Alumni in Action

Mari Prauer

College Counseling Fellow

Mari Prauer
Class of 2013
Major: International Business
Minors: Spanish, Anthropology
Where are you now and what are you doing?

I am currently living in Thessaloniki, Greece serving as the College Counseling Fellow at Anatolia College. Anatolia is a private school for students ages 4-18. I am currently working with the juniors and seniors who are interested in attending college in the United States, assisting with the admissions process.

What does your job entail and how has your Eckerd experience impacted your career?

I work directly with juniors and seniors teaching them about the college selection process, how to properly present yourself to an admissions counselor, how to prepare an impressive application, and anything in-between. As the former President of the Student Ambassador Program, I was given insight into the whole admissions process from both the students point of view as well as the admissions side.

My Eckerd experience draws into my job every single day. I gained both leadership experience and cultural awareness through both on campus activities and study abroad programs. Not only does my job allow me to continuously talk about Eckerd but it has taught me that choosing the right college is of the utmost importance.

What unique or special opportunities did your Eckerd education provide and how have they impacted your life?

I accredit my love for cultural understanding to a research opportunity I had during my junior year at Eckerd. From the first day of fall semester freshman year, I knew about this trip and made it a point to participate in it. During winter term of my junior year, I was fortunate enough to participate and be a lead researcher in Professors Morris Shapero and Hong Gu's cultural research trip to China. Meeting with over 15 multinational corporations and top executives from those companies gave me insight into what it is like to work abroad. Not only did this trip result in published research but also a broader network of contacts and a true cultural awareness of what it is like to live abroad. Through all of my study abroad trips I have gained a true love for living in other countries and experiencing how each culture lives.

Describe some of your best memories or favorite traditions from your time at Eckerd.

Aside from the on-campus community and involvement on the weekends (specifically in Nu and Omega), the drag show, yellow bike rides at sunset, Relay for Life, sporting events, St. Pete Beach on Saturdays, Saturday Morning Market, and while it is one of the saddest moments of my time at Eckerd, graduation was one of the most beautiful days of my experience. However, one tradition that sticks with me still is one that my best friend and I created. We made it a point to go out to brunch every Sunday at a different restaurant on the beach or in downtown. Towards the end, we picked our favorites and were well known by the waitresses and owners at 2 specific restaurants.

What makes Eckerd so special or why does it stand out to you as a great college? What does it mean to you now that you have been away for awhile?

Eckerd is special because of so many things. It attracts a certain kind of student; a caring, outgoing, adventurous, kind, giving, and overall bright student. It is so special because the professors care and want to take you home to their families for a Friday night dinner or because they want to do independent research with you or even because they want to have a coffee with you outside of class. Now that I have been away for a while, Eckerd still is part of my life every day. My best friends came as a result of Eckerd. The constant connection with current students and faculty proves to me how much of a true community Eckerd is. Knowing that I have such an amazing support system as a result of Eckerd allows me to feel comfortable wherever I am and encourages me to take risks and continue learning.

Describe some of the people who had a profound impact on your Eckerd experience.

I can truly say that almost everyone I cam in contact with at Eckerd had an impact on me in one way or another. However, there are a few faculty and professors that still play a role in my life. First off, Professor Morris Shapero encouraged me beyond my comfort zone from day 1. Although he was not my academic mentor, I saw him and still do view him as my life mentor. Through extensive life talks and academic experiences, Professor Shapero was able to give me the confidence to do what I wanted to do. He also was the one to encourage me to join him in his research trip to China and gave me the experience of a lead researcher. I have never met a man more knowledgeable and passionate about the work he does which really translates into his classroom allowing for everyday learning.

Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, also from day 1, taught me leadership skills, how to live away from home, and invited me into his family on numerous occasions. From taking me on my first abroad experience of college to Israel to pushing me to help create something that has skyrocketed as a great Hillel program. There is not a time throughout my college career that Rabbi Ed was not there for me for academic support, to get a coffee and talk about life, or to push me to do more than I knew I had the potential for.

From a non-academic standpoint, April Crabtree has also pushed me outside of what I knew I was capable of. Helping me through tough transitions and encouraging personal growth, I have grown to be who I am because of life skills she taught me. She also presented me with the current experience I have right now, working in Greece, and supported me throughout the entire process.

Another experience I had at Eckerd which inspired me from the moment I knew it was available until this point in my life, is taking class with Dr. Elie Wiesel. He was the most powerful professor I have ever had and I use everything he taught me in the winter term class he teaches to my advantage. Not only is he a soft-spoken man with an incredible story but he is a compassionate, caring, and motivational man that encourages life long learning and for everyone to chase their dreams.

Are there core Eckerd values you see in most Eckerd students and graduates?

The core values I feel are most commonly shown in the Eckerd community are global and cultural awareness, respect, individualism, curiosity, adventurous, caring, and connected.

What activities were you involved in while at Eckerd and did they influence what you are involved in now?

I was the President of Hillel for 2 years, a Student Ambassador for 3 years and then the President of the Student Ambassador program for 1 1/2 years and a student interviewer in the admissions office. These activities allowed me to explore different leadership positions and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone in order to help make someone else's life better in even the smallest way. They also made me face difficult situations and taught me how to overcome obstacles and learn something from everything.

Why did you choose Eckerd? What advice would you give students who are considering Eckerd?

I chose Eckerd because it felt right. The moment I stepped onto that campus during my tour, met with a professor, and had an interview, I gave my deposit. There was just a feeling of comfort I could not explain. My biggest piece of advice is to visit the campus and take advantage of every opportunity given. Eckerd has a true charm to it that ignites a spark in you. It's hard to choose just one school from almost 4,000 to choose from but the only true way to know if it's a right fit is to go to a class, eat lunch with a student, take a tour, explore the surrounding area on your own, and heavily research the benefits of an Eckerd education.

Using 5 words or fewer complete this sentence: Eckerd is…

an exhilarating adventure!

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