Spring 2019 Senior Send-Off

We’re at the most bittersweet part of the year. Our seniors are graduating, moving on from our bubble of College Park and off to take on the real world. With that said, I got to catch up with some of them one more time to learn about some highlights from their time at UMD and their plans from here on out.

Image may contain: 5 people, including Jeff Zhao and Ishaan Parikh, people smiling, people sitting and suit
Jeff (center) with fellow Q28 members

After graduating, Jeff Zhao told me that he is looking forward to “venturing out in the unknown and figuring life out.” A Cohort 28 grad, Jeff is going to have some fun before heading off to San Francisco where he will be working at LinkedIn as a Strategy & Analytics Analyst. Jeff will be traveling the world, visiting Japan, Thailand, and Greece. Jeff is excited that “after school, there is no set road – you can test and find whatever is most rewarding. Life is really scary and fun and [he’s] excited to explore that!” Though this is true, Jeff will miss college for the all-nighters (unpopular opinion?) as “the camaraderie between [my] classmates and friends working past the wee hours of dawn on nothing but caffeine is something to look back on with nostalgia.”

Image may contain: 5 people, including Jill Gelinas, people smiling, people sitting and suit
Jill (second from right) with Q28 team

Jill Gelinas, also Q28, will be joining Jeff on the West Coast but further south in San Diego working for Northrop Grumman as a Supply Chain Planning Analyst in their Professional Development Program. Jill was always very involved in her time in QUEST and the university as a whole, having participated in numerous organizations. With that said, when reflecting on the past four years, Jill said, “QUEST always stood out to me above the rest. The exceedingly high expectations of the program combined with the diversity of the student base create an environment where you have no choice but to put yourself out there and be the truest version of yourself.”

Image may contain: 5 people, including Alexandra Malek, Clair Elizabeth, Akshay Guthal and Eleanna Makris, people smiling, people standing and night
Akshay (second from right) with QUEST alumni and fellow 2019 grad Brian Yuwen

Although Akshay Guthal (Q27) technically graduated in the Fall, he was recently awarded Dr. Bailey’s Director’s Service Award. Akshay has been a huge figure in the QUEST community and will be missed! When we talked about his plans after college and pursuing a Masters CS degree, I could relate when Akshay said, “During freshman year, it seemed like college was the rest of my life, and now that it’s (almost) over, I kind of wish it was longer.” This summer, Akshay will be working at a startup in NYC called AngelList that helps employ people at startups.

Nadine (center) with 490H capstone project team

Nadine Eloseily from Q29 is graduating early to finish a 4+1 master program here at UMD for a Masters in Public Policy. She will spend her summer interning at the World Bank and plans on spending more time working in DC during the upcoming school year. Lucky for us, she has some time left on campus! A big takeaway for Nadine from QUEST is that she never wants to get too comfortable with the work that she does. She told me, “I want to make sure that I continue to push my comfort levels and continue to apply my learning to unique situations after QUEST.”

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing and suit
Megha (second from right) with Q27 capstone team

Megha Reddy (Q27) is headed to the consulting world after graduation, working for Deloitte as a Business Technology Analyst, despite sharing with me that she never thought that she would be ready to enter the workforce. Megha is really excited “to be able to figure out what [I] want to do… I’ll be able to move around within projects and find my niche!” This will come after she travels with friends, also visiting Greece with Jeff! Before QUEST, Megha said, “I assumed that if I didn’t have the knowledge to complete a task, I would have to immediately ask for help.” By looking forward and after working on projects in QUEST, she is a lot more confident in her abilities.

It goes unsaid that QUEST equips us with amazing skills and talents for the future work and projects we will be a part of. However, when I asked our graduates what they will miss about QUEST, each and every one said the special community that it fosters. Nadine disclaimed that it may be cheesy, but she will miss being in class with Q29 every week! She reiterated that “the community that we have in Cohort 29, and in QUEST in general, is like nothing else I have been able to experience on campus.” Akshay shared that he will also miss a community where he knows everyone and can learn from them. He followed saying, “I don’t really know how often you’ll have something like that in your life.” Jill will most miss “the raw energy and inspiring personalities of [QUEST] students.” She credits QUEST for leading her to grow into the best version of herself.

I also asked some of our graduates for advice and stories that they have to share. Jeff, being the icon that he is, recalled one of his favorite tactics. He said, “Life is serendipitous and weirdly connected in ways that I could have never imagined. During the Redfin visit on QUEST2SiliconValley, the first question the recruiter, Jackie, asked us was, ‘How much does a polar bear weigh?’ – just enough to break the ice. I ended up using that line as the subject for cold emails sent out to my future employer to organize times to chat. I had a 100% response rate.” Nadine suggests pushing yourself in every way. “Even if things don’t work out exactly as planned, reflect and be proud of what you were able to accomplish (and knowing QUEST students, it was probably a lot).”

As excited as I am to see Q27 & Q28 move on to the next phases in their lives, I am going to miss them a lot. Q27 & Q28, you have made major impressions in QUEST and will leave a legacy that long outlives your time here at UMD. Thank you for all of the guidance, support, and most importantly, the friendships. Best of luck in everything from here on out! Congrats grads!!

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