Commencement is a time of reflection and new beginnings. As the College prepares to send the Class of 2018 across the Cistern Yard May 11-12, The College Today will share a sampling of how some of our graduating seniors spent their time at CofC, and what comes next.
For senior Victoria Kabernagel, coming to the College of Charleston was fate. Her Pop-pop, who drove to Florida every winter, would return to Maryland each spring with South Carolina rest stop brochures. And when she had the opportunity herself to visit the Palmetto state and CofC, she fell in love.
Kabernagel received her acceptance letter the same day she and her family were celebrating the end of her Pop-pop’s life – something she took as a sign that the College of Charleston was where she was meant to be.
Sentimentality aside, the ability to double major in dance and arts management is what drew Kabernagel to the College. She would eventually take full advantage of that academic flexibility and take on a whopping four majors.
So how did Kabernagel become a quadruple major? It started with her plans to earn a minor in hospitality and tourism management.
Professor Stephen Litvin’s Intro to Hospitality and Management class changed those plans when the course turned her on to an internship at the Hilton Prague after her freshman year.
“My experience in Prague proved pivotal to my decision to add hospitality and tourism management as a third major,” explains Kabernagel, who later decided to add business administration as a fourth major. “My business admin major came about because I was only two classes away from that major. It just made sense to take that extra push and have a fourth major.”
Kabernagel attributes much of her success to Litvin. “Dr. Litvin attended every single one of my dance performances, wrote numerous recommendations for me and encouraged me to apply for the Schottland Scholar program.”
As Schottland Scholars, business majors receive networking and mentorship opportunities aimed at helping them hone their business skills. Kabernagel was accepted into the prestigious program, which only accepts approximately 10 seniors each year from the School of Business.
“Being a Schottland Scholar has been lifechanging for me,” says Kabernagel. “I have this new-found confidence from a business perspective, and I feel honored to be surrounded by a cohort of highly motivated students.”
And her program mentor, Gillian Zettler, executive director of the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, among many others, inspired Kabernagel.
“She has been a great mentor for me, as were Bill Finn, chairman of AstenJohnson Inc. and Schottland Scholars CEO advisor, and Jeremy Clement, hospitality and tourism management professor and director of the Schottland Scholars.”
In addition to leveraging her School of Business opportunities, Kabernagel capitalized on the chances to present her choreography – her main passion within the dance realm. She cites Dance Program Director Gretchen McLaine and dance professor Kristin Alexander as instrumental in her career. They provided numerous choreographic, performance and leadership opportunities, including serving as a student choreographer for four productions.
Kabernagel also had her work performed twice at the American College Dance Association Festival.
“Student choreography and being able to lead my peers has been the most invaluable experience for me,” says Kabernagel, who served as vice president for CofC’s student run dance organization, Dance Alliance. “It’s a skill set that I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else … and has shaped me as an individual.”
As if she wasn’t busy enough, Kabernagel squeezed in two study abroad programs: Dancing Through Europe, a Maymester course, and Adventure Tourism Spring Break to Banff, Canada. In May, she will serve as a teaching assistant for the College’s study abroad course, Dancing Through Scandinavia.
Then in September her life as a college graduate will officially begin when Kabernagel joins the Marriott Voyage Program, a management-in-training program for recent college graduates. She’ll head to Palm Springs, California, for an events management position at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and will allow me to focus on the hospitality and tourism industry,” says Kabernagel. “While there, I hope to secure part-time dance instructor jobs along with choreographic freelance work. Whatever I do, wherever I go, dance is going to be in my life.”
The secret to her successful college career, says Kabernagel, is passion and support. “If you genuinely love what you are doing and you have the support of your family – thanks Mom and Dad – and your professors, you can do a quadruple major.”