When Michael Salas ’16 arrived at Thomas College, he was shy and kept to himself.
From a town of 4,500 people in rural New Hampshire with no gas station, one convenience store and a feeding store for livestock, Salas wasn’t used to big crowds.
“From the first day I was at Thomas College I felt welcomed by the entire community and though I resisted much social interaction, I was soon worn down by everyone’s positive and friendly attitude.”
Now, Salas, a Criminal Justice major and Political Science minor, is Student Senate President, graduating from Thomas College a year early and is off to New England Law School in Boston in the fall.
“The environment that I experienced here set me on the path to where I am today,” he said.
Salas says he credits his success in part to his caring professors.
“I was able to rely on them and talk with them. If it weren’t for their ability to work with me and really get to know me as a person, they wouldn’t know where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do,” he said.
One professor, Dr. John Majewski, was particularly helpful to Salas when applying for law school and re-arranging his course schedule to complete his degree in three years.
“Dr. Majewski is in his office almost every time I walk by. I often go in to talk about my professional career and he offers me insight. I value the relationship that I have built with him to the point that I know that he isn’t interested in my success because it’s his job; he’s interested in my success because he genuinely cares.”
Salas says it’s not only professors who care, but also other Thomas staff that knew his ambitions and helped him out.
For example, Diane Anderson from Career Services suggested an internship with the Waterville District Court, where Salas was able to learn about his potential future career by sitting in court, seeing a high-profile jury trial and being able to talk with judges and attorneys in the field about how they got where they are today.
Another staff member, Emily Bell from the Alumni and Advancement office, told him about a Career Fair where he met with a rep from his future Law School.
Even the Vice-President of Student Affairs, Lisa Desautels-Poliquin, connected him with someone she knew personally in Boston to help him get a part-time job while studying for his law degree.
“The people at Thomas care about seeing you be the best you can. We might have Career Services that finds internships and jobs, but everyone here is like career services,” said Salas. “It’s not about just the classes, it’s about the support from the community and it’s about the connections that I know have helped and will continue to help me for years to come.
“As I get ready to graduate, I know I made a good investment in myself – something that when I started at Thomas, the end was too far to see.”