Alumni Thomas Sloan ’65, ’67 (Mas) and Kathy N. Waller ’80, ’83S (MBA) shared their success stories upon leaving UR and offered advice on how to prepare for the real world on Friday.

“Success has a whole range of meanings,” Dean of The College William Green said. As host of the event, he presented both Sloan and Waller with The Meliora Award for Citation Career Achievement. The program took place in Lander Auditorium with about 60 people present, consisting of both alumni and students.

Waller graduated from UR in 1980 with a B.A. in history and is currently the Chief of Internal Audit at the Coca-Cola Company.

Waller provided helpful suggestions about choosing a career path.

“I chose history because my advisor told me to choose what I love,” she said. “However, I was unsure of the foundation [it] was setting.”

Waller ended up working for financial services in McDonalds, Minute Maid and Coca-Cola. Although her major in college may have seemed unrelated to her future profession, Waller asserts that her training in history aided her success in the business world.

“History taught me how to deal with various types of people and about group dynamic,” she said.

Waller concluded by telling students to take risks and be true to themselves – she has followed the same mantra her whole life and urges students to do the same.

“It is so important to do what you love,” Waller said. “I am happy and have done just that.”

Thomas Sloan, who graduated from UR in 1965 with a masters in optics from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, provided an entirely different story.

Unlike Waller, Sloan came to UR with a specific plan. He knew that he wanted to study optics in order to work for and eventually take over his father’s small optics company in North Carolina.

After leaving UR, Sloan started his career working for his father.

He eventually took over the business and sold it to the Esselar Financial headquarters in France and consequently helped develop Esselar of America.

He is now the chairman of the company, which is one of the leading corporations in glasses and optics production in the United States.

According to Sloan, patience and efficiency are both essential means for advancement in the working world.

“There are no shortcuts for hard work,” he said. “I’ve found that people get impatient and want to succeed too quickly, but you have to build your foundations for success. I spent 30 years forming the family business.”

Continuing, he said, “I think we have to put students in an environment where they are being challenged to be innovative. It can be nurtured at school, but maybe not learned.”

It appears that an important step in encouraging students to become innovative starts with bringing in such outstanding alumni to speak.

“I thought the speeches were extremely interesting,” freshman Jonathan Brand said. “Waller had great points on innovation. I came to the event in order to see Sloan because I am interested in engineering and optics.”

Hearing success stories first- hand often sparks a flame in students that motivates them to strive to go far in life.

“I liked what Sloan said about success,” sophomore Ravi Gupta said. “You can’t cut corners and not everyone realizes it. Hearing it from someone so successful is really inspirational.”

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