20. May 2013 16:25
“I gained my personality from my parents,” said Mihai Schnell-Harrison, the new District Student Ambassador at Moraine Park Technical College. “They taught me to be outgoing and give back to community. It makes me happier helping other people; it helps me emotionally and spiritually.”
Adopted from Romania as a four-year-old, Schnell-Harrison, of Ripon, strives to lead by example. Even as an elementary student, he served as student body president – always exuding his unique and outgoing gusto for involvement. Schnell-Harrison, a graduate of Wayland Academy, a private preparatory school in Beaver Dam, is a first-year student pursuing a Moraine Park associate of applied science degree in Business Management and Supervision.
He was nominated for District Student Ambassador this spring, after which he underwent an intensive selection and interview process. While all the nominees were highly deserving of the post, Schnell-Harrison’s history and personality stood out – making him special, according to Scott Lieburn, dean of students.
“Mihai, who is professional, polite and engaging, also holds a college preparatory background,” said Lieburn. “It’s rare for a graduate of Wayland Academy to seek a technical education over a four-year education. Yet, Mihai felt a technical education would benefit him personally, and simultaneously, provide him an affordable path for lifelong learning.”
As a high school graduate from Wayland Academy, Schnell-Harrison is among a minority of students from his alma mater not to immediately pursue a four-year degree. “I wanted to do what was best for me,” he said. “It’s a hard thing for people to step back and look at all their options.”
As District Student Ambassador, Schnell-Harrison is charged with promoting technical education throughout Moraine Park’s district – spreading the word about its many benefits. Additionally, he will collaborate with student government and assist with college activities and events.
“A technical education isn’t just for the older generation,” said Schnell-Harrison. Enrollment is shifting to a younger demographic; technical colleges offer great hands-on learning opportunities and the chance to study core subjects sooner; and they provide clear and simple pathways for graduates to transfer to four-year colleges and universities, according to Schnell-Harrison. “It’s less expensive and there are always ways to continue education further once you graduate,” he said.
And that’s important to Schnell-Harrison, who plans to move into the workforce following graduation, and thereafter pursue both bachelor and master’s degrees. “I’m looking at going into an insurance or management position after receiving my associate’s degree,” he said.
For Schnell-Harrison, a technical education was the right choice. “A lot of people just don’t have the correct perception of what a technical education offers,” he said. “My goal is to show the community its many benefits. I fully believe there are more opportunities and connections for jobs and internships as a graduate of Moraine Park, when compared with most four-year colleges,” he added.
Personally, Schnell-Harrison said he chose Moraine Park because it got him right into the meat of the business management core courses without having to take classes over from high school. “I wanted to get experience in what I wanted to do and go out to the workforce. When I transfer to a four-year college, I will start at the two-year level. I’ll end up with two degrees – a bachelor’s and associate’s – both of which will emphasize my career choice.”
By fulfilling the role of District Student Ambassador, Schnell-Harrison hopes to spread the good word about a Wisconsin technical college education, and in so doing, help educate others.
“A big thing in my life is giving back to other people,” he said. "I think a lot of people lose sight of that once in a while.”
Learn more about Moraine Park at morainepark.edu.