Aaron Jackson '16 is about to graduate from Swarthmore, but you might say he was just getting started.
In this past semester, his talent infused three theater media design productions, two film festival selections, and a transmedia art installation. Creative pistons firing, Jackson is going to work as an assistant camera operator for the feature-film debut of Tayarisha Poe ’12 before enrolling in Temple University’s “MediaXArts” master’s program in the fall.
“My attitude towards life after Swat is not dwelling on past accolades or events, but fixing all my energy towards creating art that imparts awareness of the time we use and how it's spent,” says Jackson, a film & media studies major from Round Lake, Ill.
That zeal for applying lessons learned at Swarthmore — for making the most of things — pervades the Class of 2016. After this Sunday’s commencement, the 359 graduates will venture across the globe to explore the worlds of law, medicine, finance, technology, academia, the sciences, the arts, public service, and, in some cases, personal development.
Throughout its senior year, the Class of 2016 was peppered with and/or pestered by a question: “What’s next?” Ten graduating seniors took time to answer that question this week and, like the students themselves, their responses defy categorization.
Sarah Geselowitz '16 thought she knew what was next when she nabbed a software test engineering job in Long Beach, Calif. But after giving it more thought, Geselowitz chose to bet on herself instead. She’ll spend the summer at the Grace Hopper Academy, a coding bootcamp designed to steer more women to software engineering.
“I want to focus on writing my own code, rather than testing other people’s,” says the history major from State College, Pa., who became increasingly excited about computer science classes at Swarthmore.
“I've found them more empowering than almost anything else at Swat,” Geselowitz says. “I feel like I have this whole new set of tools to do whatever I want with.”
Among Swatties moving into the financial sector is Ascanio Guarini '16, who will spend the summer as an investment associate at Bridgewater Associates before taking a year-long research fellowship on healthcare finance at Stanford University. The distinct culture of Bridgewater most excites Guarini — in particular, the way it strives to systematically understand its employees the same way it tries to understand the world.
Says the Honors economics and engineering major from New York, N.Y.: “I expect to come out of the experience with a clearer view on my characteristics as an employee, as a thinker, and as a person.”
Also seeking a sharper sense of self is John Lim '16, who will teach English in Korea for one year. The economics major from Hanover, Md., grew up in a Korean-American household and is eager to immerse himself in Korean culture and “finally become bilingual.”
“I hope that being in a new cultural context will highlight values of mine that I've learned in this one,” says Lim. “I want to challenge the values I've taken for granted, in hopes of learning more about myself and how I want to live.”
Hang Le '16 will trace her roots, as well, by enrolling in a Ph.D. program in international education policy at the University of Maryland in the fall. Le came to Swarthmore to find best practices in American education that she could bring back to her home country of Vietnam, and she remains intent on one day paying those lessons forward.
“I hope to inspire [Vietnamese students] to critically question the world around them and to take action to bring about their ideal world,” says Le, a political science and educational studies special major, “the same way I have been inspired at Swarthmore.”
Suness Jones '16 is heading out on a cross-country trip. The English literature and religion major from San Clemente, Calif., will be a Catholic missionary for nine months, visiting schools and churches to hold retreats for middle school and high school students.
“Devoting myself to this one goal is something I felt called to do,” says Jones. “I hope to carry the hopes and desires of the bishops, as well as the critical socio-cultural lens I've developed at Swat, with me as I interact with youth.”
Among the graduates entering the realm of sustainability is Azucena Lucatero '16. The Asian studies and biology major from Ontario, Calif., will join Greenpeace through a fellowship designed to attract people of color to careers in conservation. She will join a campaign in San Francisco to convert the tuna industry into a more sustainable fishery that respects both the environment and human rights.
“I'm glad to be able to participate in linking the science with the social science,” says Lucatero, “especially since the communication between the two disciplines is often not the best.”
Probing the sciences is Amy Amuquandoh '16, who will join Project Malawi, a global health project through the UNC School of Medicine that conducts research into HIV, malaria, STDs, and other health factors in Lilongwe, Malawi. It’s a serendipitous opportunity, she says, offered by a palliative care geriatrician, Gary Winzelberg ’90, she shadowed as an extern in 2014.
“I thought this was the perfect opportunity to immerse myself in international global health work first-hand,” says Amuquandoh, a biology major from Millstone Township, N.J.
Other graduates are taking some time to travel. Their destinations range from the Sierra Mountains to southeast Asia, their motivations adventure to ardor.
“I may end up in Paris within the next year, and if I do, its because I'm in love — sounds pretty cliché,” says Erin Ching '16, a gender, global health, and development special major from Seattle, Wash., who will work in Myanmar in the fall before deciding whether to apply for graduate school.
And then there are the graduates who don’t know what’s next, exactly — and are totally fine with that. Among them is Joe Corcoran '16, a biology major from Plymouth Meeting, Pa., who will enter the workforce for a year or two before enrolling in medical school.
“I think the time away from academia will allow me to get work experience and help me discover what I am passionate about,” says Corcoran, who will seek jobs in medicine, marketing, project management, and “pretty much everything else.”
“And if that experience pays decently well and challenges me to think, juggle priorities, and push my boundaries," he says, "then I'll be happy.”
Visit Career Services for a detailed breakdown of The Class of 2015's post-graduation plans. The Class of 2016's post-graduation plans will be available in mid-June.