Transylvania University continued spotlighting members of its Class of 2023 on social media over the past few weeks. These are just a few of the amazing Pioneers who graduated last Saturday.
Saif Ahmed is off to medical school after making the most of his time at Transylvania. Majoring in chemistry with a biochem track, he said our close-knit community made it easy to get involved and have an impact. For him, this meant serving as a tutor and fellow in our Embedded Learning Forums, a new program where students like Ahmed help other Pioneers in traditionally difficult classes … like chemistry. He’s also been a member of our Muslim Student Association, orchestra and debate team. “The small student population allowed me to forge real connections with like-minded peers,” said Ahmed, who’s from Lexington. He plans to attend the UK College of Medicine.
Elyse Blue enjoyed the academic and athletic opportunities available at Transylvania. The biology major from Evansville, Indiana, played three years of lacrosse at Transy and cheered for one year. Blue was also involved on campus as a First Engagements scholar and took advantage of CAPE’s 100 Doors mentoring program. She values her experience working closely with biology professor Becky Fox, caring for her zebra finches, and credits her friends and professors with helping her become the best version of herself over the past four years. Blue looks forward to applying everything she’s learned at Transy to her next adventure — pursuing her RN from Purdue University.
Joko Bojang looks for ways to support others. The health and exercise science major from Lexington co-founded Mental Matters, a student-led organization dedicated to improving mental health in the Transy community. As the organization’s co-president, she planned meetings and events to spread mental health awareness, validate students’ feelings and experiences and create a space where students can de-stress and learn coping techniques to help them during this rigorous time of life. Bojang also served as a 2022-23 First Engagements scholar and as the social justice chair for the Black Student Alliance. This fall, she will pursue her master’s in health administration at the University of Kentucky.
With a spirit of kindness and resilience, Trize Gipson has achieved much during her time at Transylvania. The Houston native has been a strong campus leader, serving as the Black Student Alliance president and a Sigma Gamma Rho charter member. She’s also been part of the Student Government Association, Student Activities Board, Student Alumni Association, Theater Guild and Students Against Hunger and Homelessness. Gipson also was a work-study student and participated in the AIKCU Emerging Leaders Program. Out in the community, she mentored local youths and volunteered for nonprofits. She achieved all this and more while persevering through a difficult time, as she’s developed a condition that has left her unable to walk. Gipson’s motivation is helping others, giving back to the community. The psychology major (and theater minor) plans to return to her home in Texas and work as a mental health aid. She also plans to use what she’s learned to start or support programs that help young people get the resources they need to succeed in life.
Graduating senior Connor Hood is well prepared to launch his accounting career as an audit associate with KPMG, the firm where he interned while attending Transylvania. Besides that real-world experience, he’s learned a lot by tutoring his peers in the concepts of accounting. “I believe the position helped me develop new skills I will use in my future life,” said Hood, who’s from Lexington. He’s also been a member of Delta Sigma Phi and swim team, setting school records, including in the 500 freestyle during last year’s conference championship.
Majoring in neuroscience might sound like it’s enough to keep a college student busy, but it’s only one of many things Shalomel Jatau is involved with at Transylvania. She’s also a campus and community leader focused on bringing together those around her. In her junior year, Jatau, who’s from Jos, Nigeria, wanted to help fellow Pioneers from abroad feel more connected, so she founded the MISO student group. She’s also mentored girls from a nearby middle school and served on Student Government Association, Black Student Alliance and as an admissions ambassador and Campus Center manager. A Black studies minor, Jatau was recently honored by the Muhammad Ali Center as a KYouth Rising Leader. She thanked those on campus who’ve advocated for her during her time at college. “They are the reason I have remained committed to community service,” she said. Looking to life after graduation, she’s accepted a job in intraoperative neuromonitoring and plans to become a neurophysiologist.
Leigh Kostenbader has made the most of Transylvania’s emphasis on the Digital Liberal Arts. The Norristown, Pennsylvania, native is a hands-on, creative person who’s thrived in a variety of internships and work-study roles — from producing podcasts for our DLA program to working on digitisation projects with our library to helping the theater department on the technical side. Kostenbader’s creativity also found expression as they worked with Frankfort artist Larry Moore in curating shows across two galleries. After graduation, the digital arts and media major plans to pursue technical theater work — starting as an audio technician with the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
Camae Mason has given back to the Transylvania community through her commitment to inclusion and creative spirit. The studio art major from Lexington co-founded Mental Matters and has worked to promote mental health resources on campus. As the vice president of the Black Student Alliance, Mason worked to ensure that Black voices and allies have a safe space and a sense of belonging at Transy, and as a charter member, tamiochus and anti-grammateus of our Sigma Gamma Rho chapter, she was an essential part of the efforts to bring the Divine Nine sorority to campus. During her time here, Mason received accolades in the juried student art show, won two Delcamp creative writing awards and received the 2023 Judy Gaines Young student writing award. Mason plans to continue working on her acting portfolio while getting certified to teach art.
Tate Ohmer, a first-generation student from Boone County, Kentucky, has dedicated his time at Transy to meaningful social and political causes while earning a spot on the dean’s list for his academic achievements. On campus, he served the student body as Student Government Association president, reformed the College Democrats and re-founded the College Democrats of Kentucky, connecting hundreds of college students statewide. Off campus, Ohmer lobbied on behalf of the Kentucky Students Rights Coalition and Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky, the state’s most successful pro-LGBT organization, aiding in the passage of the largest students’ rights bill in the nation, as well as the first-ever hearing of a pro-LGBT bill in Kentucky’s House of Representatives.
Tammy Ray’s music has entertained audiences from Lexington to the Big Apple. On Transylvania’s campus, professional musicians have performed her original compositions in concert — and her electro-acoustic music has been played at venues including our Studio 300 Digital Art and Music Festival and the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival. The music technology major from Lexington also designed sound and composed music for several theater productions (and has acted in a few of them). Additionally, Ray has played violin in the orchestra, lent her voice to songs for local artists, served as Transy’s music theory tutor and played a key role in reviving the Latino Student Alliance. She plans to work in sound engineering and teach violin after graduation — and one day hopes to compose film scores.