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Liberty Journal

Signs of success

Winter/Spring 2013 : By Ron Brown

Since its inception, Liberty University has educated students not only in the essential knowledge of their chosen field, but also in the attributes that would make them valuable assets to any workplace.

Liberty has taught its students that hard work, faithfulness, honesty, and job competence still matter to employers.

Now, the impact of Liberty students is being felt in hospitals, schools, television networks, and courtrooms throughout the United States and abroad.

Liberty, the largest private, nonprofit, four-year college in America and the world’s largest Christian university, now has its own law school and cinematic arts center, and will soon have its own medical school.

In every profession, Liberty alumni are leaving a lasting impression on their employers. The feedback Liberty administrators receive is overwhelmingly positive, pointing to graduates’ strong work ethic, responsibility, dependability, and  service-minded attitudes — all qualities of a true Champion for Christ.

Tim Milazzo (’11) Strategic account manager, Google

When he came to Liberty in 2008, Tim Milazzo thought a degree in business finance would be a wise move to attract a potential employer.

And then the U.S. economy and many major financial companies imploded.

Milazzo stayed the course, however, and has now been blessed with the opportunity to use many of the analytical skills he learned at Liberty.

Soon after graduation in 2011, he took a temporary job with Google in New York. Last summer, he was hired as a full-time strategic account manager for the Fortune 500 company.

His work ethic helped convince Google managers that he would be a positive, full-time hire.

“Tim has proven himself to be accountable and dependable,” said Milazzo’s manager, Kristin Weichmann, strategic account manager, team lead. “He is a quick learner and eager to make an impact, both key attributes for success.”

Milazzo credits Scott Ehrhorn, assistant professor of finance at Liberty, for helping him locate and secure quality internships prior to graduation, which proved to be invaluable in helping him to hit the ground running once he reached the workplace.

“It was a daunting task coming out of college in 2011,” Milazzo said. “In a tough economic time, you need to come out with some skills that can help an organization right away. Finding good internships was a big thing.”

Milazzo served as an intern for Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Lynchburg during his senior year.

He said his degree provided him with a foundation of business knowledge that he has been able to build upon at Google.

During his temporary employment there, he was asked to do analytical work to support Google’s sales efforts. Now, he works in direct contact with Google clients as a consultant.

“I have loved my time at Google,” Milazzo said. “It is a company that has a reputation of treating its employees well. It is a job that I couldn’t have dreamed of getting right out of school. I am very fortunate and very blessed.”

Mike Martin (’04) Manager, Surgical Trauma Intensive Care, Lynchburg General Hospital

As a 2004 graduate from Liberty University, Mike Martin has earned a reputation for compassion and job competence at Lynchburg (Va.) General Hospital, where, after eight years as a nurse, he was recently promoted to manager of the surgical trauma intensive care unit.

For the majority of his time as a nurse, Martin attended to the needs of critically ill patients.

“At the bedside, I loved being able to care for people,” he said. “To see them recover, in part because of the care we are giving, is very gratifying.”

Martin said Liberty’s Christ-based nursing program helped him cultivate the patience needed to attend to patients and their family members at some of the most stressful times in their lives.

“My job has given me a tool to minister to some of the patients,” he said. “A lot of time our patients’ lives are hanging in the balance.”

Patience and compassion are traits valued by Lynchburg General Hospital and its parent company, Centra Health, also based in Lynchburg, Va.

“Centra takes very seriously its responsibility to provide a clinical learning environment for nursing students from many area colleges and universities,” said Patti S. McCue, a Centra senior vice president. “Many members of our nursing staff are graduates of Liberty University and they are great examples of the dedication and caring nature of the nursing profession.”

Martin, who has served as an adjunct nursing professor at Liberty, said Liberty’s nursing program enables its students to spend significant time with hospital patients.

“I felt like I was prepared as well as I could be by the Liberty critical care program,” Martin said. “Most of the learning takes place at the bedside.”

Graham Sikes (’02) Hitting coach/recruiting coordinator, Michigan State University baseball team

When Graham Sikes graduated from Liberty University in 2002, he had no clear idea what his career path would be, though he knew he had received a first-class education both in the classroom and on the baseball field.

He was the catcher on a Flames baseball team that turned out many pro prospects, but his playing career ended with a shoulder injury.

After graduation, he eventually sought out a coaching job because of his love for the game. The essential knowledge he gleaned from his mentors at Liberty, such as former Head Coach Dave Pastors, also a catcher in his playing days, was invaluable.

“Coach Pastors was way ahead of his time when it came to the science of baseball,” Sikes said. “He taught me how to think ahead of the game, how to process the game, and how to call the game.”

For the past decade, he has used those tools as a college baseball assistant, stopping in Kansas, Louisiana, Georgia, and Virginia before reaching his first major college baseball job at the University of Notre Dame. From there he landed a position at Michigan State University, what he calls a “destination job,” where for three years he has served as hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. In his first year with MSU, the team won the Big 10 Championship. Last year it qualified for the NCAA tournament.

Michigan State Head Baseball Coach Jake Boss said Sikes’ job competence and his propensity for loyalty and honesty made him a perfect candidate for the job.

“Graham’s character has a lot to do with me hiring him,” Boss said. “I got to know Graham in the last few years on the recruiting trail. What I was looking for in an assistant coach was (someone who would) back me as a head coach through thick and thin. Obviously, Graham is a high-character guy who is going to do things the right way.”

Boss said integrity is a critical attribute for a recruiting coordinator for a high-level collegiate athletics team.

“I know that Graham would follow the rules,” he said. “He is very ethically and morally upright.”

Boss said he envisions Sikes as a Division I head baseball coach one day.

“He is an intense competitor,” Boss said. “Our players kind of feed off that.”