The Class of 2020 Writes Their Own Story

Graduate Maggie Jarrett tosses her cap toward the camera

Members of the class of 2020, you’ve heard over and over that you’re missing your big moment. No walk across the stage this spring, no cap toss for now.

But that’s only part of the story. We wanted you to tell the rest.

So we asked for your memories, photos and plans for the future, and crossed our fingers for a few submissions. Within days, you gave us enough words to fill a novel and enough photos to paper a classroom. We’re honored to share many of them here.

The class of 2020 is ready to take on the world, and we couldn’t be prouder. While we may not have commencement exercises together this May, one thing is certain: The entire Wolfpack is with you.

Coming Home

Kunal Narang (Computer Science): For a student from New Delhi, India, who had never stepped outside his home country, NC State provided me with home and friends that I will remember for the rest of my life. I got to experience so much warmth and support from the community here, which I never expected. I call NC State my home away from home. 

Tiffany Chrisey (Marketing): The moment I knew I was home was at my first NC State football game. Fans were cheering and chanting while fireworks were shooting off. The amount of school spirit at that game was unimaginable. It was right then when I knew “the strength of the wolf is in the pack.” 

Megan McDonald (Elementary Education): NC State became home to me when I found my community within the College of Education. The professors are so passionate about helping us become the best educators that we can be, which in turn inspired me to fall even more in love with teaching! The elementary education department truly made the big university feel small for me.

Meredith Rhoney (Industrial Engineering): My parents (class of 1991 and 1994) met at NC State and have been big Wolfpack supporters ever since. They instilled their love of red and white into all three of their daughters, bringing us to games, teaching us the fight song and showing off their favorite college campus. NC State has become so much more than the family tradition I saw it as upon my arrival in fall of 2016. I now have my own memories that I can share with my children about how this place helped me grow academically and personally.

“I will always call NC State home, and Raleigh will always have a piece of my heart.” — Nora Skinner, Marine Science
“I found myself at NC State. I shaped my entire future at this place. NC State means home.” — Nishan Kassahun, Business Administration
“From late nights in Carter-Finley to Howling Cow ice cream dates with friends, I have loved every second at NC State.” — Kim Pollard, Computer Science

Nicole Renwick (Elementary Education): I often feel overlooked in large groups of people because I am shy and quiet. When I came to NC State I was nervous about making friends, finding my place on campus and feeling at home. However, the faculty, staff and students quickly welcomed me and built a relationship with me instead of letting me go unnoticed.

Sorali Patel (Zoology): Every time I was in a class with Dr. Campbell felt like home, as well as any class for the dance minor. My family was Just Cuz Crew, a hip-hop dance crew.

Cameron Phipps (International Studies): NC State has been a large, impactful chapter of my life; Raleigh has become my home, and NC State will always be my stomping grounds. I may move around in life, but my heart will always stay in Raleigh.

Adrienne Nip (English): Graduating high school in Hong Kong and moving back to the United States for university was difficult. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone to find my community, and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to grow under the mentorship and guidance of various advisors and professors. It really is a home to me!

Capturing Campus Memories

Lalima Sharda (Computer Science): I am extremely happy that I chose NC State University for my master’s degree. Being away from home for two years can be difficult. But being here, participating in so many amazing events and meeting some of the best people, made me feel at home.

Emily Hager (Environmental Sciences and Political Science): One of the first nights at NC State, my roommate dragged me out of bed to go to the Midnight Howl and Run, something I was not interested in at all. I hated running, much less running at midnight (which seemed so late at the time, but now after countless all-nighters at Hunt, it doesn’t seem late at all anymore). We got to the Belltower and music was pumping; everyone was hyped up and decked out in glow-in-the dark paint and glow sticks. The whole event was so much fun, and I remember getting to the end of the race, munching on my watermelon and being so happy to be part of this amazing university.

Christian Guarente (Microbiology): One thing that I’ll never forget during my time at NC State was freshman year when we beat Duke at Cameron. I remember watching the game in my dorm room and hearing campus absolutely erupt when the buzzer went off. My phone started blowing up with friends asking to meet outside our dorms so we could rush the Belltower together. I don’t think I’ve ever run so hard in my life.

“My favorite night was beating Duke and storming the court.” — Nicole Khashmanian, Psychology
“For a baton twirler, one of the highest achievements of a career is to become a feature twirler at a D1 university. NC State has the BEST fans in the land!” — Erin Noble, Applied Nutrition
“NC State isn’t just about school and the degree. It’s about the people who are there to make an impact in your life, and making an impact in others’ lives.” — Courtney Wethington, Technology, Engineering and Design Education
“Every year, NC State’s Formula SAE team designs, builds and races a racecar from the ground up. Team members devote 30+ hours a week on top of school and jobs in the pursuit of sound engineering and speed. Nothing can describe how proud we are to represent NC State amongst other great engineering schools.” — Parker Eaton, Mechanical Engineering
“My favorite NC State tradition was receiving my class ring. Getting the opportunity to place it in the Belltower and participate in the ceremony was so memorable. I’ll always treasure my class ring because of all it stands for!” — Anna Collins, Business Administration
“Participating in campus events, such as the Global Welcome Celebration and Annual International Festival allowed me to create extraordinary memories.” — Catherine Lahoud, English

Katie Tart (Business Administration): Agromeck has become my second family, and I’m proud to have served as the editor-in-chief my junior year. I love yearbooks because they are a time capsule of what life was like on the NC State campus. As a staff we get to play the role of historical records keeper, and we directly impact how future generations will look back on this time period on campus.

Julia Madsen (Textile Engineering): I joined the sorority Delta Gamma on campus, and that has given me so many wonderful experiences, like being in charge of our philanthropy events as Vice President of Foundation and raising enough money to sponsor two seeing-eye dogs to go through training. 

“I joined College Mentors for Kids at NC State in 2016 as a founding member and served as a mentor for local elementary school students for all four years. It’s a special part of NC State that I’m super grateful to have been a part of.” — Meredith Rhoney, Industrial Engineering
“I had the opportunity to conduct research with Dr. Francis Birgand in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering department and later present research at several conferences.” — Maya Hoon, Environmental Sciences
Some of my favorite memories are of my time in the fashion studio, working late nights with my fellow designers. I formed some truly incredible friendships in the spaces between mannequins and sewing machines.” — Kori Hyer, Fashion and Textile Design
“My first club I joined was the Vietnamese Student Association, which gave me a family and taught me that there can be people who are adamant about their culture. I established a multicultural fraternity, called Lambda Phi Epsilon, with 10 other friends to promote Asian culture and to allow future members to grow into leaders, to learn about themselves and to give a sense of belonging.” — Rj Javier, Art + Design

Abigail Gillin (Environmental Design): NC State has provided me so many opportunities, but more importantly, lifelong friendships and memories. Watching fireworks during Packapalooza. Rushing the Belltower. Having an election concert with Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi and the Clintons. Seeing Michelle Obama speak. Too many free T-shirts. Too many Port City Java bacon, egg and cheeses. One too many slippery bricks. Last-day-of-class brunch with my ladies. My heart is so full, and I owe it all to the red and white.

Courtney Gordon (Computer Science): I loved football game days. It was always so much fun to wake up at 7 a.m. for a noon game and get ready with friends and roommates. Tailgating outside Carter-Finley and screaming the Red and White songs during the games — I always loved the spirit in the air, win or lose.

Kathryn Kittrell (Fashion and Textile Management): My favorite moments of my time at NC State were from being a designer in the Wilson College of Textiles’ THREADS Senior Showcase. Many late nights were spent with my fellow seniors in the studio, pouring our blood, sweat, tears and hearts into our collections. THREADS was very stressful, but all of the work was worth it watching my and my friends’ collections come to life.

Emma Carter (Sociology): Student Government has been my second home outside of the Wolfpack. Working with so many passionate individuals has been a life-changing opportunity, and I am so grateful for the late nights spent in Talley Student Union in the Senate Chambers and the early morning meetings for university committees. 

Maggie Jarrett (Industrial Design): Some of my favorite memories are freshman year in Leazar Hall, learning about design and meeting all the incredibly talented students who have inspired me for four years, going to Talley for late-night food runs with studio members, getting to know professors and learning from them in a small class setting, meeting the people I know will be my best friends for life, and creating and completing projects I didn’t know I was capable of.

Savoring Adventures, Celebrating Accomplishments

Julianne Reas (Communication): Each semester, the National Parks Club took a weekend camping trip to a National or State park with 50 students. These were some of my favorite times because it was just a group of awesome, down-to-earth students getting to hike and camp all weekend. 

Miralinda Aoun (Nutrition Science): I loved having the opportunity to be a part of Dr. Cooke’s service learning class. I really enjoyed going to a variety of different communities (elderly, children, refugees) and teaching them and cooking with them, which are two of my favorite things.

Allegra Peery (Biochemistry): Being a member of Omega Phi Alpha shaped me for life. We spent hazy mornings on the Agroecology Education Farm harvesting veggies for the dining halls, afternoons dishing out meals at the soup kitchen and even spent time working at Carolina Tiger Rescue in Asheboro. Many weekends spent at the beach or in the mountains strengthening our sisterhood and spending time learning about leadership, diversity and mental health made my years at NC State so sweet and filled with love and support.

Morgan Register (Agricultural Sciences and Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology): One of my greatest memories at NC State included the opportunity to travel to Andros Island in the Bahamas to research public perception on fisheries. While we were there, we interviewed locals and gained insight into a new culture, mindset and way of life.

“Visiting Greece with the College of Design was incredible! One of the best months of my life. I got to visit the beautiful island of Kefalonia with three of my best friends and sweet boyfriend who I adore.” — Anna Schecterson, Graphic Design
I studied abroad in Peru and it was the most amazing, eye-opening experience that I’ve ever had. I now have a new goal of visiting all 7 Wonders of the World, something that I would have never even dreamed of before.” — Sydney Smith, Business Administration and Spanish
“Visiting Rome during my study abroad trip!” — Melanie Bodane, Graphic Design
“My favorite memories of NC State are meeting my best friends, late nights finishing architecture projects, and, of course, studying abroad in Prague!” — Jillian Ford, Environmental Design

Noelle Hoehn (Animal Science): As a pre-vet student, I had the opportunity to volunteer with the Turtle Rescue Team. There, I got a better understanding of wildlife medicine and rehabilitation. It was also where I met my companion, Roo! She is an Eastern Box Turtle unable to be released due to her back legs being amputated. I was able to adopt her, and I am thankful for her every day!

Danielle Matthews (Agricultural Business Management): I had the opportunity to study abroad in Italy for Maymester. Getting to experience the culture while learning with my classmates was an unbelievable experience.

Shivani Surati (Science, Technology and Society): My favorite NC State memory is studying abroad! Before coming to NC State, I’ve always found myself daydreaming of travel to exciting places around the world, but I’ve never felt that those dreams were realistic or achievable. Once I was accepted and informed I was a recipient of the chancellor’s scholarship I was so excited! My study abroad experience led me to seek a career in global health. 

Looking to the Future

Christian Williams (Animal Science): I have been accepted into the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine Class of 2024, and I am so excited that I will continue for the next four years with the Wolfpack.

Katherine Hord (Biological Sciences): Medical School at Liberty University! Go Flames!

“I knew NC State was exactly where I belonged when I saw how I was contributing to something so much bigger than myself. Whether sprinting to the Belltower to celebrate a Wolfpack win and dance in the streets, or starting a program on campus focused on environmental engagement, these memories made alongside other members of the Pack are ones I will cherish forever.” — Julia Koehler, Polymer and Color Chemistry
“Nothing can inspire you more than the dream you’ve set for yourself, and NC State has pushed me to be the best possible person to accomplish this.” — Katherine Hord, Biological Sciences
“I made so many lifelong friendships and unforgettable experiences at NC State that all I can say is thank you. Thank you to my friends, my professors, coworkers and to my family for allowing me to become the person I am today.” — Rj Javier, Art + Design
“NC State was my dream school. Being able to attend NC State means that I got to start on my dream career.” — Katelyn McDow, Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation Biology
“NC State and the people on this campus have given me the confidence to challenge myself and grow as a person, and I have never felt like I wasn’t creating my own journey here.” — Courtney Gordon, Computer Science
“I grew up in a small town, and I was convinced I would hate living in the big city of Raleigh. Every single day I spent on campus changed that. Before I even realized, NC State became my home, which I am not ready to leave.” — Hailey Jessup, Animal Science
“It’s easy to get so caught up in having enough ‘big’ accomplishments and to only equate ‘success’ with academic, professional and extracurricular stuff (especially when that’s all anyone posts). But sometimes the most valuable lessons are in the little, everyday experiences. I am incredibly grateful for four years of growth at NC State and more grateful for every person I shared moments with.” — Kyle Lorenzo, Psychology and Biological Sciences

Hanna DerBoghosian (Criminology): I will be entering the workforce for around two years, then I will go to grad school in Boston for counterterrorism and security intelligence. My ultimate goal is to protect people, to protect families and to protect our country from senseless attacks of terrorism. 

Nora Skinner (Marine Science): This summer I will be working as a biology assistant intern for the National Parks Service at Cape Lookout National Seashore. I will be monitoring sea turtle nesting on the park grounds.

Monica Willis (Mathematics Education): I will be teaching high school math just like my grandpa, who also went to NC State!

Courtney Wethington (Technology, Engineering, and Design Education): I have a job at Newport News Shipbuilding as a designer, and my ultimate goal in life is to become a set designer for stage plays and concerts.

Mikayla Graham (Crop and Soil Sciences): I will be the field crops extension agent in Union County and plan to eventually get a master’s degree at NC State!

Ashlynn Ehrler (Social Work): I have just started a job with Meals on Wheels! 

Adam Kane (Mechanical Engineering): I am so thankful for this amazing university bringing me together with my best friend, and I am so excited to marry her this summer when we graduate! Caroline will be graduating with a degree in education, and I will be graduating with an engineering degree. 

Evan Morris (Paper Science and Engineering): I’ve accepted a position with Sappi’s research and development group in Portland, Maine, where I will be a research technician. I will perform various experiments and lab tests to keep the company on the cutting edge of innovation in the tissue and dissolving pulp industries.

Nakyrah Radney (Design Studies): I will be participating in NC State’s Miller Fellowship entrepreneurship program and hope to be successfully running my sneaker customization business after the program.

Amanda Pappas (Meteorology): My future plans are to be a broadcast meteorologist on Good Morning America in New York or Los Angeles who helps to empower young women to join the STEM field and bridge the gap between the Latino and American communities.

This post was originally published in NC State News.