Class of 2015

Commencement 2015

What it's like to ...

They came from 31 states and 15 foreign countries, and the 562 members of the class of 2015 counted among them 204 graduating with Latin honors, five Fulbright recipients, five AmeriCorps members and six newly minted 2nd lieutenants in the U.S. Army. Also among them were founders of Facebook phenom Humans of Dickinson, Montgomery Service Leaders and mentors in the inaugural First-Year Interest Group (FIG) program. Some of them were the sole undergraduate panelist or presenter at an academic conference; others worked on the College Farm, co-led service trips or conducted research at top-notch labs and institutes.

Given the array of experiences these brand-new alumni already have under their belts, we asked them to tell us “What it’s like to …” do all those great things they got to do while at Dickinson, before they descended Old West’s steps and headed off for their next adventure.

present at an academic conference (or two): Presenting at two conferences a week apart was nerve-racking. At my first conference, though, my nerves and insecurities evaporated the moment I began presenting. And after channeling courage exhibited by several of my favorite female heroines (Hermione Granger from Harry Potter and Leslie Knope from Parks & Recreation), I was excited about presenting my research and taking advantage of these amazing opportunities. —Sasha Shapiro

launch an online phenom, Humans of Dickinson: We didn’t set out to launch a phenomenon, but rather it was about looking for a way to tell the collective story of Dickinsonians. We were never interested in creating this for the numbers; we were interested in the stories from the get-go. The numbers are simply how eff‰ectively we’re telling the story. —Rebecca Shenton and Justin McCarty

co-lead the Montgomery Service Leaders (MSL): Seeing firsthand the results of the time and eff‰ort invested in the Carlisle community is incredibly fulfilling. Whether it was volunteering at Project SHARE, having a discussion with the mayor of Carlisle about local issues or just hearing how excited the volunteers were to walk into their nonprofit partner every day, working with MSL has taught me the importance of community engagement. —Mackenzie King

live in the Treehouse: While we Treekids are known for our short showers and cold winters, the biggest impact we have on the environment is through challenging each other’s sustainable practices and educating others about our actions, with the hope that we will inspire environmental consciousness in those with whom we cross paths throughout our lives. —Lexie Raczka

spend a semester at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Music Theatre Institute: NMTI is a
laboratory: You spend a minimum of 14 hours a day, seven days a week, creating art, being physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, overworked, underqualified and certain that you will fail. The instructors push you to your limits to show that artists cannot and should not be confined by limits, and so, ensure the unique and beautiful blossoming of your life as a theatre artist. There’s a reason their motto is “Risk. Fail. Risk Again.” —Holly Kelly

break a school athletics record: Pretty surreal given the history of the school and the basketball program. It’s a great honor for everyone that pushed me to be great on the floor over the last four years. Without them, who knows where I’d› be? —Gerry Wixted

start a club: It’s exhilarating to know that you’re cultivating a new space, a new platform for your peers, yet it’s risky to have to articulate a vision, particularly one that’s been heavily thought about, but not voiced. Then it’s heartwarming to see people help nurse what you created, to have them believe in it and want to become a part of it. That’s what it feels like (aside from all of the treacherous technicalities, e.g., writing a constitution from scratch, drafting budgets and grant proposals, creating weekly workshop agendas). —Brittany Barker

star in the campus musical: Playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof was both extremely challenging and incredibly humbling. There were so many people involved: a cast of 25, a backstage crew of 23, an orchestra of 26, the director, designers, stage managers, box o£ce volunteers, etc. All of these people have to work toward a single goal and execute perfectly. Being one of the key pieces in something like that is a daunting responsibility, but it’s also a joy and a comfort to know that all of those people are working to help you shine. —Jeremy Lupowitz

intern in a town where cell service and Wi-Fi are illegal: Living and working at the National Radio Astronomy
Observatory in Green Bank, W.Va., without many modern electronic luxuries—cell phones, Wi-Fi and even a microwave—I was also in the shadow of some of the most advanced technology the field of radio astronomy has to off‰er. It was an awesome place, a place where people made plans and stuck to them and friendships were formed without the distractions of phones constantly vibrating. It was…well…out of this world! —Olivia Wilkins

study opera in Rome: I found myself performing in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and in the country where some of the greatest opera singers started their careers. —Ann Fogler

conduct research on beetle guts: It can be slimy and stinky sometimes, but it is surprisingly satisfying. It’s like opening up this microscopic chamber of wonders that is more complex than you could ever imagine. I had a fantastic mentor who pushed me to think outside of the gut (pun intended), and through this challenge we expanded our knowledge of microbial diversity in this widely under-sampled niche. Not only did I›add to an important field of research, but I also helped pave the way for future beetle-juicers. —Kayla Muirhead

be a student archivist … and a student-athlete: I was able to live in Carlisle for the summer immersing myself in my history major through working in the archives by day—all while devoting myself to football training at night. This experience allowed me to thrive both academically and athletically throughout my senior year. —Robert Marsden

be a LEAD mentor: It’s like a group of high-school parents at prom. Although it’s their job to make sure we kids behave, we all know that they’re dying to join us! —Suleiman “Slay” Sudah

captain the ultimate Frisbee team: Being captain is like being the head of a huge family. As we compete against other teams, it’s my job to make sure that we play hard, aim to win and (most importantly) have fun! —Trevor Griesman

Web Additions

love your First-Year Seminar: Starting out in a learning community of diverse individuals who all shared a common interest in music was a truly unique experience for which I am grateful. I have remained friends with many of the other students from my learning community for my entire college career. —Alexander Kasznel

work at the College Farm: it is one of the most rewarding experiences that Dickinson could offer its students. Every day we work to support the biodiversity and natural process that occur on the farm, while also bringing both the Dickinson and Carlisle communities closer to the local food movement. —Kaitlin Soriano

volunteer abroad: It’s like getting a completely different perspective on your nation, culture and self. Meeting and connecting with people by working together on ambitious projects. Driven by a shared passion for making a community the best it can be. --James George

lead a volunteer trip (as student leader): To lead a volunteer trip, it takes passion for the greater community and a desire to inspire others. I work to inspire Dickinsonians to explore the world past the limestone walls and their communities at home. We grow the most when we leave our comfort zone and push to encourage interaction with the rest of society. My goal as a volunteer leader is to instill a passion in others to carry on the giving atmosphere of Dickinson. —Brooke Serra

tutor an Army War College Fellow: It's a cultural exchange unlike any other. We as tutors, and they as tutees, have such different skill sets, and it's incredibly humbling and rewarding to be able to teach and learn from each other. The fact that the Norman M. Eberly Writing Center is able to facilitate such connections with highly decorated veterans from all around the world is amazing; it's like a mini-abroad experience in the library.  —Grace Fisher

Read more from the summer 2015 issue of Dickinson Magazine.

Learn More

Published July 28, 2015