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Strong Stories: Juan Pablo Aragón

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HometownCali, Colombia Degree Class of 2005
B.S. in Biology & B.S. in Chemistry

Juan Pablo Aragón

Senior Product Developer for Kleenex® and Scott® Brands, Kimberly-Clark Corporation

What did you love most about Armstrong and why? 
So many experiences it is hard to choose… but I must say the passion for student development from the faculty and staff. 
Coming from a different country and exposing myself to a new culture and new lifestyle, Armstrong took me in more as a member of their family than just a student. 
There was always someone to talk to for guidance, always someone to be with you when the academic load got tough and always a sense that the faculty and staff truly cared.

How did Armstrong help you succeed in your field? 
Being in the life science fields of biology and chemistry, Armstrong faculty trained me to be inquisitive, seek for the truth and always approach a problem from different angles. This has taken me a long way in product development as complex projects require multiple avenues to reach the most successful results. I must follow product requirements without cutting corners and make smart decisions on resources to provide a final flawless solution. 
Equally as important is the uniqueness of Armstrong with its small class environment, which allows for easy connections with other students and faculty. I learned quickly how to approach my peers in an engaging way for successful group projects. I value immensely now the open door policy of faculty, as I learned quickly how to approach them with smart and thoughtful questions that also allowed me to develop a comfortable space for guidance and advice. 
Today, these experiences have made me successful at my job. I lead multi-function projects where I need to align objectives with multiple people and gain both support and direction from leadership.

Who was your favorite professor and why? 
I must say that it was a human biology course that got me thinking about becoming a scientist. The professor was Suzanne Kempke from the biology department, and I was a freshman then. 
It wasn’t just that the subject was fascinating; it was her style and her approach to teaching that allowed me to feel comfortable with my progress in the course and also challenged me to learn outside the classroom. It was the beginning of a career in science and research, and I am thankful that Ms. Kempke showed me how interesting it all could be.

Why did you decide to attend Armstrong? 
It was the smartest choice. For family reasons, I moved to Savannah. Staying close to family during my first year of college was a priority. 
The plan was to move or transfer to a different college or university, but my experience in the first year was so unique and engaging that staying with Armstrong to complete my degree turned out to be the best decision I made in my college career.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Armstrong? 
The overall experience of being a Freshman Orientation Leader. It was the excitement of spending every summer with other students, faculty and staff preparing to welcome new students. 
I got to know other members of the Armstrong community that I would have never had the chance to interact with otherwise. We worked on the common goal of making orientation a pleasant experience. 
Those Saturdays we spent showing students around campus and helping them register for classes were the highlight of my days are Armstrong. It felt so rewarding to share with others all the things I was passionate about as an Armstrong student.

Did you do any extracurricular activities and/or internships that were particularly memorable? 
I mentioned being a Freshman Orientation Leader. I also held student assistant positions in both the library and the Office of Student Affairs, where I received mentoring from Dr. Joe Buck and Mr. Bill Kelso for which I am eternally grateful. 
I was also part of the team of community assistants at Compass Point. Guiding students as they begin their life away from home and learning at the same time to be a good role model was humbling, engaging and helped me build skills for life.

What is your best advice to current Armstrong students? 
Get involved! Take classes outside of your field. Challenge yourself with something that might be a little uncomfortable. You’ll be amazed at how rewarding, fun and useful it is to realize your full range of capabilities and expand your knowledge base. 
Join clubs, programs, and activities to meet people. I cannot be more grateful for all the experiences I had at Armstrong, and it was mostly because of the wonderful people I met along the way. It is the most satisfying feeling to learn about others’ backgrounds and interests and find that you have something in common.

Why are you proud to be an Armstrong alum? 
There are two main reasons:  
1. The friendships I have today. Two of my dearest friends are wonderful people I met at Armstrong, and together we have built our lives in separate ways that still represent the shared experiences and values we adopted during our time at Armstrong. These are people that helped shape me into who I am today. 
2. Seeing the growth and involvement of Armstrong as a community. I have been back to Savannah a few times since moving to Atlanta, and the presence of Armstrong around the city feels stronger, more positive and more inviting than ever.