Three alumni find new directions for their careers after transferring to UNT
Laura Rusnok ('10) found the pathway to her lifelong dream while walking the corridors at UNT.
The business major bumped into Jeff Sager, professor of marketing and business, and he commented about the airplane logo on her T-shirt.
Rusnok said she was interested in aviation – she wanted to be a pilot since she was 14 – and Sager suggested that she pursue UNT's new aviation logistics degree. Rusnok took his advice and became the first person to graduate with that major. She now works as an underwriter at Phoenix Aviation Managers in Dallas.
“You could either classify it as divine providence or sheer dumb luck,” she says of the incident.
Rusnok had transferred from Tarrant County College – one of 3,500 transfer students who come to UNT each year. While many transfer students know their major, other transfer students find a new direction in their career thanks to UNT's classes and faculty.
Rusnok, for example, has considered other four-year colleges with aviation programs, but they had been too expensive for her.
“UNT worked out better because they were creating their own aviation program,” she says.
Art of the Matter
UNT does everything it can to make the transfer process go as smoothly as possible.
Prospective students can take transfer tours specifically tailored for them. UNT participates in the Texas Common Course Numbering System, making it easy to transfer courses. Transfer advisors help students by providing advice and answering any questions. Once the students are on campus, students can receive help from the UNT Transfer Center.
But alumni also credit UNT's faculty members for steering them into successful careers. Jessica Weiss ('02), for instance, changed her career goals when she transferred to UNT from Collin College in spring 2001.
She majored in art history with the intent to go to medical school, figuring the art classes would stand out from the usual biology and chemistry majors.
Then she took the Sex and the Renaissance class with Kelly Donahue-Wallace, associate professor of art education and art history. In this graduate level seminar class, she and her 10 classmates debated the images of the gods and nudes during this time period.
“I liked art history so much and that's what I studied in school ever since,” she says.
After she graduated from UNT in 2002, she earned her master's degree in art at Southern Methodist University. She expects to complete her doctorate in art history this spring at the University of Texas at Austin. She hopes to work as an art history professor.
Banker Bryan Milner ('00) knew his career plans when he came to UNT in the spring of 1999. But his teachers guided him to the right jobs.
He had gone to the University of Texas at Austin in the early 1990s, then took time off to play guitar professionally. He also was buying and selling vintage guitars – and he soon became more intrigued with the business aspects than the guitars themselves.
He went to Tyler Junior College, then transferred to UNT, choosing it over other major universities after he met the head of the UNT's finance department.
“I just got a better feeling from the folks at UNT,” he says, noting the teachers seemed to be more engaged with teaching.
As he approached graduation, he had several job interviews – all of them set up by his professors, including the late Foster Roden – and landed his first job at Mary Kay cosmetics. He earned his master's of business administration degree in 2004 and now serves as vice president of Loan Originations at Wells Fargo Capital Finance, where he oversees loans from $30 million to $5 billion in a four-state region.
Like Milner, Rusnok now works in her chosen field thanks to her education at UNT.
After graduation, she landed a job as an aviation insurance underwriter at Phoenix Aviation Managers, where she examines insurance risks of commercial and corporate aircraft. She travels around the country – sometimes piloting the company's plane herself - to visit brokers and determine whether to insure aircraft.
Through her education at UNT, she learned the basics and specific vocabulary of the Federal Aviation Administration, how an airline operates and how cargo operators work.
She's grateful she attended UNT, which she chose for its well-regarded business program, location and affordable costs.
“I really think going to a community college and then transferring was one of the best financial decisions I could have ever made,” she says.