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Being awarded the title of 2014 "Outstanding Senior Man" at the University of Mount Union in Alliance seems only fitting for Presidential Scholar Kyle Dreger as "outstanding" can be used to describe not only his academic career, but also his personal character and future plans as well.
Dreger, of Rootstown, graduated this month with magna cum laude honors, receiving a bachelor of science degree in computer science and English: writing. While he said the decision to pursue a second major was difficult to make, it is the accomplishment he is most proud of during his time at Mount Union.
"While I'm excited to be an alumnus, I will miss the feeling of being a current student," Dreger said. "Once I turned in my final exam, I was at a loss of what to do next. For the first time in four years, I would no longer classify myself as 'going to Mount Union.'"
To be eligible for a Presidential Scholarship, students must receive an ACT score of at least 27 or an SAT score of 1220, and at least a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or high school rank in the top 15 percent. Students must then display exceptional performance during the Presidential Scholarship Competition at the university. As only six students are awarded the full-tuition Presidential Scholarship each year, the honor was just the beginning of Dreger's success at the university.
Over the past year, Dreger was challenged to juggle a heavy course load, computer science internship, student consultant position at the University's Center for Writing and Oral Communication, social media chair position for Raider Programming Board and planning a 2014 summer wedding with his fiancée, English: writing major Emily Mariani.
However, the most difficult trial Dreger has had to endure is the unexpected death of his mother, Theresa Dreger, this past June.
"Every challenge over the past four years pales in comparison," Dreger said. "That was incredibly rough and unexpected."
Persevering through the heartache is just a small part of what makes Dreger's character outstanding.
"I think that knowing how much my mother valued education, she having been a teacher all her life, really helped me push through when things were especially difficult," he said.
As class president, Dreger holds the duty of speaking on behalf of the Class of 2014 at the Commencement Ceremony. Stating he is honored to speak on such a big occasion, the task is one that Dreger is most looking forward to about graduating.
"One day, the world will look to our generation to lead it, and it's important we seize that opportunity, not let it slip by," Dreger said, providing a sneak preview of his speech.
Dreger has secured a full-time position following graduation as software engineer at Synergy Data Systems in Canton. His responsibilities will include focusing on the usability and user experience side of software development.
"I think that, during the school year, we tend to get into a routine of always setting our sights on 'what's next.' Next semester, next class, next practice," he said. "Now that I'm done, I can let go of that 'next' for a while. The day-to-day structure is gone and I have the chance to set the course of my life for the next 10 years."