WMU: The best decision I ever made

When your sister has been by your side for as long as you can remember, leaving for college can be a big transition. This was the case for Christina Pehlis, who journeyed to WMU with her best friend Holly Morris, but had to say goodbye to her sister Emily Pehlis, who was finishing her senior year of high school. Fast-forward two years later to both sisters attending WMU to study finance.

Emily and Christina Pehlis sitting at conference tableNow, Christina is starting a full-time position at MassMutual Great Lakes, and Emily is interning there this summer—these sisters share a love of numbers, and a love of WMU.

When Christina Pehlis started her academic career, she grew through programs like the Student Professional Readiness Series (SPuRS) and exploring her options in academic advising. “SPuRS helped me with career readiness by getting me involved in activities and networking outside the classroom; these activities advanced my professionalism by putting me in situations where I was not always comfortable. Additionally, academic advisors, like Betsy Drummer, made me feel like my voice was heard and answered my questions.”

The support Christina received from professors also made her listened to and valued. “There are multiple faculty members that have helped me achieve success. My Applying Business Fundamentals instructor, Bonnie Gabriel, encouraged me to find internal motivation, letting me know that I achieved the most points among all her students in three sections of the course. Dr. Cari Burke noticed my excellent scores in her classes and asked me to join the Accounting Club. In addition to that, she made me feel remembered by approaching me outside the classroom to chat in the hallways. Lastly, during finals week this year, Dr. Onur Arugaslan, congratulated me on graduating and landing a position at MassMutual Great Lakes. These professors made me feel noticed and proud of myself for my achievements.”

Faculty and staff who care and listen were a big part of the reason why Emily Pehlis transferred to WMU. Deciding that she was going to discontinue playing collegiate soccer, which she had earned a scholarship for, Emily wanted to find a school that would nurture her growth as a student and professional. Knowing the great experience that Christina was having prompted her to look into whether WMU could be a fit for her. Skeptical at first that she and her sister would both find their best fit at WMU, she then considered how much they have in common—and all the opportunities her sister had access to through WMU Haworth.

Emily and Christina Pehlis standing together in preschool“My Business Finance course has been my most challenging course to date but also my favorite, says Emily. “Dr. Jamie Weathers is an excellent teacher and showed understanding of her students' learning processes. Whenever I had a question, she would be thrilled to answer and help me understand the material I was questioning.” 

Emily also found accountancy faculty member, Dr. Cari Burke, and her advisor, Dr. Colleen Stano, to be key mentors in her professional exploration.

For Christina, this final year has been the best of her WMU career, “My last year of college was my favorite year at WMU because I got the opportunity to live with my sister, my best friend Holly, and three other amazing roommates—Brooke Gibbons, Emily Dahl, and Victoria Kyriakopoulos—which was the best house dynamic I could ever wish for. Having a piece of home while away helped me stay balanced, supported, loved and motivated, especially when things got tough. Sharing a college experience with my sister made things like grocery shopping, parent weekends, carpooling home and attending WMU a more enjoyable experience. WMU has changed my life and accelerated my growth; attending the college of business was the best decision I have ever made.”

For Emily, the ability to continue to share experiences with her sister in the same field throughout their lives is exciting, and she is grateful for the choice she made to attend the Haworth College of Business. “This has been one of the best decisions of my life, and I would not change a thing. I have met the most amazing people, and I have evolved so much. I am already sad to leave when I graduate in December 2022.”