Ellen Gilbert, an anthropology major from Lawrenceburg, Ky., will attend The New School in New York City this fall to pursue a master’s degree in international development.
Gilbert wasn’t certain of her major when she came to Transylvania, but she knew she was interested in humanitarian aid or social work on a global scale. A course her first term with anthropology professor Barbara LoMonaco brought everything into focus for her.
“I took Cultural Anthropology and knew from the first lecture that it was absolutely for me,” she said. “I’m really obsessed with experiencing the world as much as possible. Learning about other cultures and how people think about the world is very intriguing.”
Matching her interests with an appropriate graduate school occurred after a suggestion from then-vice president and dean of the college William F. Pollard that she look into The New School.
“I went to their website and looked at some of the departments, and it was like this destiny moment when you just know what you’re supposed to do,” she said. “The programs there are very interdisciplinary, much like my Transylvania classes. There’s no way I could participate in that kind of setting if it weren’t for my Transylvania experiences—the discussion format in class, everything.”
The chance to live and study in Manhattan was the final piece of the puzzle for Gilbert. She pointed out the many internship and career opportunities there at organizations like the Women’s Empowerment Branch of the United Nations, Amnesty International, and C.A.R.E International.
“It’s almost as much about New York as it is the school I’m going to,” Gilbert said. “I feel like you can find your niche there. It’s a center for global, international people and all those ideas. I’ll be excited to be in the center of all that.”
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Eli Glass completed a double major in business administration (finance concentration) and economics and went directly from graduation to his position as a trader with the investment firm Edward Jones at the organization’s North American headquarters in Saint Louis.
The Metropolis, Ill., native said he has always liked the world of investments, and an internship with Edward Jones after his junior year gave him a direct path to his full-time job.
“I enjoy watching the market and reading the news of different events in the world to see how they affect the market,” Glass said. “Why the market is up one day and down the next has always intrigued me.”
After his summer internship at Edward Jones, the firm, which has more than 11,000 offices in the United States and Canada serving nearly seven million customers, offered him the opportunity to interview immediately for a full-time position after graduation. He received the good news that September that he had been hired to begin the following summer.
“I was hired as part of the rotational development program,” Glass said. “We spend our first year rotating through the firm, experiencing several different trading desks.For example, we may have an order from a client to sell a municipal or corporate bond, and we’ll go out in the market to find the best bid.”
Glass attributes his good showing during the internship in part to a Money and Banking class he had as part of his economics major.
“That class talked a lot about the bond market, which really helped me to come in and be a little bit ahead of the rest of the interns that summer,” he said. “They (Edward Jones) were impressed with what I already knew.”
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Rachel Williams is a biology and French double major from New Albany, Ohio, who will attend the College of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University in the fall.
Although she was “pretty sure” she wanted to go to veterinary school when she arrived at Transylvania, she was still trying to decide between pursuing a Ph.D. and going into research or becoming a practicing veterinarian. Two experiences over the same summer helped her to decide.
“I took part in the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program at Case Western Reserve University, which is for rising college sophomores and juniors to help them with the MCAT (Medical College Application Test), mock interviews, and personal statement writing,” she said. “And then that same summer I went home to New Albany and shadowed my vet, and I really liked it.”
Williams was locked in on a biology major from the beginning, but found a second love in her French studies.
“I met (French professor) Dr. (Simonetta) Cochis, and she was so exciting and fun to be around,” she said. “I had taken AP (Advanced Placement) French in high school. I’ve been to France twice and would love to go back. Purdue has three-week externships your fourth year where you can go abroad, including to France. It would be great to see how my two fields of science and language interact.”
Purdue appears to be an ideal fit for Williams, both academically and for its overall living and learning environment.
“At Purdue, I’ll be around the same 84 people in my class for four years, and I’ll get to know them really well,” she said. “It will be kind of like a family, which I feel was true during my time at Transylvania. I think I’ll feel right at home at Purdue.”
And the kicker?
“My father went to Purdue for his undergraduate and graduate work. He’s so excited!”
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Ben Costigan, an economics major and Spanish minor from Frankfort, Ky., will spend his next several months out of the country studying and teaching to prepare himself for a career in foreign relations.
Costigan won a Juan Manuel Sampere Scholarship through Sigma Delta Pi, the national Spanish honorary, and took four weeks of intensive Spanish courses in Cuenca, Ecuador, in July. Costigan, who was vice president of Transylvania’s Sigma Delta Pi chapter, was one of 20 recipients in the country and one of only two in Ecuador. He will use that training to travel for nine months starting in the fall to Madrid, Spain, to teach high school English as part of a Fulbright grant he was awarded.
“I took a lot of economics classes the last two terms, so I haven’t had as much Spanish practice as I’d like leading up to the Fulbright,” he said. “So I’m hoping to improve my Spanish-speaking abilities and learn more about a specific culture. I think in the future with this experience in Spain, there’s a potential for me to work more directly with them in whatever career path I decide to take.”
Part of the Fulbright includes creating an independent project to do while you’re teaching. Costigan plans to start an English resource library at his school. He is working with the International Book Project in Lexington to gather materials to send over with him to get the library underway.
“I’m going to try and get some interesting young adult fiction for the students to read,” he said. “When I was learning Spanish, it was always with outdated textbooks and boring recordings, so I want to get some more interesting things for them to learn English with.”
Costigan’s goal is to work in diplomacy and foreign relations, particularly in development. He wants to use his economics degree not strictly for economics, but in the political realm.
“Transylvania has opened my mind a lot,” he said. “I came in without a whole lot of direction academically, and they helped me realize that it’s OK. Throughout my four years, I’ve thought about doing a dozen different things from law school to a Ph.D. in economics, and now to diplomacy. It’s opened my mind that I can do any of these things.”
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Viktoria Safarian, a philosophy major from Lexington, has enrolled in Harvard Law School but will first spend a year in South Korea teaching English to secondary students as part of a Fulbright award. She will be in South Korea from July 2012 to July 2013, and she’ll start at Harvard in fall 2013.
Safarian, who is native Armenian, hopes the fellowship will make her more marketable when she earns her law degree.
“I knew I wanted to do some kind of fellowship, and the Fulbright is very well known,” she said. “I want to learn to speak Korean, and I want to learn how to cook Korean food. I’ll also be traveling to Japan and China.”
Part of the fellowship includes an independent project in conjunction with her time teaching. Safarian is working with Bryan Station High School in Lexington to develop collaborative art projects that students from Bryan Station and from her school in South Korea can do at the same time. She’ll start an after-school art program where students will work from similar prompts as the ones in Lexington.
Safarian is interested in public interest law, particularly immigration and refugee status. She has previously traveled to India and the Philippines on research projects through Transylvania Kenan Grants and to Yale University’s summer bioethics internship. South Korea will be another big step in furthering her global experience to prepare her for that field.
“I’ve worked really hard, and all of those experiences have made me a better candidate for the Fulbright and for Harvard,” she said. “Transylvania professors were really invested in me because I showed interest from the very beginning, and I got these opportunities by having personal relationships with them. And in the classroom, my communication skills, writing, and critical thinking all improved.”