By CHERYL QUIMBA
Published May 10, 2023
Graduating senior Rachel Moyofoluwa Aguda spent much of her time at UB in a lab, investigating an enzyme involved with vitamin D metabolism.
The biochemistry major was interested in the enzyme’s potential in treating a type of bone disease, and for Aguda, it was personal: In high school she was diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis, a common spine disorder. Through her research, she hopes to help find a cure that would benefit scores of other young people with the same condition.
And she’s well on her way. Aguda received a highly competitive National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Scholarship, which enables her to work for one year at the NIH after graduation. She plans to ultimately pursue a career in medicine as an orthopaedic surgeon.
Aguda attributes much of what she’s been able to achieve so far to UB.
“UB equipped me with networking skills and the courage to represent myself authentically,” she says.
Aguda is just one of more than 6,000 students graduating from UB this spring. These graduates are headed to some of the top employers in the region and nation, including Citibank, PepsiCo, the accounting firm Freed Maxick, the tech manufacturer Parker Hannifin and the management consulting firm West Monroe. Those continuing their studies will be moving on to institutions such as Harvard, Columbia, West Virginia University, the University of Edinburgh, the University of London and UB.
According to Arlene Kaukus, director of the Career Design Center, the trajectories of this year’s graduates exemplify this current moment of both rapid change and incredible opportunity. She sees the pandemic as leaving a lasting, indelible mark on these students while also motivating them to seek greater meaning in their chosen fields.
“We’re seeing more students with a service-oriented mindset,” Kaukus says. “With the enhanced, critical and necessary focus on issues of social justice, equity and inclusion, there is a strong desire to work with employers that have a real commitment to these principles.”
And these graduates have their pick of where to go. In the current job market, competition to bring in qualified workers is strong among employers across many sectors.
“The demand for talent continues to be very competitive,” Kaukus says, “and the graduate is still in the driver’s seat.”
Celine DeCambre believes that clinical psychology is her calling. Having experienced the effects of unhealed trauma in her own life, the first-generation college student now wants to use the skills and knowledge she gained as a psychology major to help others overcome their struggles, particularly individuals from underserved communities.
“I want to make a difference in people’s lives and empower them to achieve their full potential,” DeCambre says.
She has quite the track record so far. At UB, DeCambre was a member of multiple honor societies, a volunteer biopsychology teaching assistant and a clinical psychology research assistant in the Behavioral Health Lab. All the while, she carried a 3.75 GPA and found the time to establish her own marketing consulting company.
And this is just the start. DeCambre, who graduated a year early, plans to further her growth and education in clinical psychology by securing an internship in the field and engaging in further research, and then pursuing a doctoral degree. Her long-term goal is to establish a private practice where she can provide culturally competent care to marginalized populations.
“Ultimately, I envision myself as a thought leader and advocate for equity and diversity in mental health services,” she explains
Trey Lohnas, a communication major, has a passion for building connections and helping people grow their skills. Much of his enthusiasm sprung from his time working as an experience ambassador in UB’s Career Design Center, helping other students learn about and navigate the multitude of paths open to them after graduation.
“Working at the Career Design Center was the single best idea I had in my entire college career,” Lohnas says. “I worked with amazing people, learned how to network and how to reach out to people.”
That experience led Lohnas to decide to pursue a master’s degree in education studies at UB. Ultimately, he intends to work in the areas of training and development in human resources for a mission-driven company or nonprofit organization.
“I get a lot of personal satisfaction in seeing someone come in who doesn’t know how to do something, then see them gain knowledge and learn how to apply it,” Lohnas says. “I want to help people become leaders among leaders.”
For graduates like Lohnas, Aguda, DeCambre and others in this year’s class, professional ambition is inextricably tied to an ethic of service and community impact. These students are setting off with the aim to transform the world and — for the benefit of us all — the ability to actually do it.