Panelists talk Murray State past, future

Jenny Rohl/The News Sonja Martinez, 2007 graduate of Murray State, speaks at the Global Alumni Distinguished Lecture Series Nov. 19.
Jenny Rohl/The News Sonja Martinez, 2007 graduate of Murray State, speaks at the Global Alumni Distinguished Lecture Series Nov. 19.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Sonja Martinez, 2007 graduate of Murray State, speaks at the Global Alumni Distinguished Lecture Series Nov. 19.

Panelists Lucretia McClenney, Sonja Martinez and Kristie Helms were invited to Murray State for the Global Alumni Distinguished Lecture Series because of their accomplishments, but those accomplishments were born out of the experiences they gained at Murray State, they said.

McClenney, who graduated in 1972, said helping veterans is her passion. She has been an Army school officer for 30 years.

Breaking down barriers, bravery and trying new things will create opportunities for students, she said.

She learned those skills while studying at Murray State. She learned to step outside her comfort zone and strive for something greater, she said.

“The lessons I learned at Murray were lifelong lessons,” McClenney said. “The glass ceiling is broken. If you can believe it, you can do it.”

Helms, who graduated in 1993, spent the day telling journalism and mass communications students to “just do it” before speaking at the panel.

A former editor-in-chief of The News, her background in journalism, and taking chances, is what she said put her in the position she is in now.

Jenny Rohl/The News Lucretia McClenny, class of ‘72, speaks about pushing stepping out of comfort zones at the Distinguished Lecture Series.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Lucretia McClenny, class of ‘72, speaks about pushing stepping out of comfort zones at the Distinguished Lecture Series.

Helms is vice president of interactive and social media in the global communications department of State Street, a custody bank in Boston. Twelve percent of global currency passes through State Street’s doors.

“I was very sure I wanted to be a newspaper reporter,” Helms said. “Everything I use I got from the JMC department.”

The experience she gained from the journalism department helped her discover the power of taking initiative, she said.

“Don’t wait for someone to assign you something,” Helms said. “People who get stuff done on their own are always more successful.”

Martinez graduated in 2007. Her advice was to make the most of what you learn and to be passionate.

“I use everything I learned from Murray State today,” she said. “Take advantage of Murray’s programs and find your passion. Passion keeps people going.”

Jenny Rohl/The News Kristie Helms, class of ‘93, speaks about how her time at Murray State taught her to take initiative in her career.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Kristie Helms, class of ‘93, speaks about how her time at Murray State taught her to take initiative in her career.

The panelists took questions from audience members toward the end of the event, and several revolved around studying abroad.

Renae Duncan, vice president of Student Affairs, asked the panel what the importance of studying abroad was. Her question was followed by a student’s, asking how to get the most out of the experience.

Helms said she never studied abroad while at Murray State. In fact, she didn’t leave the country until a six month trip to Hong Kong at 39 years old. She followed that trip with visits to Sydney and Tokyo.

McClenney said students needed to slow down and enjoy the journey, not how to get somewhere as quickly as possible.

“Nourish your mind, body and spirit,” she said. “The destination will come. It’s about the journey. Stop and smell the roses.”

The panel gathered during International Education Week in order to stress the importance of global communication and student success, Duncan said.

“Study abroad equals the most important experience a student can have,” she said.

Bob Lochte, chair of the business department, said he liked the way the panel exemplified students striking out on their own and achieving goals.

“I think it’s important to stress the ability to find solutions and forge a path,” he said.

Story by Amanda Grau, News Editor, and Teddy Martin, Staff writer