Wednesday, March 14, 2012

From his first semester, Jaron Hollida knew the key to his success would be getting involved on campus.

“I didn’t know anyone when I came here. I was three hours from home,” says the Martinsburg native. “I joined clubs and instantly made the right group of friends. Involve yourself in clubs. Getting involved adds to what you learn and helps you build more independence. Getting involved keeps you busy and out of trouble. A lot of opportunities, like internships, come with being involved.”

Hollida, a Civil Engineering Technology major, is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter and has helped with its regional championship Concrete Canoe Team for two years.

“Working on the concrete canoe is hands-on, a real project to design. I like that,” he says.

Getting involved even led to jobs on campus. He is a lifeguard at the pool in the Falcon Center and has worked as a front desk employee there. He served as a Freshman Counselor for two years, helping new students adjust to college life as he did.

An active member of Student Government, Jaron was elected Vice President in 2011 and has had the opportunity to travel to Florida twice for training.

“Student Government is the higher leadership on campus, and I wanted to help out with community service. I’ve learned a lot about campus and, with (Student Government President) Meagan Gibson, was able to create my own community service project to help Fifth Street Park. I never thought I’d be doing something like that,” he says.

Jaron says that being involved has taught him communication skills and a lot about people in general. Today, he is not afraid to speak in front of a crowd of 300 people. More than that, getting involved in campus life helped him discover his love for engineering and land an internship. In the summers and over winter break, he works for Michael Baker Corp. in Baltimore.

“I get to go out on runways and parking lots at airports like BWI (Baltimore Washington International Airport). We just helped design a runway at a military base in Afghanistan. You learn a lot that is academic, but you learn even more going out as intern, more than what you can in a book,” he says.

Hollida hopes his internship – and all that he has learned from the people and programs of Fairmont State – will help him with his admission to graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in transportation or aviation administration.

“Faculty and staff help you to be a leader in the real world. They are always available if you have any questions about what to do after graduation,” Jaron says.

And the first key to success is getting involved.

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