After Commencement

Moriah McKenna '17, pictured here with Professor Anthony Graesch, will conduct funded research after graduation.
Moriah McKenna '17, pictured here with Professor Anthony Graesch, will conduct funded research after graduation.

From studying dance in Europe to conducting Ebola research in Washington, D.C., the 442 members of the Class of 2017 who crossed the Commencement stage Sunday are pursuing a diverse range of opportunities across the world. 

Five Fulbright Scholars will head to Spain, Germany, Thailand, Jordan and Taiwan, and more than a third of the students continuing their education have been accepted into Ivy League graduate schools, including Harvard, Yale and Columbia.

Seven graduates from the Class of 2017 will enter Ph.D. programs, 20 will enroll in master’s programs and 30 students will enroll in some form of post-baccalaureate study. Three graduates are off to medical, dental or veterinary school.

On average, 96 percent of Connecticut College graduates are employed or in graduate school one year after graduation. Members of the Class of 2017 will be starting their careers with a variety of companies and organizations, including Capital One, Scholastic Corporation, UBS, New York Life Insurance Company, Boston Children's Hospital, LAM Design, ESPN, Ernst & Young, Walt Disney Corporation, Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Royal Bank of Scotland, Wayfair and Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.

“This year is the five year high in terms of students reporting the combination of employment, fellowships, etc.” said John Nugent, director of institutional research and planning.

Below are a few examples of the interesting paths this year’s graduates have decided to take:

Luis Perez Valencia ’17—Biology major

Luis Perez Valencia personifies the American Dream. When he was 3 years old, his family emigrated from Colombia to settle in Nashua, New Hampshire. From an early age, he developed an interest in science and medicine.

“We were a very low-income family, and the prospect of me going to college was low, so I was incredibly grateful when Conn gave me a scholarship,” Perez Valencia says, adding that he is the first member of his family to attend college.

A biology major and the recipient of this year’s E. Frances Botsford Prize for the senior who demonstrates excellence in biology and service to the department, Perez Valencia isn’t wasting any time jumping into the professional world after Commencement. In June, he’ll begin a one-year position at the National Institutes of Health, where he’ll conduct clinical Ebola research. He then plans to attend medical school in 2018, where he hopes to continue his exploration of infectious diseases, an area he developed an interest in while conducting immunology research at the Boston University School of Medicine one summer.

Andrew Stutzman ’17Physics and economics double major

As president of the Peggotty Investment Club, Andrew Stutzman led a group of students in managing an endowed scholarship fund—hands-on experience in finance that will serve the physics and economics double major well when he begins his career as an equity research associate at Eaton Vance, an investment management firm based in Massachusetts.

Stutzman says the club’s former members form a vast network of finance professionals who stay in touch with current Conn students and are always eager to help with internship and job searches. This Spring, Stutzman helped to organize the club’s first stock pitch competition, and he’s confident that having also double minored in math and computer science, he’s stepping into his career in asset management with a comprehensive and versatile skillset.   

Moriah McKenna ’17—Double major in anthropology and biology

For Moriah McKenna, the best part of her academic experience at Conn has been the close partnership between students and faculty. McKenna was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Sponsored Fellowship her sophomore summer, which allowed her to research the history of Native Americans in the central Illinois River Valley. She also completed a Study Away Teach Away (SATA) program in Vietnam, and worked at an archeological site in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada mountains through a funded internship. After graduation, she’ll return to Colombia for five weeks of research. She'll then conduct research on river restoration and salmon nesting in Maine with Rosemary Park Professor of Physics, Astronomy and Geophysics Doug Thompson.

“I’m thrilled to have such a comprehensive understanding of archaeology as a result of both my studies at Conn and my practical work in the field,” McKenna says.

Maurice Tiner ’17—Africana studies major

Maurice Tiner, a Posse Scholar, served as president of Umoja, the African/African American students organization; a Unity House Ambassador; a representative on the Diversity Council; and co-chair of the gospel choir; and was a member of the men’s basketball team.

Now, Tiner will attend Yale Divinity School on a full scholarship, and he plans to enter the ministry once he completes the program. Drawn to positions that allow him to work with young people, he says he would love to become a spiritual leader at a college or university.

Despite leaving Conn, Tiner will continue to serve the College as the Young Alumni Trustee for the Class of 2017.

“I’ll always advocate for the school and push to make Conn a better place for all students, regardless of race or background,” Tiner told The College Voice after his election. “And I’ll continue to do the advocacy work that I always have.”

Ruy Zambrano ’17—Dance major

Conn’s Dance Department has given Ruy Zambrano the opportunity to perform with companies in locations as far-reaching as Wyoming and Greece. In September, Zambrano’s passion for post-modern dance will bring him to the University of Roehampton in London, where he’ll study the effect dance has on different cultures and societies.

“The master’s program is based off of the idea that dance is a political and cultural form of activism,” Zambrano explains. “I’ll be studying dance through the lens of sociology, which is exciting to me because I focus on the concept of empathy and touch in my own dances, and want to use improvisation and empathy to change the way people interact with each other.”  

A highlight of Zambrano’s time at Conn involved an internship with Dance Professor David Dorfman’s company in New York, where he studied with NYU students and performed with them in New York, the Western U.S. and in Europe.

Zambrano says his dance professors prepared him for graduate school by teaching him how to construct dance with context in mind, and by giving him an appreciation for how his dances can affect audiences.

“My professors at Conn have really made me the dancer that I am,” he says. “Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to perform professionally over the past four years.”

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May 23, 2017