Senior Profile: Mark Gales

Gales at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo courtesy of Mark Gales.Gales at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo courtesy of Mark Gales.

What is your preferred name?

Mark Gales

What is your major and minor?

Major: Social Work

Minor: Gerontology

What are some of the jobs you held while at McDaniel?

I was a peer mentor during my sophomore year and also a mentor coach during my junior and senior years for Step Ahead with the SASS Office. Step Ahead takes place the five days before first-year orientation and is a summer bridge opportunity for first-year students enrolled in the SASS Office. This program helps students begin to establish important connections within the college community while becoming equipped with the academic, social, and independent living skills necessary for a smooth transition to college.

What organizations were you a part of at McDaniel? What positions did you hold?

During my time at McDaniel, I have been an active member of Best Buddies, Student Alumni Council, and Phi Alpha (social work honors society). This year I have been co-president of Best Buddies with one of my best friends, Olivia Elbers.

Did you enjoy your time at McDaniel? How?

Yes! I enjoyed my time here at McDaniel immensely and the last four years have been some of the best years of my life. Everyone is so accepting and has pushed me to be the best student and person. I value all of the friendships and memories that I have made, and McDaniel has definitely help to shape me into the person I am today.

Who do you think is/was your best mentor(s)?

That is such a difficult question because I have had so many good mentors in the last four years here and I am forever grateful for them all. In the Social Work Department, Professor Michelle Young, Dr. Cathy Orzolek-Kronner, and Dr. Jim Kunz have been incredibly helpful to me and willing to talk about everything from clarifying confusions on upcoming assignments, life advice, and helping me find my true passions in the social work field. I also owe a great amount of gratitude to the staff in the SASS Office, especially to my academic counselor, Dana Neville. I have had weekly meetings with Dana over the past four years and she has gone above and beyond in helping me with anything I ever needed and for believing me, even though I wanted to give up sometimes. I don’t think I would be where I am today without all of their constant support and encouragement. I also want to thank Dr. Henry Reiff, who I completed an independent study with during the Fall 2017 semester. As a result of the papers I wrote and research he has completed, we were able to co-author a 30-page research article for the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability titled “Self Awareness of Cognitive Style and Learning Strategies: A Model for the Development of Personal Autonomy among Individuals with Learning Differences.”

What is your best memory at McDaniel?

This is also a difficult question because I have made countless memories at McDaniel that I will remember for the rest of my life. If I have to pick just one, I would choose tailgating during football games with my friends and family. McDaniel’s tailgate scene is incredible, and I love the aspect of having a drive-in football stadium.

What were some of the challenges you encountered and how did you overcome them?

Having a learning disability related to reading comprehension and slow processing speeds can be very challenging, especially in college. It is frustrating when I have to read my textbooks a couple of times to fully process and understand what I am reading or during a lecture and I have to listen and take adequate, detailed notes simultaneously. However, I overcame these difficulties once I learned that a huge part of being able to navigate college with a learning disability is being a self-advocate. I received continuous supports from the SASS Office as well as my friends, parents, and the understanding my professors had toward students like me who do not have typical learning styles.

What are your plans for after graduation?

Starting in August 2018, I will be attending University of Maryland School of Social Work in Baltimore to receive my Master’s in Social Work. I got accepted into the competitive advanced standing program and will graduate in July 2019 with the clinical concentration and behavioral health specialization. After receiving my MSW, I want to work on a multidisciplinary team as a social worker either with co-occurring populations or older adults in a long-term care facility.

What advice can you give to those not graduating?

Enjoy your time at McDaniel while you can Everyone always says that four years flies by and it certainly does – especially senior year. McDaniel has so many opportunities, so take advantage of them while you can. Also, it is important to balance school and fun. Even though your education is the most valuable thing you can receive, the memories you make with your friends are everlasting.

Is there anything else you want to share with the McDaniel community?

Don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, you should compare yourself to the person you were yesterday. Be proud of YOUR accomplishments – even the small ones.