Meet Mitchell McLean
Pennsylvania native plans to take advantage of all that Kent State offers
Freshman Mitchell McLean came to Kent State University in the fall of 2017 to pursue his dream of becoming a speech pathologist.
The 19-year-old from Cranberry Township, in suburban Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, hopes to have a career working with children who are dual English-Spanish speakers in either a school or hospital. He eventually wants to obtain a doctorate degree and teach at the university level.
Though he is only in his first year of university study, McLean has known for years what type of career he wanted. While still a high school junior, he became inspired by the college textbook of an older cousin who was studying speech pathology.
"I truly came to love it," says McLean, who is majoring in speech pathology and audiology with minors in Spanish and psychology.
When the time came to begin his college search, McLean, who graduated in 2017 from Seneca Valley High School in Harmony, Pennsylvania, says a major concern was to find a school that was not too far from home. McLean is very close to his family and wanted to be far enough away from home to enjoy some independence, yet close enough to go home for family events and visits.
After he had looked at several schools in Pennsylvania, McLean’s mother suggested that he consider Kent State. His parents had been to Kent State for a baseball tournament for his younger brother, and his mother felt that McLean would like the campus.
After researching that Kent State offered his desired major, McLean came for a tour and was impressed with the spirit of the campus.
"There was a lot of excitement. There was a lot going on. I thought, `This is what college is like’," he recalls. "I felt really good about this."
They didn’t give me the feeling of home like Kent State did.
Eventually he narrowed his college choices to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, The Pennsylvania State University in State College and the private College of Wooster in Ohio; he toured all four.
For McLean, none of the other campuses measured up to Kent State. "They didn’t give me the feeling of home like Kent State did," he says. Reasoning that he was going to live at college for four years, he really want to find a place that made him feel at home. "Other schools didn’t give me that feeling of home like Kent State did."
As McLean sees it, a college starts out as a "home away from home" but eventually "becomes your home." He could easily envision himself living at Kent State.
Kent State’s size also was an important factor in his college selection. The campus, he says, is small enough that he can see his friends and familiar faces often, but large enough that he is always seeing new people, too.
After applying to Kent State, Penn State and Wooster and being accepted at all three, McLean discovered that Kent State was the most affordable of the trio.
"Penn State doesn’t like to give a whole lot of scholarships out. Wooster offered me a nice scholarship, but it didn’t compare to Kent State and the amount of money they offered," McLean says. "Kent State was very affordable for me."
What helped McLean make his decision, though, was attending a Golden Flash Day for accepted students, where one of the university speakers emphasized how committed Kent State is to the success of its students.
They really care. You are not just a student here. They want to see you succeed. I think that is huge in a college.
"One quote really stood out. He said, `If you leave Kent State and you aren’t successful, then we didn’t do our jobs.’ They really care. You are not just a student here. They want to see you succeed. I think that is huge in a college," McLean says.
With his first semester behind him, McLean says he is more certain than ever that he made the right choice.
He has found the faculty and staff to be helpful and supportive as he made the transition from home to college. "All of these people are looking out for you and are here to guide you. They make the transition very smooth and very easy," he says.
McLean already has gotten involved in many activities and organizations. He is the only freshman board member for KSU Flashathon, a student-run philanthropy that sponsors a 12-hour dance marathon to raise money for Akron Children’s Hospital. He also takes part in intramural volleyball and in March will be joining Alpha Lambda Delta, a freshman honor society.
He also has applied for a position in the Miscommunication and Dialogue Interaction (MADI) Lab of Assistant Professor Jennifer Roche, Ph.D., to study the causes of miscommunication, as well as ways to prevent it. The research focuses on speech and hearing, as well as psychology.
McLean said he has been very impressed with the amount of research conducted at Kent State. "It’s really, really great. With the amount of labs that we have here, there are so many different fields that you can study," he says.
His advice to Pennsylvania students uncertain about leaving their home state for college is to consider Kent State.
The drive from home, about 1 hour and 20 minutes on the Ohio and Pennsylvania Turnpikes, he says, is a comfortable distance. McLean enjoys the independence of campus living, "But it’s nice, because if I’m ever having a bad week and just want to come home, it’s a very easy drive."
At Kent State, he says, there is much to do beyond the classroom, including student organizations and athletics, charity work and science labs for further career study and exploration.
"Everything that you do in college is going to end up leading you to your career in life. I try to take advantage of all of the opportunities that Kent State has to offer," he says.
While he still has several years of school ahead of him, McLean says he clearly is able to picture where he will be in the future: "My dream is to be working in the field, teaching kids the proper ways to speak and helping them build their ability to speak." Later, he hopes to obtain a Ph.D. and come back to be a professor.