The Class of 2023 celebrated their career at Knox during Commencement on June 4. We asked a group of graduates what their plans are moving forward and how they defined the Knox experience. Here’s what they had to say:
Jonathan Lau graduated with a double major in math and computer science. Lau plans to pursue a master’s degree in the fall, focusing on statistics or artificial intelligence. Lau sees his Knox experience as a collection of excellent academic opportunities. He pointed to his study abroad experience at Oxford University as a highlight of his college career.
“Knox offered me so much freedom. I had so many unique experiences here, like Flunk Day, that I’ll never forget.”
Laurelee Boon graduated with a major in chemistry. This summer, she plans to move to Michigan and begin organic chemistry research early before attending the University of Michigan in the fall. Boon plans to pursue her Ph.D. with the goal of eventually working for a pharmaceutical company, and she says Knox’s faculty were pivotal in guiding her toward graduate school.
“I wasn’t sure if I could really make a career in science, but the professors here really helped me see all of the opportunities and ways forward.”
Kaustuv Dawadi graduated with a double major in economics and business management. Dawadi secured a full-time job in Springfield, Illinois, working in the Illinois Auditor General’s office as an entry-level auditor monitoring state budgets. As an international student from Nepal, Dawadi says the diversity of peers he met during his four years was a highlight of Knox.
“One of the best things about Knox is that everyone is so nice. Everyone wants to help you succeed.”
Saxon Alvarez graduated with a major in biology. She plans to complete an additional year at Knox starting in the fall. During summer break, Alvarez worked on a research project with Associate Professor of Biology Nick Gidmark. As a student-athlete, Alvarez pointed to the many interactions with coaches and teammates that made a massive impact on her time at Knox.
“Winning the Midwest Conference Tournament and going to the NCAA tournament was something that I will never forget.”
Jamil Davis graduated with a major in public policy. He plans to take a much-needed break this summer before pursuing his master’s in public affairs at Indiana University in the fall. He hopes to begin a career in politics later on. Davis says his time at Knox was transformative and feels that he left the college a changed person.
“I’ve grown greatly. Knox has really given me an opportunity to excel and I’m grateful for that.”
CJ Johnson graduated with a major in creative writing. Johnson plans to spend the summer attending the Denver Publishing Institute, a four-week graduate certificate program in publishing. From there, they will work on a career in publishing.
“So much has changed between my first year and last. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of transformation during my time at Knox.”
Ben Ertle '23 graduated with a double major in international relations and Spanish. Ertle has accepted a year-long position as an English teacher in Spain, and he will relocate this fall. Ertle says Knox's intimate class settings fueled his academic experience.
“I think what I’ll remember most is my time with friends. I had a great social circle here and will always look back fondly on that. ” Ertle said.
Hannah Froming '23 graduated with a double major in anthropology and sociology. This fall, she will travel to Louisville, Kentucky, alongside her sister to work as a social media manager. Froming believes that the Knox experience is what you make of it. She says putting herself out there to find new experiences helped shape her four years.
“You need to go to clubs, take exciting courses, and just try new things at Knox. I really think that when you do that, you get something beautiful out of it,” Froming said.
Hajar Mohammad '23 graduated with a major in journalism. She was accepted into multiple graduate schools for marketing andis undecided on which school to attend. She also has a job lined up marketing a hair care brand in Austin, Texas. Mohammad says her time at Knox was surprising.
“You never really know what Knox is going to give you, but you’ll always push through. If you do, it’ll be amazing at the end,” Mohammad said.
Collin McGill '23 graduated with a major in history. McGill plans to spend time during the summer considering his next move, which may include graduate school or starting his career. Looking back, he says the faculty at Knox made the biggest impact on his four years at the College.
“The professors are so open and nice. The size of classes at Knox helped me be successful. I always felt like I could talk to my professors and they actually cared,” McGill said.
Alexandra Ashbeck '23, graduated with a double major in biochemistry and health studies. She plans to spend the majority of her summer studying for the MCAT and will return to Knox for a single additional term in the fall. Between the faculty members and friends made along the way, Ashpeck says the relationships she built at the College were a highlight of her four years.
“I have to point out the classes I took with Janet E. Kirkley. She was such an inspiration to me and I wouldn’t be here without her,” Ashpeck said.
Izn E Allah '23, graduated with a double major in computer science and quantitative economics. He hopes to continue a career in software development and AI and will be pursuing a number of career opportunities moving forward. He is also considering a fifth year at Knox.
“I’ve been around computers since I was three, and I feel like I really expanded my knowledge at Knox. So many of my computer science classmates are going on to do great things,” Ashpeck said.