Inside Moravian
e-Newsletter of the Moravian College Campus Community 9/3/14
Strauss smiles while standing in the quad behind Comenius Hall.
 

ABOVE: Since returning to Moravian College, Jonathan L. Strauss '16, now a Student Trustee, has made a concerted effort to become more involved on campus.

 
 

Following the Star Back to Moravian College

Jonathan Strauss ’16 Finds His Path to Success Leads Through Moravian

By Marie Mikols ’17

“Never underestimate yourself and never overestimate your opponent.” These are the words that have stayed with Jonathan Strauss ’16 throughout his career, which has included two stops at Moravian College and another at the United States Naval Academy. Before attending college, Strauss was a high-profile athlete at Lehighton High School, thriving as a javelin thrower for the school’s track and field team. He became a member of the Kultan Keihas, a junior USA team for javelin throwers, where an Olympic coach trained him.

NCAA Division 1 colleges began taking notice, offering Strauss multiple scholarships, and his dream of competing at a higher level seemed within reach. Unfortunately, the scholarships “weren’t enough for him to feel comfortable financially” and, during his fourth track meet into his senior year, Strauss sustained an injury. This subsequently ended his chances of attending a Division 1 college for track and field.

Undeterred, Strauss moved forward and set his sights on college, specifically Moravian College – the lone school he applied to. “I chose Moravian College as an incoming freshman because of the friendliness and hospitality of every faculty member, coach and/or staff member who I spoke with. I also liked that for my first year of college, I would be closer to home,” he explained. However, Strauss began to withdraw from campus interaction as his classes became more difficult and discouragement set in. “It was set in my mind that I was going to leave Moravian with no intentions of coming back,” said Strauss.

Strauss smiles while working his Naval Academy uniform.

ABOVE: Although he was enrolled in the Naval Academy, Strauss still felt a strong connection to Moravian, thanks in part to friendships with community members like professor Katie Desiderio. (Photo courtesy of Strauss)

Although Strauss had decided to leave Moravian, he felt a special connection to his First Year Seminar advisor, Katie Desiderio, assistant professor of management. “I felt that she was one of my main supporters when I transferred to the Academy. Despite where I was going to school, her mentorship and friendship never swayed,” Strauss recalled.

Once he finished the long application process and received a nomination from Congressman Lou Barletta, Strauss began attending boot camp at the Naval Academy. “I knew this was a once-of-a-lifetime chance and that I was going to take it,” said Strauss. “I felt that I should be doing something more than just going to school.” After completing boot camp, he started attending classes at the Academy.

Within the first few weeks, however, Strauss felt unsettled. He began thinking of his family back home and his current situation didn’t sit well with him. “I felt as though I had been stripped of my identity,” he explained. “I remember thinking … this was not where I was meant to be.”

Nonetheless, Strauss was excelling at the Academy and was ranked fourth in his company based on leadership, physical ability and mental ability. Suffering an elbow injury while training at the Navy Academy finally opened Strauss’ eyes. “It was simple, I was unhappy. I left the Naval Academy and returned to Pennsylvania,” recalled Strauss. Additionally, he realized he had not taken full advantage of the opportunities at Moravian College and soon emailed his former advisor, Desiderio, and Carol Traupman-Carr ’86, dean of curriculum and academic programs, to inquire about returning to campus.

The two began collaborating and found a way to have Strauss back on campus within a week. Unfortunately, the process to leave the Naval Academy took two weeks and the fall semester was already under way by the time his official release was granted. Strauss felt as though his life was “up in the air.” He decided to find a job in the meantime geared toward his interest in biology and began working at an environmental waste company.

Upon returning to Moravian, Strauss decided he wanted to become more involved on campus. Becoming an RA was his “first step in giving back to Moravian,” the biology major said. He later decided to run for the position of Student Trustee and won the election. “It was the best position to give back to the school and invest in the school, which is what I really wanted,” explained Strauss. This love for the College encouraged Strauss to reach out to alumni and experience the full potential of the Moravian community.

In the time since, Strauss has found that “alumni were more than willing to express their interests in the students by investing in their education with scholarship and internship opportunities,” he said. He met with Robert Verrone ’90, who explained to him Moravian’s close knit ties to its community and the countless opportunities available to its students. Taking in these words of wisdom, Strauss developed a profound appreciation for networking, stating it was like a “fifth class” for him.

Strauss believes Moravian prepares all of its students for their highest level of achievement, as long as they are willing to put in the time and effort that it takes to build strong relationships. This includes not just fellow students and professors, but also connecting with alumni and trustees. “The potential is there,” he explained. “Students just have to meet that potential with action to produce the desired outcome. My advice for all Moravian College students is reach out and accept the gift sitting right in front of you. It will change your life.”

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