My Wartburg experiences prepared me for life after college

Britney Ross

NAME: Britney Hermsen Ross
MAJOR: Psychology and sociology 
CURRENT EMPLOYMENT: Senior marketing manager, McGraw-Hill Education

WHY WARTBURG: When I was looking at colleges, my decision ultimately came down to: ‘what felt like home?’ and ‘was it the right fit for me?’. I wanted somewhere that was small enough I would be known by name but big enough to have new experiences and opportunities. Wartburg was the perfect size for me. From my first step on campus while visiting, I just felt like I belonged there. The people were incredibly friendly and inviting, the opportunities were vast, and let’s be serious, there were skywalks for those miserable winter days! All kidding aside, it just felt like I belonged!

HOW DID YOUR WARTBURG EXPERIENCE PREPARE YOU FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE: Every single experience at Wartburg prepared me for life after college. The good times, the challenging times, the in-between times: every single experience. Whether it was in or out of the classroom, Wartburg prepared me for getting a job immediately upon graduation and how to be a professional, but also how to be independent and live on my own.

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU NEVER IMAGINED YOU COULD DO BEFORE COMING TO WARTBURG: Prior to coming to Wartburg, I would have never imagined that a few years after graduation I’d have a bucket list goal to run a half marathon or full marathon in all 50 states! I still have a ways to go until I complete the goal, but I definitely believe Wartburg helped instill a curious and adventurous mindset through my experiences there that made me want to combine my love for travel and running! Who knew?!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WARTBURG TRADITION: So many things could be mentioned here! The first tradition that came to mind was Outfly. but as I thought about it, May Term is definitely my favorite Wartburg tradition! The reason? May Term is a time to expand your horizons and take a class that allows you to travel, try something out of your comfort zone, or dig deeper into an area you already love. My past May Terms are where so many of my favorite Wartburg memories were made with some of my best friends yet today! I highly encourage every Wartburg student to push beyond their comfort zone with their May Term class choices and travel outside of the state or country during at LEAST one May Term!

HOW DO YOU STAY CONNECTED TO THE COLLEGE: I stay connected to the college through spreading my love and stories with future potential students, staying in touch with my favorite instructors and staff, and following closely along with what is happening on campus as best I can!

HOW ARE YOU LIVING OUT THE WARTBURG MISSION: I am living out the Wartburg mission through my lifelong love of learning and desire to lead through service. Since leaving Wartburg, I have continued my education through the completion of two master’s degrees: Master of Organizational Leadership and Master of Business Administration. Wartburg truly instilled an appreciation of education in me, and I constantly am looking for more opportunities to learn. In regards to leadership and service, I have worked hard to establish myself as a leader in my community and have used my love for running and female empowerment for this endeavor. I have led a few projects in the Dubuque, Iowa, area over the past few years encouraging young girls to run. My first project was through an 8-week running program I led for 31 girls, in 2nd-6th grades, where we met twice per week and held a celebratory 5k at the end of the program. This project was much less about running and more about instilling self-esteem and confidence in the girls while reducing stress through exercise just as an added bonus!

My latest leadership project has been in the collection of used female running shoes still in good shape to get on the feet of women in the community who could not afford a pair of their own. Over the course of three months, I was able to collect 137 pairs of running shoes in great condition and partnered with a nonprofit to get them to women who wanted to start running to reduce stress. It was amazing to see firsthand how the community came together to help. This all circles back to my time at Wartburg and the leadership and service skills I strengthened while attending.

WHY WAS YOUR WARTBURG EXPERIENCE WORTH IT: My Wartburg experience was ‘worth it’ because I truly filled my time and made the most of every opportunity I could. I was involved in athletics, worked in Admissions, had two majors and two minors, and met some of my favorite people who have helped shape me into who I am today. I am SO grateful for the variety of classes I was required to take while earning a liberal arts degree. Each class not only prepared me for my future jobs, but also for life in general. If I had to sum up why Wartburg was ‘worth it,’ it is because it truly made me a well-rounded leader, learner, employee, and friend.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR CURRENT STUDENTS: My advice for current students is to SLOW DOWN and reflect in order to move forward. Think about all you’ve accomplished thus far in your time there but more importantly what you want to get out of your time that is left. SEIZE the opportunity that you have in front of you by getting involved, meeting new people, and stretching your own limits. Don’t graduate with the regret of wondering what could have been, make the most of each opportunity!