Graduation yes, commencement later

New College President Donal O'Shea.
New College President Donal O’Shea

Graduations at New College are magical.

This year, alas, we’ve had to postpone the commencement ceremony until December. But we couldn’t be prouder of our graduates.

In spite of the virus, this was a year of incredible achievements for our graduating students.

Two, Jacob Wentz and Grace Hamilton, received Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Awards (and Ben LaFond was selected as an alternate). In January, Wentz will be traveling to Belgium and Hamilton will go to Taiwan. Since 2000, a total of 80 New College students (including Hamilton and Wentz) have received Fulbright scholarships.

For the first time since independence, New College students were awarded coveted Boren Scholarships. Thesis student Isabella Cibelli DuTerroil and second-year Alana Swartz are this year’s recipients. They will receive funding to study a critical language—Turkish and Japanese, respectively—and work for at least one year in the public service field, in government positions critical to United States national security.

Thesis student Asia Lord was accepted to the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program, a Japanese government initiative that brings college graduates to the country to teach English. Only about 1,000 applicants are selected from 55 countries annually, and Lord will be heading to Japan in September.

One of our physics students, Matt Mancini, will graduate from New College with two published papers in peer-reviewed science journals, a third paper under review, another manuscript close to completion, and four more in-progress projects for publication. We believe this makes him the first student to graduate from New College with so many research papers in the pipeline. In his hyper-competitive, hyper-rarified field, Ph.D. recipients typically graduate with two to three publications. Matt will receive a B.A. with twice as many, and several of the papers are in completely different areas. Matt is heading to Penn State, which has the nation’s top-ranked graduate program in material sciences and engineering.

More than three dozen of our 200 graduates also plan to enroll in Ph.D. programs, with an additional seven targeting M.D./O.D. and J.D. programs.

Our Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity (CEO) continues to help students secure post-graduate careers by providing individual career coaching and connecting them to networking events. Locally, thesis student Melissa Simmons landed a teaching position with Pinellas County Schools (after attending the CEO’s STEM networking event in February), and Clinton Overton received a loan officer position with Freedom Mortgage (after making job contacts at the CEO’s virtual Reverse Career Fair in March).

Our graduates’ achievements and their support for one another animate the commencement ceremony and make the magic. That’s not going away, and it will be in full force in December’s celebration.

In the meantime, our students have shone a brilliant light on this upcoming generation and on New College in these sad, strange times. We send them off with pride to lives of ever-greater achievement, and look forward to celebrating together a few months hence.


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