During their time at Gettysburg College, each member of the Class of 2021 forged their own path and left the campus better than they found it. They were active and involved across campus and in the community, challenged themselves to try new things and explore new perspectives, unearthed and energetically pursued their passions, and all the while, laid the foundation for a lifetime of meaningful work.
Read reflections from several of our newest Gettysburg College alumni on what it means to be a Gettysburgian, their fondest moments and proudest accomplishments, the value of a liberal arts education, and how they plan to leverage their Gettysburg education to make a difference in the world.
“Gettysburg College has supported me in ways I never could have expected. I have involved myself in several different ways on campus: in academic research, athletics, and Greek life. These paths are seemingly quite separate, yet they have intertwined themselves in one another, each benefitting me in unique ways,” said Ashey who majored in Chemistry. “When I arrived at Gettysburg College, I came with my interests, but I was confused on which direction I should go. The people I have met along the way, both students and faculty, were able to show me how to apply myself, and I gained confidence in myself and my abilities as a result.” She will be attending the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in the fall to pursue a PhD in Chemistry in the polymer/materials division. Read more about Ashey.
“Classical music is pretty rare in Nepal. I had never played in a chamber or a large ensemble before coming to Gettysburg. When I came to Gettysburg, I not only got to perform in ensembles, I also fulfilled my dream of touring with an ensemble. In my first year of college, I traveled and performed with the Sunderman Conservatory Wind Symphony in Leipzig, Berlin, and Prague. Likewise, in my second year of college, I got to perform with the Wind Symphony again at the Kennedy Center. Any pianist growing up dreams of playing a concerto with an orchestra. I, too, had a dream of playing with an orchestra growing up. I realized that I could get the opportunity to perform a concerto with an orchestra if I won the Sunderman Conservatory Concerto Competition. In the spring of my sophomore year, I took part in the competition and won first place. As a result, I got the opportunity to perform the concerto of my choice (Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 16) last fall. It was my first time performing with an orchestra and it was without a doubt the best day of my life. I also used the cash prize of $250 that I received to help myself buy music software and hardware to record my own music compositions,” said Gyasu Bajracharya. Bajracharya studied biochemistry and music and plans on working as a research associate in a biotech company.
“I’m most proud of winning the Centennial Conference Championship in 2018 with the softball team. Celebrating with my team and the community was the best feeling in the world, and I’m so thankful I got to experience it with the people that I did. We worked hard everyday and I’m proud I was a part of that,” said Shelby Baker. Baker majored in organization and management studies and minored in business. After graduation she hopes to join the United States Marine Corps.
“In my junior year, my grandmother passed away unexpectedly. We were incredibly close—she was like a second mother to me. At the time this happened, I was in the midst of intense coursework and basketball season, wondering how I would grapple with moving on. I'll never forget the people who made it possible—my coaches, teammates, advisors, and professors. This tough time not only shaped my outlook on life, but it made me incredibly appreciative of the wonderful support systems at Gettysburg who continue to uplift me,” said Meredith Brown. Brown majored in biochemistry and molecular biology and minored in Spanish. She will be attending medical school in the fall.
“A liberal arts education provides a unique framework to conceive the rest of the world. In four years I took courses in over 12 different departments and [gained] incredible insights about various fields. Though this may sound like an eclectic experience, at its core it demonstrated both the interconnectedness of all fields and provided different lenses through which to see it. I wouldn't trade it for the world,” said Grace Bushway. Bushway majored in Spanish and hopes to work with the Peace Corps in Ecuador.
“A pivotal moment in my time at Gettysburg was working with the Center of Public Service (CPS). At CPS, I have been able to engage in meaningful conversations with my peers, form relationships with members of the greater Gettysburg community, coordinate teams of 150 volunteers, and meet with Civil Rights leaders in Alabama. All of these experiences have shaped me into the person I am today, and have radically changed my view on the world. CPS was the first place I understood the importance of a true and supportive community in individual growth,” said Nicole Carach who studied biology and Spanish. She plans to work as a research assistant before going to graduate school in a couple years. “Although I do not intend to have a professional career working in social justice spaces, community support and activist work has become incredibly important to me, so I fully intend to continue my work in whatever community I end up,” Carach added.
“I highly valued my time here at Gettysburg College all these years. It put me into an environment that seemed intimidating at first but it allowed me to meet such wonderful individuals across the years as well as take me out of my comfort zone to allow me to prosper and grow out of my shell,” said Gisel Castelan. Castelan double majored in Spanish and psychology and minored in education. She plans to get an apartment in New York City and work at a daycare for a year and then apply to graduate school, earning her masters in psychology.
Health sciences major and Spanish minor Evan Czulada will be attending medical school after graduating with the plan of becoming a physician. “My [proudest] moment from Gettysburg College was when I finally finished my application to medical school. When I first started my time here at Gettysburg, I had no idea what the next four years would entail. I didn't know if I would survive organic chemistry, physics, or even my first-year writing class. I didn't know if I would be able to balance time with my basketball team, my fraternity, and my demanding pre-medical course load. I didn't know if I would be able to handle my MCAT, much less having to deal with it being cancelled twice. My Gettysburg College experience was never easy, but it helped propel me to a spot where I had finally begun to take the next steps to my career.”
Economics major and business minor Tessa Damiano will be working as a client representative associate for Vanguard in Malvern, Pennsylvania after graduating. “While economics is one of my greatest passions, I entered into it with the knowledge that the field is commonly underrepresented by women nationwide. Thus, I never underestimated the value of my hard work throughout college. When I was named a nominee for the FEI Outstanding Student Award by the Economics department, I was truly elated. Not only did Gettysburg provide me with all the tools I needed to reach my goals, it was the thoughtful encouragement that pushed me to go beyond what I knew I was capable of. I am both proud and lucky to be a part of such an inclusive and supportive community,” Damiano said.
Joshua Eli-Azar González
“A liberal arts education taught me how to think holistically. I studied abroad and learned about the intricacies of my own Spanish lived experience but also the nature of economic and political structures in a different part of the world. In the economics department, I learned that everything can be viewed through incentives. With public policy, I learned to defend my views passionately and with hard evidence. This is where the value of a liberal arts education kicks in,” said Joshua González who studies economics and public policy. During the summer he will be interning in the Washington, D.C., office of Congresswoman María Elvira Salazar. Afterward, he will join Hamilton Place Strategies as an Analyst.
“I am most proud of my work in bringing back the business major to Gettysburg College. This major... has allowed for a greater amount of potential [students] looking and applying to the school, along with renewed alumni interest. Lastly, it gives people on campus more opportunities to gain the skill sets that will make them more competitive in the market,” said political science and public policy double major Garrett Goodwin. This summer, he will be working with Pfizer in their regulatory department. Next fall, he will be attending the Master’s in Commerce program at the McIntire School of Business at the University of Virginia with a marketing and management track.
“The value of a Liberal Arts education, to me, is immeasurable and life changing. During my four years at Gettysburg College I have been able to critically analyze my place within the world and have been given the tools to advocate for the change I want to see. I am able to see the parallels across different academic disciplines and draw upon those academic and personal experiences to communicate my ideas and uplift the voices around me,” said Alison Gouveia who studied environmental studies and peace and justice studies. After graduation, she will be a part of Teach For America 2021 and will be teaching middle school general science in Providence, Rhode Island.
“A pivotal moment for me during my time at Gettysburg came in the spring golf season of 2019 when our team won its first Conference Championship in 17 years. This moment shaped me because it proved to me that with hard work and dedication that anything is possible to achieve. The lessons I’ve learned about being the best student I can be in the classroom as well as the best golfer I can be on the course, are lessons that I can carry with me throughout life and what makes our team's success in 2019 so important to me,” James Harcourt said. Harcourt majored in economics, minored in business, and he hopes to pursue a career in investment management or sales.
“During my time at Gettysburg College, I was Panhellenic president, in which I was able to organize and facilitate a virtual Sexual Assault Prevention Fair. Sexual assault and rape culture is prominent on all college campuses and something that I was very passionate about before coming to Gettysburg… During my time as Panhellenic president, Caitlin Lindsay was my advisor, who I met with weekly. Caitlin’s never-ending support and mentoring helped me become the person I am today. Because of Caitlin's amazing mentorship, I became the version of myself who is not afraid to speak up for the community and share my ideas with confidence,” said Kristin Haugen. Haugen was an interdisciplinary studies major, focusing her studies on mental health and learning disabilities. She plans to become an early childhood education teacher.
“A ‘Gettysburgian’ is someone who sees the importance of having other people succeed. Being a Gettysburgian is someone who gets to the top of the mountain, and makes space for other Gettysburgians to get to the top. A Gettysburgian values community,” said Ricardo Hernandez. Hernandez majored in computer science and double minored in mathematics and Spanish. He will be working at Publicis Sapient in Arlington, Virginia, as a Jr. Software Development Engineer. Read more about Hernandez.
“The most pivotal moment in my Gettysburg College career was the day that I was no longer the mentee, but it was time to give back to first-years and sophomores and share all of the things I have learned throughout my four years here. Advising and mentoring younger students has been one of my most cherished memories during my time here at Gettysburg College,” said Christopher Jack. Jack double majored in mathematical economics and business and data analytics. He plans to either pursue a master’s in quantitative economics and finance or data science and artificial intelligence, or work for the NBA in New York City.
“A pivotal moment for my Gettysburg College career was when we were sent home due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020. Shortly after finishing my semester, I got word that my dream internship at the New England Aquarium had been canceled and moved to a remote research project, which I completed from my childhood bedroom. From that moment forward I dedicated my final year as a Gettysburgian to being as involved as I could, even if it looked different than before,” said Megan Keene, who majored in environmental studies and minored in biology. “Since then I have been a Peer Learning Associate for the GIS and Ecology classes, was selected for the College Life Advisory Committee to oversee planning for the Spring 2021 semester, completed the Eisenhower Institute Environmental Leadership Program, and got a job working as the Senior Career Ambassador at the Center for Career Engagement. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me to go after every opportunity that interests me because you never know how that will shape your future.” Keene hopes to get a job in the environmental science field as a consultant or specialist.
“Being a ‘Gettysburgian’ means being an active member of a welcoming community. It means waving hello to the students and faculty you pass on campus, ordering Servo cookies as a sweet treat for lunch, sitting at the tables of the Musselman Library steps when the sun's peeking out, participating in enriching activities that foster your passions, and making "class" friends that turn into lifelong friends. To me, it means putting myself out there and making the most of my college experience. … Being a ‘Gettysburgian’ is an invaluable experience that I proudly cherish,” May Lonergan said. Lonergan majored in psychology and double minored in creative writing and education. She plans on attending law school in the fall.
“The values of a liberal arts education combine that of a real world experience and also that of a discovery mindset. I truly believe that a liberal arts education is like a springboard for an entrepreneurial mindset. During my time at Gettysburg I noticed that the professors do not provide you with what is the answer to questions, but how does one get the answer. In doing this we as students question processes and try to determine real world solutions,” said David Medina who majored in biology and minored in business. He is actively applying to jobs within the pharmaceutical and biomedical industries, but his goal is to put his entrepreneurial mindset to use with either a position in consulting, sales, or marketing.
“The value of a liberal arts education expands far beyond the classroom. My time at Gettysburg has been shaped by the close relationships with faculty and professional staff that were only possible through the intersectional goals of liberal arts. I have been able to explore fields outside of my major, engage in challenging dialogues, and learn outside of the classroom,” said Katherine Mercer, who majored in health sciences and minored in peace and justice studies. “Liberal arts prioritizes a well-rounded education and that includes increasing opportunities for students to truly explore and be curious. Gettysburg has not only done this for me but has ignited an inquisitive quality within me that I hope to carry after my graduation.” Mercer will be attending the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in pursuit of a Masters of Science in control of infectious diseases. She has aspirations to work in the humanitarian health field with a specialization in disease transmission in areas of conflict.
“Being a Gettysburgian means to me that I share the love for the battlefield sunsets, I’ve battled windy walks to class and have enjoyed a great servo meal. I am part of a close-knit group of individuals from various backgrounds set to do great things. Being a Gettysburgian means you’ve had the teachings of fantastic faculty who've gotten to know you in our small classes. Gettysburg also is a place to embrace your curiosity and try many new things (maybe a few too many at times),” Kayl Murdough said. Murdough double majored in computer science and mathematics and minored in music. After graduation, he will be working as a Technology Consultant for EY in Boston, Massachusetts.
“I felt right at home when I transferred to Gettysburg College with the help from the [Office of International Student Services], Admissions and the Residential Life Office. The professors were motivated, and the classes were interesting. I felt motivated, which I never lost during my time here at Gettysburg College,” said Distanta Ojha, who majored in computer science and double minored in data science and mathematics. “My other pivotal moment at Gettysburg College was when I started reaching out to alumni for career advice and guidance. I found all of them very helpful and [they] spent a lot of time helping me and providing advice. I felt more and more confident reaching out to people and making connections.” Ojha plans to work with Ellucian, a company that has been spearheading educational technology that positively impacts people’s lives.
“I am most proud of my role as orientation coordinator for both the class of 2023 and 2024. At both of their convocation ceremonies, I was able to give a speech reflecting on my time at Gettysburg and offering advice to the first-years. This role was one that helped me build confidence in myself and helped me to realize my full potential,” said Julianna Pestretto. Pestretto triple majored in globalization studies, political science, and French. After graduation, she hopes to work at a non-profit that specializes in democracy building. Eventually, she would like to go to graduate school for international relations and perhaps pursue a PhD with the hopes of eventually teaching at a university.
Benjamin Maurice Roy
“During my Freshman year, I met with [History Prof. Peter] Carmichael and asked to assist him in his research in some manner. He handed me a stack of photocopied letters and essays from the nineteenth century and told me to transcribe them. It was my first introduction to raw primary sources, but more importantly, my introduction to the work ethic it would require to be excellent in working with them. Every night after I completed my homework, I would stay up late with the essays and peer at them with heavy eyes. But their content and my passion for the work kept me animated, and my work with those sources eventually resulted in a Kolbe Fellowship, then an academic article published by Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Carmichael’s readiness to work with me changed my experience at Gettysburg, and initiated the process that makes me the student and individual I am today” said Benjamin Maurice Roy who majored in history and double minored in civil war era studies and public history. After graduation, he wants to attain a doctorate in history and teach at the collegiate level. Read more about Roy.
“In the spring of 2020, when the pandemic disrupted my semester and caused so much uncertainty about the future, I saw how the Gettysburg community rose to help each other out. In the months I spent on campus during the summer, everyone from the Servo staff to the International Student Services Office went above and beyond to make sure that international students were taken care of. I couldn't be more grateful to be part of such a kind and supportive community. It was this moment that made me realize how truly unique Gettysburg is and I am so proud to be part of this community,” said Shanzae Sarwar who studied economics and international affairs. Sarwar hopes to start a career in the finance industry after graduation.
The most pivotal moment of Cameron Sauers’ time at Gettysburg was History Prof. Peter Carmichael’s Spring 2018 From Old South to New South class, which challenged him to gain a deeper understanding of the history of the American South. “Dr. Carmichael really pushed me to work on my writing and to grapple with complicated readings. His mentorship and guidance during that class really helped us forge a great relationship and inspired me to pursue Southern History in graduate [school],” he said. This summer, Sauers will be serving as a Ranger at Cape Cod National Seashore. In the fall, he will be a Robert Lipman Fellow in the graduate history program at the University of Kentucky. He intends to pursue his PhD and later enter higher education.
“Mentorship from [Public Policy] Prof. Anne Douds throughout my time at Gettysburg has been life-changing for me. She pointed me in the right direction and connected me to people and opportunities that could help me be successful in my endeavors. She has always been my biggest cheerleader on campus and has motivated me to go after my dreams even if I am unsure of myself. Her belief in me has helped me to believe in myself,” said Haley Shultz, who double majored in political science and public policy. She plans on obtaining a full-time job where she can work as a policy researcher or policy analyst and after a couple of years of professional experience, earn a master's degree in public policy. Read about Shultz’s work with Douds.
“I am most proud of all the work I have done to make the college more sustainable, through both the Student Senate Sustainability Committee and the Gettysburg Environmental Concerns Organization (GECO). As chair of the Student Senate Sustainability Committee I was able to work with Dining Services to start charging for plastic take out bags at [the Bullet Hole] and was able to incentivize the college to add a sustainability component to extended orientation. I was also able to educate senate on proper recycling and fast fashion,” said Nadine Snyder who double majored in environmental studies and minored in peace and justice studies. “As President of GECO I was able to educate people on different environmental issues every week and help facilitate discussions on these issues. It is exciting to know that I have brought positive tangible change to campus, and I will always look back on my sustainability work here with pride.” After graduation Snyder plans to move back to California and serve in Americorps for a year or pursue a fellowship at the state capitol. More long-term, she plans to study environmental policy in graduate school and pursue a career in environmental advocacy.
“A pivotal moment for me at Gettysburg was taking Education for Social Change with Dr. Hakim Williams. Not only did that class reshape the way I view the world around me, but I gained an incredible mentor. Dr. Williams has taught me to critically analyze everything around me and has supported me in all my change-making endeavors,” said Jenna Thoretz, who double majored in political science and public policy and minored in peace and justice studies. Thoretz will be attending the London School of Economics and Political Science to earn a Master of Science in international development and humanitarian emergencies. She hopes to work toward the decolonization of international development and to stand in solidarity with marginalized communities around the world as they fight for social justice.
“A pivotal moment during my time at Gettysburg was the chance I had to do research over the summers at wonderful places. The most prominent experience for me was doing research with ICERM in Providence, Rhode Island, where I got to interact with some of the most interested and wonderful students at other schools. This experience shaped the way I have done research since, and let me better understand what I wanted to do with my future,” said Mathhew Torrence, who majored in mathematics and triple minored in music, computer science, and French. He will be working for Two Six Technologies in Arlington, Virginia, as a research scientist in formal methods.
Christian Whitsel will be attending Yale University to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in adult gerontology acute care to become a nurse practitioner. “I had a great study abroad experience in Berlin, Germany, where I was able to take courses in the global and community health track which aligned with my dual major in health sciences and public policy. This gave me a new perspective on the U.S. healthcare system and contributed to why I decided to pursue a clinical graduate program,” Whitsel said.
“One of my most pivotal moments at Gettysburg was when I spent a semester abroad. I was truly stepping out of my comfort zone, going to Spain and speaking Spanish for the majority of my time there, I was in a completely new setting. During my time abroad I lived in a homestay and took classes all in Spanish. This experience caused me to be more confident in my abilities and learn how to do a lot of things on my own. Going abroad also helped me learn more about the global nature of our world and helped me become more of a global citizen,” said Timothy Wilson. Wilson double majored in political science and sociology and minored in Spanish. After graduating, he will be working at a political consulting firm helping with policy and opposition research.
“The moment I am most proud of at Gettysburg College came from the swimming pool. Being a senior on the team, which has won a centennial conference title, it has allowed me to grow as a leader to others,” said Oliver Yancey who majored in environmental studies and minored in business. “As a first year and even sophomore on a team, one looks up to the seniors for advice. Being here to answer questions or even help the underclassmen pick classes has not only allowed my confidence to grow, but it also leaves a positive impact on the future generations of Gettysburgians. It also allowed for the team to be more vulnerable towards each other, causing… the team to be more dedicated and driven.” Yancey will be moving to Philadelphia to pursue a career in financial consulting.
Celebrate the Gettysburg College Class of 2021
Commencement for the Class of 2021 will take place on the morning of Monday, May 17, on campus at Musselman Stadium for seniors and two of their guests. The ceremony will also be livestreamed for remote viewing. Degrees will be conferred virtually on Sunday, May 23. Check our Commencement pages for more details.