A Guided Tour of Rollins Gateway

January 04, 2024

By Laura J. Cole ’04 ’08MLS

Gateway Guide Emma Gibson ’23
Photo by Scott Cook.

Our students and graduates give you a behind-the-scenes look at how your Rollins experience prepares you to pursue your purpose.

You’ll never walk alone. That’s just one of the commitments we make to you when you start your Rollins journey, but it’s probably the most important promise any college can deliver. After all, Gallup research reveals that having at least one mentor in college is the single most important factor to personal and professional success. At Rollins you’ll be surrounded by an entire community of mentors—from expert faculty and staff to successful alumni and your fellow students. To give you a sneak peek at how big a difference mentors make, we invited one of our current students and several of our graduates to walk you through Rollins Gateway, our signature approach to preparing students to pursue their purpose.

Emma Gibson ’23, Gateway Guide
Emma Gibson ’23, Gateway Guide. Major: Psychology.Photo by Scott Cook.

Emma’s Guide to Rollins Gateway

As a Gateway Guide, I help new Tars chart their path through Rollins by drawing on all of the knowledge and skills I’ve developed during my four years on America’s most beautiful campus. Basically, my job is to help make sure your Rollins Gateway is as life-changing and career-defining as mine has been. So follow me on this tour of my Rollins Gateway and start picturing what your life’s greatest adventure will look like.

Future-Proof Foundation

Coming out of high school, I was the student who was like, “I want to get right into my major,” but I’m so glad Rollins’ unique approach to the liberal arts encouraged me to take the time to explore. In addition to my psych courses, I took classes in communication, political science, philosophy, business—all of these different disciplines that I never would’ve considered on my own. That’s what a Rollins education is all about. It doesn’t just prepare you for one job—it helps you discover fields you didn’t even know existed and gets you ready to thrive in whatever path you fall in love with.

Liberal Arts in Action

At Rollins, you get so many opportunities to take what you’re learning in class and build on that through experiences like internships, studying abroad, community service, and student clubs. I came in as a first-year focused just on academics, but I quickly realized there is this whole other side to my education that is just as important. I got to explore the roots of psychotherapy during a field study in Vienna and London; I learned to lead through my role as vice president in Fraternity and Sorority Life; and I’ve honed my analytical and writing skills through a collaborative research project in behavioral neuroscience. Now I’m applying everything I’ve learned in my paid internship with a local counseling practice. These experiences helped me understand what I want to do and gave me the confidence that I’ll find success in what I choose to do next.

Meaningful Mentorship

The most impactful thing for me at Rollins are the people who have acted as mentors. At Rollins, you’ll really find mentors everywhere you look. I have a dedicated faculty advisor as well as a thesis advisor who have been important mentors for me, but because Rollins classes are so small, you really get to develop meaningful relationships with all of your professors. Staff helped me land my internship, and my work-study supervisors helped guide me and make meaning of my journey. Some of my most important mentors have actually been my friends and classmates. It’s so valuable to get advice from someone who was in your shoes just a few years ago. That’s one of the reasons I love being a Gateway Guide—I get to pass on everything I’ve learned and help guide new Tars on their own journeys.

Keep Exploring

It’s impossible to capture the richness of the Rollins experience through any one Tar’s story. That’s why we’ve enlisted a handful of Rollins grads to do a deeper dive into each piece of Rollins Gateway and show you how it made the difference in their meaningful lives and purpose-driven careers.

Rollins alum Jacob Battad ’18
Jacob Battad ’18 majored in physics at Rollins and is now a strategy, planning, and integration manager at Disney.Photo by Scott Cook.

A Future-Proof Foundation

Your pathway to purpose is rooted in Rollins’ innovative interdisciplinary approach to education. Think about it as a future-proof foundation because you’ll build knowledge and tools that are designed to stand the test of time. You’ll develop 21st-century skills like complex problem-solving, analytical thinking, and collaborative teamwork that will prepare you to thrive no matter what the future throws at you.

Just ask Jacob Battad ’18, a physics major who is helping craft next-generation customer experiences as a strategy, planning and integration manager at Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products. While majoring in physics may not seem like the most likely path to a marketing career at one of the world’s largest entertainment companies, Battad credits his liberal arts education for arming him with the analytical tools and big-picture thinking to see solutions others don’t.

“My professors were instrumental in teaching me to see the bigger picture that all the data we collected was presenting and how to interpret scientific concepts for a layperson,” says Battad. “I apply those same concepts to seeing the bigger picture and creating a narrative around engagement rates, analytics, and revenue for anyone to understand.”

Rollins Results

See how a few more recent Rollins grads are using their future-proof foundations not only to succeed today but also help create a brighter tomorrow.

Parker Magness ’18
Photo by Scott Cook.

“My Rollins education provided the space and means to take up multiple interests and therefore multiple skill sets. Developing a specialization is valuable and important, but having multiple expertises and perspectives will not only aid in long-term career growth and adaptability, but it makes all of it that much more fun and interesting.”
Parker Magness ’18, Membership and Network Manager, Newlab
Major: International business

Isaac Gorres ’21
Photo by Scott Cook.

“One of the things I love most about my liberal arts education is that I feel prepared for wherever my life or career may take me. Rollins gave me a level of preparedness with my writing skills, my interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving, and my ability to pursue experimental design that has given me an advantage over my peers in graduate school.”
Isaac Gorres ’21, MSc Candidate, Radboud University
Majors: Art history and biochemistry/molecular biology

Mariam Tabrez ’18
Photo by Scott Cook.

“Going to Rollins and having a liberal arts education made me a well-rounded student, and taking classes across a range of disciplines taught me to fall in love with learning. My double majors exposed me to scientific methods and social-science thinking, which prepared me to read and understand the law—a very time-consuming endeavor—a lot quicker.
Mariam Tabrez ’18, Product Security Strategy Lead, Meta
Majors: Political science and psychology

Rollins alum Nicole Hall-Elser ’18
Nicole Hall-Elser ’18 (center) majored in social entrepreneurship and is now a business design strategist at Duke Energy.Photo by Scott Cook.

Liberal Arts in Action

Throughout your journey at Rollins, you’ll have ample opportunity to put your education into action. From internships and study abroad to collaborative research and community service, you’ll expand your interests, deepen your knowledge, and hone your skills through an array of real-world endeavors. Along the way, you’ll develop the kind of experience that hiring managers and graduate schools demand.

For proof, look no further than Nicole Hall-Elser ’18. As a business design strategist for Duke Energy’s innovation technology group, Hall-Elser is using the design-thinking skills and business acumen that she acquired at Rollins to drive digital transformation at Duke with the goal of delivering cleaner energy systems.

As a student, the social entrepreneurship major took advantage of numerous opportunities to sharpen her skills outside the classroom. She was an ambassador in the Social Impact Hub, a creative space on campus that gives student entrepreneurs tools to address local and global issues. She was president of Net Impact, a student-run club focused on social and environmental change. And she co-founded BatterEASE, a startup that upcycled batteries to bring sustainable power to developing areas. Hall-Elser and her BatterEASE co-founders advanced to the finals of the Hult Prize, a global competition that challenges students to tackle the planet’s most pressing problems.

“More than anything, that experience taught me that I could change the world,” says Hall-Elser. “I had it within me to do the thing that I thought was impossible, and it was my responsibility as a young person to change the pace of things. It instilled a lot of creative and professional confidence in me—and led to a recruiter from Duke reaching out to me on LinkedIn encouraging me to apply for my current position.”

Rollins Results

Find out how other Tars parlayed real-world experiences during college into real-world success after graduation.

Michael Gutensohn ’18
Photo by Scott Cook.

“Through a series of internships at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and Kennedy Space Center, I learned to work independently and was able to delve deeper into computer vision work, data visualization, and authentication services—areas that laid the foundation for grad school and my career.”
Michael Gutensohn ’18, AR/VR Software Engineer, Apple
Major: Computer science

Emory O’Malley ’21
Photo by Scott Cook.

“Doing undergraduate research with [English Professor] Paul Reich helped me develop the editorial experience and project management skills needed to thrive in my role as an editorial specialist. I loved what I did at Rollins, and it prepared me to find a job that lets me love what I do now.”
Emory O’Malley ’21, Editorial Specialist, Purple Carrot
Major: English

Skylar Knight ’19
Photo by Scott Cook.

“Serving with local nonprofits through the Bonner Leaders Program, spearheading the Democracy Project, and researching the impact of electoral rules on voters’ behaviors all helped me demonstrate leadership, foster teamwork, and set goals that enabled me to secure a Presidential Management Fellowship, which is allowing me to positively change our government.”
Skylar Knight ’19, Management and Program Analyst, U.S. Department of the Treasury
Majors: Political science and philosophy

Rollins alum Francisco Wang ’22
Francisco Wang ’22 majored in international business, minored in art history, and is now pursuing a master’s of philosophy (MPhil) in strategy, marketing, and operations at the University of Cambridge.Photo by Scott Cook.

Mentorship, Mastered

Along your journey at Rollins, you’ll encounter a community of mentors—ranging from faculty and staff to fellow students and alumni—who will help guide you along your path and present new avenues to realize your purpose. That is by design. According to Gallup research, graduates who had a professor who cared about them as a person, made them more excited about learning, and encouraged their dreams were twice as likely to thrive in their lives and careers.

Take Francisco Wang ’22, for example. The international business major first met marketing professor Raghabendra KC ’13 during a class his senior year. KC was sharing his research, and Wang wanted to do his senior thesis on a similar topic, so he reached out to ask if he’d work with him. That one encounter radically changed Wang’s trajectory.

“At the start of my senior year, I planned on applying to jobs, not grad school,” says Wang. “I certainly didn’t think I’d be here at Cambridge University, but KC made me passionate about research and said I should consider Cambridge, where he completed his master’s and PhD. I’m actually working with his former PhD supervisor on pricing and topics that KC worked on during grad school, and we still talk regularly about our lives and our research.”

Rollins Results

Explore how mentorship served as the catalyst for these Rollins grads’ success on the world stage.

Ryo Hasegawa ’19

“If I didn’t take [music professor] John Sinclair’s class, Basic Conducting, during my first semester at Rollins, I wouldn’t be who I am today. When facing challenges in my career, I always go back to one of the times he encouraged me, which helps me to keep trying with the talent he pulled out of me.”
Ryo Hasegawa ’19, Assistant Conductor, Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra and Peabody Concert Orchestra
Major: Music

Abdiel Martinez ’22
Photo by Scott Cook.

“[Business professor] Richard Lewin was instrumental in leading me to my current position. Not only did he teach me so much during an independent study about technical analysis—which is what I do now—but he spent weeks preparing me for my interview with Citi to make sure I was prepared for any question they might ask.”
Abdiel Martinez ’22, FXTechnicals Analyst, Citi
Major: International business

Izadora Correa Bongiolo ’22

“I met Luke Brown ’05MBA through Rollins’ Women in Finance program, and after we talked about my career goals for a while, he suggested I apply to his company. He even put in a good word with my current supervisor, which encouraged her to interview me and helped me land the job.”
Izadora Correa Bongiolo ’22, Market Data Specialist, Intercontinental Exchange
Major: Economics

A visual representation of a student's journey through Rollins Gateway, from study abroad experiences to original research opportunities.

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