Kettering University wasn’t always the top choice for Kenna Gebissa ‘18 when he first chose where to go for college, but once he transferred here he knew it was the perfect place for him. Kettering gave him a sense of belonging, and he felt more genuine connections than at a larger university.
“Personally I liked feeling connected,” said Gebissa, a Mechanical Engineering major. “The big thing was that I felt like I had finally found people that were like-minded, had similar aspirations and similar interests. I found that at Kettering more so than anywhere else.”
At first Gebissa thought he wanted a typical college experience at a large state university, but when he got there he said he didn’t really fit the culture, and he often felt isolated. When he finally made the move to Kettering, it was exactly what he was looking for, he said.
Now he knows Kettering prepared him well for the future, Gebissa said. When he walks across the stage during the 2018 Commencement on Saturday, June 16, he will know he’s ready for whatever comes his way.
“Sometimes there’s a sense that students are missing out on something between here and the typical college experience. Really what you’re missing out on is the excess of distractions,” Gebissa said. “First things first, you’re here for an education. Your priorities ought to reflect that in a lot of ways. Hard work and priorities followed that.
“The things that people are longing for is not something that I think adds value to your overall life experience. But I had to try it first to know that.”
When Gebissa came to Kettering he was instantly drawn to the recreation center. Then he was invited to join Kettering’s National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and shortly after joined Black Unity Congress (BUC) and Model United Nations.
He expanded his networking opportunities by being involved on campus and making genuine connections.
“I thought Kettering would box me in and not be an expanded college experience. That turned out not to be true at all. With NSBE and Model UN, I quickly went from a member to appointment positions,” Gebissa said. “Both clubs went to national conferences and conventions, which was a really, really cool experience. That all happened in my first year here. That got me excited about everything.”
Because Kettering is a smaller school students have more opportunities and flexibility to get involved, try new things and be in leadership, he said.
Gebissa did his co-op at Eaton Corp. in Jackson, Michigan. After graduation he will be staying on full time with Eaton as a manufacturing engineer or a product design engineer.
At Kettering, Gebissa learned the importance of networking, growing his circle of connections and how his experiences in college will impact the rest of his life.
As commencement grows near, Gebissa knows he is ready for anything.
“Building a personal network and valuing that network is crucial. I think it’s important to have quality deeper connection, and I think Kettering by nature provides that,” he said. “It’s been a journey that I never could have anticipated coming out of high school.
“Kettering prepared me well. I’m more prepared for interviewing and more prepared in any positions I’m given on the job. I gained real, applicable experiences at Kettering that I can use in my job. New challenges and new experiences, that's what will characterize this next phase of life, and I'm ready."