Continuing a Journey of Discovery

While many students are resolute in their plans for college and beyond, others find their paths are determined by their experiences.

Portrait of six 2019 Syracuse University graduates.

The May 2019 Syracuse University graduates are prepared to carve out a lifetime of impact— but for some, the way forward may be unexpected, unclear or untraditional. Read about six graduates who are looking forward to continuing their paths of discovery through the next phase of life: post-Commencement.

Pivoting for the Future

Portrait of Kimberly Brown.

Kimberly Brown came to Syracuse wanting to report the news. A broadcast and digital journalism (BDJ) major in the Newhouse School and English and textual studies (ETS) major in the College of Arts and Sciences, she spent a transformative semester in the Syracuse University Los Angeles Semester program that exposed her to long-form, digital storytelling—her new career trajectory.

“The BDJ program and what I’ve learned from my professors is so important and transferable,” Brown says. “I’ve learned how to talk to people, get a story, edit and write. I’m leveraging this training to tell longer, meaningful stories about people, particularly women.”

After some time at home in Florida, Brown plans to take the plunge and return to Los Angeles. “Syracuse pushes you. It pushes you out of your comfort zone,” she says. “Moving out to L.A. is out of my comfort zone, but I’m ready to do it.”

Fine-Tuning for a New Direction

Portrait of Will Kirsch.

In a housing policy course, Will Kirsch began his final project to produce a neighborhood and business development plan for the City of Syracuse. As he worked on it, he became more interested in individual structures rather than the policy itself.

“While architecture is a smaller project than urban planning, there is more opportunity to control the lasting change you hope to create,” Kirsch says.

Excelling in policy studies in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences and in communication and rhetorical studies in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, Kirsch was a teaching assistant, an intern in the Buffalo and Syracuse city governments and ultimately opened himself up to an education that will inform a career in architecture.

Kirsch is moving back to his hometown of Buffalo and will spend this summer building a portfolio to apply for a master’s program in architecture by fine-tuning his skills as a food artist, woodworker, sketcher and photographer.

“I don’t want to adhere to a pathway just because it’s what society has told me is the only way when it’s not right for me,” Kirsch says. “Instead, I’m leveraging my education, pairing it with my passion and creating my own path.”

A Time for Self-Discovery

Portrait of Bee Poshek.

Bee Poshek added intentional space between the end of college and the beginning of a professional career. After years of being a “Type A” personality with strict, set plans, Poshek realized there cannot be a plan for this time in life. “Now is an important time for me to float and continue my self-discovery,” Poshek says.

Through experiences at Syracuse University in the selected studies major in the School of Education, the Literacy Corps, Office of Student Living, LGBT Resource Center, Residence Hall Association, activist movements and off-campus work at the North Side Learning Center, Poshek discovered a passion for providing spaces for people to be who they are.

This summer, Poshek will work as a residence advisor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior’s Upward Bound Program—which Poshek attended as a student—and mentor low-income, pre-college students. After saying final goodbyes to Syracuse friends and mentors, graduating and heading to Wisconsin, Poshek will start a career working with at-risk youth.

Change in Focus

Portrait of Emily Durand.

Emily Durand is taking time after graduation to save money and plan for what the future may hold. Weeks before Commencement, Durand was geared up for graduate school, but decided on a different path.

Instead, Durand will nanny and begin a nationwide job search in childhood education. Switching plans has been an adjustment and an opportunity to find peace in the process, and Durand is ready for a break but prepared for what is ahead, thanks to experiences at Syracuse University.

Outside of studying selected studies in the School of Education and ETS, Durand found a passion for advocacy by leading the It’s On Us campaign and for children by working at the Early Education and Child Care Center on South Campus.

Durand’s work in all sectors is informed by mentors across campus, especially three ETS faculty members and Michelle Goode in the Office of Health Promotion. These lessons give Durand the confidence to move into the unknown of post-graduation. “They single-handedly changed my life because of the content they taught and the people they were,” Durand says. “I wouldn’t be the kind of intersectional and critical educator I am today without the lenses they gave me.”

Insights from Anthropology

Portrait of Nathan Shearn.

Nathan Shearn defines much of his time at Syracuse University by discovery. His first discovery? Anthropology. “It was so exciting—the ideas and how they were presented; there was something magnetic about it,” he says. “I knew freshman fall that what we would learn in that class would carry value into the world.”

An anthropology major and Russian minor in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School, Shearn plans to carry his teachings and research in anthropology to Siberia, where he will further his Russian language skills and develop cultural competencies through the 2019 Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad: Siberian Culture in the Golden Altai.

After the six-week program, Shearn, who hopes to eventually pursue a Ph.D. in anthropology, will head to New York City to look for a job. In October 2017, he first went to New York City to protest the treatment of queer people in Chechnya. As an openly gay man, he was involved in an activism movement for the first time, which then fueled his Honors capstone, “In Search of Solidarity: The Politics of Queer Activism in New York City.”

Shearn gained this desire to marry research and action through conversations with faculty at Syracuse University and is now looking at jobs in New York City that center on human rights, humanitarianism or immigration. He wants to be a part of the positive work many organizations do, while remaining critical of how best they do it.

Paving Your Own Way

Portrait of Kelsey Davis.

Kelsey Davis is paving her own post-graduation path, to then pave a way for others.

After Commencement, Davis will run CLLCTVE, the business she launched while at Syracuse University with two classmates. Its vision is to empower the next generation by connecting college creatives with brands. Even more, she will keep the company in Syracuse because of the city’s future in technology and the support systems in place.

“Deciding to run my own company and financially support myself and others was a huge, huge risk,” Davis says. “When we think about entrepreneurship, we think about opportunity and risk. As a woman of color, I have had to be an entrepreneur my whole life when it comes to navigating spaces.”

Davis found herself having trouble pursuing higher education studies and considered dropping out her sophomore year. The traditional classroom setting wasn’t working for her, so the late Dean Lorraine Branham and Newhouse alumni stepped in to create a path that would. Davis would graduate two years later with a major in television, radio and film in the Newhouse School and a minor in information technology, design and startups in the School of Information Studies. Davis wants to share her experience nationwide as a way to inspire others and to carry on Branham’s legacy. And now, by keeping CLLCTVE in Syracuse, she is creating a pilot model to bridge the gap between college campuses and their cities.

“Syracuse University was a place where I was able to express myself to my full identity, become a part of organizations I thought I never would. I was set up for success,” Davis says. “Through CLLCTVE, I can now give hundreds of thousands of students the opportunity to excel the way I did through college.”

Joyce LaLonde

This story was published on .


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