University’s Newest Graduates Reflect on What ‘Sets Us Apart’
During the University’s afternoon Commencement ceremony, graduates of the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences and the Pompea College of Business reflected on their time as Chargers and looked to the future.
May 17, 2023
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
For Phurkima Sherpa ’23 M.S., serving her community is paramount. She was committed to service as a member of the U.S. Army, where she served as a medic and emergency evacuation sergeant, and she’s dedicated to serving others in her career.
Sherpa has been involved with the community off campus as well, recently joining the Connecticut Chapter of the International Association for Identification and the Red Cross. She plans to serve in a field-oriented position in law enforcement or to apply what she’s learned in the classroom at company focused on science – positions that will enable her to use what she’s learned to serve the public.
“The exposure I had to the latest technologies by professionals has given me perspective on what to anticipate for success in this field in various parts of the country,” she said. “The practical application of courses such as ‘Advanced Crime Scene Investigation,’ ‘Forensic Photography,’ ‘Forensic Technology Laboratory,’ and ‘Bloodstain Pattern Analysis’ set us apart in the fast-paced investigative world. We are ready to process the crime scene right out the door.”
“My time at the University of New Haven has helped me build connections in and out of the classroom,” she said. “I was able to get to know my professors, guest speakers, and classmates on a personal level, which opened up a whole new realm of learning for me.
“I not only learned from them, but I was able to work alongside them at various events and internships,” continued Reynolds. “I gained a multitude of experiences from the opportunities provided in the Sport Management Department. These experiences helped me to become well-rounded and to feel confident in post-graduate life and work.”
‘These moments will live in my mind forever’
Commencement was an opportunity for the University’s newest graduates to celebrate all they’ve accomplished while looking toward the future. Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D., the University’s visionary leader for the past 19 years, delivered the Commencement address. Dr. Kaplan, who was named the University’s first chancellor last year after 18 years as president, urged the Class of 2023 to be contrarians, to endeavor to do their best to fix the issues left behind by previous generations, and to be lifelong learners – particularly in the liberal arts and sciences.
Graduates also heard from their peers. Kiana White ’23, ’24 M.S., a new business management grad, spoke on behalf of the undergraduate student body. She emphasized the importance of having a support system, as well as resilience. She also shared an important lesson she’s learned: identifying a foundation that is grounding.
“Sometimes our foundations are built on temporary pleasures or desires that would not sustain us in the long run,” said White, who will begin pursuing a master’s degree at the University this fall. “I have learned that the only thing that will keep us sustained is something infinite or long-lasting. Make sure that whatever your foundation looks like it is infinite and sustainable.”
Abby Veeser ’23 M.S., the ceremony’s graduate student speaker, also shared her story. A native of Wisconsin, she says she entered “two new worlds” when she began her time as a Charger. She explored a world of education and learning as she began her master’s degree in forensic science, and she also discovered a world full of people who were ready to help her and offer support. She says they offered love and knowledge, serving as her “ultimate inspiration” for all she has achieved as a Charger.
“The next set of interesting and diverse characters I met in this second world were my classmates, with whom I have formed friendships that will last a lifetime,” she said. “I hope you have all had the opportunity to form the same strong bonds I did that emerged through our late-night study sessions, attending academic and sports activities, spending long hours in the lab or classroom, or experiencing what Connecticut and beyond had to offer. These moments will live in my mind forever.”
‘Meaningful connections...that will last a lifetime’
Memories and connections were on the minds of many graduates as they celebrated with their fellow Chargers and their friends and families.
Kyle Tavares ’23, a new forensic science grad, enjoyed the opportunities he had to conduct faculty-mentored research analyzing and examining fingerprints, as well as the many fond memories he made outside of the classroom. Tavares, who served as vice president of the Forensic Science Student Association, plans to move to Washington, D.C., and hopes to work for the federal government.
“I enjoyed making meaningful connections with classmates and professors that will last a lifetime,” he said. “My favorite memories include meeting Dr. Henry C. Lee, playing games in the quads with friends, and seeing my mom act like a college student on campus tours and on Move-In Day. I have had the opportunity to take interactive courses with professors who are experts in their fields, allowing for a well-disciplined learning experience. I was able to feel comfortable with real-life learning and being able to adapt to the new world after graduation.”