is. “The entire science department at McKendree is absolutely tremendous,” he said. He recalled when he first told Professor of Biology Dr. Michele Schutzenhofer that he had been accepted to UMSL’s College of Optometry. “Dr. Schutzenhofer even jumped up out of her chair and ran around her desk to give me a high five, which cracked me up.”

Daniel’s time at McKendree has prepared him well, from getting involved on campus through Alpha Delta Gamma, to working as a lab assistant for the math and science division.

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“I am excited to take my next steps in my academic career. I am really looking forward to learning about the human eye and being able to make a difference in people’s lives.”



Gavin Martin ‘19

Photo of Gavin Martin ‘19


  • Computer science major from Chicago Ridge, Illinois

  • Member of McKendree’s 117th Regiment Collegiate Cybersecurity team

  • Intern with McKendree University Information Technology

  • Stage hand for “Legally Blonde: The Musical”

  • Member of Association for Computing Machinery


Many college students today spent their youth interested in toys, snacks, and maybe the occasional game of kickball. Senior computer science major Gavin Martin ’19, however, had already taken to technology that many would find later, in their teenage years. “I was drawn to it when I was little and I always had a passion for computers,” he said.

Early in school, Gavin began to consider cyber security as a potential career path. He noted that it was a new and challenging field that drew his interest, one that was solidified through online research about different hacking and defense techniques.

Gavin furthered these skills and others while at McKendree. He values his time on McKendree’s cyber defense team. “Through the team I was able to get hands-on experience in the field,” Gavin said. He also values the connections that he has made through his work at the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts, Sodexo, and more.

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“Many of these groups have helped me through the connections I’ve made.”, Gavin explained. He also talked about the value in “knowing that anyone can help further what I know and get me through a situation I might not know how to.”

“Many of these groups have helped me through the connections I’ve made,” Gavin explained. He also talked about the value in “knowing that anyone can help further what I know and get me through a situation I might not know how to.”

For his hard work and passion, Gavin was rewarded with an amazing opportunity. After graduating from McKendree, he will jump right into his field as a security analyst for ReliaQuest, a company that deals in cybersecurity based in Las Vegas, Nev. ReliaQuest reached out to Gavin to begin the process of recruiting him and six interviews later, he was offered the position. His job will consist of monitoring and securing various corporate networks, determining network safety and, if needed, acting to mitigate any issues.




Jordan Morton ‘19

Photo of Jordan Morton ‘19


  • Psychology and legal studies major from Olathe, Kansas

  • Internship at Court-Appointed Special Advocates for Children of Southwestern Illinois

  • Internship with women’s basketball team

  • Internship as a research assistant with Fundacion por la Justicia in Valencia, Spain

  • Volunteer with the Special Olympics

  • Mentor at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School

  • Senior Class Gift Committee member

  • Honors Program

  • Outstanding psychology student

  • 2018 Sigma Sigma Sigma Labyrinth Leadership Experience participant

  • Women’s basketball team

  • Member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee

  • Member of Sigma Sigma Sigma, Phi Eta Sigma, Psi Chi, Phi Kappa Phi, and Sigma Alpha Pi

For as long as she can remember, psychology and legal studies major Jordan Morton ’19 has participated in a staggering variety of activities. This did not stop upon her arrival at McKendree and she has made her mark in bigger ways ever since.

Jordan has fit a seemingly endless list of activities and accomplishments in the last four years. “I spent the last four years of my life basically ‘working’ two full-time jobs and I didn’t have to sacrifice one for the other,” she said. Between her position on the women’s basketball team and her schoolwork alone, Jordan has a full plate, but she was far from satisfied. “I really enjoy being as involved as I am because I get to work with so many great people in the different circles I’m involved in,” she said.

Her involvement has rewarded her with some unique opportunities. As a junior, Jordan worked with Professor of Psychology Dr. Guy Boysen and other students on research that they then presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago. Jordan also studied abroad in Spain, where she interned with a non-profit organization that “helped to provide a variety of services to people in need.” She also took part in projects for the Spanish government and the United Nations.

Jordan has taken great joy in sharing her experiences with others along the way. “I’ve been fortunate enough to make lasting relationships with my professors and members of the community through work and basketball,” she said.

After graduating, Jordan will take the skills and experiences she has amassed and take her next step towards her dream. She will attend Washburn University School of Law, where she will be a member of the Dean’s Leadership Council. After obtaining her JD, Jordan plans to practice child and family law.

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“Everything during my time at McKendree has helped to prepare me for the next chapter of my life.”



Naeelah Chism ‘19

Photo of Naeelah Chism ‘19


  • Political science major and gender and legal studies minor

  • Volunteer with the Family Living Center in East St. Louis

  • Leader in the United Feminists group

  • “It’s On Us” Week coordinator

  • 2019 Fulbright Student Program Award Recipient

  • 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award

  • 2018 Robert H. McKinney School of Law Summer Law and Leadership Academy at Indiana University

  • Assistant Resident Director

  • Senior Class Gift Committee

  • New Student Orientation (NSO) Leader

  • UNI 101 Peer Mentor

  • Member of Pi Gamma Mu and Phi Eta Sigma Honor Societies

  • Hettenhausen Center for the Arts Staff Member

  • Intern with McKendree Student Affairs Office

A full list of Naeelah Chism’s accomplishments from the last four years alone could fill a library. The senior political science major has gone to extraordinary lengths and has been recognized on numerous occasions.

Naeelah has been involved in a stunning array of activities both on and off campus. From exemplifying leadership as an NSO, UNI 101, and United Feminists leader, to displaying her compassion in her work with the Family Living Center and during “It’s On Us” week, she has proven repeatedly that she is not one to take an opportunity for granted.

Naeelah also traveled to Washington, D.C. in 2018, where she championed sexual health education and women’s rights. She received praise yet again for her direct and honest communication. She worked to help peers understand difficult conversations about privilege, social status, and other topics.

Naeelah was also awarded McKendree’s 2019 MLK Humanitarian Award. The award celebrates understanding and tolerance, humanitarian principles and ideals, and leadership or participation in service programs. She was presented the award by “The Hate U Give” author, Angie Thomas.

She was also recently awarded the Fulbright U.S. Student Program Grant. She will travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for 10 months, where she will be an English teaching assistant. The Fulbright program is an international educational exchange initiative funded by the U.S. government. “I was first drawn to Malaysia after learning more about the Vision 2020 plan that is currently underway to help Malaysia achieve developed nation status by 2020,” Naeelah said. 

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“This country hopes to develop in a variety of areas and this includes economic development, sustainability, strengthening infrastructure, improving well-being for all, and enhancing inclusiveness toward an equitable society. I found this most interesting about Malaysia.”

After she returns to the United States, Naeelah plans to pursue a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy.



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