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Quadcast transcript: Graduating seniors share memories, look ahead

May 9, 2019

Sandra Knispel: [music the Genesee] Yep, it’s that time of year again…to be precise—the 169th graduation at the University of Rochester. So, get ready to belt out the alma mater song—the Genesee—written by 1892 alumnus T.T. Swinburn…and performed here expertly by the YellowJackets, the University’s oldest a capella group. This year, about 1,600 undergrads and 900 graduate students are receiving degrees from the University. Here are four of them:

Gillian Gingher: Hi, my name is Gillian Gingher and I’m graduating with a bachelor’s in art history and business.

Benton Gordon: I’m Benton Gordon and I’m graduating with a bachelor’s degree in applied music in flute performance from the Eastman School of Music.

Beatriz Gil: I’m Beatriz Gil, I’m graduating with a bachelor degree in economics and political science, and with a minor in Chinese and international relations. And I’m from Barcelona, Spain.

Gabriel Guisado: I’m Gabriel Guisado. I’m graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering.

____

Knispel: After four years on campus it’s time to seek out new adventures..

Gingher: I’m planning on pursuing a master’s of architecture degree.

Knispel: Gillian Gingher is heading next to the Georgia Institute of Technology next for her master’s degree. As an undergrad she interned at several art museums in New York City and at the University’s Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester. She was also the events manager for the student-run Harnett Gallery on campus.

Gingher: [During] my time spent working in the art world I’ve learned a lot—that I like working with people and that I like working in social-justice capacities. So, it actually helped me figure out that I wanted to go into architecture, because I knew I loved art, science, design, and maybe I do like math [laughs]. Don’t tell my dad I said that though. I decided I wanted to go into architecture because I knew it was a way to help people. I basically want to go into an urban design route and design public housing and mixed-income housing.

Gordon: In August, I’ll be leaving for Taiwan to work as an English teaching assistant through the Fulbright program. I’m looking forward to not only immersing myself in Taiwanese culture, developing my Mandarin Chinese skills but also working with a local English teacher and learning how to become a better classroom teacher.

Gil: I’m going to San Francisco. So we’ll be going to California. I’ve never been there but I’m very excited. I’ve heard really good things about San Francisco and I’ll be working in consulting in the Department of Strategy and Operation as a business analyst for Deloitte.

Guisado: So, I’m going to be working with Accenture, which is a consulting firm. And I’ll be in Philadelphia, working on their technology side and I’m hoping to work with healthcare and biotechnology clients.

Knispel: So, where do you hope to land eventually—what’s your dream job? First up Beatriz Gil.

Gil: My dream job would be around politics. I think that before I really liked the idea of running for office. I’m not sure if that is anymore just because I think I really like more the international perspective and sometimes I think when you run for office it’s more focused on your country. So, something that I’m very interested in is applying consulting to politics. So, international consulting. I just can’t do it right now in the US because I wouldn’t go through the clearance for political consulting but that’s something that I would be very interested in.

Gordon: My professor at Eastman asked me that same question in my first lesson: “What’s your dream yob?” And back then at the beginning of my first year I said, “Well, my dream job is to play piccolo with the Seattle Symphony.” I’m from Seattle and my high school teacher currently occupies that seat, so I can’t realize that job until she’s retired. But nowadays the question is a bit more complicated. Many days my dream job would be playing in an orchestra, playing piccolo and soaring above the rest of the instruments.

Knispel: After his first year at Eastman, Benton Gordon took a gap year for financial reasons. He ended up substitute teaching at his former middle and high school, which gave him another idea…

Gordon: I taught every subject except computers at the middle school. I taught high school science and Chinese. And when I came back to Eastman I realized I really missed teaching. So nowadays, I’m kind of caught between the two. Going forward the role that music has in my life could look very different. It might be my full-time profession. I might go out and win an orchestra job and get that seat with the Seattle Symphonie. But it might also be something that I do on the side.

Guisado: I think my dream job at this point would be something having to do with entrepreneurship in biomedical engineering and maybe on the consulting side that I’m starting out of—so possibly having my own biotech/healthcare consulting firm in the future. Because one of my passions and why I picked my major is that I really care about people’s access to healthcare and trying to make that cheaper and I think that consultants can play a role in that—more so than just waiting on policy to do so.

Knispel: Gillian Gingher, the budding architect, also happened to be a meridian for the University, taking prospective students and their parents for tours of our River campus.

Gingher: I actually became a meridian my freshman spring, so a long time ago. I loved taking my tours to funny little places that are not on the scripted tour route. Just because I have so many little niches, like in the library and many places like that.

Knispel: So, if I came to campus as a potential freshman where would you take me? What’s your special spot that’s not on the tour?

Gingher: Oh, I mean I love taking people into the book stack. I don’t always take them like into the book stack but I love showing them the Otis elevator since it’s one of the oldest elevators in Rochester and it’s also a really old elevator in general, which is super cool. If you like architecture—the elevator is basically what happened to make the skyscraper and that basically created American architecture. So, it’s a big deal looking at an old elevator…for a nerd like me, at least.

Knispel: And talking of favorite spots… here’s Gabriel Guisado’s..

Guisado: It’s not really a spot. For me it’s very iconic. It’s the Eastman Quad. And I remember going for accepted students day and saying, “Wow, I just feel like I am at this prestigious university that’s going to help me grow and mature and it just feels like a culmination of a lot of things. So, I definitely want to come back there.”

Knispel: So, how much did they get involved in campus life? Beatriz Gil was first the president of class council for three years and then, in her last year, the president of student government. She got involved, she says, to give international students a voice.

Gil: I would say the contribution I’ve been able to make to international students…and I don’t think I can name one thing. I think it has been small changes. So, I’ve worked with orientation, I’ve worked with Fraternities [and] Sororities affairs, I’ve worked within Class Council, with Residential Life as an RA, and through Student Government. And I think with all of those things I’ve been able to make small changes that have had hopefully, I think, a large impact on international students on campus.

Guisado: I’ve primarily been involved with the National Society of Black Engineers, which is something I’ve been involved with in my four years here. So I started off trying to find a club that really fits what I’m looking for here. And so I think it fit me very well because it’s both an affinity group and a pre-professional group—so it aligns with me culturally and what I want to do post graduation. I started off as a general member, which then gave me the opportunity to attend the national convention.

Knispel: From that moment onward in Boston at the national convention Gabriel Guisado was hooked. He eventually became the president of the campus chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers.

Guisado: Being able to be at a national convention of that scale and being able to talk to so many companies, so many different professionals and students, and really understanding what it means to have an interview, show your cover letter, give your elevator pitch—those real professional skills—I feel like I would not have that without NSBE, which has helped prepare me to get a job.

Knispel: As the four are now getting ready to leave Rochester, we asked them for their personal highlights…

Gordon: A lot of them, as a music student, have to do with different performances, recitals, concerts that I have given…just the huge amount of camaraderie that comes with that—both playing in a group—and exiting the stage door to the cheers and applause of so many classmates and teachers.

Knispel: But one memory, says Benton Gordon, is much simpler and has nothing to do with music.

Gordon: Back in my first year the church that some of my friends and I attended was just a couple of miles from school. So the fall we would walk back from church to Eastman, about a two mile walk along East Avenue. On one particular day we were walking down and there were these huge piles of leaves that people had raked off their lawns. So we decided to jump in them. One of my favorite photos from that—four of my friends, you can see them lying in a leave pile, but I am not there. So one of my friends drew a circle around the place where I had been and wrote my name because I had successfully hidden myself in the leaves. That’ just one of my most cherished memories.

Knispel: To some, Rochester proved a chance to discover new talents….Beatriz Gil never thought she’d actually become so smitten with research..

Gil: I came here and I had the opportunity to do research for professor (Hein) Goemans the political science department. [I am] completely in love with him. He’s the best professor I’ve ever met—so motivated, so in love with what he does and his research. And he made me realize how research could be something very interesting and that I could also fall in love with. I did research for one year for him and then I have now finished my honors thesis for political science and I know 100 percent I wouldn’t have been able to do it without his motivation since the start.

Knispel: Meanwhile, for Gillian Gingher going to school here seemed in a way destined, long before she was even born…

Gingher: Well, my parents are alumni actually. They met in Slater, which is one of the upper classmen housing. It is no longer new and shiny like it was in the 80s when they met there. But I actually didn’t want to come to the university because they went here. I wanted my own spot.

Knispel: But once Gillian walked a bit around campus she changed her mind.

Gingher: This place—it basically grew my parents, at least in an undergraduate capacity. And it just had so many things to offer me personally, as well as the community, the open curriculum—and I just realized, “Yeah, this is the perfect place for me. Fine, mom and dad, I’ll go here.”

Knispel: And now, looking back four years later.. was it the right spot?

Gingher: Definitely, yes. Definitely, definitely. I mean, I made the best friends ever here and I’ve had the best time. I’m so sad to go. So sad. Even with a bright future—I don’t want to graduate. And I don’t think any of my friends really do yet. We’re kind of getting really nostalgic at this point.

Knispel: [nat sound alma mater] Well, we hope you’ll all be back for Meliora Weekends! But first it’s time to enjoy your graduation ceremony. [more Genesee song]…and, of course, you don’t have to be an expert to sing the Genesee…

I’m Sandra Knispel for the Quadcast, the official podcast of the University of Rochester. [nat sound alma mater, applause]

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