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Eden Thomas ’21 fulfills her dream with Rochester degree

May 18, 2021
2021 Commencement: Rochester graduate Eden ThomasA business and philosophy double major, Eden Thomas chairs the Students’ Association administration and review team, is Senior Night chair for the Class of 2021 Class Council, business manager for the Student Programming Board. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

The first-generation student discovers that “one opportunity opens a whole bunch of other doors and connections.”

Eden Thomas ’21 has literally been living the dream the past four years.

“I live right around the corner (Manchester, New York) and have wanted to attend the University of Rochester since eighth grade,” she says. “My cousin (Meghan Gray ’15) went here, and I just fell in love with the campus once I stepped foot onto it. It’s so beautiful.”

2021 Commencement: Rochester toolkit selfie sign

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Visit the Class of 2021 site for details about this year’s Commencement ceremonies and for a downloadable toolkit of materials to share your support on social media.

Thomas has been one busy senior: the business and philosophy double major is chair of the Students’ Association administration and review team, Senior Night chair for the Class of 2021 Class Council, business manager for the Student Programming Board, and a residential advisor at Genesee Hall. This spring she received two Student Life Awards—one for senior campus contributions and one for improving the experience of students living in residential halls.

“When I came to Rochester, I wanted to keep my options open,” she says. “Academics come first, no matter what. But once I started getting involved, it was hard to stop. One opportunity opens a whole bunch of other doors and connections.”

Thomas initially thought she would only major in philosophy, with an emphasis on law and ethics. But because of Rochester’s open curriculum, she was able to add business as a second major. This fall, she’ll continue that path when she enrolls in an MBA program at SUNY Oswego. “It’s very interesting how the two majors play together,” she says. “When I’m in a managerial role in the future, I’ll have my ethics and moral background to make sure I’m being the best employer I can be.”

Thomas was on a Caribbean cruise when the COVID-19 forced Rochester to move to remote learning in March 2020. “I was numb when I heard the news,” she says. “Making the adjustment from school to home was difficult, but it was an easy decision to return to school last fall. I love being on campus.”

Thomas lived in West Palm Beach, Florida, until moving to Manchester with her family at 12. That’s when she was first introduced to the University by her cousin. “I knew how strong the Rochester curriculum is,” Thomas says.”

Thomas is a first-generation student, making commencement even more special. Her dream has come true, and so has her parents’ wish to see their only daughter graduate from college. “They’ve been a huge support for me even though they didn’t attend college,” she says. “Just having their love and support has meant the world to me.”

Thomas remembers touring the River Campus with her family and crying at the prospect of not being admitted. “I remember saying, ‘I just love it here, and I can’t see myself going anywhere else.’ My mom said, ‘If it’s meant to be, it will be.’ And it was very much meant to be.”

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Category: Student Life

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