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Commencement 2020

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The Knox College Class of 2020: How Knox Prepared Them for Post-Graduation Success

Commencement 2020

More than a year ago, members of the Knox College Class of 2020 picked up their diplomas, packed their bags, and moved on to the next chapter of their lives. For some, that means starting careers and full-time jobs. For others, it means pursuing further education or exploring different types of opportunities.

Here’s a recap of what a few of the college’s graduates are doing now and why they think Knox has prepared them for success. 

Debora Ortiz, who majored in economics and double minored in business & management and statistics, has been working at Inspectorio, a technology startup, as a marketing associate. She will be moving to Vietnam to work with this company. “[Knox] taught me how to communicate effectively with people from different backgrounds and with different cultures,” she says. “This has helped me do the same in my job, where I work with colleagues and clients that are all around the world.”

Debra Ortiz

Julian Malik Wicks, an English literature major with a minor in educational policy, is currently teaching 6th grade math at his old middle school, Chicago Jesuit Academy.  “Commencement is not about me at all, but more so for my family to have the visuals of me walking across the stage. Because they worked very hard to support me all this time, the least I can do for them is to celebrate my successes with me. I am the first male to graduate from college in my family, I'm the first of my grandma's grandchildren to graduate from college, so I want to make my family proud of me,” he says.

Connor Wood, an English literature and environmental studies double major, is working as a reporter at The Pantagraph, a newspaper in Bloomington, Illinois. He covers news in local higher education, including Illinois State University, Illinois Wesleyan University, Heartland Community College, Eureka College and Lincoln College. Connor works with another Knox graduate, Sierra Henry ’18. “I had a lot of opportunities to explore outside my majors at Knox,” he says. “Those experiences also helped prove to me the importance of having a broad education that can help bring in outside knowledge, and more importantly, can teach you how to learn.” 

Connor Wood '20

Joel Willison, who majored in theatre and minored in creative writing, started a theatre company with fellow Knox Alumni. He credits the Knox theatre department for supporting student ideas and growth. Joel participated in directing opportunities, and Knox funded an internship in New York that helped him fund his honors project. “[Knox]  really helped teach me how to believe in myself and my abilities. The Knox theatre department is great at giving students the place to grow and try their ideas,” he says. 

Teddy Turner, who majored in creative writing and double minored in psychology and gender & women’s studies, served a year in AmeriCorps at Saga Education, tutoring math remotely for a high school in Chicago. He is now doing freelance writing and applying for editorial assistant roles in publishing. Teddy has also begun a certificate program in copyediting at UC San Diego Extension. “I miss Knox,” he says. “It doesn't help that I had so many plans for graduation and that I had invited the entire extended family — and then the pandemic happened. And of course, I miss my classmates who stayed at Knox. In a way, Commencement feels like a moment of closure.”

Teddy Turner ’20

Natasha Caudill, who majored in American studies and minored in educational policy, is currently serving her second year with City Year Chicago on their Civic Engagement team. She helps design, plan, and implement service projects around Chicago. “I loved everything I got to do at Knox, and the skills and experience I gained in these roles have prepared me for jobs and interviews after graduation,” she says. “I think the biggest way Knox prepared me for life after college was in my own self confidence as a leader and ability to adapt to whatever I set out to do. Knox gave me so many opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone and leaning into those things absolutely set me up for success after graduation.”

While at Knox, she had the chance to travel to Poland twice to study the Holocaust as well as spend a semester in D.C. as part of the Washington Semester Program where she interned at a non-profit assisting refugees seeking asylum. “Knox gave me so many opportunities and experiences that I don’t think I would have had otherwise, but the people I was surrounded with are my favorite thing about Knox. “

Emilie Barrett, a history major and classics minor, has been attending graduate school at Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts, earning a dual-masters in library science (with a focus on archival preservation) and history. She says her job working in the Knox College Specials Collections, which ultimately led her to pursue library science, has been helpful in the aspects of her program that focus on archival work. “I think Knox was very impactful in helping to prepare me for grad school, and since starting my program in fall of 2020, I have been so grateful for all of the academic experience I gained while a student at Knox,” she says. 

During her time at Knox, Emilie took part in many different activities, but attributes the most important experiences to Soulfege a Cappella and Pi Beta Phi. “Both groups were ultimately the reason I felt so at home at Knox, and I would not trade my experiences as a part of them for anything. They introduced me to some of my best friends, and affected my time at Knox in such a positive way,”  she says. 

Emilie Barrett

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Printed on Monday, November 29, 2021