2020 Vision: Spotlight on our Seniors

May 2020. For many Cohort 29 and 30 students, this date seemed distant and surreal. Yet, the days until graduation have dwindled, and our QUEST seniors are about to dive headfirst into the real world. As some of the most driven and hardworking students in the QUEST community, we cannot wait to see what’s in store for these QUESTees. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to learn about many graduating seniors’ QUEST experiences and future plans. 

After graduation, Zarek Peris (Cohort 29) plans to work at Google in NYC as a Software Engineer, and later “probably quit to become a pro Smash Bros player and adopt a cat.” When asked about his QUEST experience, Zarek reflected,

Zarek Peris (third from right) and the 190H team he mentored, “QUEST Your Luck”

 “Imagine if your group projects were always filled with people that not only did their work, but did it with a higher standard, were incredibly fun people and had the competitive fire to bring it all home. That’s what being in Cohort 29 was like. Everyone knew everyone, everyone thrived, and everyone is unforgettable. The program taught us so much about business and consulting practices and real-world application, and we got to explore it together. That’s what being in QUEST is like.” 

Zarek Peris (right) and his capstone team, Raiders of the Lost Ark

The next senior I spoke to was Jacqueline Deprey, a Cohort 30 student majoring in Computer Science and Operations Management and Business Analytics. Jacqueline recounted that her favorite QUEST memory was going to South Carolina with her 490H team. “Not only did I get to learn more about our client, Sealed Air, by seeing their facilities in person, but what I treasured most is what I learned about my teammates. The trip brought us so much closer together, and they even taught me how to swim! The real House of Quality is not the inter-relational diagram describing the overlap between customer desires and the firm capabilities, but the home that the Quality Guild has built within QUEST. I am so grateful for not only everything the Guild has taught me, but also the community they have built within the program! After graduating, I will be working as a Software Engineer at Dropbox, and I look forward to staying connected to fellow QUESTees through being an active member of the New York network!”

Jacqueline Deprey (right) and her team when they visited their client, Sealed Air.
Jacqueline Deprey (middle) and her capstone team, Signed, Sealed, Delivered

I also had the pleasure of speaking to Laura Zheng, a Cohort 29 senior studying Computer Science. Laura will be returning to College Park in the fall to start the PhD program in computer science, with an interest in computer vision and HCI. When asked how QUEST has impacted her college career, Laura said, “QUEST shaped my undergrad experience in a very unique way. We always consider social life and academics to be mutually exclusive, but QUEST enables both. I think the reason why people have a good time in 490H, generally, is that you’re working hard with the smartest and most fun people. The skills students learn throughout QUEST are universal to all careers. Even though I am pursuing a research track, there are many presentation, proposal, client interaction, and user vs. customer lessons I can apply to make the most impact in my work. My favorite memory is just hanging around the QUEST Lab. My schedule outside of QUEST was busy and far from the business school, but when I did go into the lab to socialize or get work done, it was a blast. I really love my cohort. They’re amazing people and they are going to change the world without a doubt. I want to give a shoutout to Dr. Pam Armstrong. She’s a stellar professor, mentor, and friend. I really wouldn’t have made it into grad school without her guidance. I plan to be around for the next more-than-a-few years, so I hope to see everyone again soon.”

Laura Zheng (right) and Kelli Webber from Cohort 29 with Professor Armstrong

After graduation, Nikhil Modi, a Cohort 30 senior majoring in Accounting and minoring in Public Leadership, is planning on taking some time to volunteer in his community. From there, he plans on joining Deloitte as a Risk & Financial Advisory Consultant. When asked about his experience in QUEST, Nikhil explained, “I’ve learned so much while being in QUEST – from the courses, staff, faculty, and my peers. My favorite memories are working until 5 A.M. with my 490H team hopped up on Skittles, Pop Tarts, and McFlurries. HUGEST shoutout to the best 490H team that ever teamed, the Radioheads – Chad Simon, Colin SyBing, Gina Wingate, and Olivia Wolcott! Also a huge shoutout to Jess, Dr. Bailey, and Dr. Armstrong for supporting me throughout my entire tenure in the program!”

Nikhil Modi (right) and his team The Radioheads at the Cohort 30 QUEST Conference

Lastly, I spoke to Ar Riske, a Cohort 29 Marketing and Operations Management & Business Analytics major. After graduation, Ari is hoping to still go to Croatia with her family before starting at Bain & Co in the fall. “Joining QUEST changed the trajectory of my college career. I met some of the most accomplished, humble, innovative, and wonderful people, many of whom I can’t imagine my life without. My favorite story from QUEST, aside from the infamous Cohort 29 sleepover in the QUEST lab, was the day of the QUEST Conference. During our rehearsal, Doron Tadmor (also in Cohort 29) rewrote Ariana Grande’s “Thank You, Next” to “Thank You, QUEST” and sang it to us on the stage as we all cheered him on and sang. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed and smiled so hard (I hope one day he will post the video so others can see it!!)” 

Ari Riske (second from right) and her team at the spring 2019 QUEST Conference

Each of these seniors has made a profound impact on the QUEST community and spoken so highly of the support, mentorship, and lifelong memories they’ve made along the way. When I asked them for advice they’d give younger QUESTees, many said to make the most of the knowledge of the Quality Guild, along with getting close with their peers. As Ari explains, “Senior year will come quick, and although QUEST projects can be stressful and time-consuming, try to enjoy the work, team, and opportunity. It’s hard to separate from the stress sometimes, but those are team memories you won’t forget!” When asked about advice, Zarek said “Team bond like crazy, your teammates are the best. Go to the QUEST events and join the QUEST orgs. They rock, and it’s great for your careers and for making friends. Finally, take advantage of everything and everyone this program has to offer, because you only really get it for three years. Go to Dr. Armstrong’s office hours to talk about current business, coding practice, and life goals. Go to the QUEST lab to print. Join mentors or scoping and be in a small class of people doing and learning big things. Have those experiences. Special shout outs to Dr. Bailey and Dr. Armstrong for teaching me a whole lot more about life than about CAD and to Rachel and Jess for always being there for us, even when some of us were very late with our four-year plans. I’ll get it to you guys one day!”

The QUEST Community will truly not be the same without Cohorts 29 and 30, but we can’t wait to see all the big things they do. Graduates: Thank you for the advice, mentorship, fond memories, and friendships. Congratulations!

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