Measuring Success Through Impact
Early placements among the Class of 2021 reflect exceptional preparation, deep gratitude and a strong commitment to paying it forward.
Months before this May’s commencement, it became clear that the success story unfolding for the Class of 2021 would be one in which accomplishment walks hand in hand with compassion.
Health science major and criminology minor Matthan Philogene ’21 poignantly articulated that dual commitment shortly after being recruited by the Nashua (N.H.) Police Department, where this summer he will enter its police academy.
“I want to be the person who can change someone’s day for the better when they’re living through a nightmare,” Philogene said. “I learned compassion, leadership and discipline as a member of Stonehill’s football team. Those lessons will be beneficial to me as I help others throughout my career.”
For elementary education and religious studies double major Madeline Rinkacs ’21, the teacher track she chose was also driven by a desire to help others — but there was another goal as well. She was determined to pay tribute to the relationships and experiences that shaped her time at Stonehill; experiences that included a HOPE service immersion in Peru and research work in Stonehill’s Justice Scholars Program.
After commencement, the North Attleboro, Massachusetts, native will complete two years of volunteer service as a fifth-grade teacher at St. Pius/St. Leo, a Catholic school in Omaha, Nebraska, while also pursuing a master’s degree in educational leadership at Creighton University. When she is done, Rinkacs will join the school's faculty as a full-time educator.
“Doing two years of service feels like the biggest thank you that I could give for the education I received at Stonehill,” Rinkacs said.
Helping Students Navigate Uncertain Times
Whether they are volunteering, attending graduate school or entering the workforce, members of the Class of 2021 are already finding success, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the job market. Students across Stonehill’s 49 majors are achieving these successes through placements at organizations like PricewaterhouseCoopers, National Grid, AmeriCorps, Georgetown University and University College of Dublin.
“The entire campus engaged in supporting students as they navigated career goals during an uncertain economy,” said DeBrenna Agbenyiga, provost and vice president for academic affairs. She singled out the Career Development Center in particular. “The center connected students with virtual networking opportunities, expanding access for those who might not otherwise have been able to make connections.”
Equally important to the successes seniors have found is the mentoring they received from faculty.
Such was the case for Jill Gruskowski ’21 of Littleton, Massachusetts, who was recently accepted to the University of Notre Dame’s Engineering, Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Excellence Master’s Program (ESTEEM), where she will be examining the intersection of business and innovation.
“Kristin Burkholder, my academic advisor, put the program on my radar and guided me through the application process,” said the environmental science major. “I’m excited for the future. Stonehill provided me with a valuable science degree. Notre Dame will provide me with the business skills needed to bring that science to corporations.”
Rising to Challenges and Seeking Out New Ones
Though the pandemic has disrupted many aspects of life, this year’s graduates are not letting anything stop them from becoming tomorrow’s leaders and changemakers.
Michael McShane ’21, an economics major and business administration minor from Needham, Massachusetts, was recently accepted to Boston College Law School. He noted that applying to programs during the pandemic presented challenges. Fortunately, he overcame them.
“I couldn’t visit any schools, but I explored them by researching online,” McShane said. “Taking the LSAT online was also difficult. I took the test at home, so I had to make sure my mind didn’t wander.”
On the leadership front, Gabriella Chiodo ’21 of Smithfield, Rhode Island, will participate in Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Finance Leadership Development Program. This two-year rotational initiative will allow her to explore roles in financial planning and analysis, cost accounting, and commercial finance, among other areas.
“I love finance, but I’m not sure what role I want to end up in. This program provides exposure to different departments. I can see where my interests are but also learn which skills I can improve upon,” said Chiodo, who majored in finance and minored in economics.
Compassionate Science Majors Seek To Make a Difference
Stonehill’s science programs have long emphasized the discipline as a tool for improving society, and science majors in this year’s class are already setting out to fulfill that mission.
Neuroscience major Rachel Weinreb ’21 will complete a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. She will serve as a wellness coordinator for The Center, an organization in Los Angeles devoted to ending homelessness and isolation. Weinreb, who hails from Bloomington, Illinois, previously led a HOPE service immersion experience to West Virginia, focusing on the effects of poverty.
“Stonehill prepared me for my new role,” she said. “HOPE challenged me to examine the root causes of social justice issues while also teaching me how to facilitate difficult conversations on those topics.”
Marianne Kenney ’21, a computer science major from Sudbury, Massachusetts, began working as a front-end engineer for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in March. She is responsible for improving the user interface on the organization’s Curation platform, which organizes research data from various sources into a structured format so that scientists are better able to treat cancer.
“For my capstone course, I worked on a sustainability initiative involving reusable to-go containers in the Dining Commons,” Kenney said. “I enjoyed making a difference. At Dana-Farber, I can continue helping others while doing what I love — coding.”