CLEMSON – Max Wunsche is a student who knows the advantages of having a Plan B.
Whether that’s converting his packaging science degree into admission to veterinary school or using a football-throwing challenge to help pay for his dreams.
Wunsche, a Clemson University honors student from Ravenel, recently earned $25,000 in the Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway Challenge during the 2019 Southeastern Conference Championship football game between Louisiana State University and the University of Georgia in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Wunsche finished second in the challenge to Baylor University medical student Andrea Gathercole. Gathercole took the grand prize of $100,000 in tuition money.
Wunsche was selected as a finalist from a list of students who applied to compete. Even though he didn’t win the top prize, he still feels good about his effort.
“I feel accomplished because in order to get to the final competition I had to beat out several people in a preliminary round and I still managed to win $25,000,” Wunsche said. “I am, however, a little disappointed with my performance in the final competition. I did not anticipate my nerves affecting my performance as much as they did, but I guess being on live TV and in a stadium of more than 70,000 people will do that. When I was practicing, I was making an average of 22 throws in 30 seconds with a personal record of 25 throws. On the big stage I only made 11. So, that shows how much my nerves played a role in the final outcome.”
Wunsche, who graduates this December, plans to be a veterinarian and believes his degree in packaging science will be a valuable asset.
“A lot of the packaging science general education requirements align with general education requirements needed to apply to vet school,” Wunsche said. “Also, my packaging science studies have taught me to think critically and have given me an almost engineering-based mindset to solve problems. Furthermore, I believe some of the graphic communications and marketing knowledge I’ve learned in the packaging science department will serve me well if I ever decide to establish my own vet clinic and want to develop my own brand.”
Wunsche said he did have to take several upper-level science courses that weren’t required for packaging science but were required to apply to veterinary school. If he doesn’t get in veterinary school right away, Wunsche said he can use knowledge he gained from the packaging science program to work and save money. He will know in February 2020 if he is accepted to veterinary school.
“If I’m being completely honest, I saw packaging science as a good backup plan if I didn’t end up getting into vet school on my first attempt,” he said. “I’m really happy with my choice, because after graduation I will be working for a medical device packaging consulting firm and I think in these few months I can learn a lot while also saving for vet school. I’ve thought about maybe even deferring my enrollment a year if the schools allow me to in order to save even more and maybe later down the road I can fuse my knowledge of packaging and my future veterinary knowledge to find other income opportunities.”
The same self-discipline and preparation Wunsche uses in his studies helped propel him to the finals of the Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway Challenge.
Wunsche practiced every day for about three weeks and was making about 90% of his throws. In hindsight, he said he perhaps should have found some way to replicate participating on a stage in front of as many people as were in the stadium.
Wunsche is not the first Clemson packaging science student to apply to veterinary school. Kay Cooksey, professor and Cryovac Endowed Chair, said the Clemson packaging science curriculum is strong in math and sciences and allows graduates of the program to travel down a variety of career paths.
“A strong background in science and math is essential for success,” Cooksey said. “Our program requires students to complete basic course work in science and math before delving in to the intricacies of packaging design, materials, polymers and distribution. This allows students in the Clemson packaging science program to choose a career that builds on these strengths.”
The Clemson program offers four emphasis areas including:
- Distribution, transportation and engineering technology,
- Food and health care packaging, and
- Package design and graphics.
For more information, go to: www.clemson.edu/degrees/packaging-science.
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