Class of 2017
Michelle Runyon - Spanish and History
I am a graduating Spanish Studies and History major with a minor in Latin American Studies. My historical research is focused mainly upon the study of Sephardic Jewish communities in colonial/early modern Latin America. I completed a senior thesis this past year for my History major entitled "'They were all white people after all': An Examination of the Surinamese Sephardic Community's Performance of Whiteness."
I have had the incredible opportunity to work in the University Library for the past three years, the past two in the University Archives and Special Collections. During my junior year, I was the inaugural Student Apprentice Intern, which inspired me to pursue archives as a career. I have worked on a number of different collections relating to early California history. Currently, I am working on the personal papers of Fr. Bernard Hubbard, S.J. At the same time, I also work for the County of Santa Clara as an archival intern, building a county-wide LGBTQA+ archive.
I will be wrapping up both positions over the summer and applying for library/archival jobs to begin in September. My plan is to work for a year and then to attend graduate school in library science and Latin American history with the eventual goal of becoming a Latin American studies archivist.
Paul Kenniston - Religious Studies and Philosophy
I'm spending this coming July in a Buddhist monastic retreat in Yuyao, China, where I will be practicing Mahāyāna Buddhism as part of the Woodenfish Humanistic Buddhism Monastic Life Program . While there I will be practicing Chinese arts (calligraphy, tea making), developing my language proficiency, meditating, and cultivating an understanding of Buddhist doctrine. It will be a mostly tech-free trip in a relatively small town in China, so I'm taking this opportunity for some post-university rejuvenation. In August, I will be traveling to Spain, France, and Italy.
Beyond that, I am hoping to go to China again in the upcoming year to continue the research that I had conducted during my previous visit. I am currently applying to the Fulbright program. If admitted, I will be developing my research project on the Prevalence of Romantic Love in Buddhism, an anthropological study that seeks to justify "Romantic Love" within the Buddhist doctrine and opinion. I started this project while studying abroad this fall in Bodh Gaya, India - the home of the bodhi tree, and the place in which Gautama Buddha supposedly attained enlightenment. During my studies, I traveled to the Himalayan Indian sub-state of Sikkim to get a wider breadth of opinion. Assuming I am admitted to the Fulbright program and able to get to China again, I will be expanding the reach of this project to include East-Asian Buddhism, which was not common in the regions in which I first conducted this project.
Grace Chesmore - Physics
Thank you to Santa Clara University and especially the Department of Physics. I can say confidently that I am where I am today because of every one of the professors in the department. They challenged me and made me a stronger physicist. They also taught me the importance of integrity by their own example. Each of them lives for teaching and the growth of their students. And I know this for certain because I asked a million questions a day and they still like me!
I will begin a Ph.D. program in physics at the University of Michigan beginning in fall 2017. I will be working in an astrophysics lab with Dr. Jeff McMahon where I will investigate the properties of our early universe and its ongoing expansion. As a machinist, I will also be assisting in the construction of a new telescope in the Atacama Desert in Chile! The program lasts around five years.
After earning my Ph.D., I don't know what I'll do next! But I hope to either work at a national lab (like NASA or JPL). But who knows? Maybe I will work in industry on some rocket. Either way, the sky is not my limit!
Sophie Meyer - Political Science and French
This fall I will be attending Oxford University in England for a one-year Master’s degree in Comparative and International Education.
I then plan to apply for a fellowship with the California State Assembly, as I hope to have a career in education reform. Law school may be in the future after that. I believe every student deserves a high quality education from a young age; my vocation is to help make that a reality.
Will Thomas - Chemistry
I came to college on the pre-med path. My father and grandfather are both physicians, so I was exposed to the field at a young age. I was interested in medicine because it seemed like a career that was both mentally stimulating and of great benefit to the community. For the first three years at SCU I was fully committed to becoming a doctor: I volunteered over a year at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC); I shadowed in the ER of SCVMC through SCOPE (Student Clinical Opportunities for Premedical Experience); I was the president and founder of an SCU pre-medical focused club, Santa Clara Pre-Medical Outreach (SCPreMO).
I became involved in chemistry research with Dr. Brian McNelis during my sophomore year. In Dr. McNelis’ lab I designed and synthesized novel chiral auxiliaries. I was captivated by the complex puzzle solving this project entailed. Throughout my time at SCU I became heavily involved in my research despite its minimal impact on my “pre-med resume.”
It was not until the summer before my senior year that I decided to switch from pre-med to pursue a career in chemistry. I changed my mind after reflecting on my pre-medical experiences. I realized that I was not excited about volunteering at the hospital or shadowing physicians. As I thought about this I recognized that the one extracurricular that I did enjoy was my research. Research was more like a hobby than actual work; I was excited to stay late and come in on the weekends. By the time I had this revelation it was the June before my senior year. I was planning on taking the MCAT that September. After working for three years towards medical school it was incredibly difficult to cast all that effort aside and pursue chemistry. Although I was doubtful of my decision then, I am confident that I have made the right choice. Chemistry is where my passion lies and I am excited to attend UC Irvine next year to work on my Master’s degree? Ph.D.?.
Jessica Jara - Public Health Science
My next step in life is moving down to Southern California this upcoming fall to get my Master's in Public Health at UCLA. It is a two year program and I'll be entering as a graduate student in their Epidemiology Department. I hope to gain valuable research experience and to build connections with faculty members who can help me find my niche in public health. I am also excited to start a new and exciting life in LA!
Zipporah Ridley - History and Ethnic Studies
Next year I will be participating in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC), an organization that will allow me to work with communities and serve them and grow in social justice and spirituality. As excited as I am to be a part of the JVC program, I am more excited about my placement. I will be an Onondaga Self Development (OSD) Case Manager at the Center for Community Alternatives in Syracuse, New York. With this position, I will be working with those who have been formerly incarcerated, or about to exit prison or jail, to connect them with resources and employment. I will be assisting and empowering people in developing and implementing an education and /or career planning. I am both excited and humbled to do this work. Too often this country turns its back on people who have been incarcerated and victims of mass incarceration and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to advocate with and for people who deserve a second chance at life. I am looking forward to getting back to the east coast (I'm from Philly) but I'm not too excited about the weather!
Madeleine Fawcett - English
In July, I will be attending a month-long business program at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business called the Summer Institute for General Management. It is a foundational business program for post-graduates who have a liberal arts degree.
After that, I am starting work as a Public Relations Associate at a communications agency called Bite Communications in San Francisco. It is an entry-level position that will allow me to work with and learn from senior employees on their accounts. Some of their clients include LinkedIn, Bae Systems, and GoDaddy.