The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 28, 2012

Real world challenges: UPJ grads urged to ‘leave comfort zone’

Patrick Buchnowski

— Heather Muir, a beauty news editor for Allure magazine, returned to Johnstown Saturday.

A 2006 graduate of Pitt-Johnstown, Muir gave the keynote address at the school’s 40th commencement ceremony at the Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center.

Against the backdrop of banners boasting “Ready for the real world,” Muir, 27, challenged the 554 graduates to find their interest, be kind, and leave their comfort zones.

“Follow your interest whatever it is,” she said. “If you like goat cheese, those goats don’t milk themselves.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a focus on public relations and marketing, Muir’s interest led her to New York.

 She became a beauty editor at Cosmopolitan.

Later, Muir moved on to Seventeen as beauty editor. Currently, she is employed by Allure, the country’s leading women’s beauty magazine with 7.2 million readers.

“The world is full of smart people,” she said. “It’s not full of nice people. If you want people to remember you, be kind.”

Leaving her cozy home in Davidsville, Muir headed to New York where she was admittedly “shocked and scared.”

“Take a risk,” she said. “Leave your comfort zone. Experience is something you can’t buy.”

Muir told graduates the university has “sculpted careers.”

“Starting today that career will be a success,” she said. “The real world is waiting for you.”

Armed with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, Paige Sarnowski will take on the real world at pharmacy school.

The Pittsburgh native said she always had an interest in math and science.

“I looked at my skill set and it all matched up,” Sarnowski said. “I’m happy I know what I’m doing next – pharmacy school.”

She said she isn’t nervous.

“I’m excited overall,” Sarnowski said.

“It opens a new chapter.”

Her Pitt-Johnstown education has prepared her for the next chapter.

“It’s a great school,” she said. “It’s a big-name school with a small-town campus feel.”

David Harshberger of Wilmore said he couldn’t believe school’s out.

“The four years really went fast,” said Harshberger, who graduated magna cum laude.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s over,” he said.

With a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Harshberger said he’s hoping to land a job with AmeriCorps before heading to graduate school.

He offered advice to future students.

“Really work hard while you’re here,” he said. “Don't take anything for granted.”

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