By Bri Griffith, junior Creative Writing major
College students everywhere look forward to graduation, while simultaneously dreading the celebratory event. Graduation means (hopefully) starting a new job, internship, or possibly solidifying plans to attend graduate school. Moving on is never easy—students spend four years or more finding their voices, only to have the cap and gown ensemble disrupt their undergraduate comfort zones.
Alas, college is all about seizing the day, and taking advantage of opportunities, even if they don’t seem relevant to a person’s major(s) or minor(s). To any and all students nervous about graduating, read on to discover what a few Carlow University graduates have been up to since their undergraduate careers came to an end.
Samone Riddle ‘15 completed a double major in Mass Media and Art with a concentration in Graphic Design while they were at Carlow. Upon graduating in 2015, Riddle completed two years of an AmeriCorps program called Public Allies, which helped them land their current position as the Communications Coordinator for Pittsburgh Bike Share.
Samone created an online magazine called QueerPGH, which organizes LGBTQIA writers and artists as they cover queer events, voices, and experiences in Pittsburgh. In addition, Riddle sits on the leadership board for THRIVE Southwest, Pennsylvania. It’s THRIVE’s mission to help make schools more inclusive for LGBTQIA students. On the side, Samone takes freelance photography jobs for various newspapers, and draws caricatures.
“Carlow gave me an introduction to social justice that a lot of other schools skip over,” said Riddle, who admitted Carlow helped them not only gain awareness of what’s going on in the world, “but empathy to understand it and tools to change it.”Amanda Borbonus, Carlow University class of 2016, was an undergraduate Social Work student with a concentration in Crisis and Trauma and two minors in Psychology and Counseling. Now, she’s a student in the Master’s of Social Work program at the University of Michigan.
“The Social Work department at Carlow provided me with real-world experience through a 500-hour internship, role plays, and professors who still work in the field,”said Borbonus. Additionally, Carlow’s academic structure has prepared Borbonus for graduate school challenges including writing research papers and case notes, and reading thought-provoking material.Rhonda Ekwunoh was a Political Science major with minors in Pre-Law and Psychology while an undergraduate student at Carlow. Since graduating in 2016, Ekwunoh joined a program called Teach for America (TFA). “TFA is dedicated to serving underprivileged youths and children so they receive the education they deserve,” she said. Ekwunoh trained and taught ninth-grade students over the summer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She’s currently teaching third-grade students in New York City.
“While at Carlow, I faced a lot of challenges,” said Ekwunoh, “[and] I learned to become resilient and overcome those challenges.”Josh Allenberg ‘15 was a Political Science major with minors in History and Public Policy. Allenberg is currently a student at Duquesne Law School. Since June of 2016, Allenberg has been an intern at the Allegheny County Public Defender’s Office in the Juvenile section. He’s been elected to the Carlow University Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. Also, Allenberg established the “Josh Allenberg Applied Political Science Fund” at Carlow University, which funds practical learning experiences for women. (See Dr. DiMola for details.)
“Carlow’s dedication to a mission of serving others dovetails with my own belief in public service,”said Allenberg. He also claimed Carlow taught him to be “compassionate and merciful to others without reservation.”Dominique Bellisario ‘16 was an Art major with a concentration in Art History, and a minor in Art Therapy. Bellisario is currently an education intern at the Mattress Factory in the North Side and recently took a position as a Museum Experience Associate at the Frick Art & Historical Center in Point Breeze. In Bellisario’s spare time, she volunteers at the Manchester Craftsman’s Guild in their media department.
“Carlow has really helped me realize my potential,”said Bellisario, who’s thankful for Carlow’s welcoming environment.Key advice from each of these graduates: Take advantage of the accessibility of your professors.
Samone Riddle is thankful for the inspiring Communications faculty. “They fueled my passions and encouraged me to pursue social justice. Dr. Snyder-Duch taught my first class at Carlow, and she made it very clear on day-one that everyone in her class had a safe space to express themselves,” said Riddle.
“I’m so thankful for Dr. Roth, Dr. Frank, Dr. Kelly, and Professor Friedrichs,”said Borbonus, because they made her laugh, responded to her constant emails about field work, and helped her with her future plans.
“Dr. Lowe, Dr. DiMola, and Dr. Schweers were very supportive of me while I was at Carlow and never hesitated to help me in any way they could,”said Ekwunoh, who still emails them updates about her progress at TFA.
Josh Allenberg is especially thankful for Dr. Lowe because “[she] served not only as my advisor and professor, but at times [my] counselor, confidante, and life coach.”Allenberg is also thankful for Dr. DiMola—she never let him quit on himself.
Dominique Bellisario admitted college was not easy for her, “but I know I will always be welcomed back to a community that truly cares about their students and wants to see them succeed,” she said.
Undergraduate students at Carlow University: While you’re still here, continue building relationships with your peers and professors, enjoy the city of Pittsburgh, and don’t be afraid to take advantage of life-changing opportunities. Reach out to Carlow graduates. Ask them about their work, and to be a part of on-campus activities. Definitely ask them for advice, because they all survived graduation and are doing remarkable things with their lives today.