Yesterday, the Class of 2014 inhabited the Scott Outdoor Amphitheater, flipping their tassels and posing for pictures. Today, the roughly 370 graduates will fan out across multiple continents to pursue a spectrum of opportunities.
Whether it's analyzing data on Wall Street, engineering software for Google, teaching chemistry at a boarding school in Jordan, or studying the interplay between humans and butterflies, the graduates' plans reflect the intellectual curiosity and holistic approach to learning at the heart of Swarthmore.
Several are pursuing fields that weren't even on their radars when they came to the College. Among them, Niamba Baskerville, a sociology and anthropology major from Baltimore, Md., whose plan to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology shifted after sophomore year.
"The Sociology and Anthropology Department gave me new perspective on social problems," she says, "and helped me to realize that I wanted to work on amending structural issues as opposed to helping individuals as a therapist."
Baskerville heads to the nonprofit world via Philly Fellows, which will place her in an educational organization to focus on mentoring programs. She's eager to see how nonprofits work from the inside while immersing herself and establishing a network in Philadelphia.
Also pursuing an education-related fellowship is Cameron French, who journeys to East China to provide academic support for New York University Shanghai students. The distance doesn't intimidate him as much as the language barrier does.
"I know absolutely no Chinese," says French, a psychology major from Salem, Ore., "so even the little things like getting around in the city and buying groceries will be a challenge.
"But I'm excited for a chance to immerse myself in a new home and broaden my perspective," he adds. "It has the potential to be a transformative experience."
Staying much closer to home is Amanda Brown, a psychology and educational studies special major, who heads from Burlington, N.J., to the New York County District Attorney's Office in Manhattan. It's a great fit for Brown, who plans to pursue law school and join the public sector, because of its "direct connection to the public," she says.
Taking a breather from academia is Ben Wolcott, who heads to the nation's capital to intern at the Center for Economic and Policy Research before deciding on further schooling. He plans to research an issue he's passionate about: economic justice.
"In general, I want to fight to make economic structures work better for everyday Americans," says the economics and sociology and anthropology major from Bethesda, Md., who credits his time with the Swarthmore Labor Action Project for helping him to "better understand how difficult it is to be a worker in contemporary America, and how people who care can build power."
Heading to Wolcott's hometown to conduct biomedical research for the National Institutes of Health is Kanishka Patel. The neuroscience special major from Lafayette, Cal., will examine the process of O-glycosylation, proteins getting tagged with sugar chains inside of a cell, in which defects can lead to developmental problems and cancer.
"I honestly feel so blessed," Patel says of the opportunity. "I really don't think this would have been possible if it were not for the amazing professors and research experiences I've had through the College."
Many other students credit Swarthmore in general and Career Services in particular for aiding their search and connecting them to alumni in their fields of interest. They appreciated the College not rushing them to figure out their future and encourage future Swatties to head out into the world with open minds.
"Don't be in a rush to get moving on your career path right after graduation," says French. "Let yourself do something quirky just because."