Ryan Tracy won’t get to “walk” for his diploma at the King’s College commencement Sunday, even though he did all the work and more to earn it. Don’t feel too bad for him, though, the “and more” is precisely why he can’t attend the King’s ceremony. He’ll be too busy accepting a second bachelor’s degree at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind.
“Technically, we get both degrees the same year,” the Pittston native said, explaining a slight downside to being part of King’s 3-2 engineering degree agreement with Notre Dame. Students spend three years at King’s and two in South Bend, completing enough credits in five years to get a bachelor’s at both. But the way the coursework is spread out, with a heavy emphasis on pre-engineering programs in Wilkes-Barre, they don’t complete enough credits for either degree until the end of the fifth year.
“Some of the professors at King’s asked if, given the opportunity to walk with our class at King’s after four years, would we do that?” Tracy recalled. “Just walk with that class, not get the diploma.”
That would make some sense. The 3-2 students would attend commencement with the other students who started the same year, many of them friends, and get a chance to thank the professors at King’s who helped them prepare for success at Notre Dame, Tracy said. “Hopefully, down the road some classes will do that.”
Tracy is one of 13 students who will be the first to earn their Notre Dame engineering degrees through the 3-2 program. In his case, he will get a bachelor’s degree in physics at King’s and a bachelor’s in civil engineering at Notre Dame. It’s hard work, he and others said, because of all the high-level courses thrown at them right from the start, rather than filling a schedule with core classes for the first year or two before diving into the deep end of their major.
“It was definitely all I thought it would be and more,” Tracy said. “I wouldn’t say it was necessarily tougher taking upper level physics classes at King’s, but there is a lot of work to do. You develop good time management.”
Fellow 3-2 student Dylan Pegg agreed. “I feel like it was definitely hard, but it made me a better person, trying to adapt to things here, going from a small college at King’s to a giant like Notre Dame,” the West Wyoming native said. “It was tough coming here not knowing the professors or anyone, and being thrown into these junior and senior courses, but it made me more adaptable.”
In fact, Pegg speculated, he may have been better prepared for those last two years than some of the Notre Dame students were. “They didn’t have the chemistry we had. These guys are strictly chemical engineering students,” meaning they didn’t have to take as many chemistry classes as he did to earn his bachelor’s of chemistry from King’s as well as the chemical engineering degree from Notre Dame.
‘Makes you stand out’
It’s true they and the others will not be walking to receive their diplomas, flipping tassels or tossing hats with all the other King’s grads Sunday, but both agree the double degree status made a difference in landing jobs.
Pegg is going to work in the pharmaceutical department of Schott Glass in Duryea, a new department focusing on new glass for modern drugs. He had other offers, but he’s familiar with Schott. Coupled with great pay in an inexpensive place to live, it made the local option the best fit.
Tracy is headed for Worldwide Engineering at its Allentown site, working on precast concrete design. Along with keeping him fairly close to home, the job involves using computer programs he worked with in college, and it puts him in the construction field, where he has long aspired to work.
Both echoed what fellow 3-2 first-timer Nicholas Bennie said in 2016 when the 13 learned they had been officially accepted at Notre Dame to complete their dual degrees: “A degree from Notre Dame can get you a job anywhere.”
But now that they are actually getting that degree and have their future jobs set, Pegg and Tracy acknowledged it may be the King’s degree that really opens doors.
“The Notre Dame degree is prestigious, but having a second degree from King’s helps,” Tracy said. It makes them stand out among those who may have earned the same engineering degree at Notre Dame.
“It’s something to talk about on a job interview,” Pegg said. “When they see I graduated from two colleges, it makes you stand out.”
Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish