10-Year Reflections: A Q&A with Nate (‘12) and Megan (‘09) Ondricek

The Ondricek family

In just over a decade since graduating from Southern Virginia University, alumni Nate (‘12) and Megan (‘09) Ondricek have earned master’s degrees, found meaningful work, raised three children, and have given back through the Alumni Association.

With his dual degrees from Southern Virginia University in political science and business management and leadership, Nate began working at Portfolio Advisors LLC as an investment analyst and worked his way to eventually becoming senior vice president of investor relations. He recently completed a master’s in business administration from New York University and is now the director of investor relations at Apogem Capital.

Following graduation from Southern Virginia University with a degree liberal arts and a minor in art, Megan went on to earn a master’s degree in library and information science from Simmons University—one of the top information science programs in the nation. She has worked at the Smithsonian in the botany department of the U.S. National Herbarium, and currently serves as the secretary for Southern Virginia University’s Alumni Association.

Reflecting on the personal impact of Southern Virginia University, the Ondriceks shared how their professors, academic programs, and university scholarships jump-started their careers and life experiences.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

How did scholarships from Southern Virginia University benefit you as a student?

Nate: “I was very blessed with a number of different scholarships that helped reduce the amount of financial stress in my personal life. After my mission and getting married to Megan, it would have been really difficult for me to sustain everything without having some financial support through University scholarships. That support really gave me a leg up after graduation, and I was able to accelerate my financial progression and career.”

What did you enjoy about the academics at Southern Virginia University? 

Nate: “The bread and butter of my time at Southern Virginia was the academic program. I really enjoyed the small classroom setting, and I really got to know every one of my professors well during and after classes. For several of my classes, we would start with a prayer, and that really set the tone of both our academic and spiritual learning, since the two are connected.

“Also, having the Institute program there that could be counted towards graduation was just a wonderful way to fill out academic, temporal, and spiritual learning. I felt like it was a more fulfilling, robust, and dynamic learning environment.”

Megan: “Southern Virginia set me up to keep learning and developing myself in different ways— which was a passion I developed while I was a student because my professors were so encouraging. It’s been really nice to have that foundation of learning now as a stay-at-home mom.”

How did your relationships with your professors at Southern Virginia help you grow as a student?

Megan: “I had a lot of good relationships with several professors that really encouraged me to take on some extra projects. I ended up working with Professor Fran McDonnell on a paper for an undergraduate research program through the Marshall foundation as a student. My professors were always really invested in my development academically and intellectually, and their classes were challenging but rewarding.”

How did Southern Virginia University help you prepare for graduate school and your career?

Nate: “I feel like my masters program at New York University showed me just how well Southern Virginia prepares its students for their graduate programs and careers. My MBA program was pretty comparable to Southern Virginia in terms of complexity and rigor, and to me, that shows just how well the professors and staff here provide a top notch, well structured, and well organized academic program.”