Daemen’s Class of 2024 Discuss their Experiences, Graduation Plans, and Graduation Cap Decorations

By Calvin Dimmig, news editor

In my beginning is my end.

These six words characterize not only T.S. Eliot’s confrontation with his origins, but the beginning of something new in the end of something old.

Graduating college is a spiritual and cultural step into a new lifestyle in the setting of the old. 

What does it feel like to have changed inside, yet the whole world remains the same? Graduating seniors would know best.

Helen Meade

Meade hails from Prospect, Connecticut. She attended Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls, CT, about eight-and-a-half miles south of Prospect.

When Meade graduated high school, she had her mind set on her major.

“I graduated high school during the pandemic, and what I was looking for in school, mainly, was the ability to do both biology and chemistry without having to double major. A lot of other schools that didn’t have something like that only offered chemistry,” Meade said.

Meade is a biochemistry major, which applies chemistry to the life sciences at a chemical and molecular level.

“Daemen is a small school, so I wanted to be able to have a personal relationship with my teachers and not have those large 300-student lectures, especially during my freshman year,” Meade said.

According to Daemen, its student-to-faculty ratio for the semester of Fall 2022 was 13.7 students to every faculty member. According to CollegeRaptor, a college planning tool for students and families, Daemen is ranked in the top 36% of student-faculty ratio for universities and colleges in New York.

Meade has been making an impact on campus through her on-campus job, her honors fraternity, and as a moderator of chess club.

“I am a chemistry coach liaison, so I oversee most of the chemistry coaches with their walk-in sessions. I also coach students for general chemistry,” Meade said.

Some of the chemistry classes that Meade coaches for include Preparation for Chemistry I and Chemistry I and II. Academic coaches offer a wide variety of other courses that they tutor for as well.

“I was the president of the Beta Beta Beta biological honor society, or, since that is a mouthful, we just call it Tribeta,” said Meade.

Meade described the workload for Tribeta as a team effort, as she described being the president as “having a whole cabinet.” If she could not handle something one week, she could reliably delegate a task to a vice president or treasurer.

In regards to the chess club, “We have meetings once a week on Wednesdays for an hour and a half. I would say there’s no outside work for the chess club. I manage their social media, handout fliers, anything we need for advertisement. I also manage the stuff on Daemen Connect, Wildcat Weekly, and other stuff like that regarding the chess club.”

The chess club meets from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Wednesday. Their Instagram account is @daemenchess, and they hope to create a TikTok account at some point in the future.

Reflecting on her previous experiences at Daemen, Meade fondly remembers the various field trips that Daemen offered. 

“I remember having a lot of fun at the Great Pumpkin Farm when we went my sophomore year. I remember movie field trips, and we got to see ‘Batman’ when that came out. That was a lot of fun. Just like stuff that, since I didn’t have a car, I otherwise would have never been able to do.”

Meade hopes to continue her research in chemistry by pursuing a Ph.D. at the University at Buffalo.

“I am hoping that I eventually get into the forensics field and be a forensic research scientist,” Meade said. “I figured if I was going to do more school, I might as well get the highest level degree. All PhDs are free–masters are not.”

Meade is referencing the financial aid received for PhD students via a teacher’s assistant position, offered her first year of her program.

“I’ll probably do that for the first year and then after that, I’ll probably have the option to continue being a TA, or I could be offered a research assistantship, which is just double the time in lab and instead of class.”

Then, the very important topic of grad cap decoration was brought up.

Meade responded with a possible idea that perfectly exemplified her intelligence, with, and fun sense of humor: “my bachelor’s cap will say ‘first-degree murder,’ and my doctorate’s will say ‘second-degree’ murder.”

Emilee Kassay

Kassay is a senior illustration major at Daemen. She graduated from Lyndonville High School from a small class size of 45 students. Lyndonville is located about an hour north of Buffalo and bordering the southern coast of Lake Ontario.

As for why Kassay chose Daemen, “I would say it was the small community and what they offered at the visual arts program.”

Her reason for choosing Daemen University is quite fascinating.

“I would always get these college postcards in the mail, and I got a postcard from Daemen. I felt like my heart was already set on another college–Niagara County Community College. My first instinct was to look at the postcard, and I was like, ‘oh, they offer animation as well.’ And the open house was the day after I received the postcard. So it was kind of like a calling for me.”

Kassay initially went to Daemen for their animation program, but changed to illustration. She felt as if animation wasn’t her calling. And now she feels a similar way about illustration. She is currently taking a combined undergraduate/graduate program here at Daemen, which allows her to receive her master’s degree by the end of spring 2025. She is studying Leadership and Innovation for her master’s program.

About Kassay’s first open house at Daemen, she had nothing to say but nice things. 

“I was surprised by how friendly all the staff were. It felt like a community and that they really wanted me there. A lot of people here at Daemen are nice, outgoing, and want to see you succeed.”

Her biggest obstacle to overcome was learning how to manage her time between clubs, classes, and her personal life.

“I felt so overwhelmed by all the schoolwork I had to do. I felt like I was going to fail a couple of classes, but I never did. It was all about balancing work and making time for yourself to sleep,” Kassay said. “Hanging out with friends and attending social events were essential, too.”

Some of her favorite and most memorable events were the hypnotist Daemen invited to campus and Springfest 2021.

“They [Daemen] had a hypnotist come my junior year. It was a super interactive show she put on. Springest 2021 was my favorite Springfest and maybe my favorite event,” Kassey said. “There were a lot of people despite the chilly and windy weather. There was a zipline, a mechanical bull, and a rock climbing wall. You could also jump onto this giant inflatable pillow from high up.”

Despite enjoying the thrills and fun of Springfest, Kassay wanted to help other students have the same experience she had in 2021. For SpringFest 2022, she volunteered.

“It was really windy that day, and it felt kind of scarce. I felt like there weren’t that many people after 2021. I liked the free merch they offered.”

Kassay is looking forward to the 2024 graduation. She reminisced about graduation held the previous year, and can’t believe that she would be walking the stage next.

“All my friends and family are going to be so proud of me. And it’s going to be a really great moment for stepping into the next chapter of life.”

The next chapter of Kassay’s life entails a full-time job, grad school, and living by herself off-campus for the first time in her life.

“I can’t wait to have my own legal address,” Kassey said.

When asked about her graduation cap, she said, “I am definitely going to decorate it. I don’t have a design currently, but I neglected to decorate my cap in high school and want to make a lasting memory.”

Madisyn Kilby

Kilby is a natural sciences and health science major starting a master’s in public health at Daemen in the fall.

Kilby enjoys her studies, but what was most interesting was her story.

“I was in the military in Colorado Springs,” Kilby said. “I ended up getting retired due to medical circumstances, and then I wanted to come back home–Ellicottville.” 

Kilby transferred to Daemen as a first-semester junior. 

“Colorado Springs was amazing. It was awesome. I was on the ski team out there, and I grew up in Holiday Valley. Going back to the Valley was a little depressing.”

As a former member of the military, Kilby is president of the Student Veterans Alliance here on campus. She has participated in advertisements for the Veteran’s Service Center and works closely with other student-veterans and students with familial ties to veterans.

Even as a transfer student, Kilby integrated herself into the Daemen community, making lots of friends and key connections in the process. Alongside her presidential position, Kilby is a peer leader for Wildcat Wellness and a member of Tribeta.

Kilby discussed some difficulties with time management between these clubs and schoolwork.

“Well, I work 31 hours per week. Everyone else plans events, but I make sure all the events can go smoothly. I also plan other stuff like getting sweatshirts for the club and a new couch for the lounge.”

Kilby manages time with lists, having a calendar,  and writing down every morning what she has to do for the day.

“It helps me realize where I have extra time, and what I can get done so I’m not behind schedule. One of the biggest things I had to overcome was coming back to Buffalo from Colorado. It was definitely a shift of like, I went from being up from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.,” Kilby said.

“The transition to college life was rough at the beginning, just because it was a new environment with new people.”

In terms of graduation, Kilby plans on going to either Darien Lake or Cedar Point with her roommates. Kilby prefers Cedar Point because of its size and the variety of rollercoasters.

Kilby looks forward to teaching about epidemiology and other health behaviors across the world. She hopes to return to Thailand at some point, the destination of her study abroad program.

Now, when asked about her graduation cap plans, Kilby said she “hasn’t decided on a design yet, but my roommates and I are going to the cap decorating activity during grad week.”

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