Graduation Stories: Celebrating the Class of 2023
Convocation season is always a special time for the Arts & Science community, and this year was no exception.
Celebrating Black Excellence
18 May 2023 saw the second annual Black Excellence Graduation celebration, organized by Iyobosa Faith Ogunkoya and others affiliated with McMaster’s Black Student Success Centre (BSSC), including ARTSSCI 4CI3 Instructor and Senior Advisor on Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Dr. Clare Warner. The event, which celebrated the achievements of graduating Black students at McMaster, also featured a welcome address by former Arts & Science Director, Dr. Gary Warner. In this video, BSSC Communications Assistant and Artsci Student Malikca Lawrence talks about the importance of “Black Grad” and what it means to her.
A First Interdisciplinary Minor in Latin American & Latinx Studies
2023 also saw McMaster confer its first Interdisciplinary Minor in Latin American and Latinx Studies when Ian-Carlo Morales-Nunez completed the minor alongside his Honours degree in Anthropology. The Arts & Science Program is thrilled to be the curricular home for this Interdisciplinary Minor, as it is for the Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability. For more information about these and other Interdisciplinary Minors, visit the McMaster Intersession website.
Arts & Science and Humanities Convocation
On 12 June 2023, graduates, faculty, family, and friends gathered for the Arts & Science Program and Faculty of Humanities Convocation at FirstOntario Concert Hall. After walking the stage and having their degrees conferred at the ceremony, the new Artsci alumni and their guests celebrated at a Program reception at the David Braley Health Sciences Centre. Congratulations to David Mikhail, who was recognized with the Governor General’s Academic Medal; to Gabrielle Maerov, who received the Laura Dodson Prize; and to the entire Arts & Science graduating class!
What’s Next for the Artsci Class of 2023?
Convocation offers an opportunity to celebrate the unique and diverse journeys of Artsci students – both the journeys they have taken as they moved through the Arts & Science Program and those they’re now beginning. The Class of 2023 certainly reflects the wide-ranging interests of Artscis and the numerous paths they take after graduation.
Some new Artsci alumni are excited to be beginning or returning to jobs. After spending time in Thailand with family, for instance, Kira Piroonsit will be taking up a position in the technology rotational program at Canadian Tire Corporation come September. “[Four] years ago,” she says, “I never saw myself ever coding or doing math again! I will always be grateful for Arts and Science for enabling me to discover paths that I never imag[in]ed taking.” Sharang Sharma has begun work on campus as the Community Outreach Coordinator at CFMU radio, while Charlotte Johnston has returned to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for the summer as a forest fire management radio operator; both are also considering graduate school in future. Ivan Kredl is working as a monument repairer – a job that sees him recovering and resetting gravestones and potentially contributing to local history projects such as the one described in this news story – and as a stone carver at a monument service in Dundas. He is also involved in research and development for a sunglasses company, contributing to efforts exploring lens dyeing processes. David Mason recently took up the position of House Manager for the Stratford Festival’s Avon Theatre, and hopes to pursue a career in Arts management. Medha Bhushan is excited to begin work with the Ontario Medical Association as Senior Administrator in the Government Relations Department. “I’m really thrilled about the job,” she notes, “because it would give me the chance to work in the field of public policy, and my plan this fall is to apply for a Masters in Public Policy for the 2024 year.”
Like Medha, several members of the Class of 2023 are either pursuing graduate education or plan to do so in future. Oishee Ghosh recently began an MASc in Biomedical Engineering at McMaster, working with the faculty member who supervised her undergraduate thesis in Artsci. Luisa Gherghel is also remaining on campus to begin a Masters degree in French, while Dalton Bath will soon be at the University of Toronto, working toward an MA in Philosophy. Further afield, William Zhang will be undertaking a PhD in Finance at UC Berkeley Haas, Jess Latimer will be beginning an MSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Dalhousie University, and Jessie Chan will be heading to the University of British Columbia to pursue an MSc in Neuroscience. Phoebe Newton is excited to return to England, where she grew up, to begin a Master of Philosophy in Development Studies at the University of Cambridge. Tess Vosper will be further north, at the University of Edinburgh, completing an MSc in Dance Science and Education.
Artsci alumni will also be heading to professional programs. Both Gillian Irwin and Corbin McBride are undertaking Nursing degrees, for example – Gillian at University of Toronto’s Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, and Corbin in the joint program offered by Toronto Metropolitan University and Centennial College. Maya Zabian will be remaining at McMaster to begin the Occupational Therapy MSc program following a summer working in the university’s student recruitment office, and Sadie MacDonald will also be returning to Mac to pursue Midwifery education. McMaster will likewise continue to be home to Elise Wan and David Kanter Eivin as they begin Medical School at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, while Maya Verma will be starting her Medical School journey at McGill University in the Fall. Both Dylan Wall and Audrey Wu are heading to the University of Toronto Law School. “It’s a really cool opportunity for me,” Dylan says, “because my [Arts & Science] thesis, which was related to legal history, drew on the work of some feminist legal scholars who teach at U of T’s law school.”
Other members of the Class of 2023 are taking time to travel, explore, and engage with communities. Chloe Sloan, for example, will be spending several months travelling through Asia – both with her partner, and with a group of other Artsci alumni – before applying to Physiotherapy programs in future. Rachel Mery is excited to be joining Chloe and others for part of this trip. Kneisha Harder has planned a trip through Europe and one to Uganda, and is exploring opportunities to volunteer before ultimately applying to MBA programs. After finishing her McCall MacBain Fellowship in Argentina, Sneha Wadhwani plans to go to India to visit family and complete yoga teacher training prior to pursuing further education. Elle Klassen is looking forward to moving to England with a fellow grad, “pursuing joy, peace, and activism,” and potentially transforming their Artsci thesis into a book while there. Similarly, Roya Motazedian is considering returning to Korea, where they studied abroad in Level III, and has submitted a manuscript of poetry to publishers. “I am unsure,” Roya notes, and “feeling a lot of pressure but not willing to [let] societal norms get a chokehold on me.” They continue: “I think my time at Mac taught me to sometimes just go for things, because the consequences of failing are small and always, something will be learned.”
As even this small selection of stories makes clear, the paths of Artsci alum are as varied as their interdisciplinary interests. Congratulations to all of you as you begin your next adventures!
Many thanks to the Arts & Science alumni who shared their plans and their photos for this story!Alumni, Artsci, Students