I Once Was Lost, But Now I’m Found: MU-My Home Away From Home

by Lacey Mac Intyre

Girl scouts, guitar, dance, softball, tennis, cheerleading, theatre, lacrosse, swimming, art, piano, drums… you name it, I tried it. My parents shuttled me from swim team at the Y to drum lessons in a family friend’s basement. Dad even picked me up from girl scout camp two hours away from home at 8:30 at night because I decided to “retire” and turn in my brownie badges. I was not a wilderness girl, amateur rock star, or aspiring gymnast. I was just all over the map-changing my mind like the weather. 

Not much changed in high school. Although I did finally stick to three sports: swimming, tennis, and lacrosse. I was president of political science club and diversity club-two things I was passionate about, but did not know how to incorporate into a career path. I really liked to read and teachers told me I should consider pursuing English in college, but I did not see myself becoming the next Stephen King-authors were so boring. Besides, when I have ever taken anyone’s advice? Mom warned me I would never be a graceful ballerina, but that did not stop me from signing up for ballet classes anyway.

After landing a part-time job at a haunted house attraction as the “exorcist girl,” I finally found something I excelled at and liked. I began taking acting and modeling classes and performing in high school productions. Maybe all of the spotlight went to my head, because I eventually decided I wanted to attend NYU and major in theatre. I even went  so far as to become a vegetarian to fit in with the rest of the “thespian” clique at school. My poor parents… 

Then, along came Casey, an admissions officer from MU. She might as well have been angel sent from the heavens above to help a lost girl navigate her future.My high school career counselor and journalism teacher wanted me to reconsider my post-secondary plans. Both staff thought I had more academic potential than I realized, and my parents did not want to dish out $100,000 for me to end up in a studio apartment eating ramen noodles for the next ten years-so I guess they staged an intervention. Nothing against theatre majors, but the career outlook is grave, to say the least. Casey visited with a small group of undecided students at my high school and shared some information on MU with us. I did not want to admit that the small, rural campus appealed to me-but it did. It was far from the shiny, bright, New York City nightlife that I dreamed of, but it seemed a lot practical and less intimidating-not to mention cheaper. The school offered a political science program-and after all, I was president of political science club. 

I went home and shared the brochure packet with my father who was beyond thrilled that I was able to put New York City on the back burner for just a minute. He offered to drive me to a visitation day the very next weekend. When Saturday rolled around, we piled into the car and away we went. The drive was absolutely beautiful. When I first laid eyes on the snow-covered mountainsides, I immediately fell in love. The fresh air, wide open skies, peace, and serenity had me hooked. I was going to MU.

After checking out Greek life, I was confident there was a place for me on the MU campus. There was everything I needed, and then some. I had a learning disability in math and knew that I could get the extra one-on-one help I needed to thrive in the classroom. There was on-campus housing, plenty of outdoor activities, and a local hospital for me to work part-time at in nearby Wellsboro. I was so excited to go to MU that I actually graduated high school early to attend. My friends thought I was crazy, but I was ready to be a Mountie and no one was stopping me. For once in my life, I was actually certain about what I wanted to do with my life.

I began MU in 2009, and graduated in 2011. MU’s summer class option put me on an accelerated pathway toward graduation. My mentor, Maravene Loeschke-then MU president, helped me to earn an internship with State Representative Matthew Baker’s office. I developed a resume that I am proud of and that has helped me to gain several great jobs in a variety of fields. I was actually employed full-time a month before I graduated from MU. Shortly thereafter I enrolled in MU’s Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership program. I am three classes away from my MA, and then I plan to earn a doctoral degree. 

I am gainfully employed full-time as a Transition Services Coordinator for an inner-city charter school in Pennsylvania. We are a drop-out recovery program, also known as a second-chance school. I help a diverse group of at-risk youth transition from high school to college, the military, or the workforce. I love going to work everyday because I see so much of myself in my students. I am all too familiar with what it is like to be a teenager with no direction and/or unpractical career plans , so being able to help young people find their place in the world is such rewarding work. I have no idea where my career will take me in the future, but I know that I am off to a far better start than I ever anticipated.

I still keep in touch with Marvene Loeschke on a regular basis, and am eternally grateful for all of the wonderful staff that helped keep me in line when social life trumped my studies. I could not even begin to name everyone-but Dr. Bosworth and Dr. Rothermel immediately come to mind. Even today, although MU’s graduate program is online, I still have an extraordinary group of professors that reach out from behind their computer screens to help in anyway possible. Dr. Stevens, Dr. Bieber, and Dr. Bridgeforth are more supportive than words can even begin to express.

I have a cabin in northern PA a stone’s throw away from Mansfield, and I hope to have property there for the rest of my life. I enjoy seeing the campus continue to grow and thrive, and I know that as I come close to my second degree from MU that diploma is not the end-once a Mountie, always a Mountie. Hopefully my future son or daughter has no plans of pursuing theatre at NYU.

Thanks, Mansfield for becoming a home away from home. I would still be lost if it were not for you.

Blessings,

Lacey Mac Intyre