Cornerstone Graduate Honored by the Michigan Career Educator & Employer Alliance
by Danielle Barton (B.A. ’19)
On Wednesday, June 13, Cornerstone University alumna Ciara Wilke (B.A. ’17), a past recipient of the President's Award, was recognized by the Michigan Career Educator & Employer Alliance for her entry in one of their annual essay contests. Ciara was selected as the winner of the New Graduate Essay Contest award. She is the second consecutive Cornerstone graduate to receive this award.
Ciara earned her bachelor's degree in biology with a minor in chemistry during her time at CU. As an undergraduate student, she was involved in many extracurricular activities. Not only was she a member of the varsity softball team, but she also served as a Terra Firma leader, resident assistant, tutor, lab assistant and a peer adviser for the Kinesiology, Science, Engineering & Mathematics Division.
"Whether Ciara was assisting others in a biology lab, leading on the softball field, serving her peers with their career and academic planning questions as a LifePath peer adviser, counseling as a RA in the residence halls or volunteering in the local community, she stewarded her time and resources for her career planning in exceptional ways," explained Jason Clayton, dean of Career and Life Calling.
After her time at Cornerstone, Ciara began graduate studies at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. She plans to graduate in 2021 with a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) and hopes to begin practicing dentistry and serving the West Michigan area soon after.
"Ciara's personification of servant leadership, purposeful and intentional persistence toward her calling to the dental profession and commitment to ongoing personal and professional development are just a few of the reasons she has been chosen for the 2018 Michigan Career Educator & Employer Alliance New Graduate Award," Clayton said.
Ciara's award-winning essay reflected on her time at Cornerstone and how the staff and faculty, especially the university's Center for Career and Life Calling team, impacted the development of her own career. Specifically, Ciara focused on the influence of Dr. Ned Keller, professor of science and kinesiology; Anne Gaertner, director of employer relations and internships; and Jason Clayton.
In her essay, Ciara wrote,
As I look back and reflect upon my time at Cornerstone University, I could not be more grateful for the individuals that poured into me consistently throughout the four years there. With the advice, guidance and investment of individuals like Jason Clayton, Anne Gaertner and Dr. Keller, I was able to take one more step in reaching my goal of becoming a dentist. I am now a dental student at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry but hold tightly to the experiences I had while at Cornerstone. The words of encouragement given, the values and principles learned, and memories made at Cornerstone have had such a big impact on who I am today. It is my hope that those principles learned while at Cornerstone continue to shine through in my developing career as I engage with classmates, colleagues and patients.
As she continues her education, Ciara's desire to use her skills to serve others burns brightly within her. Through her future career in dentistry, she aims to serve the community around her, making sure that she shares God's joy, peace and love with each person she encounters.