Nathan Venesky ’17 encourages students struggling with choosing a career to ‘embrace the journey.’
Military veteran and attorney, alum Nathan Venesky ’17 reflects on finding his way at Gannon when he felt “directionless.”
Serving as a Presidential Security Guard in Marine One Helicopter Squadron, Venesky left the military in 2013 after four years of service. Finding the transition from the military difficult, he returned home to Erie, Pa. to his family and support network. He soon enrolled at Gannon, where he experimented with various areas of study, including sports and exercise nutrition, biology and even education. Resources like the GI Bill and Gannon’s accessibility of this made it easy for Venesky to return to school seamlessly. “That was critical, for Gannon to provide that support,” he says.
After taking a class with Jeff Bloodworth, Professor in Gannon’s history program, Venesky decided to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in history with intentions to become a professor. But his longtime interest in politics would soon lead him to a new path.
“There was always a thought in my mind to be a lawyer,” he says. “I was trying to see how a BA in history and my interest in politics intersected with being an attorney. I spoke one night to my professor who I knew used to be an attorney and next thing you know I was leaving my master’s in history, taking the LSATs and going to law school.”
Venesky now works in Erie at MacDonald, Illig, Jones & Britton as an attorney and says he sees himself staying in law for good. He credits Gannon for helping him out of his “close mindedness” after exiting the military.
“Gannon enabled me to experience different cultures, religions, political spectrums and socioeconomic backgrounds that expanded my thought horizons,” he says. “The military doesn’t really want free thinkers; it doesn’t work for their command structures. Gannon changed how I view the world.”
Venseky praises professors Peter Agresti and Jeff Bloodworth in the history department for being particularly influential to his personal development.
“You watch them teach and you just think to yourself, ‘These two guys are just having fun.’ You can see that they genuinely enjoy what they do. I think there’s a lot of value in that,” he says. “A lot of people pursue career paths purely based on money or whatever perk they get. Agresti and Bloodworth think their job is the perk.”
It’s this philosophy that Venesky strived to follow in his own career, a pursuit he says he has been successful in as an attorney. “I wake up in the morning and I’m just happy and I can’t believe I get to do this every day.”
While Venesky found his path, it wasn’t without its challenges, which many college students face today. Figuring out what kind of career you want can be a daunting task, especially coupled with external pressures such as judgment from peers or pressure from family members.
When asked what advice he would give to those experiencing this, Venesky simply says to embrace the journey.
“Embrace this moment where you aren’t wondering what your job is going to be or what you’re going to accomplish,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to switch your field of study or change your career. It’s so liberating to just be open.”