ArtSci student marshals

Carrying the Banner: Meet the #WashU17 ArtSci Student Marshals

At the university-wide Commencement ceremony on May 19, small groups of students from every branch of Arts & Sciences will be representing their schools by carrying their school banners. It’s an honor to be selected; each student marshal was chosen for their exemplary student career whether in the College, the Graduate School, or at University College. Ahead of the big day, the ArtSci student marshals reflect on their journeys and share their favorite memories and advice.
 

College of Arts & Sciences
 

Amir Hassan, LA’17
Major: International & Area Studies: Development Studies Track
What is something WashU has taught you to appreciate?
My time at WashU, including the time I have spent abroad and in the greater St. Louis and East St. Louis regions, has taught me to appreciate the incredible privileges that we all carry as university students and as American residents. There is no doubt that I would not be who I am today without the resources afforded to me and the mentorship and support of everyone who has touched my life.

What do you wish you had known coming into WashU?
I wish I had known that failure is an essential step on the journey to success or happiness. Knowing that now, I am no longer afraid to branch out my interests, seek more fulfilling opportunities, and pursue new relationships.

What's a WashU bucket list item you wish you had done?
I haven't had the chance to climb Brookings Castle, but there's still time left! 

Irene Li, LA’17
Major: Philosophy

What is something WashU has taught you to appreciate?
The people I meet at WashU inspire me every single day. From students who are so driven and talented, professors who are extremely caring and passionate about their work, to speakers who are visionary leaders in their fields, I simply feel grateful for having the opportunity to attend this school, and get to know and be friends with amazing individuals.

What has your time at WashU taught you about yourself?
One thing WashU has taught me about myself certainly is that I can do philosophy (which is my major). Coming in as a business student and ending up as a philosophy major is the wildest thing I could’ve imagined four years ago. Although I very much appreciate my experience in the business school, philosophy has encouraged me to think harder about life in general, such as what constitutes a good life, what is the fundamental reality of this world, and what should morality be based upon. I had no idea I would be drawn to topics like these if not for the philosophy classes at WashU, but it is these abstract topics that make me question and reexamine values that I hold myself and society holds at large all the time.

What do you wish you had known coming into WashU?
I wish I had known that four years is not a very long time. It sounds long, but it passes by so fast. Knowing that my time is limited would definitely have changed my attitude when I felt down and struggling. I think that being able to enjoy every moment of my life, both ups and downs, is one of the most valuable skills you can learn, for nothing stays forever. I’m still learning, but I’m much better than I was four years ago.

 

Zoe Vernon, LA’17
Major: Mathematics

What do you wish you had known coming into WashU?
Coming into college I wish I had known that it possible to balance doing well in school with socializing and other fun activities. I learned as college progressed that although school always came first there is a lot of time in a day, and it is okay to make time to go get dinner with friends rather than always spending that hour studying a little extra for an upcoming test.

What is your funniest and/or favorite memory at WashU?
My favorite memories at WashU are on the basketball court with my teammates and coaches. I loved spending time around my team from the funny memories in the locker room, to the road trips all over the country, and the success on the court. I will forever cherish being a Bear!

What's a WashU bucket list item you loved doing?
I am a big fan of dessert, so I loved exploring all the fun places to eat sweets around St. Louis like going to Ted Drewes!

Graduate School

MASTERS GRADUATES

Jonathan Porter, MA’17
Concentration: Nonprofit Management

What is something WashU has taught you to appreciate?
I applied to the program at WashU because I’ve found working with nonprofits the most rewarding work I’ve done, and I hoped to turn my passion for helping people, wildlife, and the environment into a career. I didn't know how I was going to do that, but hoped to find out during the program. In the end, it was all about studying hard, being myself, and putting myself out there to make new connections. Doing those three things led to a fulfilling career and a job that enhances my life both on and off the clock.

What do you wish you had known coming in to WashU? 
I have always missed the social interactions from my undergrad years. I didn’t know how accommodating graduate school would be to making new connections and hanging out with classmates. I didn’t know how much effort it would take to make that happen again. It turned out that it does take a bit of work to reach out and connect to classmates when you return to school as an adult, but it’s certainly not difficult. Networking and connecting with classmates, faculty, and alumni have been incredibly rewarding and definitely worth the effort. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your time here?
I am most proud of co-founding, with Sarah Willey, the Washington University Nonprofit Management Network. We began the organization as a way to create a space for current students, alumni, and faculty to connect outside of the classroom. Our vision is to advocate for and elevate the program and to contribute further to the local nonprofit sector. Our meetings have grown each month, and we invite all of our classmates, alumni, and faculty to join us.

Bailey Spencer, MA’17
Concentration: Creative Writing

What has your time at WashU taught you about yourself?
How much I love teaching! I taught two undergraduate poetry classes during my time here, and so enjoyed sharing my excitement for poems with my students and watching their work progress through the semester. I hope to teach more at the college-level in the future.

What is your funniest and/or favorite memory at WashU?
All of my favorite memories revolve around the people I've worked with here--my amazing professors Mary Jo Bang and Carl Phillips, and my cohort. Being part of the supportive WashU writing community has been invaluable. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your time here?
Completing my thesis--a book-length collection of poems called Bloodroots.

 

DOCTORAL GRADUATES
 

Nisha Iyer, PhD’17
Concentration: Biomedical Engineering

What is something WashU has taught you to appreciate?
I have valued the immense support I've gotten from my personal and professional communities, in St. Louis and afar. As in life, there are so many ups and downs during graduate school. I think the solitary nature of PhD research really brings into focus the importance of strong relationships with a variety of people, so you can always find someone who can give you a lift when and where you need it.

What has your time at WashU taught you about yourself?
Although I've always considered myself an "outgoing introvert", my time at WashU has made me more extroverted than I give myself credit for.  I have had wonderful opportunities to work with WashU researchers, students, and administrators on a gamut problems in science and the academy in part because I've sought experiences outside my comfort zone. I've certainly become more proactive on issues that I'm passionate about! 

What one word best describes how you feel about carrying the banner at graduation?
Honored--it is humbling to represent so many individuals from so many walks of life!

 

 

Jeff KremerPhD’17
Concentration: Biology & Biomedical Sciences (Molecular Cell Biology)
What is something WashU has taught you to appreciate?
WashU has taught me to appreciate a great deal over the years, but what stands out in my mind is how much I have grown to appreciate having an understanding mentor who is accepting of maintaining a good work-life balance, and was always supportive of me taking a quick vacation when lab work was not progressing ideally. 

What is your funniest and/or favorite memory at WashU?
My favorite memory at WashU is the Molecular Cell Biology Annual Retreat where I had an opportunity to get to know classmates, colleagues, and mentors in a non-laboratory setting. Those were always an excellent time and provided some quality bonding time.

What one word best describes how you feel about carrying the banner at graduation?
One word that best describes how I feel about carrying the banner: Flattered- I am very flattered that I was chosen to represent the PhD graduates in my program. I don’t know how I was chosen, but I am flattered that I would be considered for this opportunity. 

Kelly McClelland Harris, PhD’17
Concentration: Education

What is something WashU has taught you to appreciate?
The importance of collaboration. Research is a collaborative process. I have learned and grown the most through my collaboration and interactions with others. 

What has your time at WashU taught you about yourself?
Perseverance wins the race. The power of belief and persistence has carried me further than I would have ever imagined.

What one word best describes how you feel about carrying the banner at graduation?
Honored.  

 

University College
 

Jacob Blumenfeld, LA’17
Major: English

What is something WashU has taught you to appreciate (about the world, life, etc.)?
My time at WashU has taught me that every single person, no matter where they come from or what they have been through, has something to contribute. With enough patience and hard work, when that contribution finally comes to fruition, it is inevitably meaningful, valuable, and could only have come from that specific person.

What has your time at WashU taught you about yourself?
I did not realize that being continuously challenged – academically, artistically, intellectually – could be so fulfilling. I have learned that I am happiest when I am completely swept up in my work.

What one word best describes how you feel about carrying the banner at graduation?
Grateful. I have had the privilege of studying and working with some truly extraordinary people during my tenure at University College. In my eyes, the banner represents the kindness and generosity of those people I am so thankful for.

 

Angela Peacock, LA’16
Major: Psychology

What has your time at WashU taught you about yourself?
My time at WashU has taught me that when I am in the right environment surrounded by serious learners and passionate professors, I am at my best. I feel so grateful to be privelaged enough to attend such an amazing school with excellent students. I am so prepared for graduate school and excited that I am simply moving a few buildings down to attend the Brown school. 

What is your funniest and/or favorite memory at WashU?
A few years before I applied to WashU, a professor of Psyhology from WashU died and I bought a lot of his books from a book sale. I read about him online and about his contributions to the APA and psychology in general. One day, about a year into my studies, I sat down on a bench near the psychology building to read. I looked down and read his name. That's when I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be! 

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your time here?
I am most proud of WUVets, our student veterans group on campus. I helped keep the University college student veterans group going, even when I was the only member. I hoped more veterans would get active with us. With WUVets, a campus wide group, it has brought all of us together from every school. Being in a room with people who have been to similar places and shared experiences with you is priceless, especially in this academic setting. When we are all together, the armosphere is magical. Veterans are the "light at the tip of the candle." Always burning bright with life experience, intelligence, and ambition. They are change-makers. I couldn't be more proud of being a part of WUVets with some of the most amazing people I've ever met.

Laura Hoechst Swisher, MS’17
Concentration:
 Clinical Research Management
What is something WashU has taught you to appreciate?
My classes in the CRM program brought together many different types of people working in many different fields, with varying levels of experience, but they all were there to learn. My program allowed me to experience a broad variety of perspectives and backgrounds which helps me grow as a scholar but also as a person.

What has your time at WashU taught you about yourself?
That I can juggle a full-time career, a family, and school work – that I’m capable of keeping those balls in the air. It has also made me appreciate the broad range of experiences I have had as a research coordinator at WUSM for the past 16 years. My coursework made me better appreciate the breadth of experiences I have been fortunate enough to have. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your time here?
I am most proud of the relationships I have made here with fellow classmates and instructors. I know if I have a question about a specific issue I can contact one of my instructors for their expert input, and if I find myself in a situation that is unique to me, I know one of my fellow classmates would be more than willing to give me their input drawn from their own experiences.

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