The pride of Mount Pleasant, Ally Schueneman ’18, is using her small town upbringing as motivation for big aspirations at NC State.
Goodnight Scholars Program: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Ally Schueneman: Growing up, I went to school with basically the same people from kindergarten to senior year – with a few exceptions, of course. There are four people within my immediate family – my mother, Amy; my father, Rodney; my older sister, Samantha; and myself. I graduated in 2014 from Mount Pleasant High School with about 190 of my fellow classmates. In my four years of high school, I was involved with various clubs, sports, and activities. Living in a small town, one of the focuses within clubs was serving our school and serving our community. I was able to serve through food ministries, bus ministries, blood drives, Science Olympiad, and even mission trips to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Coming to NC State and becoming a part of the Goodnight Scholars Program, I was happy to see endless opportunities throughout the year to volunteer with service-based groups like Habitat for Humanity. Coming into college, I had no clue what I wanted to study. All my life, I had done well with science and math which were clear indicators that engineering would be a good choice. With encouragement from my family and experience from three engineering courses in high school, I decided to attend NC State to pursue a degree in engineering. At the end of my first year, it came time to decide which discipline of engineering I wanted to study specifically. Throughout the year, as a part of our Introduction to Engineering course, we were required to go to at least three informative workshops put on by the different departments of the College of Engineering. After attending workshops for civil engineering, biomedical engineering, and industrial engineering, I decided that industrial engineering incorporated my strengths the best and provided career opportunities I was interested in.
Talk about some of your greatest accomplishments at NC State thus far.
Though involvement and having fun is important in college, the main reason that most people are there is to get an education. I have been on Dean’s List each semester that I have been at NC State, and currently maintain a perfect GPA. In addition to being a recipient of the Goodnight Scholarship, I received the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Scholarship during my freshman year and I found out last summer that I was awarded the Edward P. Fitts Scholarship in Industrial Engineering for my junior year. Academic excellence within your small town high school is one thing, but being a recipient of such honorable, competitive awards at a university level is extremely fulfilling! I also was selected by the InterTEXTS Editorial Team to have one of my annotated bibliographies published in this year’s edition of our student anthology, InterTEXTS.
While getting good grades shows your understanding of your degree, actually applying your knowledge in a job setting demonstrates your mastery of the field. Last summer, I had the opportunity to work in Athens, Georgia as a Supply Chain Planning Analyst Intern for Caterpillar Building Construction Products Division. Going into your first “real” engineering job can be stressful, especially when you have only taken a handful of actual engineering courses, but that internship gave me firsthand experience with several projects and allowed me see what my future career could possibly look like.
While getting good grades shows your understanding of your degree, actually applying your knowledge in a job setting demonstrates your mastery of the field.
How would you describe your experience in the Goodnight Scholars Program?
The Goodnight Scholars Program is awesome. There is no other way to put it! When I first received an email about applying for the Goodnight Scholarship, I was excited. Who wouldn’t be?! Researching the scholarship further, I found out that the scholarship covered tuition and a few others things, which was more than most of the other scholarships I had applied for. When I found out that I was selected as a recipient and that the scholarship had increased to nearly a full-ride, I could not believe it! Having someone just give you that much money was surreal. For the rest of my senior year and into the following summer, I was excited about the Goodnight Scholarship because I knew that I would likely come out of college debt-free.
When I attended the Goodnight Scholars Summer Retreat during my first-year, I got a glimpse into what is actually offered through this Program. Being a Goodnight Scholar is so much more than receiving an incredible donation towards your education costs. Being a Goodnight Scholar opens up opportunities for friendship, personal growth, professional growth, cultural activities, and travel. Within my first three days as a Goodnight Scholar, we ate lunch in the Chancellor’s Suite at Carter-Finley Stadium, my team lost miserably in a cardboard canoe race across a pool at SAS, and we went on a campus-wide scavenger hunt to get acclimated to our new home! While financial assistance is a benefit from this Program, there are so many other opportunities that come along with it. It would be ludicrous not to take advantage of things like a Resume Jam and Career Fair Etiquette workshop, dinners with an astronaut or former governor, tickets to a hockey game, and trips to Boston, Massachusetts. Never in high school did I imagine that I would get to meet such prominent professionals or get behind-the-scenes access into some companies. Everyone says that you should make the most of your time in college, and I feel like the Goodnight Scholars Program has allowed me to go above and beyond my collegiate expectations and limitations.
What does being a Goodnight Scholar mean to you?
While maintaining academic excellence is a requirement to be in the Goodnight Scholars Program, intellectual capacity is rarely the first thing that comes to mind when discussing my fellow Goodnight Scholars. One of our focuses in the Goodnight Scholars Program is to “Pay it Forward.” Thanks to the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Goodnight, and the continued hard work of the Program staff, we have the opportunity to grow as leaders and to serve our community in various ways and locations across North Carolina. The Goodnight Scholars Program is an investment into our untapped potential, so I strive to get the most out of each of the experiences that I have available, and to share what I learn with those around me.
What will the next few years look like for you?
I am sure that you have heard at least a few hundred times the phrase “you can be anything you want to be.” I too have been told that my options are endless, so I have taken the opportunity to carefully construct my career plans since I was in elementary school. First, I wanted to be a teacher. After having some fantastic teachers in elementary school, I was inspired. I even offered to help grade papers or run errands! Once I got into middle school, I began to second guess whether or not teaching was what I actually wanted to do. Further contemplation led me to determine that teaching was not what I was destined to do. I needed to find something that better fit my skills.
In eighth grade, as we were planning our first year of classes for high school, our counselors and teachers questioned us about what we were interested in pursuing for the rest of our lives. It was during this time that I determined my ideal career plan. I would start out using a metal detector on Myrtle Beach, through which I would gather coins and valuables until I had enough money to buy a sports car. Next, I would use this sleek, customized sports car to compete in street racing. After years of racing, buying and trading cars, and finally becoming the best driver on the streets, I would retire and purchase an ice cream shop or arcade. Not only did these plans adequately demonstrate some of my knowledge and skills, especially the ice cream shop part, but they also seemed like something I could enjoy doing for the rest of my life. After outlining my master plan, I began explaining to my teachers, family, and friends what my goals were in life.
While this series of events would be ideal, none of the universities in North Carolina had majors that involved metal detecting, street racing, or ice cream selling. So during my senior year, I solidified that my back-up plan would be to pursue a career in engineering. Having only recently decided that industrial engineering is what I am interested in doing, I have yet to determine specific career aspirations. Upon graduation, I plan to either pursue a Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering or to enter the manufacturing industry as a full-time engineer.
What advice would give to a new or prospective Goodnight Scholars about being involved at NC State and the Goodnight Scholars Program?
One of the biggest pieces of advice that I have is simple: try new things every chance you get. In most cases, students only have four years to experience all that college has to offer, so do not waste the first year or two being hesitant about stepping out of your box. College is the time to learn what you enjoy and where you fit in. I never imagined that I would enjoy things like ice skating or kayaking as much as I did, but part of what makes it so great is getting to take these adventures with other students who have never done it before either! I may have fallen four times whilst ice skating, but other scholars were there to fall, learn, and make memories alongside me.
Additionally, it is extremely helpful to get to know other Goodnight Scholars! It is easy to cling to people in your class that you know, but talking to older or younger scholars allows you to get their perspective on things and to get advice. During any of your four years in school, you have a connection to at least 200 other Goodnight Scholars on campus. Walking into classrooms on the first day of classes, it can be reassuring when you recognize a fellow Goodnight Scholar, as you have someone to contact if you have a question or want to study.