University News

Class of 2018 Looks to the Future

Graduates reflect on their favorite memories as Chargers and the unique learning opportunities they had as students that have prepared them for success.

May 18, 2018

On May 12, the University of New Haven awarded nearly 1,600 degrees during two Commencement ceremonies celebrating the Class of 2018.

Samantha Kent ’18
Samantha Kent ’18

For psychology major Samantha Kent ’18, it was the experiences she had working with individuals with disabilities and special needs through her internship with the Kennedy Center that made the biggest impact.

"I was no longer reading about scenarios in my textbook," she said. "Everything I had learned until that moment had come to life and challenged my resilience."

At the start of her internship, she requested to be involved in the day program that included individuals with the some of the most challenging behaviors and diagnoses.

"I was determined to learn from everything they were willing to throw at me," said Kent, who will remain at the University to pursue a master’s degree in community psychology. "Each experience reinforced my determination to become an advocate for mental wellness."

"There is nothing more valuable than hands-on learning, and the University of New Haven excels at providing its students with incredible opportunities to learn outside of the classroom."Samantha Kent ’18

Kent was one of nearly 1,600 members in the Class of 2018 – the largest graduating class in University history – who received undergraduate and graduate degrees during two Commencement ceremonies last weekend.

One of her classmates, Danielle Lutkus ’18, a finance major, also reflected on her experiences outside of the classroom, which, in her case, was 4,000 miles from West Haven at the University’s campus in Tuscany, Italy. "I was able to learn more about myself and travel Europe to see things I have always dreamed about," she said. "Every day was an adventure."

She will join NEOS, a management consulting firm in Hartford where she interned as a student, as an analyst.

Nathan Lanning ’18
Nathan Lanning ’18

"My professors were there every step of the way to challenge me and helped me to learn about topics that will be key to my future career," she says.

Nathan Lanning ’18, a marine biology major, who’ll pursue a Ph.D. in oceanography at Texas A&M, said his favorite memory occurred while he was collecting samples for his Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) project.

"I sunk down to my waist in mud at Long Wharf Pier collecting algae," he remembers. "It was some great character building, and all of my professors could not stop laughing."

Martina Hukel '18, a criminal justice and national security studies double major, had three internships, including one with the FBI, and she worked closely with the New Haven Police Department throughout her honors thesis. "My classes have all been amazingly informative and helped prepare me to take on tasks with little supervision at internships and jobs," she said.

She'll pursue a master’s degree in security studies at Georgetown University and hopes to eventually be a foreign service officer for the State Department. "There have been so many things, both big and small, that have prepared me for success in my future endeavors," she says.

Kevin Van Dyk ’18 M.S., who earned a master’s degree in sport management, is pursuing opportunities in event management, Division I athletics, and sport marketing. He says his professors have positioned him to excel.

"I can’t speak highly enough about the faculty and how well they prepared me for post-graduate life. The biggest thing is how much they believe in me and continue to help me outside the classroom to be successful." Kevin Van Dyk ’18 M.S.

Rosemonde Ausseil ’18 M.S., who earned a master’s degree in industrial engineering, said one of the best parts of the program was being able to interact with classmates from across the globe. "Everyone had a different way of approaching a problem or question."

This fall, she will start a Ph.D. program in decision sciences and engineering systems at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

My favorite memories here were all the times I was challenged and taken out of my comfort zone," she said. "It is thanks to those moments that I finally found my calling."

Martina Hukel '18, a criminal justice and national security studies double major
Martina Hukel '18, a criminal justice and national security studies double major.