During their time at Gettysburg College, the Class of 2020 explored new ways of thinking, pursued opportunities that ignited their passions, and laid their foundations for bright futures. Read the following reflections from several of our newest alumni on the experiences that shaped them, what it means to be a Gettysburgian, and how they plan to use their Gettysburg College liberal arts education to take on the world!
“My title as captain of the women’s lacrosse team here at Gettysburg, which has won two NCAA national championships in my time here, is a testament to my ability to lead and inspire others. A team without a great culture will not accomplish goals, and my fellow seniors and I worked together to create and maintain a dynamic that was inclusive, dedicated, and driven,” said Liza Barr ’20, an organization and management studies major, and business and education double minor. “By dedicating myself to developing an all-in mindset within the team, our potential was boundless. I am heartbroken that we were not able to see that into fruition this 2020 season, but I know my class left our legacy and there will be great things to come in 2021.” Barr has been nominated as NCAA’s 2020 Woman of the Year.
Mathematical economics and mathematics double major Kevin Benavente ’20 will be working in the Investment Fellowship Program at T. Rowe Price in Baltimore, Maryland. He plans on pursuing his Chartered Financial Analyst certification and eventually obtaining a graduate degree. “This experience is really a culmination of the hard work and valuable relationships that I have built from Gettysburg. I am now the sixth straight Gettysburg alum to be hired into T. Rowe's Investment Fellowship Program and I am very grateful for the guidance and support of those ahead of me who helped me land this opportunity.”
Kealy Cassidy ’20, a political science and public policy double major and peace and justice studies minor, plans to attend law school and pursue a profession in human rights law. “The value of a liberal arts education is limitless. During my time at Gettysburg College, I took courses over a diverse range of disciplines. This litany of knowledge across a wide spectrum of studies has informed and developed all of the perspectives I hold today as a young adult on the precipice of entering into the working world. It was the courses I would not have necessarily taken that impacted me the most.” Cassidy also studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, which she considers the most pivotal moment in her four years at Gettysburg, as it challenged her to attain personal and academic growth.
“If it were not for the liberal arts education at Gettysburg, I never would have had the flexibility and the ability to discover my second major, computer science, which eventually wound up becoming my career post-graduation. I was able to take courses I found interesting, and develop myself as a person beyond just my major,” said physics and computer science double major Craig Cissel ’20. Cissel will work as a software developer at Vanguard, in Malvern, PA. “I plan to continue my career, developing technology and eventually starting my own fund to help underprivileged and first generation students overcome their hurdles, break the cycle, and attend their dream schools.”
Perry Alexander Darby
“Before I even stepped foot on campus, I was welcomed to the Gettysburg community. When I was going through my points of greatest struggle, I was surrounded by people who lifted me up,” said Perry Alexander Darby ’20, an organization and management studies major with an intra-organizational dynamics track. “The great teachers I had made me want to teach others as well. To me, it's about giving back what you get, and I've gotten a lot at Gettysburg.” In the fall, Darby will be applying to be an instructor at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), which has been his dream job since he joined the Gettysburg Recreational Adventure Board and spent a month on a NOLS mountaineering course in Alaska.
Health sciences major Katharine Ellis ’20 will join the E.E Cammack Group School Sales Leadership Program at Aetna, a CVS Health Company. Ellis will complete seven weeks of intensive training at the headquarters before joining the New England Sales Team in Boston as a middle market sales executive. Her advice to the Class of 2024 is: “Find your passion, pursue it, and be true and confident in yourself while doing so! Gettysburg does a phenomenal job at giving you exposure to unfamiliar things, so take advantage of all of the opportunities available to you on campus during your four years and I promise you that you will not regret it.”
“Back in February, I was in history class with Prof. Hancock. He likes us to argue with one another, especially in a legal history class, and stages debates on some of the most salient issues. At the conclusion of one such debate, he told me unprompted, ‘You argued that like a lawyer.’ What he didn't yet know was that I had recently gotten an offer from my first choice law school,” said history major and writing minor Jessica Greenman ’20. “All the effort I had put in, the long nights and stressful exam weeks, the periods of wondering whether all of the work would be worth it, was starting to pay off. I had a vote of confidence that I really was prepared for the next step.” She will be attending law school at the University of Richmond in the fall.
“Being a Gettysburgian means taking the time to step out of yourself and into new experiences,” said Diana Guzman ’20, a health sciences major and peace and justice studies minor. During her time at Gettysburg College, Guzman studied globally in India, and this experience solidified her passion for housing equality. In the future she hopes to work for local organizations fighting against homelessness in an effort to achieve housing equity, and earn a master's degree in urban/city planning with a concentration in housing.
“During the end of my first semester at Gettysburg College, I was having a tough time adjusting to college. I remember turning in my final, 26-page paper for my First-Year Seminar was a pivotal time for me,” said Charles Hagen ’20, an organization and management studies major, and business and political science double minor. “As I was walking down the large, front steps of Weidensall Hall I knew I was capable of producing quality, college-level work, that I made plenty of meaningful relationships my first semester, and I couldn't wait until I was back on campus in the winter to embark on the rest of my college journey. That is when I started to realize how special Gettysburg College is.” Hagen has accepted a job at AT&T in its B2B Sales Development Program.
“I have always been a person who thrived when I was helping other people. I am better when I am helping other people. At Gettysburg, I put myself in situations where I could mentor and support incoming and current students of color because I know how hard it is to thrive at Gettysburg. So my way of being inclusive, passionate, and thoughtful has been through my dedication to helping uplift my community with mentorship. It is very important to make sure everyone feels like they have a sense of community and belonging on campus,” said sociology major, and peace and justice studies and writing double minor Quyn Israel ’20. Israel is pursuing a master's degree in peace and justice leadership through the School for International Training, an opportunity that arose while he studied globally in South Africa.
“A pivotal moment for me during my time at Gettysburg was when I interned as a Digital Technology Fellow for the educational technology department during the summer of my sophomore year. I learned a new kind of perseverance and unique problem-solving skills during the internship that I will be forever grateful for,” environmental studies major Alyssa Kaewwilai ’20 said. In the summer, she will return to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to intern as a data application programmer for the Global Learning and Observations project. She hopes to continue challenging herself everyday and inspiring others. “I want to be a leading figure for women and minorities and exemplify that adversities are nothing more than stepping stone upon your path to success.”
During her time at Gettysburg College, Caroline Kostecky ’20, who majored in Spanish and triple minored in education, writing, and peace and justice studies, embraced the collaborative community in the classroom, as well as the opportunity to learn from her professors and her peers. “I welcomed the opportunity to listen to the thoughts and opinions of my classmates as a means for changing my own perspective. I was inspired to take this action because it enabled me to connect with unique and diverse people as well as open up my perspective and views on different topics in the classroom and the world.” Kostecky will be a special education teacher with Teach for America.
“Being a Gettysburgian to me is being an independent, but humble thinker. The College leverages the privilege it has acquired, and with those resources aims to make the world a better place. As a campus, we try to create an environment that makes one comfortable to seek an education in everything, as we have resources that extend well beyond the campus,” said English major and peace and justice studies minor Churon Lanier-Martin ’20. “What I cherish most about being a Gettysburgian is being a student of the world, and not confining learning to a classroom. There is an opportunity to learn everywhere, and the tools the college equips us with, enable us to interpret and communicate the ideas we deduce from the world effectively.”
Jack Lashendock ’20 double majored in international affairs and political science, double minored in Middle East and Islamic studies and history, and served as a Senator for the Class of 2020. “There is no one way to be a Gettysburgian, and this represents the wonderful diversity of our community. For me, it means taking chances—academically, professionally, or personally—and putting in hard work to achieve something meaningful. This cannot be done alone, though; to be a Gettysburgian is to be a part of a community where lifelong friendships and partnerships can blossom, where people look out for one another, and where ideas and perspectives can be respected and challenged.” Lashendock plans to continue pursuing formal education and seek a career in the public sector, ideally working in the Foreign Service or with the United Nations.
“My sophomore year I took Prof. Williams’ Education for Social Change class, and that class completely changed me. That class made me want to learn again, it made me want to be a better student, and it made me more aware of all the injustices that were happening. And that led me to my study abroad in South Africa, my role on the Peace and Justice Studies Council, and my Immersion Trip to Rwanda,” said Africana studies major, and political science and peace and justice studies double minor Caroline Lloyd ’20. Loyd has been accepted into Teach For America and will be moving to Kansas City to teach early childhood education.
Patrick McKenna Jr.
“A pivotal moment for me at Gettysburg was joining the Eisenhower Institute. I was encouraged to apply by some upperclassmen mentors and ended up in a year-long program called Inside the Middle East. This program transformed my time at Gettysburg by forcing me to think outside the box, and the immersive experiential learning opportunities really pushed me out of my comfort zone. The program led not only to my continued involvement with the Institute as an office and program assistant the next three years, but as an avid participant in their programs,” said President of Student Senate Patrick McKenna Jr. ’20, who double majored in political science and public policy.
“Being a ‘Gettysburgian’ is about finding the groups of people that inspire you daily, all connected by the common place that is Gettysburg College. These people will push you to be a better person, make you more interested in the world around you, make you smile, be there for you when you are upset, and always be your support system. I was fortunate to find a few of these groups, each inspiring me in a unique way,” said political science major, and peace and justice studies and Civil War era studies double minor James Mullen ’20. Mullen has accepted a position with Teach for America Massachusetts in New Bedford, MA.
“The liberal arts education is invaluable in my eyes. It gives us such a breadth of understanding in numerous fields, but most importantly, this type of education teaches us to think critically. The knowledge we’ve gained here will easily translate into the real world, and I think a liberal arts education prepares us for the next chapter in our lives better than any other education,” said mathematical economics major and business minor Ethan Murphy ’20. Murphy will be working as a business analyst at OmniCable in West Chester, PA.
Spanish and women, gender, and sexuality studies double minor Elaine Negron ’20 committed herself to making the Gettysburg College campus an inclusive space for all. “I did this through being part of the Latin American Student Association and having events that would build community for those students who identified as Latinx. These events made the campus feel more home-like to them and have a space for conversation of issues that matter to them. I was inspired to take this action because I wanted a space like that of my own, to have my own community on campus.” Negron will be pursuing a master’s degree in social work at Southern Connecticut State University.
To chemistry major Shelby Nicolau ’20, being a “Gettysburgian” means being someone who is willing to help others and who is excited by a challenge. “As a first-generation student in STEM, I found finding a community of like-minded individuals was really important for my success. I wanted to find a way to connect with and help other students in my position. As a mentor for the STEM Scholars program, I had perfect access to start doing just that. I also wanted to help make students excited about chemistry and became involved in prepping and teaching the organic chemistry lab sequences.” Nicolau plans to attend the University of Michigan in pursuit of a doctorate in chemistry.
“During the choir’s spring tour my freshman spring, in the throes of sickness, travel, and a snow lockdown of New York City, I finally began to see myself as more than just an individual, but someone who was a part of something bigger than myself. This experience encouraged me to stay at Gettysburg, to continue making music, (and change my major!) and to approach leadership from a perspective of collaboration and mentorship,” said music performance major and French minor Austin Nikirk ’20. This summer, Nikirk will intern with Young Audiences Baltimore’s Summer Arts and Learning Academy, and has also been accepted by the Ministry of Education in France to participate in the Teaching Assistance Program in France. In the program she will teach English in France for seven months, strengthening foreign-language instruction for students of all ages and gaining first-hand knowledge of French language and culture.
“You can’t define being a Gettysburgian without mentioning community, but I think it’s more than that. Being a Gettysburgian means having a certain vivaciousness and excitement about different experiences, about life, about learning, about meeting new people. It means not just sitting around when there is a problem to be tackled, it means organizing rallies or hosting meetings to open up dialogues between groups. And more specifically for me, it means learning to recognize the privilege I carry with me and working to even the playing field,” said Darby Nisbett ’20, a psychology and studio art double major and peace and justice studies minor. Nisbett will be attending the University of Maryland to earn a master’s of library and information sciences.
“As a first-generation student and an international student, my path to higher education has not been clear or straight, it has been a challenging experience that encompassed two continents. But I have kept my options open, taken risks, and challenged myself throughout my time here at Gettysburg,” said environmental studies major and business minor Precious Ozoh ’20. “From the soccer field to the classroom, each step has been challenging, rewarding, and varied. I have always been passionate about others and their perspectives in life because I believe every individual is complex in their own way and see the world through their personal lens. I recognize that learning occurs at home, in the classroom, at the soccer pitch, and in the community among my peers. Therefore, each individual can learn from my shared experience, and I can learn from theirs while recognizing we all have different gifts, learning styles, and needs.”
Jazmin Reynoso Ortiz
“Junior year was one of purpose and contemplation. I elected to focus on self-evolution and my passion for mobilizing communities, gravitating toward organizations that could provide me with professional opportunities for growth and development. I ultimately became a Leadership Mentor at the Garthwait Leadership Center (GLC). During this time, I helped the GLC incorporate values of diversity and inclusion into their training methodology. Simultaneously, I found myself embracing that particular facet of my identity that for so long I had stifled, feeling like an outsider in my own community where this intersectionality was not generally discussed,” said political science and public policy double major Jazmin Reynoso Ortiz ’20. She will further explore her passion for social justice issues at the City University of New York School of Law.
“I think the most pivotal moment for me in my time at Gettysburg was joining the track and field team my freshman year. Joining the team gave me a purpose and a community of people who I immediately became close to. Not only was I able to find success on the track, but I established relationships that defined the rest of my Gettysburg experience. Having my coach tell me that every day is a great day to enjoy your sport made me realize that you should always try your best to enjoy what you're doing and seek positivity in your life,” said history major and political science and physics dual minor Samuel Sheldon ’20. Sheldon is a part of the Urban Teachers Baltimore program, where he will be teaching in underprivileged communities in Baltimore, MD, while earning a master’s in education from Johns Hopkins University.
“At its core, I believe a ‘Gettysburgian’ means being goal-oriented, both as a self-starter and as a collaborator in your academic, professional, and personal development, while also being passionately dedicated to fostering a sense of community and belonging to something bigger than just yourself. After spending four years at Gettysburg College you realize that there is really no place like it; it is a unique place where you can grow into your own, discover what you are most passionate about, and develop profound relationships that enable you to be compassionate and empathetic with the people around you. As a Gettysburgian, you leave college with the knowledge, experience, and skills to succeed in the world,” history major Jason Sinsheimer ’20 said.
“I hope to become an active member of the alumni network giving advice and helping lead the way to future Gettysburgians. I have already started to talk to stem scholar members in the newer cohorts about the dual-degree program and how they can maximize their Gettysburg College experience. As a first-generation underrepresented minority I hope that I will be somebody other students of similar backgrounds can relate to and hopefully help these students in the same ways Gettysburg has helped me,” Jonathan Trilleras ’20, a biochemistry and molecular biology double major enrolled in the College’s dual-degree engineering program for biomedical engineering. Trilleras will be attending Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, to study biomedical engineering.
“Gettysburg College is a vibrant community, built upon the rich tradition of the liberal arts. Gettysburgians strive for excellence inside and outside the classroom. We are a community with a vision that extends far beyond the walls of the College, and beyond the space of four relatively short years. Gettysburg prepares us for the challenges of life after college, promoting thoughtful responses to many of the challenges facing our world. Gettysburgians do not shy away from the most difficult questions of our age. Rather, they relish them. Gettysburgians take their role as global citizens seriously. Moreover, Gettysburgians recognize that the world is our classroom. We see every day as a new learning experience,” said history and anthropology double major and Civil War era studies and public history double minor Zachary Wesley ’20.
“I found my true passion for scientific research while I was at Gettysburg, and I had the opportunity to foster community in STEM through mentorship. One of my main goals as a mentor was to help other students feel confident doing science, because many students find STEM courses intimidating—I wanted to make sure students feel supported. I found these endeavors to be very rewarding because I know that I wouldn't have been as successful without the help I received from my upperclassmen friends when I was a sophomore, and I wanted to make sure all students would have the same opportunities that I had,” said biochemistry and molecular biology major and German studies minor Claire Woodward ’20. Woodward will pursue a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania and plans to devote her career to science policy and advocacy.
“As I was getting ready to get on a German majors and minors Zoom hangout, my friend,
who attends a university with 25,000 students, was bewildered that the German department was close enough with each other to be doing these sorts of activities. He has not had the same experience at a large university, and what I think he was lacking, and what Gettysburg College absolutely does well, is the personal feel. Getting to actually know your professors,’” history and German studies double major Aidan Wright ’20 said. “My favorite part of my time as an undergrad is the people I've met and the connections I've forged, and that is simply not possible without the Liberal Arts education.” Wright will be working as a college advisor for the Pennsylvania College Advising Corps.
Celebrate the Class of 2020 at Gettysburg College’s 185th Commencement ceremony
Please hold May 7-8, 2021, for Commencement Weekend in Gettysburg. Graduates and their families will enjoy all the pomp and circumstance that was initially planned for May 2020. More information on our new May 2021 date and other logistics will be forthcoming. Please check the Commencement page for updates.