After accepting their degrees during the University’s morning Commencement ceremony, graduates of the University’s College of Arts and Sciences, School of Health Sciences, and Tagliatela College of Engineering reflect on their experiences as Chargers.
May 23, 2019
Kiana Matthews-Quinonez ’19, a communication major who plans to work as a reporter or producer, believes the hands-on opportunities she had on campus prepared her to succeed as a journalist. A field reporter and fill-in anchor for "The Charger Bulletin News," the University’s television news program, and managing editor of The Charger Bulletin, the student-run newspaper, she also gained experience producing, directing, and editing.
"At the University, I had opportunities inside and outside the studio," she said. "This has taught me how each role is vital to a production, and it makes me versatile and ready to conquer any challenge ahead."
While completing an internship at WTNH, a local television news station, she gained additional industry experience writing and publishing news stories online, and accompanying reporters as they covered breaking news in the field. She also studied abroad at the University’s campus in Prato, Italy, which she considers to be one of her favorite college experiences.
"Being immersed in another culture can seem scary, but I was fortunate to have incredibly supportive and knowledgeable faculty and staff members with me," she said. "Their guidance on even the simplest things, such as where to get the best pizza in town, enabled me to have experiences that I never thought I would be able to have. I will carry those memories with me for the rest of my life."
One of 1,400 members of the University’s Class of 2019, Quinonez was among the nearly 650 students who received degrees during the morning Commencement ceremony, which included graduates of the University’s College of Arts and Sciences, School of Health Sciences, and Tagliatela College of Engineering.
One of her classmates, Kevin Rivas ’19, graduated with his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. The first in his family to earn a college degree and a member of ChargerREC’s Club Baseball Team, Rivas says his experiences at the University helped him to grow as a person and as a student.
"I developed an understanding of the concepts I will need to make educated decisions," said Rivas. "The project-based classes taught me how to pull the theoretical into real life."
While completing an internship at Vanessa Research, a biomedical company based in Connecticut with offices around the globe, he gained valuable leadership experience through a two-week entrepreneurship program in Budapest, Hungary. After graduation, he will continue working for the company as an engineer, and he will assist with sales and business development.
"I have had major roles in a product’s development from conception," said Rivas. "I have done everything from designing, to prototyping, manufacturing, customer relations, and sales and business development."
Taylor Becchetti ’19 M.A., a graduate of the University’s graduate program in industrial/organizational psychology, will be joining the United Technologies Human Resources Leadership Program, a two-year program that includes three eight-month rotations in different areas of human resources. She will begin her first rotation at Collins Aerospace in Troy, Ohio, in June.
"At the University, I honed my presentation and communication skills while building a network in the psychology community," she said.
Beneda Litchmore ’19, a health sciences major, believes her time as a Charger enabled her to develop her confidence and creativity. Litchmore, who was active in the University’s veteran community, completed an internship at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System’s West Haven campus, which led to a part-time job.
"One of my favorite memories at the University was when I had the pleasure of being a part of the planning committee for the annual Salute to Service Banquet, an event that honors the University’s veteran community," she said. "Because of that experience, I met Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, and I introduced him to some of our veteran students."
Litchmore is both sad and excited to be graduating, and she is grateful for the experiences she had on campus. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in cardio perfusion, as well as a doctorate in medical/clinical science.
"As I move into this next chapter of my life post-graduation, I have developed a strong resume," she said. "I know exactly the change I want to see in healthcare, because I am that change."