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Student Spotlight: Geordin Craun of Western Michigan

Geordin Craun

KALAMAZOO, Michigan -- The Western Michigan University Paper Technology Foundation is a 501(c)(3) corporation founded by industry leaders in 1958.

The mission of the corporation has been and continues to be to support the Department of Chemical and Paper Engineering at Western Michigan University. The Paper Technology Foundation's primary roles have been to recruit students for the paper and allied industries and support those students with competitive scholarships. In the last 10 years, the foundation has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships.

Paperitalo Publications was able to catch up with Geordin Craun, a senior in the program. We asked her a few questions about her experiences at Western Michigan.

Paperitalo: What attracted you to the Paper Science and Engineering program?

Craun: The Paper Engineering recruiter from Western came to my high school college fair and showed me the radio made from paper and told me about the 100% job placement! I came to Western later for a tour and enjoyed seeing the pilot plant and all the machinery I would be able to work with hands on.

Paperitalo: Were you looking into pulp and paper when you were in high school?

Craun: I was not looking into pulp and paper until the recruiter came into career day. I always knew I was interested in chemistry, but that I didn't want to be standing all day in a lab. Paper engineering is the perfect balance of research, chemistry, and a thriving industry.

Paperitalo: Tell us about the internships and/or co-ops you have had.

Craun: I have had three internships in my college career. Two were with a recycled containerboard mill in Oxnard California. I worked first as a technical intern where I focused on wastewater treatment and environmental standards. The second I was a project engineer which means I was given a list of projects that I could choose to solve in a range of ways. I put together multiple solutions to problems and presented them to my boss. My third internship was with a chemical supplier. I worked with a team of support engineers to service the mill we were at by doing daily testing and setting up for trials that ended up improving the runnability of the mill itself. I finished that internship by going to headquarters of the company to give a presentation about my projects to the higher ups of the company as part of a three-day symposium. Only twenty interns nationally were selected for this opportunity and it acted as a long interview for full time position.

Paperitalo: What does this program mean to you?

Craun: This program has given me opportunities that no other field could give me. I have seen the opportunity for job placement in any branch of the field you may be looking. This program led me to connections and friendships that I could not find anywhere else. Both the peers and the staff work as one team for the better of the students and the industry.

Paperitalo: Where do you see yourself in five and 10 years, and what are your career aspirations?

Craun:I have been recently hired full time to work for Solenis, a chemical supplier for the pulp and paper industry. Solenis does very well with promoting from within. In five years, I hope to be an account manager or an area manager, and in ten I hope to keep climbing to district or regional manager.

Paperitalo: What would you recommend to anyone who might be interested in getting into pulp and paper?

Craun: Make sure you give it a fair shot. A lot of students (in all degrees) switch majors after their first year because they do not know what they are getting into. But with paper, there are multiple paths you can take your career. Participate in Tsi Lun, go to the TAPPI Student Summit, engage with your peers, and take an internship after your first year. The pulp and paper industry has a lot to offer, but can be difficult if you do not apply yourself.

Paperitalo: Please let us know of anything else of interest about your experiences in the program.

Craun: The network of students is the best and most unique part about this program. As a freshman you will interact directly with seniors, who can give you the full run down on any questions you may have about the program. Having the chance to work in industry as early as during your first year is something no other degree can say they provide.

Paperitalo: Please tell us what year you are in the program, your hometown, and anything interesting you might do in your free time.

Craun: My name is Geordin Craun, I am a 6th year senior, and I am from Romeo, Michigan. My first four years I was at Western, I played varsity softball which took up most of my free time. I am also in Army ROTC which made sure I stayed active outside of classes too. More recently, I focus my free time on my dog Odo, and spending more time with friends.


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