W&J Class of 2014: A Memorable Group of Presidents

Created: May 28, 2014
Last Updated: January 17, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (May 27, 2014)—More than 300 Presidents graduated from Washington & Jefferson College at the institution’s 215th commencement ceremony earlier this month, and they are wasting little time in laying the groundwork for a lifetime of career success.

Two graduates have been accepted into the Teach for America program, a highly selective initiative that places participants in teaching positions in low-income communities, and two others have earned prestigious Fulbright scholarships to teach overseas. Two additional graduates are heading to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, the fifth and sixth W&J students in the last five years to apply and be accepted to veterinary school. Another graduate interested in pursuing a career in student affairs in higher education is now enrolled in the higher education and student affairs program at the University of Connecticut, where she will begin pursuing a master’s degree and serve an assistantship in in the Women’s Center. Another former student-athlete heads to graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University — on a full scholarship — to pursue a career in database development, while across the country a former classmate begins her film industry career in Los Angeles with the help of a W&J alum.

Amanda Tse appears destined for medical school, but the recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship is first going to spend some time making a difference in the lives of young people in South Korea—as a teacher. A cell/molecular biology major and Spanish minor from Edison, N.J., Tse has been accepted into the program and will leave the United States for South Korea on July 4. The program includes an initial six-week orientation, where she will learn the language and how to teach in the Korean classroom, followed by a minimum of one school year teaching middle and high school students, learning how, Tse said, “to put the skills we learned in college to use.”

She will be certified in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Katelyn Vannoy of Beaver Falls, Pa., and Casey Smallwood of Gibsonia, Pa., are both headed to veterinary school, both were biology majors and are armed with targeted chemistry and biochemistry courses as well as significant and unique experiences outside the classroom.

Vannoy, a graduate of Blackhawk High School, is focused on clinical medicine, with an interest in working with small animals. She is a two-time Magellan scholar.

“The Magellan experience definitely gave me the opportunity to experience things I would not normally have had,” Vannoy said. “My first Magellan took me to Kentucky to work with racehorses and a wildlife rehabilitation center for the rest of the summer. This past summer, I went to the Cook Islands, where I worked at a free vet clinic.”

A graduate of Pine Richland High School, Smallwood is planning on entering a dual-degree program, where he hopes to earn a Doctorate in Veterinarian Medicine and a master’s degree in public health. He hopes to one day work at an agency like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, responding to emerging outbreaks of animal-related infectious diseases, taking the veterinary career on an “international, alternative, perspective.”

As a senior, Zoe Levenson, of Pittsburgh, was in search of practical work experience to enhance her resume and graduate school application when she attended a career fair and met by chance 2010 W&J graduate Tabatha Dorman. Dorman knew of an as-yet unadvertised internship at Goodwill focusing on database development and management, which was a perfect fit for Levenson’s skill set.

“I did not have a lot of professional work experience,” Levenson said, “but I was able to get that while using the skills I’d learned at W&J. Goodwill was very paper-heavy and I hope I helped change the way they do their daily business.”

Levenson’s knowledge of data mining and database concepts was key at an earlier internship, as well. She helped research, develop and implement an electronic visits system for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Huong Nguyen has made the most of all her opportunities at W&J and is looking to make higher education her career.

“My long term goal is to become a dean of students, working towards increasing accessibility and retention of underrepresented domestic and international students,” Nguyen said. “Moreover, I hope to continue to travel! I want to travel to all 7 continents and at least 100 countries during my lifetime. My career aspirations and my passions for women’s rights and travel go hand in hand. I hope to integrate all of my interests into my career.”

Last summer, Nguyen had the opportunity to intern at the Ohio State University as part of the Mentorship Initiative for Student Life program.

Graduate Andrew McInnis has joined the Peace Corps and is headed to Ecuador. Christina Hoenow is going to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland to study in its Middle East and Central Asian Security Studies MLitt program. Connie Salinas and Brandon Rauch have been accepted into the Teach for America program. Bianca Rajan’s Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship is taking her to Indonesia. She and Tse are the fifth and sixth Fulbright scholars from W&J since 2007.

“With any Fulbright application, students have to address not only the skills and experience they bring to their project or discipline but also how these skills and experience will benefit the host country and advance Fulbright’s mission of promoting cultural exchange and mutual understanding,” said Brianne Bilski, Ph.D., coordinator of the W&J Magellan Project.

Graduate Candace Woods, a communication arts major with a concentration in film and video studies, spent last June at the New York Film Academy and August in Hollywood conducting interviews with professionals in the entertainment industry for a documentary she completed for her senior project. Now, she is headed back to Los Angeles in an associate producer position.

“The College has helped me take control of what I want to do,” Woods said. “Bill Cameron (professor of theatre and communication), for one, has always had my back. He helped me make so many contacts. He told me, ‘the reason I am doing this is because you have the drive. I know you will set the world on fire and I will be there to watch.’”

In addition to the alumni named in this article, other W&J Class of 2014 graduates can be found here:

University of Toledo College of Medicine

PricewaterhouseCoopers Wealth Management Tax Services department

University of Pittsburgh School of Law (2)

UPMC, Software Engineering

Chatham University’s program for Professional Writing

Kent State College of Podiatric Medicine.

“Go forth, dream big, and create a self you can be proud of,” W&J President Tori Haring-Smith told graduates at the Commencement ceremony.

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