Students sacrifice sleep for success

By Nik Heftman

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Most human beings need sleep, air, and water as basic means of survival. Meredith Kestel, junior in journalism and mass communications, requires nothing more than four cups of coffee and her own ambitions.

“I try to get as much sleep as I can, but I usually don’t,” said Kestel. “I feel like if I work really hard now and burn myself out it’ll get me a really cool job.”

Kestel is the co-editor-in-chief of Ethos Magazine. She also does production for ISUtv, as well as behind the scenes work for Cyclones.tv. When she’s not on campus, Kestel can be found at a local wedding as a commissioned photographer or at a local concert snapping photos for Ethos. Kestel supports herself through a part time job as a barista for the Vinyl Café located in downtown Ames.

“It adds up,” said Kestel, “but [extracurriculars] are going to stick out on your resume.”

To top off her list of activities, Kestel is an ambassador for Iowa State’s Greenlee School of Journalism.

Relying on three shots of espresso a day, Kestel tackles this laundry list of responsibilities while being enrolled into 15 credit hours of coursework at Iowa State.

“I could definitely spend more time towards my school work,” said Kestel, “but it’s just hard with all of the stuff I’m doing. I put academics on kind of a back burner.”

Born and raised in a small town in northwest Iowa, Kestel came from a family of scientists. It wasn’t until she came to Iowa State that Kestel felt comfortable pursuing her secret passion for photography and production.

“I’ve always loved production,” said Kestel. “Work doesn’t feel like actual ‘work’ to me.”

For students like Gabriella Ramos, academic advisor for Aerospace Engineering, being active on campus gives them a sense of belonging.

“It’s hard being a minority in a predominantly white institution,” said Ramos, who graduated with her bachelor’s from the University of Iowa and her master’s from Iowa State. “Working at the University of Iowa gave me a sense of belonging that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.”

During her undergrad years, Ramos took on three jobs, totally a workload of 60 hours a week added on to her coursework.

“I wasn’t really social,” said Ramos. “In my mind, I was always worried about work.”

Ramos worked in the Center for Diversity and Enrichment at the University of Iowa. She also worked as a resident and took leadership roles in several religious student organization, all while founding a Greek chapter for the Lambda Theta Nu sorority.

Though she was heavily involved on campus, Ramos was not sure about her career path until her senior year at the U of I.

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Ramos doing what she called “adulting.”

“My mentors told me that I could make a career out of what I was doing,” said Ramos. “I researched it and liked it. I said ‘Ok, why not?’.”

Ramos went on to say that she owes much of her success to her mentors at the U of I. As an advisor, she urges her students to start building a strong network as soon as when they begin their collegiate studies.

Aersopace Engineering may not have been her choice of study, but Ramos said that she is very satisfied with her new role as academic advisor. She intends to remain an Iowa State faculty member for a few years before moving to another state.

“I haven’t decided on where I want to live after this,” said Ramos. “I’ll cross that bridge once I reach it.”

Kestel’s hard work has not gone unnoticed. She’s had multiple internships, paid and unpaid, working behind a camera as both a photographer and production assistant. She will be looking to score an internship in the spring for a major company in a large city.

“I want to experience what it’s like to work in a big city,” said Kestel. “I’ve got my fingers crossed.”

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