Senior Spotlight

Before we send the members of the Class of 2021 out into the world, we want to acknowledge what they have accomplished, and will continue to accomplish beyond our campus.

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Our Seniors

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Peyton Stewart

Hometown: Hackettstown, NJ     Major: Physics     Minor: Mathematics

Other: Theta-Chi Fraternity, George's General, Peer Mentor, Physics Club, Math Club

Post-Graduate Plans: Attending Clemson University to pursue a PhD in Astrophysics, in the hopes of one day becoming a professor at a research university.

Peyton Stewart is graduating from Washington College with a major in Physics and a Minor in Mathematics. In addition to his studies, Stewart was a member of the Theta Chi Fraternity, a George’s General, a Peer Mentor and active with the Physics and Math Clubs. He made Dean’s List in Fall 2019, Fall 2020 and Spring 2020.

 

One of Stewart’s most noteworthy experiences was a summer internship with CERN, where he worked with Dr. Suyog Shrestha using ATLAS Detector data to model top quark background production.  “This experience allowed me to truly understand what doing physics research is like,” said Stewart. “It also helped me learn how to learn on my own and exercise good time management, since the internship was entirely remote. I think this opportunity truly furthered both my interest and progress towards my career goals.”

“Hopefully Peyton’s contribution through the internship will one day be part of a historic discovery,” said Shrestha, who supervised him remotely all summer. The work is in fact due to be published in 2021, meaning Stewart, as an undergrad, will be noted as having participated in an international collaboration.

Read the full story on this prestigious internship opportunity, here.

The next stop for Stewart is Clemson University, where he will be pursuing a PhD in Astrophysics, with the hopes of one day becoming a professor at a research university. Stewart credits his Washington College classes with giving him the encouragement to see beyond the scope of traditional physics courses, and why he now wants a career in research. “My professors were always there for me, providing as much help as possible as well as tremendous aid when I asked them about GRE’s, Graduate School and potential career paths,” said Stewart. “I think at one point or another, every faculty member within the Physics Department had a positive impact on me – they are why I am where I am now, where I will be in the future.”

As he prepares to close out his Washington College career, Stewart notes that one of his most significant accomplishments was really more of a discovery – thanks to his experiences, he recognizes that he has a talent for, and really enjoys explaining concepts and teaching others about physics and math, as well as other subjects.

What will he miss most about Washington College? His friends, and Create’s Miller Sandwich.

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Bethany Ford

Hometown: Silver Spring, MD     Majors: Economics & International Studies

Other: Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Epsilon, Pi Sigma Alpha, Fetching Freedom (Puppy Raiser), Symphonic Band, Cater Society (Secretary), College Democrats, Freshman Class President

Post-Graduate Plans: Continuing her work as a Data Scientist with Premise Data in D.C.

Bethany Ford is graduating from Washington College with a double major in Economics and International Studies. Ford has already begun working full-time for Premise Data in Washington D.C., while completing the last semester of her senior year. She started there as an intern, accepted full-time employment in December 2020, and will continue her work as a Data Scientist with the company after graduation as well.

 

In addition to her academic courses, Ford was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Epsilon, Pi and Sigma Alpha. She was a member of the Symphonic Band and the College Democrats, Secretary of Cater Society, and Class President her freshman year. She also volunteered for Fetching Freedom, helping to raise and train Jeffrey, a service dog.

A George Washington Scholar, Ford also earned the Phi Beta Kappa Award for Excellence in Liberal Learning, the First Year Scholarship Award, Alumni Medal, Visitors and Governors Scholarship Award, Departmental Honors in Economics, and Honors on her thesis for both Economics and International Studies.

For most of her college career, Ford was a Geographic Information System (GIS) Intern. She worked her way up the ranks, earning the title of Journeyman Leader. Through her work with GIS, Ford learned to “think about the data, understand the story it’s telling and then present that.”

Her time at the GIS lab helped her become familiar with data and ultimately helped secure full-time employment.  “I learned about the importance of data communication and how to clearly and concisely translate large amounts of information into digestible insights,” said Ford. “I also gained a lot of leadership experience there, managing teams on the projects I worked on. The skills I gained enabled me to be a valuable team player during my Premise internship, which ultimately led to getting a full-time offer!”

When asked about her most significant accomplishment from her time at Washington College, Ford points to the journey she’s taken (and will continue to take) to understanding financial inclusion as a great source of pride. “I feel like it created this common thread throughout so many of my experiences at the school and this is a passion that continues to fuel me to this day,” she said.

“The way I was able to synthesize information from the variety of classes I took, do in-person research in India (funded by the Cater Society!), write a thesis on the topic, and start a career on the trajectory in this field is something that really illuminates the power of a liberal arts education. I'm proud of the way I can merge economics, international studies, and mathematics courses together to understand something and hopefully contribute to the world in a meaningful way someday.”

Besides the brownies with the cheesecake on top, Ford says that one of the things she will miss most are Dr. Lynch's discussions on what’s going on in the news, and having open access to incredibly smart experts in their fields. “We really take that for granted while we're at school, but being able to pop into a professor’s office and learn from them is a priceless experience you can only really get while you're in college.”

Ford also credits Dr. Christine Wade for both encouraging and pushing her in ways that have shaped who she is now. “Her listening ear, insightful advice, and deep wisdom have influenced the way I view, interact with, and contribute to the world.”

Here advice to incoming freshmen students? “You get out of it what you put into it. Put in the energy and excitement and you’ll get back ten times more.”

She also encourages students to fully focus on their intellectual development. “Take ownership of who you are as an academic, and play an active role in developing your understanding of the world,” said Ford. “This means putting yourself in the driver’s seat and making your education happen - not just sitting in the back seat and allowing college to unfold without being an active participant.

“This mindset will play out in all aspects of college... whether it's actually doing the readings, writing papers on topics that really interest you, going the extra mile on your assignments, becoming involved in extracurriculars, and having deep conversations outside of class with your professors. Those are the things that will shape who you become and how you remember college.”

“I'm really thankful for the education Washington College has provided for me,” added Ford. “The generosity of the George Washington Signature Scholarship has forever changed my life and I have so much gratitude for everyone who played a role in this experience.”

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Isabella Sansanelli

Hometown: East Northport, NY     Majors: Political Science & Hispanic Studies   

 Minors: Peace & Conflict Studies and Latin American Studies

Other: Volleyball Team Captain, Secretary of Student Life for the SGA, VP of Omicron Delta Kappa, Sports Section Editor of the Elm (2019-2020), Presidential Fellow, Member of Sigma Delta Pi, Member of Pi Sigma Alpha, Delegate for Model UN, Member of NSLS

Isabella Sansanelli is graduating from Washington College with a double major in Political Science and Hispanic Studies, as well as minors in Peace and Conflict Studies and Latin American Studies. Post-graduation, Sansanelli is taking a gap year, and then intends to attain a master’s degree in either International Relations or Public Policy. 

 

In addition to her studies, Sansanelli was Volleyball Team Captain, Secretary of Student Life for the SGA, VP of Omicron Delta Kappa, Sports Section Editor of The Elm (2019-2020), Presidential Fellow, a member of Sigma Delta Pi, a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, Delegate for Model UN, and a member of NSLS. 

As a student-athlete, she was named DeSales All-Tournament Player in 2018 and made the Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll all four years. She was also named to the Dean’s List, and is a Francis Waters Scholarship recipient, and a Veryan Beacham Scholarship recipient. 

Sansanelli took full advantage of the many internship opportunities available to students, serving as a Legislative Intern in Senator Brian J. Feldman’s Office, Maryland General Assembly (Spring 2019), a Policy and Research Intern with NARAL Pro-Choice MD (Jan. 2020 – present) and most notably, a Legal Assistant and Translator for Mid-Shore Pro Bono (Feb. 2020 – present). 

According to Martin PontiPhD and Assistant Professor of Spanish, “Isabella truly acquired and became proficient in the language at the college and is putting her knowledge to work by providing interpretation and translation services for the community through her job at Mid-Shore Pro-Bono. This work includes much more than translating however, since the community she works with is highly marginalized and come from regions where they have endured physical and psychological trauma. She is not a native speaker of Spanish, and to be welcomed in such a community is not easy, yet she did it through building trust and communication. 

Sansanelli says that the opportunity to work with immigrant communities on the Eastern Shore – thanks to the Starr Center  has had a profound impact on her future plans, which includes continuing this important work with this underserved population. She also counts mastering Spanish as her most significant accomplishment, which has facilitated this deeper work. “I think working with these communities has been by far the most impactful experience of my college career,” she said. 

Ponti added, “In HPS we are really proud of her outreach and her sense of social responsibility. It was through her capstone and her internship where she realized her future career will continue to explore, advocate and represent marginalized communities. 

For her part, Sansanelli credits both Dr. Ponti and Dr. Wade with helping her to focus her dual interest in Political Science and Hispanic Studies. “They have helped me find ways to combine them and forge a meaningful career path going forward.”  

Sansanelli is a big fan of the Dining Hall’s chicken tenders and fries, and will generally miss being a part of the community – both Washington College and the greater Chestertown community. One of her favorite memories is from volleyball, when she and her teammates won their Senior Day game against Franklin & Marshall. 

 As for her parting words for the incoming freshman, it’s no surprise that Sansanelli talks up the benefits of exploring internships. “There is no such thing as a bad experience for internships or jobs,” she saidYou can learn to grow and advance your interests in ANY opportunity that comes your way. Take advantage of them!!! 

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Becca Kanaskie

Hometown: Tamaqua, PA     Major: English

 Minor: Journalism, Editing & Publishing

Other: Peer Consultant for the Writing Center, Photographer for The Elm, Nonfiction Screen for Cherry Tree, Member of the Cater Society for Junior Fellows, Member of Phi Beta Kappa

Rebecca (Becca) Kanaskie graduated from Washington College in December 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Journalism, Editing and Publishing. She is currently the Wayland H. Cato, Jr. Foundation intern at the Brinton Museum in Big Horn, Wyoming where she is gaining curatorial and educational skills and experience. This fall, Kanaskie will be attending the University of Idaho to pursue an innovative master’s degree in English Literature with a concentration in environmental literature. 

 

 Kanaskie arrived at Washington College certain that she wanted to be an Anthropology major, but that all changed once she took her first English class with Dr. Katie Charles. From that point forward, she got involved with the Writing Center, served as a non-fiction screener for Cherry Tree, and sought out internships that allowed her to use her English background in both traditional and non-traditional ways. “I quickly found that I could apply proofreading and researching skills to work behind the scenes at museums by creating labels for shows and editing museum publications, as well as helping to coordinate tours and create lesson plans for visiting students,” said Kanaskie 

Kanaskie embraced the many internship opportunities available to her as Washington College student.  She interned at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh in the Education Department as a part of the Starr Center's Explore America program. She also worked as a copyediting intern at the Jackson Hole Daily newspaper in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and completed a museum education field experience at the Betterton Museum. 

She credits the English Department faculty and the Cater Society for Junior Fellows with giving her the freedom and support to create an experience as an English major that was unique. Whether I am working in museums or as a copyeditor or possibly even a professor after attending graduate school, I have to give the faculty credit for constantly encouraging me to achieve great things and for giving me a college experience in which I was able to be a part of so many diverse opportunities,” she said. 

Kanaskie points to her Senior Capstone Experience (SCE) as her most significant accomplishment at Washington College. Supported by a Cater Society grant, she embarked upon what Dr. Charles called a “literary pilgrimage around Wyoming. She took photographs of the landscape described in the memoir she was analyzing in her SCE, and created an original and breath-taking work of art. 

With a specific focus on Gretel Ehrlich’s “The Solace of Open Spaces” and the way in which she connects trauma with the cyclical seasonsKanaskie’s SCE combined her own photographs, data collected from a survey sent to the student body regarding her research, and her own analytical take on how the natural environment can comfort the human soul. My final essay for Washington College allowed me to further the discourse on Gretel Ehrlich, a writer who is often overlooked, and gave me an outlet to combine my passions for photography and English literature,” she saidI am incredibly proud of my efforts and think the final product is some of my best work. 

But her most memorable experience was a photography trip to the Southwest during her freshman year. “We went to Arches National Park and Zion and Death Valley and Capitol Reef, and when I wasn't taking photos I was writing short pieces about how I was feeling at the time,” she saidI still look back at that trip as one of the most amazing moments of my college career -- it was the first time when I felt that I could combine my own writing and photography together in order to tell my own story. (NOTE: The main photo here is from that trip.) 

Kanaskie encourages incoming students to get involved with campus clubs and organizations and really seek out opportunities to do things that they love, like that photography trip. My fondest moments were spent with friends lounging outside the library or hammocking outside the dorms - so also take the time to be present in this experience,” she said. 

As for what she misses now that she’s graduated? “It’s the little things - the small moments of walking around campus with friends, especially when the magnolias are in full bloom. And I miss the bowls of candy in the Writing Center and working as a photographer for The Elm. 

When asked what dining hall meal she misses the most, it was “the egg station, for sure. I've had some deep talks while sitting around that counter. Maybe it wasn't about the eggs after all... 

Kanaskie acknowledged the major impact of two English Department professors in particular -- Dr. Katie Charles and Dr. Alisha Knight. Both of these amazing, strong, charismatic women have been by my side throughout my entire college experience and have served as my advisors in more ways than I can count,” she saidI am in awe of both of these women, and that admiration really pushed me to do things that would make them proud, as I am most certainly a product of their excellent teaching and advising. 

The feeling is mutual too, as Charles referred to Kanaskie aa joy to teach, and someone who “crackles with wit and intellectual curiosity. 

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Vanessa Rupertus

Hometown: Middletown, DE     Major: English

 Minors: Creative Writing, Justice, Law & Society, and Computer Science

Other: Vice President of Hillel, President of National Society of Leadership & Success, Peer & Presentation Consultant at the Writing Center, Fiction Screener for Cherry Tree, Writer's Conference Intern, Secretary of the Wildlife Conservation Club

Vanessa Rupertus is graduating from Washington College with an English degree, plus minors in Creative Writing, Justice Law & Society and Computer Science. This fall, the Delaware native is headed to Johns Hopkins, to pursue a General Master of Science degree from the prestigious university.

 

But wait…an English major going for a Master’s degree in science?

Turns out Rupertus is an English major who is “blindingly good at Computer Science, a talent and subject she discovered too later to major in,” according to Austin Lobo, Associate Professor of Computer Science. “With just a minor, she is, nevertheless headed to Hopkins…and to say she ‘writes well’ hints at what the liberal arts education model has provided for her.”

Rupertus’ winding road towards a career in Computer Science actually began with a high school interest in designing video games. But she also loved writing, so when it came time to chart her college course, she threw all her weight into English and writing classes. Additionally, Rupertus said she “loathed math, with all of my existence!” So when she realized that Computer Science classes would cover her College math requirements, it was an easy choice.

But what began as a way to check a box reignited her passion for the field of Computer Science. “Before I took CS 202 in the spring of my sophomore year, I kind of felt like I didn’t belong,” she admitted. “I truly loved English, but I always felt like something was missing. It’s about more than a career path - I found a family in the Computer Science Department.”

Rupertus points to one pivotal moment that really propelled her forward. “I was stuck on something – actually breaking my brain over it! – and walked into Professor Lobo’s office and told him I just didn’t know what to do,” she recalls. “He told me to take a breath, that he knew I could do this. He had faith in me when I was at my lowest point. He helped push me to where I am today. I can look back on this and know that was the moment that helped me to keep going and even go farther.”

In fact, her original plan was to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science at Salisbury University; it was Lobo who helped convince her to apply for the Master’s program at JHU.

With just two years left, Rupertus’ decision to focus on a career in the sciences required going the extra mile in order to catch up with her peers. Knowing that she needed the extra grounding, she worked independently with a tutor on Zoom (before Zoom calls were a thing!) and had to cram two additional classes into her final semester.

This rigorous academic schedule was in addition to a whole host of other extracurricular activities she took on during her four years, which included serving as President of the National Society of Leadership and Success; Vice President of Hillel; Secretary of the Wildlife Conservation Club; a Fiction Screener for Cherry Tree and a Peer and Presentation Consultant at the Writing Center.

She expects to complete the Master’s program in two years and cites working with national security as a dream job, given her interest in both data science and cybersecurity.

But that doesn’t mean she isn’t equally grateful for the English and writing foundation she’s established. Her diverse writing experiences have strengthened her overall communications, and she sees the value of good writing in the data science field as well. “I think my background will be able to help bridge the gap between those who are completely data-focused and those who aren’t,” she said. “Oftentimes you need someone with the ability to take a step back and provide the explanation.”

Not surprisingly, Rupertus will most miss the Computer Science Department faculty. “I’ve established some really strong connections and I’m just excited to let them know how far I go!”

As for the Dining Hall treat she’s going to miss? “Create’s Reed sandwich on the pretzel roll…that was my go-to!”

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Aidan Kelly

Hometown: Bear, DE     Majors: Business Management & Economics

 Minors: Accounting & Finance     Athletics: Men's Soccer

Awards: Dean's List (every semester), Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll (2018, 2019, 2020), Most Improved Player (Men's Soccer, 2018), Alfred Reddish Award - Honors Male Athlete with the Highest GPA (3.903)

Aidan Kelly is graduating from Washington College with a double major in Business Management & Economics, as well as minors in Accounting and Finance. Following graduation, he will be starting a full-time job with JPMorgan Chase & Co. as a global finance & business management analyst.

 

Kelly is a 4-year member of the Men’s soccer team, and was this year’s recipient of the Alfred Reddish Award, which is awarded to the senior male varsity athlete with the highest cumulative GPA – in Kelly’s case, a spectacular 3.903. He was named to the Dean’s List every semester all four years, and made the Centennial Conference Honor Roll as well.  In 2018, he was named the Most Improved Player on the soccer team.

In addition to maintaining an impressive GPA, Kelly also completed a Global Finance and Business Management internship with his future employer, JPMorgan Chase, where he worked across multiple functional groups, including Business Management, Controller, Financial Analysis, and Project Management. This internship gave Kelly the opportunity to make meaningful contributions and deepen his expertise in a dynamic team environment. “I collaborated with top-tier professionals to influence and shape critical decisions and initiatives that support businesses across the firm,” he said. This included working on critical initiatives for senior managers, supporting public filings and learning the ins and outs of closing the books for a month or a quarter.

“As a business management major and accounting & finance minor, I was able to study areas that really helped me thrive and stand out while in a competitive working environment as an intern,” he added. “As an economics major, I used my problem-solving skills learned in my classes to solve whatever problems or tasks were thrown my way.”

Kelly gave a nod to Professor Williams, who he said was the most influential faculty to him during my time at Washington College. “He was my professor, academic advisor, and thesis advisor, and he helped me tremendously in all areas of school,” said Kelly.

While it might sound like College was serious business only for Kelly, he says that he is most proud of being a successful four-year student athlete, and cites a trip with the men’s soccer team as his most memorable experience. “We were able to go to England on a trip right before COVID. We played three games in England and won every game, and we were able to explore different cities. It was a really great experience!”

He added, “I am also extremely happy with the environment that we were able to create for the underclassmen on the soccer team by including them fully, with respect, and making long-lasting friendships.”

As for his advice to incoming freshman, he said, “Your time is limited, and make sure you make the most out of everything and everyone. The friends you make will be lifelong friends -- enjoy all the time you get to spend with them.” His friends and being a part of the soccer team are what he will miss the most after graduation. That and the killer omelet bar.

And in keeping with that sentiment, the last thing Kelly wanted to add on his way out is this – “Go Shoremen!”

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Berkleigh Fadden

Hometown: Ocean View, DE     Majors: Psychology & Music

Minors: Creative Writing, Justice, Law & Society, and Computer Science     

Other: Musicians' Union President, Cleopatra's Sisters, Supporting All Gender Experiences (SAGE), Musical Theatre, Presidential Fellow, Psi Chi, Omicron Delta Kappa

Award: 2021 Psi Chi Regional Research Award (Eastern Psychological Association)

Berkleigh Fadden is graduating from Washington College with a double major in Music and Psychology. She has been president of the Musicians’ Union since Fall 2018, and when live music returned to campus this spring, Berkleigh was the lead vocalist in the rollicking spring concert, Mayday – the WC Rock Ensemble, featuring three graduating seniors.

 

Fadden has been singing for as long as she can remember. As her studies advanced, she gained an even deeper appreciation. Berkleigh has been playing flute for more than 10 years; she picked up the koto, the national instrument of Japan, four years ago. Voice is her primary instrument, as she loves telling stories through music.  Her performing identity was unclear until high school, when she started exploring classical repertoire for fun.

At Washington College, her interests have expanded to include musical theater and rock music. Check out Berkleigh’s performance in Mayday - The WC Rock Ensemble.

Fadden has also excelled in her psychology major. She and her research team from Prof. Tia Murphy’s Human Neuropsychology course a regional Psi Chi Research Award this spring. Fadden attended the EPA conference virtually and presented the findings from the investigation of depressive symptoms and verbal memory amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While no relationship was found between verbal learning ability and mood variables, there was a very strong correlation between negative pandemic impact and depression scores. 

As she prepares for her graduation from Washington College, we asked Fadden a few questions related to the impact of her experience and what she’ll miss. Here’s what she shared with us:

What do you feel is your most significant accomplishment during your time at Washington College?

Being President of the Musicians' Union has really allowed me to grow as a leader and develop skills that I wouldn't have learned anywhere else. I was given the task of keeping a club active, which required me to communicate, organize, and listen to my fellow members. Becoming a more responsible person through this has been my greatest accomplishment.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Everything is a learning experience. Not only will you learn a lot in your courses, but you will learn a lot about yourself. You will learn something from every opportunity you take, so don't be afraid to go after what you want.

What will you miss the most about being at Washington College?

My friends, who have become my family, and my professors, who have been so inspirational and helpful.

Share a favorite memory from your time at Washington College.

One of my favorite parts of every year was the first rehearsal for the musical. I would have so much fun with my old and new friends doing what we all love.

 

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Christian Yosef

Hometown: Arlington, VA     Major: International Studies

Minor: Communication & Media Studies    

Other: Phi Delta Theta, Radio Free George, Black Student Union, Student Governmnet Association

Future Plans: Christian will enroll this fall in the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts to learn film production. "It is an honor to be able to attend this film school, especially because Ryan Coogler, one of my favorite film directors, attended there some years ago."

Christian Yosef is graduating from Washington College with a degree in International Studies, along with a minor in Communication & Media Studies. In addition to his studies, the Arlington, VA native has also been active with Phi Delta Theta, Radio Free George, Black Student Union, the Student Government Association and the Washington Scholars Program during his college years.

 

This fall, Yosef is headed to the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts to learn film production. “It is an honor to be able to attend this film school, especially because Ryan Coogler, one of my favorite film directors, attended there some years ago,” he said.

As an aspiring filmmaker, Yosef points to the inspiration he has received from both the Communications & Media Studies department and his International Studies foundation. “I was inspired to chase my filmmaking dreams after being in Professor Alicia Kozma's film studies classes,” he said. “But I also credit my International Studies degree in wanting to make change in the world through filmmaking. One film that I would like to make in the future would focus on the refugee experience, to show the Western world how refugees are not a threat, but people in desperate need of help.”

As a student, Yosef embraced opportunities beyond the classroom through two meaningful internships – first was the Bayanihan Internship Program in the summer of 2018, where he worked in the Philippines and was able to explore the unique culture and history. Second was an Explore America Internship – a program offered by the Starr Center – at the famous Apollo Theater, a music hall that helped numerous iconic Black musicians, such as James Brown and Ella Fitzgerald, launch their careers. “Interning in New York City was very memorable to me as I got to do things like meet the great Spike Lee!” said Yosef.

Yosef points to his success in transforming himself into a hardworking student as a major accomplishment. “I’m proud of myself for making the Dean’s List numerous times and getting to travel the world for my internships and study abroad experience,” he said, noting that this was a discipline he lacked in high school. He also appreciates the strong bond he has formed with some of his favorite professors and staff members, each of whom helped in different ways as he navigated life over the past four years.

While many professors have had an impact on Yosef, he credits Dr. Christine Wade with having the greatest influence on him. “Professor Wade has always widened my understanding of certain issues, and I reflect on her lectures while I'm dealing with topics relating to politics, human rights, and international relations” he said. “Professor Wade is also a great supportive figure, as she always looked out for me whenever I'm facing any issues.”  

His advice to incoming students is to get to know your professors. “The teachers at Washington College are kind and sincere, and absolutely want to see you succeed in life.”

As for what he’ll miss, the list is long and includes the chicken parmesan meal in the Dining Hall – a memorable place for him since it’s where he met his best friend, and his weekend adventures with friends to play video games or eat at Café Sado.

You can read more of Christian Yosef’s story “Changing the Picture” here: https://www.washcoll.edu/stories/christian_yosef.php

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Will Reid

Hometown: Mount Laurel, NJ     Major: Theatre & Environmental Science

Other: Chair of the SGA Honor Board, SGA Senator, Showcase Coordinator of the Musician's Union, WACapella, Dance Club, Percussion Ensemble, Chorus, Musical Theatre Performer, Dancescape, Actor in the Department of Theatre & Dance, Sound Designer, Dramaturg

Will Reid is graduating from Washington College with degrees in both Theatre and Environmental Science. After graduation, he plans to continue to combine those interests, working part-time at the Philadelphia Zoo while also auditioning as an actor in the city for various productions, films, and talent agencies.

 

As a transfer student – he arrived at Washington College his sophomore year - Reid said that he, “really had to hit the ground running to complete my majors. It certainly was stressful, but I’m so happy with how it all turned out. I think it was definitely the right choice for me to come to Washington College.”

In fact, he credits that decision with sharpening his passion for the performing arts. His original plan was to pursue a career in science – specifically marine biology – but his time in the theater department had a significant impact on his future plans, and his belief in himself. “Without the time spent here, I don’t think I would have the confidence to pursue performing as a professional,” he said.

With his mind made up that he could in fact pursue both, completing dual theses in two different majors became his passion projects. “I’m immensely proud of the work I did on both, and I’m even prouder that I came out the other side with two degrees that both mean a lot to me,” said Reid.

Reid didn’t limit his focus to just academics either. He applied that same passion his involvement in campus life, serving as a Senator and Honor Board Chair (after initially serving as a Student Panelist) for the SGA, and Showcase Coordinator for the Musician’s Union. These leadership roles were in addition to participation in club Rugby, WACapella, Dance Club, Percussion Ensemble, Chorus, Musical Theater, Dancescape and the Department of Theater and Dance where he was an Actor, Sound Designer and Dramaturg. He was also a student contributor to the Washington College History Project.

Reid was named to the Dean’s List, Omicron Delta Kappa, nominated for Big Man on Campus, and the Honors Music Recital.

He also took full advantage of the opportunities for meaningful internships, including one with the Philadelphia Zoo as an Environmental Education and Animal Behavior Intern – an experience which resulted in a job offer. He also interned with the Recycling Center, which helped him to grow as an environmentalist and become a voice of recycling knowledge on campus.

Reid advice to new students is to just go for it! “Don’t be afraid to try new things or get out of your comfort zone. I find that some of my coolest experiences happened when I took part in stuff I never would’ve thought to do!”  For him, that included sound designing in the theatre, being on club rugby for a year, and serving as a senator in SGA.

When asked what faculty member was most influential during his college career, Reid was unable to name just one. “I’d say that the Environmental Science faculty all helped me grow and gain confidence in myself as a scientist (a title I proudly own now), and the Theatre & Dance faculty all met my passion for the performing arts equally and allowed me to push past my barriers and struggles to become a more well-rounded individual --inside the theatre and out.”

Now that the curtain is closing on his college career, Reid knows that he will miss the close relationships and the small campus. He takes with him memories of what he describes as his “random adventures” with friends. “Whether it was marathoning Spongebob and eating Domino’s, kayaking on the water, or finding all those hidden crawl spaces in Decker, there are so many good memories that never fail to bring a smile to my face.”

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Sabrina Mendez

Hometown: Aberdeen, MD     Majors: Biology & Hispanic Studies    

Other: President of Model United Nations, Vice President of Black Student Union, Writing Center Tutor: AIC, USAF, Medic

Future Plans: Sabrina is currently applying to Medical School, where she will pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. She also intends to increase her Spanish fluency, adding, "there are so many barriers to healthcare, and I don't think language should be one of them."

Sabrina Mendez is graduating from Washington College with a double major in Biology and Hispanic Studies. She is currently applying to medical schools, where she will continue her studies in pursuit of a medical degree, specializing in either surgery or urology. She also plans to continue improving her Spanish fluency, saying that “there are so many barriers to healthcare, and I don’t think language should be one of them.”

 

In many ways, Mendez is a typical college student – the Aberdeen, MD resident chose Washington College in part because she wanted to be away from home and have a real college experience, but didn’t want to stray too far away from her younger siblings. She decided on a Biology major on a whim, after remembering that it was a class that she liked. She likes the Dining Hall’s omelette bar and cheesecake brownies. She appreciates the beauty of campus.

But in one important and life-changing way, Mendez stands apart from the vast majority of her peers. After facing the reality of family finances that had become uncomfortably tight, Mendez made the big decision during the fall of her sophomore year to pause her college career and enlist in the United States Air Force.

“At first I was opposed to the idea, because I really didn’t want to miss school,” she said. But eventually she warmed to it, met with a recruiter and found out that that not only would the Air Force pay her Washington College tuition, but she could also train as a medic. She signed on.

After completing her sophomore year, Mendez headed off to Boot Camp in San Antonio, TX in July.

Even after learning late in the game that she’d be gone for a full year instead of just one semester, Mendez still proceeded to graduate from Boot Camp and embark on the three phases of Medic training. Following that, there were two weeks of field training at a hospital in Alaska where she recalls taking a fish hook out of a little boy’s head. One year later, she returned to Chestertown for the start of her junior year, only this time it was as a United States Air Force Drill Status Guardsman, which means that one weekend a month and two weeks each year she reports for drills and training.

I don’t regret the decision one bit,” said Mendez. “It’s actually given me the extra push in the right direction. I wasn’t doing well academically the first two years. I was doing okay, but my grades weren’t competitive. I came back with a whole different mindset – I was ready to work harder, be more disciplined, and manage my time efficiently.”

“I was able to balance things better,” she said. “I came back and took on leadership roles, had a full courseload, stayed on the pre-med track and still had to dedicate one weekend a month to Air Force duty.”

This new mindset didn’t go unnoticed by the faculty either.

“Sabrina is, frankly, terrific,” said Phil Ticknor, Coordinator of Pre-Health Professional Programs for Wasahington College. “She was a good student when she came to Washington College, but since her re-enrollment after basic training with the Air Force, she has become an exceptional student.”

Dr. Martin Ponti, Assistant Professor of Spanish, reiterated that, saying that upon her return, “she became one of our best students. Most majors in HPS start in the higher 300 level courses, but not Sabrina.  She started in HPS 200 and still managed in a short time to advance through the levels and become highly proficient -- almost bilingual, which is not an easy task.”

It wasn’t just academics that she doubled down on either – Mendez got involved in more meaningful ways in several student organizations, including Model United Nations (where she serves as President) and the Black Student Union (Vice-President). “When I came back, I knew I wanted to be a larger part of  things,” she said. “Participating in Model UN has helped me improve my public speaking and I’ve had opportunities to travel. And I feel a unity with the other minority students through BSU, and appreciate the love that everyone has for our culture.”

Through her experiences as a first-generation college student who has blazed her own trail, and her military foundation, Mendez has plenty of wisdom to share with incoming college students, “Learn to take risks,” she said. “You don’t even know all of the opportunities that are out there. And if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Whether that’s financially, socially or academically. Speak up. If you’re stuck, take the time to ask. It humbles you, but it’s also what makes you understand that you are not alone in your journey.”

And then she added, “Also, don’t tell yourself no before other people do. Don’t decide not to apply for something because you decide you won’t get accepted. Don’t sell yourself short.”

Mendez is currently applying to different medical schools and doesn’t have a “dream school”, saying instead that “whatever school accepts me, I’ll be happy. I’m going to be a doctor and that’s the most important thing.”

annie

Annie Javitt

Hometown: York, PA     Majors: History & Music  

Other: Cater Society, Starr Center Intern, Presidential Fellows, Phi Alpha Theta, Rock Band Ensemble, Steel Pan Ensemble, Musical Theater Ensemble, 

Future Plans: I would love to work in a theater or arts program, participate in local musical theater and perhaps teach piano.

Annie Javitt is graduating from Washington College with a double major in history and music. A Starr Center intern with experience collecting oral histories and creating digital archives, she hopes to build upon that skill set and work on the administration staff of a museum or arts organization in Philadelphia or New York.

 

A solo pianist and keyboard accompanist, she has also been part of the vibrant musical scene at Washington College. Here is the link to her Senior Recital: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxVDWZjBU3g&t=577s

In fact, one of the things Javitt is most proud of from her time at Washington College is starting a rock band, saying “I never thought I would have the opportunity to make music with some of the best people and I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

It’s not surprising then that Dr. Ken Schweitzer in the music department is the faculty member who proved to be most influential on her college career. “He always encouraged me to keep playing music and to get involved in different ensembles,” she said. He pushed me to do the best I could and introduced me to new opportunities and ideas about music and careers. He was also super supportive of all of my academic endeavors and helped me when thinking about internships.”

Those varied experiences included Rock Band Ensemble, Steel Pan Ensemble and Musical Theater Ensemble. That was in addition to her involvement with the Cater Society, Phi Alpha Theta, and the Presidential Fellows.

Javitt also gained valuable experience through her Starr Center internships, which included two years of the National Homefront Project Oral Historian and Digital Archiving Internship, and a summer internship with the Urgent Care Project.

She credits her diverse experiences while on campus with giving her plenty of opportunities to learn about different careers. “Through the people at the Starr Center and the faculty in the music department, I have been exposed to all different kinds of jobs in areas in which I am interested,” she said.

Her advice to incoming students is to “do things out of your comfort zone, whether it be joining clubs or organizations, or going out of your way to talk to new people. You're going to get so much more out of your college experience by trying new things.”

Things Annie will miss most about Washington College include the Chestertown sunsets, and getting a pound of fries with cheese from Martha’s. She’s taking with her great memories of going to the beach at midnight in the middle of winter with her friends.

You can read even more about Annie and how she combined her love of music and history in a feature titled “Hitting All the Notes”: https://www.washcoll.edu/stories/annie_javitt.php

kailyn

Kailyn Brandt

Hometown: White Hall, MD     Major: Biology  

Minor: Chemistry

Other: Varsity Field Hockey Team (2017 - Present), President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (2018 - Present), President of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society (2020 - Present), Phi Beta Kappa (2021 - Present), Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society (2019 - Present), The National Society of Leadership and Success (2018 - Present), Presidential Fellows (2017 - Present), Douglass Cater Society of Junior Fellows (2019 - Present) 

 

Kailyn Brandt is graduating from Washington College with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry. The four-year Varsity Field Hockey player was recently awarded the prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, which she will use when she applies to Physician Assistant programs next spring. In the meantime, she will continue working as a CNA (certified nursing assistant) in order to gain patient care experience.

 

Brandt certainly has much to be proud of when it comes to her Washington College career, but she puts the NCAA scholarship – which is only awarded to up to 126 student-athletes annually - towards the top of that list.  It is awarded to students who excel academically and athletically, and Brandt believes what led to this achievement was her ability to build such a dynamic and versatile resume during her time at WC. “I'm proud that I was able to use each of my accomplishments and experiences as stepping stones to help me reach each of my goals,” she said.

That list of both accomplishments and experiences is indeed long and includes four successful years on the Varsity Field Hockey team, President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (2018-Present), President of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society (2020 – Present), and membership in Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Dela Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, The National Society of Leadership and Success, Douglas Cater Society of Junior Fellows and the Washington College Presidential Fellows.

Other awards Brandt has received include the 2020 Elizabeth "Bo" Blanchard Memorial Sportsmanship Award; NFHCA Scholar of Distinction (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020); NFHCA National Academic Squad (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020); 2017 Synapse Sports Division III All-Rookie Team; All-South Region Second Team (2017, 2018); Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year (2017); and All-Centennial Conference Honors (2017, 2018 First Team, 2019 Honorable Mention).

Most recently she received one of two Senior Athletic Awards, which are awarded to the male and female students who the Athletics Department believe have achieved the most. She was cited by the department as “one of the most exceptional student-athletes to ever come through the Washington College athletic program.”

As she sets her sights on the next goal, Brandt acknowledges that her exposure to and enjoyment of many areas of medicine are what put her on the Physician’s Assistant path. “I enjoy talking to and getting to know patients and P.A.s tend to spend more time with their patients,” she said. Some of those insights were gained during a 10-week summer internship with the Nursing Department and Patient Experience Department and University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson. There, she gained valuable shadowing experience from Health Care professionals in a variety of specialties and departments (Cardiology, Cardiac Surgery and Catherization, Emergency Department, Intensive Care, Labor and Delivery, Pediatrics, Neonatal Intensive Care, General Surgery).

Brandt’s advice to incoming students is to “keep your options open and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t work as planned; everything happens for a reason and it will work out for the best. Also don’t be afraid to ask for help!”

Brandt is going to miss the incredibly supportive environment and family atmosphere that have surrounded her for the last four years. “At Washington College you are more than a name on a class roster and everyone wants to see you succeed,” she said. “I will also miss field hockey and the endless support and opportunities that athletics has brought me.”

 

allison

Allison Gallagher

Hometown: Saunderstown, RI     Major: Chemistry 

Minor: Biology

Other: Varsity Swim Team (Captain 2020 - Present), Alpha Omicron Pi (Vice President of Chapter Development: 2019), Gamma Eta; Chemistry Honors Society (President: 2020 - Present), American Chemical Society; Student Chapter (Vice President: 2020 - Present), Special Olympics (Coordinator and Instructor 2018-2019), Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society, Cater Society of Junior Fellows, Beta Beta Beta, Biology Honors Society, Presidential Fellows

Allison Gallagher is graduating from Washington College with a major in Chemistry (with a concentration in Biochemstry and Biophysics) and a minor in Biology. The Rhode Island native and Varsity swimmer is headed next to Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Pharmacy to pursue a Pharm.D degree.

 

Gallagher has been nurturing a love of science since high school, but credits her Washington College experience with steering her towards her career of choice. “I think that being at a liberal arts school allowed me to be able to explore many different scientific career paths, so that when I finally decided on pharmacy, I knew that this was the right decision,” she said.

In the summer of 2019, she landed an internship as a research assistant in a biochemistry lab at Brown University (Providence, RI). “This experience helped me realize exactly why I wanted to be a pharmacist,” she explained.  “I loved the chemistry aspect but got bored alone on a lab bench all day. I was missing the patient interaction that will come with being a pharmacist.”

Her overall academic success is impressive (read even more about that in this feature on the Athletics website), and certainly paid off when it came time to apply to pharmacy schools. “I got into all the pharmacy schools that I applied to, even UNC Chapel Hill, which happens to be the number 1 pharmacy school in the country, and so I got to choose the best program for my needs,” she said. That and being a four-year varsity athlete – and swim team captain for two years - are both accomplishments she points to with well-deserved pride.

Gallagher stayed busy beyond the classroom and the pool, as she was involved with Alpha Omicron Pi (Vice President of Chapter Development: 2019), Gamma Eta, Chemistry Honors Society (President: 2020-present), American Chemical Society, Student Chapter (Vice President:2020-present), Special Olympics (Coordinator and Instructor 2018-2019), Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society, Cater Society of Junior Fellows, Beta Beta Beta Biology Honors Society, and the Presidential Fellows.

Awards she earned include CRC Press Chemistry Achievement Award for excellence in General Chemistry, Joseph H. McLain ’37 Memorial Scholarship for high academic excellence and promise in the field of chemistry, and Alpha Omicron Pi's International Diamond Jubilee Foundation Scholarship for academic and community service excellence.

Gallagher has some sage advice for incoming students as well. “Take every chance you have to explore new activities,” she said. “Going to a D3, liberal arts school gives you so many opportunities to do this, and it won't be that easy once you graduate!”

One of the many things Gallagher likes about Washington College is that there are many faculty members and coaches who she feels have had a positive impact on her academic career and personal growth – including swim coach Philip Quick, Georgina Bliss from the Career Center and Dr. James Lipchock, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Department Co-chair, to name a few!

When asked about a favorite memory, Gallagher eventually settles on the War on the Shore game her sophomore year. “Salisbury had dominated our lacrosse team for years, but this game was so close it went into overtime” she said. “Seeing the entire school there supporting one of their teams and getting SO  excited was really cool.”

Days like those, and all the beautiful Chestertown days on the water, are what Gallagher will miss the most.

 

Jacky Smith

Jacky Smith

Hometown: Greensboro, Maryland     Major: English

Minor: Secondary Education

Other: A transfer from Chesapeake College, Jacky is a non-traditional student raising two children and attending college full-time. Already an experienced educator, she has worked as a substitute teacher and as a paraprofessional at a middle school.

 

Jacky Smith is graduating from Washington College with a major in English and a minor in Secondary Education. The adult student—mother of two— will be teaching in the Talbot County Public Schools system this fall.

Jacky Smith is graduating from Washington College with honors, earning a degree in English and a minor in Secondary Education. As a “Grow Your Own” scholarship recipient, Smith will be placed in a full-time teaching position with Talbot County Public Schools this fall, teaching anywhere from 7th to 12th grade.

A transfer student who spent the first two years of her college career at Chesapeake College, Smith checks the “non-traditional” student box in another way as well, because unlike most of the students who will also be celebrating this milestone on May 22, her high school graduation was 27 years ago.

That’s because at age 19, Smith was starting her family, and therefore continuing her education got put on indefinite hold. After giving birth to her second child, she eventually started working as a substitute teacher, a decision made largely because of the flexibility if offered. But she also found out that she truly loved working as an educator. “I loved it,” she said. “On a Monday I might be teaching kindergarten students, then on Tuesday filling in for a 12th grade AP Literature class.”

As her children grew, her experience in the education field continued, including a position as a para-professional at a middle school, and a Program Coordinator position with Parks & Recreation. And all along, the plan to earn her college degree was always there, though she assumed she’d go on a part-time basis.

But when her daughter decided not to attend college after her high school graduation, Smith and her husband decided that maybe now was the time to just go for it. Foregoing the part-time option, she instead decided she’d become a full-time college student.

In 2017, she enrolled in Summer term at Chesapeake College. Two years later, she graduated and was one of 2 recipients of the Harrison Award, which meant she was also one of the student speakers at their graduation.

What was expected as the next step was for Smith to enroll in Salisbury University to complete her studies for a Bachelor’s degree, but Smith once again went the non-traditional route and asked, “Why not Washington College?” So she and a fellow Chesapeake College graduate (yes, everyone assumed she was her daughter!) visited the Washington College campus for a tour. “The reception I got there – especially compared to college fairs where recruiters would look right past me to the traditional aged attendees – was so welcoming,” she said. “They were genuinely excited at the idea of me attending. I felt welcomed and encouraged.”

She applied and not only was she accepted, but she also received a merit scholarship that helped to make attending her “dream school” a reality.

So what’s it been like to be a 40+ year old student who is older than even some of the professors? “Well I was prepared to be a little bit of an alien, but if this helps to make it more acceptable and normal for students like me to be here, then that’s a good thing,” she said. “A lot of people my age look at continuing their education as something they can’t possibly do. I hope it’s helpful for them to see someone who’s done it.”

But what she also found is that she has been a good bridge between fellow students and faculty. “Students look at faculty as parent figures and sometimes hesitate to be open with them,” she explained. “But once they stopped asking if I was the teacher, I was viewed as a peer by the students, but I was also able to interact with faculty on a peer level. I feel like I helped bring the two groups together.”

“I hope I’ve actually helped them to understand their parents a little better,” she added. For her part, she’s also benefiting from seeing the other side – gleaning insights into her own kids (now 25 and 22) and even herself.

One thing she’s been surprised by just how beneficial it has been to be able to offer a different perspective on things. “My scholarly approach is rooted in my experience as a middle-aged mother from an economically disadvantaged background,” she said. So I could see and interpret literary texts from a wholly different angle than many of my classmates.”

Smith has certainly made an impression on the Washington College faculty, who couldn’t say enough about the quality of her scholarship, as well as the impact she had as a peer leader. Erin Councilman, Coordinator of Secondary Education noted how much the entire Department enjoyed working with her, adding that “our students definitely benefited from her maturity and her wit!”

But Smith recognizes the impact the students have had on her as well. “You have these moments where you realize your peers are shaping you and you are shaping them, and that’s really awesome,” she said. I’ve been writing for myself probably since I was 10 years old, so to have a community now inform my writing has been a game-changer.”

She also credits her family for their support, saying that her children are both her study buddies and her cheerleaders.

Asked what advice she would give to her former self, her answer is to advocate for yourself. “Moms generally put everyone else first. At the same time, we’re hoping to inspire our kids to put themselves first. And you can encourage them with words, or you can do something that shows them.”

She added, “You can be brave for you. You can stretch for you. And you should.”

 

Nicole Hatfield

Nicole Hatfield

Hometown: Columbia, MD     Major: English

Minors: Creative Writing; Journalism, Editing & Publishing

Other: Campus Garden, Eastern Shore Food Lab Intern, Student Environmental Alliance, Pfister Poetry Prize, Sophie Kerr Prize Finalist

Future Plans: Nicole is looking for grad school programs that will allow her to combine her interest in urban sustainability with creative writing. 

 

Nicole Hatfield is graduating with a major in English and minors in Creative Writing and Journalism, Editing, and Publishing. She has been instrumental in the growth of the Campus Garden, and developed a Permaculture page on the College's website that is the most popular content within the Sustainability section. 

 

Nicole Hatfield is graduating from Washington College with a degree in English and a double minor in creative writing and journalism, editing and publishing. She is currently applying to graduate schools and is particularly interested in a program that combines urban sustainability with creative writing. Hatfield recently won the Pfister Poetry Prize for her work titled “Priniciple 2: Catch & Story Energy” and she is also one of six finalists for the prestigious Sophie Kerr Prize.

Hatfield’s experience exemplifies the value of a liberal arts education. She arrived at Washington College with a general interest in environmental science, but no hands-on experience. “I grew up in the middle of suburbia, surrounded by paved pathways and man-made lakes,” she explained. She had no gardening experience, and had already decided to pursue an English degree.

But as Shane Brill, Interim Director of Sustainability, put it, “Nicole is a poet/artist/seeker-of-justice-for-the-world. She is one of the highest caliber students I’ve had the privilege of working with.”  

And for Hatfield, it all began during her first- year pre-orientation with the Campus Garden and an introduction to the concepts of permaculture, a design approach and philosophy that explores how people can harmonize their lives with patterns in nature to revitalize our world. With her interest in these areas officially piqued, Hatfield set out to find ways to combine her English and writing studies with the sciences.

This included hands-on internships with the Eastern Shore Food Lab for two summers, where she worked in the Campus Garden on a daily basis; a third ESFL internship that was research-based; and completing both the Permaculture pre-orientation and Permaculture internship with Brill. She was active with the Student Environmental Alliance (SEA) and contributed research and written material along with compelling artwork for the ESFL website and handbook. The composting initiative on campus exists because Hatfield went to the SGA with the suggestion. She also developed a Permaculture page on the College’s website that is the most popular content within the Sustainability section.

Turning back to her creative writing foundation, Hatfield’s Permaculture illustrations on the general principles, wellness and creative thinking were the result of her work with middle school students through the Horizon workshop, saying, “I thought that illustrating the concepts might help students to better understand and relate to them.”

For Hatfield, the permaculture concepts in particular resonated because they connected English and social justice with actual biology. “It was eye-opening to be creating environments that are designed to help the community, and not just to look pretty,” she said. “I didn’t know any of this before I came to Washington College, but it’s all so learnable and teachable and there are so many people right now who want to learn more.”

She also appreciates the importance of experimentation in gardening. “What you try might not work, and you find out that you can’t control it all,” she said, “but you learn by trying new things and creatively recognizing opportunities to change. This is actually a core permaculture concept.”

Not surprisingly, her advice to incoming students is to “take classes that interest you, regardless of your major. Be open to trying new things and don’t confine your learning to only what falls under your major.  I’m an English major and yet I took so many science classes.”

She’s done her best to introduce more and more people to the Campus Garden, and also no surprise, it’s one of the spots on campus that she’ll miss the most. “It makes me really happy to visit there now and see people in there studying, reading or just relaxing,” she said. “The garden is small, but it’s diverse and I think it’s a really good representation of where we are going.”

 

Elizabeth Lilly

Elizabeth Lilly

Hometown: Sykesville, MD     Majors: Philosophy and Sociology

Minors: Justice, Law & Society, Hispanic Studies

Other: Student Government Association (President 2020-2021); Honor Board Chair 2018-2019); Zeta Tau Alpha, Dance Club, Sho' Troupe; Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society; Douglass Cater Society of Junior Fellows

Future Plans: Elizabeth is enrolling this fall as a full-time student at Temple University Beasley School of Law.

 

 

Elizabeth Lilly is graduating with a double-major in Philosophy and Sociology, and minors in Justice, Law & Society and Hispanic Studies. She is headed to law school.

Elizabeth Lilly selected Washington College because she was excited about the opportunities that would be possible for her in Chestertown. A double major in philosophy and sociology, the former president of the Student Government Association is also completing a minor in Justice, Law & Society.

“When I visited campus, I felt incredibly comfortable,” she says. “The personalized responses from everyone I met really took a lot of the stress away in making my decision. Most importantly, I also saw that I would be able to explore a lot of different passions. I really don’t think that another school could have offered me all of the chances that I have gotten here.”

In addition to study abroad experiences in Cuba and Australia, one of her more memorable opportunities was her Explore America internship with the American Philosophical Society (APS) this past summer. Elizabeth became the first intern at the APS, located in Philadelphia, to work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her main focus was to examine the documents of the American Loyalist Claims Commission, where she read the narratives and claims of loyalists during the American Revolution.

“In these documents we only see the story of white loyalists, and the black individuals whom they enslaved are referenced only by a numerical value among their property,” Elizabeth says. “This type of dehumanization is not uncommon among historical documents, but it is imperative for modern day historians to tackle the difficult task of restoring the personhood and identity of these individuals.

“I really learned a lot about working virtually and the internship helped me adjust to our current way of learning,” she continues. “In addition, being able to read 17th and 18th century documents was very difficult but a cool thing to learn.” 

Elizabeth admits that she has wanted to become a lawyer since 5th grade. She is in the process of applying to several top programs on the East Coast. She envisions a career working with a non-profit organization or policy advocacy group.

“I want to be somewhere where I can help change the system and not just individual people,” she says. “Racism and discrimination trace back to the very origins of our country and many current practices within the field of research and academia perpetuate these inequalities. My work with the APS started to show me the ways in which we can begin to correct these injustices.”

Leadership has always been a passion for Elizabeth and it’s no surprise that she serves as the president of the SGA. “I love how I get to interact with a lot of different people to strive for positive change on campus. Working to support your fellow students in a very tangible way has been very rewarding.”

Somehow, Elizabeth found the time to work as a tour guide in the admissions office, has been in the dance club all four years, and is a sorority sister in Zeta Tau Alpha.

“I have definitely grown as a writer and with the arguments that I’m able to make,” Elizabeth declared. “My world view has broadened more than I ever could have imagined because of Washington College.”

 

Paris Young

Paris Young

Hometown: Washington, D.C.     Major: Political Science

Minors: Black Studies; Justice, Law & Society

Other: National Honor Society of Leadership and Success, Phi Alpha Theta, Maryland Student Legislature (Secretary), Black Student Union, Starr Center Intern, Team Leader for Chesapeake Heartland's Oral History Program, National Museum for African American History Intern, Senior Class Speaker at Commencement

Future Plans:  This summer, Paris will participate in an Explore America Internship at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem.  After that, she plans to take a gap year, then apply to graduate school.

 

Paris Young is graduating with a degree in Political Science, plus double minors in Black Studies, and Justice, Law & Society.  This summer, Young will participate in an Explore America Internship at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem.  After that, she plans to take a gap year then apply to graduate school.

Community organizing, African American history, and social justice are Paris’s greatest passions. Paris worked as a Starr Center intern for the past three years, and also interned at the National Museum for African American History in her hometown of Washington, D.C. It was here that she learned more about Black history broadly, and gained exposure to various careers within a museum.

She is also a team leader for the Chesapeake Heartland’s oral history program. Paris has served on the Chesapeake Heartland Team since its fruition, and it is of great importance to her, “because it not only helps serve the community [of Chestertown], but it also sheds light on and preserves the stories of everyday people.” She credits this project with sparking her interest in public history.

My time at Washington College has really helped influence my career path by exposing me to careers involving African American History through the Starr Center and really allowed me to explore various fields of study,” she said.

She also completed a third internship with the Maryland General Assembly, where she was able to broaden her knowledge about the legislative process.

In addition to her studies and her internships, Young was also active with the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success, Phi Alpha Theta, Maryland Student Legislature (Secretary), and the Black Student Union.

But the Chesapeake Heartland Project is where her heart is. Young cites helping to build this initiative as her great accomplishment from her college years, and in particular, “seeing how much the project has impacted the Kent County community.”

She also credits her mentor, Dr. Patrick Nugent, Deputy Director for the Starr Center, with helping her to find her calling. “He is the person who influenced me into going to a career in public history,” she said. “He has helped me with public speaking, writing, professional skills and is just overall a great mentor.”

Young is also grateful for the influence of Dr. Alisha Knight, Professor of English and American Studies. “Dr. Knight was one of the first professor I had at WAC, and her course on African American Lit really opened my eyes and furthered fueled my passion for African-American History.”

Her advice to incoming students is to “be open minded and never put yourself in a box because you never where life will take you or which career you may end up choosing.”

What will Young miss now that her Washington College story is coming to an end? Create’s chicken pesto club, the Starr Center, and her professors. But she’s happy to be taking with her great memories of every single moment she had with her friends.



MacKenzie Brady

MacKenzie Brady

Hometown: Baltimore     Majors: English and Art & Art History

Minor: Creative Writing

Other: Editor-in-Chief of The Elm, President of the Writers' Union, Poetry Editor for Collegian, Managing Editor of the Washington College Review, Poetry Screener for Cherry Tree, member of Sigma Tau Delta, Presidential Fellow. Rose O'Neill Literary House Internship, Explore America Internship at the Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art, Internships at Freer and Sackler Galleries, Sophie Kerr Prize  Finalist

Future Plans: After graduation, MacKenzie is joining the staff of the Kent County News, where she will begin working as a reporter and a photographer this summer. She also plans to pursue an MFA in Poetry.

 

MacKenzie Brady is graduating with dual degrees in both English and Art & Art History, plus a Creative Writing minor. After graduation, Brady is joining the staff of the Kent County News, where she will begin working as both a reporter and a photographer this summer. She also plans to pursue an MFA in Poetry.

MacKenzie Brady is one of six finalists for the prestigious Sophie Kerr Prize in literature, worth $65,580 this year. The winner will be announced this Friday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m.

MacKenzie Brady has completed multiple internships, including the Rose O’Neill Literary House, the Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art, Freer and Sackler Galleries and The Kent County News.

One constant for Brady throughout her entire Washington College career has been The Elm, the student newspaper. She cites earning the title of Editor-in-Chief as her greatest accomplishment, calling the experience “absolutely incredible.” She also recognizes the many lessons she’s learned over the past four years about not just journalism, but also leadership and communications. “Beyond that, though, my relationship with the College itself has been completely shaped by having taken photos and reported on what’s been happening these past four years,” she said.

 Adding to her literary experience and contributions, Brady has also served as President of the Writers’ Union, Poetry Editor for Collegian, Managing Editor of the Washington College Review, and Poetry Screener for Cherry Tree. Additionally, she is a member of Sigma Tau Delta and a Presidential Fellow.

She credits being so heavily involved with various publications and writing groups on campus with allowing her to get a feel for different genres and styles of writing. “Working so closely with other folks’ writing has allowed me to get a better understanding of not only how the publishing world works, but also provided insights about what I should be looking for when it came to my own writing,” she explained. “Being a double major in English and Art has also pushed me to consider how those fields speak to one another and how I can push those connections to create more interesting art and/or writing by knowing which mediums would best communicate my interests.”

Her advice to new students is to reach out. “Be proactive about your education and ask questions when you don’t know the answer or don’t understand something,” she said. “The faculty and staff at WC have incredible amounts of information and are wonderful resources on both an academic and personal level, all you have to do is reach out to them.”

It’s no surprise that it’s the Lit House that Brady will miss the most. “It really felt like a central hub for what I was interested in…having access to that sort of space with such wonderful folks has been so important to my growth over these last four years,” she said.

She also credits Dr. James Hall, Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House and Associate Professor of English for his encouragement and for creating quality programming and endless opportunities for personal growth. “Without him, she said, “I never would have been so involved in all of the things that I have been.”

Brady also wanted to acknowledge two other faculty members whose influence has been integral to her Washington College experience - Dr. Kimberly Andrews, Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing, whose classes “have taught me to engage not only with academic texts in a critical way, but also emails, conversations, etc.”  And Professor Julie Wills, Assistant Professor of Studio Art, who “constantly pushed my thinking about creation and meaning, and completely redefined my understanding of art and what it means to make things.”



Justin Nash

Justin Nash

Hometown: Smyrna, Delaware     Major: English

Minors: Journalism, Editing & Publishing; Communication & Media Studies; Art & Art History

Other: Editor in Chief of Collegian, Editor in Chief of Washington College Review, Senior Poetry Reader for Cherry Tree: A national Literary Magazine @ Washington College, Vice President of the Writers' Union, Cater Society of Junior Fellows, Sigma Tau Delta honor society, Winner of the 2021 William Warner Prize,  Sophie Kerr Prize  Finalist

Future Plans: Justin intends to pursue an MFA in poetry.

 

Justin Nash is graduating with a degree in English and minors in Journalism, Editing & Publishing; Communication and Media Studies; and Art + Art History. Following graduation, Nash is taking a gap year to look for a job in publishing, book production or arts administration. He plans to pursue an MFA in poetry.

Notably, Nash was just named one of six finalists for the prestigious Sophie Kerr Prize in literature, worth $65,580 this year. The winner will be announced this Friday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m.

Nash entered Washington College four years ago with only a slim idea of what he wanted to do, and it had to do with books. The central theme for him was “I like books, so I should make books.”  In true liberal arts fashion, he proceeded to gain a wide variety of meaningful experiences in the literary realm. “The English, CMS, and Art departments, along with the Rose O'Neill Literary House and student publications, have provided me with the chance to explore that desire in every direction,” he said. “Now, leaving Washington College, I'm confident I have the education, skill, and experience to pursue what was once only a whim.”

Nash got involved with multiple publications, ultimately serving as Editor in Chief of both the Washington College Review and Collegian. He was also vice president of the Writers’ Union, a senior poetry reader for Cherry Tree, a member of Sigma Tau Delta and the Cater Society and a Presidential Fellow.

His list of accolades is equally impressive.  In addition to being named a finalist for the Sophie Kerr Prize this year, he has also received the following awards: Runner-Up, Norton Writers' Prize (2018); Winner, Jude and Miriam Pfister Poetry Prize (2019); Winner, William W. Warner Prize (2021); Honorable Mention, Jude and Miriam Pfister Poetry Prize (2021); Honorable Mention, Literary House Genre Fiction Prize (2020); Honorable Mention, William W. Warner Prize (2020).

He also took advantage of the many internship opportunities available to him, and cites landing the Copper Canyon Press internship as one of the highlights of his college career – particularly since he was only a sophomore at the time. He also interned with the Fine Arts Work Center (2020), Literary House Press (2019), and Cherry Tree (2018).

As Nash writes the ending of his Washington College story, he has some words of wisdom to share with those students who are just getting started. “It's so easy to get overwhelmed, and so easy to think you don't belong. Remember that you got yourself here and that's enough. You might feel like other people are doing your thing better than you are, or that you don't stand out anymore—all it means is that you're around other excellent people who are good at the things you're good at, not that you're bad. It isn't a competition, make those people your friends and you can't go wrong.”

Nash is going to miss the makeshift root beer floats that he made out of fountain machine birch beer and vanilla soft service. But more than that, he’ll miss the Rose O’Neill Literary House. “I’ll miss that dedicated space where people with a love for art and writing gather,” he said.



Megan Walsh

Megan Walsh

Hometown: Timonium, Maryland     Major: English

Minor: Creative Writing

Other: Poetry Editor for Collegian, The Writers' Union, Alpha Chi Omega, Tutor in the Writing Center, Presidential Fellow, Phi Beta Kappa, Sophie Kerr Prize Finalist

Future Plans: Megan is interning this summer at the Winterthur Institute.

 

Megan Walsh is graduating with a degree in English and a minor in Creative Writing. After graduation, she will be interning at the Winterthur Institute and pursuing a graduate degree. 

Megan was among  six finalists for the prestigious Sophie Kerr Prize in literature, worth $65,580 this year. The winner will be announced this Friday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m.

Despite being honored as a finalist for the nation’s largest undergraduate prize and an impressive academic career, Walsh says that her most significant Washington College accomplishment is making incredible friends.

It follows then that her advice to incoming students is, “A 4.0 isn’t everything! Remember to have fun.”

She will miss her sisters and her classmates, and cherishes her memories of sharing a dorm in Harford with six of her closest friends.

While Walsh clearly embraced and enjoyed the personal connections and fun of her college career, she certainly wasn’t all play and no work! In addition to a rigorous academic schedule, she was involved with Alpha Chi Omega, the Writers’ Union, the Writing Center – where she was a tutor, and Collegian, where she was a poetry editor. She was also a Presidential Fellow and was honored to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

Additionally, she completed internships with the Maryland State Archives, the Washington College English Department, Cherry Tree: A National Literary Journal @ Washington College and the Winterthur Institute.

Washington College is where she learned that she wanted to write poetry – a realization that came to her during Dr. James Hall’s pre-orientation program, before she even began her freshman year. Hall, Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House, has continued to have tremendous impact on Walsh’s college career and she is grateful to him for “reading pages upon pages of poems that, with his help, eventually made sense!”

She also credits Dr. Elizabeth O’Connor, Associate Professor of English, with helping her to finish a thesis that Walsh says, “I didn’t even think I would be able to start.” Overall Walsh will miss the overwhelming and support she has received from all of her English professors.

One other thing she’ll miss? “The mini cheesecakes with the cherries on top. I would be willing to pay another year of tuition to eat more of these.”



Caroline Braungard

Caroline Braungard

Hometown: Lancaster, Pennsylvania     Major: Chemistry, with a concentration in Greener Materials Science

Minors: Biology, Public Health

Other:  James R. Miller Award for Excellence in Chemistry; Omicron Delta Kappa, Leadership Honor Society; Pi Lambda Theta, Educational Honor Society; Vice President, Gamma Eta Chapter, National Chemical Honor Society; Tri-Beta, Biological Honor Society; Presidential Fellow; Student Environmental Alliance (SEA); American Chemical Society (ACS) Club; Chemistry Tutor and Course Mentor; Varsity Softball (2017-2019)

Future Plans: Caroline is interested in renewable energy and implementing sustainability initiatives at the industrial level.

 

Caroline Braungard is graduating from Washington College with a degree in Chemistry (with a concentration in Greener Materials Science) and minors in Biology and Public Health. She is currently working full-time as the Event Sustainability Intern for the Philadelphia Flower Show, the nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event. She intends to build a career that allows her to make an impact on the environment through large-scale changes at the industrial level.

Professor of Chemistry Anne Marteel-Parrish called her a student who has “achieved wonders”, particularly since she only settled on her major and concentration during her junior year.

Braungard was initially recruited to Washington College to play softball, and at that time she intended to pursue a degree in Nursing. “Well, that changed about 5 more times!” she said. “I always knew I loved science, but honestly, I couldn’t quite figure out how to exercise that within my career.” Then, in her junior year, she took Dr. Marteel-Parrish’s Green & Sustainable Chemistry course and everything changed. “When I landed in this course, it sparked a passion in me for sustainability,” she explained.

Braungard has always loved the outdoors, but says she was never really environmentally-conscious until a few years ago. “I’m not an all-nature everything person,” she said. “It’s the science aspect that I’m attracted to. I’m interested in renewable energy and implementing sustainability intiatives within various industries, whether that be energy, pharmaceuticals, or even events.” For me, it’s about making an impact through large-scale changes.”

She is currently working full-time as the Event Sustainability Intern for the Philadelphia Flower Show, a position she landed after she saw the posting on LinkedIn. Throughout her spring semester Braungard was already working 25-30 hours per week for the event, and she has now moved to Philadelphia to work onsite.

Braungard feels certain that a few work samples that she attached from her Green & Sustainable Chemistry Course probably pushed her forward in the competitive application process for the position. “A brochure on recycling that I put together for my class most likely gave me the edge,” she said.

Her responsibilities in this position include planning and overseeing all aspects of the sustainability initiatives that will be implemented – things like waste stream mapping, recycling, composting, lining up donation partners to take leftover food and other materials, etc. She is working directly with the Director of Operations for the Show.

Braungard has also been charged with creating and directing a Green Team – a group of volunteers who will help guests, vendors, and exhibitors of the Show to put their waste into the right spots, thereby ensuring quality control over the various waste streams. This keeps the streams as clean as possible and allows for maximum waste diversion rates.

The Philadelphia Flower Show is the largest horticultural event in the United States. It runs from June 5-13, but Braungard is plenty busy now with the set-up and will stay on for break-down of the Show until about the end of June. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into with this internship,” she laughed, “but it’s a lot of fun! Right now is basically crunch time, so my supervisor just never sleeps.”

“I’ve learned so much working hands-on,” she added. The Show also hired a sustainability consultant, whose resume includes working for various large events, such as Coachella. “So maybe I’ll end up working in events, who knows!”

She’s not quite sure what the future holds once the Flower Show ends, but is confident that she’s making the right connections through this experience. And she’s staying open to whatever opportunities may come her way.

Despite a full course load, Braungard was also active within the Washington College community outside the classroom. She was involved with the Student Environmental Alliance (SEA), played Varsity Softball for her first two years, and was the Vice President of the Chemistry Honors Society. She was particularly proud of a project where they made slime for the local elementary school students, as a fun activity during virtual school. She also served as a course mentor and peer tutor within the Chemistry Department.

And even with all of that on her plate, she still managed to write a thesis that is worthy of being published. Her thesis assess the sustainability of geothermal systems in Iceland, a country she visited back in 2015.

Braungard gives credit to Marteel-Parrish, her advisor, for advocating so strongly for her for the past two years. “We’ve established a great relationship,” she said. “I’m really thankful for all of my professors – I wouldn’t have wanted to go anywhere else for college. They care so much about their students. It’s made my experience at Washington College something that I’ll never forget.”