Meet St. Lawrence's Class of 2021 | St. Lawrence University

Meet St. Lawrence's Class of 2021

The Class of 2021 showed great resiliency throughout this year of challenges and tackled situations with composure and creativity. From entering a St. Lawrence that was novel in autumn, to finding creative ways to continue the activities and traditions they love, this class has persevered at every turn. This year, St. Lawrence’s seniors lead by example, encouraging a supportive, empathetic, and tight-knit community no matter the circumstances.

As a final send-off, a few members of the senior class shared their achievements, inspiring mentors, and favorite memories, as well as the adventures they hope to pursue now that they have moved their tassels. 

(Note: some responses have been edited for length.)

Ramon Veras ’21

Major: English

Hometown: Bronx, New York

What accomplishment are you most proud of? Finishing two novels and developing my skills as a storyteller, becoming a McNair Scholar, getting accepted to an MFA degree program, and becoming president of Men in Color.  

Who is your most influential Laurentian mentor? J. Michael Martinez is a visiting English professor who mainly teaches intro and advanced poetry workshops. The way he merged all fields of life into his art, and his philosophies of ethics within the written format, deeply impacted me and the way I approach my writing. I have done an independent study with him and spent a summer doing research with him, both dedicated to novels I’ve been working on. 

What do you hope or plan to pursue in the future? I hope I can inspire those that read my novels once they’re published. I hope, as my readers browse my works, jump from sentence to sentence, fall in love with some of the characters and hate others, that they’re inspired to look at the world differently when they lift their heads from my books. Since I was 15 years old, I’ve wanted to write stories. I will continue to hone my craft; which means, at some point I’ll be published, go on tours, maybe even teach a class—who knows! 

If you were any spot, location, or building on campus, which one would you be and why? Even though I work there, there’s something about ODY Library’s creative and scholarly energy that attracts me to the place. And it’s so beautiful. Indeed, ODY Library all day!

Rachel Loyst '21

Major: Neuroscience

Minor: Public Health

Hometown: Long Island, New York

What accomplishment are you most proud of? I am most proud of my accomplishments in research. I started in the EAB [Experimental Analysis of Behavior] lab during my sophomore fall and ran my own lab with my own project as a senior. I am incredibly grateful for all the opportunities being a part of this lab gave me—presenting at conferences in Chicago, developing leadership skills, and making discoveries in major disorders such as ASD, PTSD, and substance abuse. 

Who is your most influential Laurentian mentor? Professor of Biology Joe Erlichman, a supporter of mine since I first stepped foot in his anatomy and physiology lecture course. He has helped me navigate through tough courses, but more importantly, has been enthusiastic about all my academic successes. His passion is something I hope to carry with me in my future career. 

What was the greatest St. Lawrence adventure you embarked on? During my first year, I hiked my first 46er, Mount Marcy, and summitted at 1 a.m. I also had the opportunity to watch the sunrise over the highest peak in New York. Since then, I have hiked over 15 Adirondack high peaks, including my favorites so far, Algonquin, Iroquois, and Wright.

What do you hope or plan to pursue in the future? I will be attending Medical School at Stonybrook University next fall, so I’m hoping to become a doctor.

Logan Hagerty ’21

Majors: History; Environmental Studies

Minor: African Studies

Hometown: North Conway, New Hampshire

What was a class you took that positively impacted you? Recreation (ESP) with Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Pete Pettengill. Not only did it push me academically, it made me conscious of my role as a recreation enthusiast in various landscapes, beyond just state or national parks. This self-reflection heightened my sense of place, which prompted unique arguments regarding outdoor recreation. For example, how best can we balance social and ecological aspects of conservation? It also reinforced my desire to apply to law school, where I will consider similar questions of proper land and resource use through policy.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? I am most proud of my history honors thesis, advised by Professor of History Matt Carotenuto. This project looked at the history of conservation and pastoralism in Laikipia County, Kenya. It is a culmination of nearly a year’s worth of writing from my summer fellowship, historiography drafting, and primary source analysis. I feel like all my undergraduate papers led to the moment of its completion. That is an amazing feeling.

What is your favorite St. Lawrence tradition and why? Peak Weekend, hands down. Peak Weekends allowed me to meet and bond with new, energized, and radical people among the Adirondacks. As both an Outing Club participant and guide, this tradition has created memories I will always cherish. Most memorable Peak Weekend trips include Mt. Marcy in the snow as a first-year participant, and the Lower Great Range my junior year as a guide.

What do you hope or plan to pursue in the future? This coming fall, I will be attending Boston College Law School. I plan to specialize in environmental law with a global focus. Once I pass the bar and become a lawyer, I hope to advocate for environmental practices and policies that are socially just and ecologically sustainable.

Gabriella Diaz ’21

Major: Psychology
Minors: Public Health; Global Studies

Hometown New York, New York 

What accomplishment are you most proud of? I am most proud of my year-long research project. With the help of Associate Professor of Psychology Cathy Crosby and the McNair Program, I was able to analyze the international student experience at SLU. This helped me uncover the ties within the international student community, as well as its role in the greater Laurentian community and the world. It also helped me understand how the entire St. Lawrence community can better support international students. 

What was the greatest adventure you embarked on? Studying abroad for sure! I was able to spend a month in Rome and, because the program was concentrated on neuroscience, I had the chance to engage with the culture and language while completing a requirement for my major. This trip inspired me to take Italian on my own to further engage with the culture while at home.

What do you hope or plan to pursue in the future? I plan to go to graduate school. I am still deciding which school to commit to, but I have been admitted to two master’s programs for social psychology! I am excited to deepen my understanding of this field.

Emily Green ’21

Majors: International Economics-Spanish; Government

Minor: Mathematics

Hometown: St. Johnsbury, Vermont                             

What accomplishment are you most proud of? I am proudest of the personal growth I’ve experienced through trying new things and stepping out of my comfort zone. From learning to ride and joining the riding team, to becoming a Thelmo Senator, to being on the Fed Challenge team that placed second nationally, to completing a Senior Year Experience this year, I have learned to push myself. I will leave here more willing to build upon my experiences as I start a job in a new city that will require me to use what I’ve learned to succeed.

Who is your most influential Laurentian mentor? Visiting Assistant Professor of International Relations Zenel Garcia. His courses challenged my perspectives, expanded my knowledge, and engaged me every day. He inspired me to submit a research paper to a conference at which I then presented, and to do a thesis for my government major this year.

What was the greatest St. Lawrence adventure you embarked on? My greatest adventure started almost the moment I stepped foot on campus. At the start of freshman year, I saw a poster for riding lessons at the SLU barn and decided to sign up. I had always wanted to learn to ride a horse and wanted to try something new in college. Within two weeks, I started to ride and was convinced to join the team. By the end of the year, I helped our team place sixth at our National Championship and made an amazing group of friends.

Connor Giltz ’21

Major: Government

Minor: Mathematics

Hometown: Plattsburgh, New York

What accomplishment are you most proud of? The Model United Conferences that I organized my sophomore spring and junior fall. After I became president of the Model United Nations club, I found out that St. Lawrence was one of the first places to ever host a Model United Nations Conference in February of 1949. The first conference that I helped organized in February 2019 celebrated the 70th anniversary of the original conference, and 80 participants from five local schools were in attendance. We doubled our attendance for the December 2019 conference, with 160 participants from 10 schools across the North Country. Organizing and preparing for each conference was one of the most time-intensive and difficult things that I have done in my four years here, but I am incredibly proud of both. They helped me solidify friendships, showed me the power of the Laurentian network, and remain some of my fondest memories on campus.

Who is your most influential Laurentian mentor? It’s too hard to just pick one, so I’ll go with three.

  • My grandfather, Rod Giltz ’59. I’ve always loved talking about St. Lawrence with him and hearing the stories of a campus that is familiar yet different at the same time. The lessons that I have learned from him have been invaluable during my time at St. Lawrence and I will always enjoy the connection that we both have to this place.
  • John Robert O’Connor [Assistant Dean of Student Life]. I recently joked that, as the advisor to Thelmo, I have been bothering him for the past two years straight, but in many ways that has been true. I always knew I could rely on his guidance. He has taught me so much about what it means to be an effective leader.  
  • Emily Green ’21. From Model United Nations our first year to ODK senior year, Emily has been one of my closest friends. Whenever I am stuck on something, she is one of the first people that I turn to for advice and I am so thankful to have been able to work with her over the past four years.

What was the greatest adventure you embarked on? I traveled to Israel and Palestine with Associate Professor of Government Ronnie Olesker during her summer course, “Peace, War, and Conflict.” This was only my second time outside of North America and the two weeks that I spent learning about the Israel-Palestine conflict are some that I still think about today. It gave me a completely new perspective that I will always appreciate. To be so focused on one topic for two weeks was a different way of learning and our ability to see things and talk to people first hand made the experience even more memorable.

Sally Roberts '21

Major: International Economics and German (combined)

Hometown: Rochester, New York

What was a class you took that positively impacted you? There are too many to mention, but I would say that “Gender and Society” with Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies Jenny MacGregor (AKA JMac) is one of the most influential. It was my first class of the week in my first semester at St. Lawrence. I believe it helped me be a more inclusive and contributing member of the SLU community and sparked my passion for social justice. I highly recommend this class to any SLU student, especially to incoming first years!

Who is your most influential Laurentian mentor? Hank Anderson ‘07, a leader at Bloomberg L.P., is one of the many Laurentians that have been great mentors to me. Career Services recommended I reach out to him as I was preparing my Bloomberg internship application. Hank made the time in his incredibly busy schedule to answer all my questions about the internship and offer advice. During my virtual internship, we caught up every two weeks. He gave me a list of people to reach out to in the Bloomberg network and maintained high expectations for me throughout the summer. I’m so grateful for his support, insight, and connections. They made my experience especially valuable and contributed to the excitement I have to start my career with Bloomberg!

What do you hope or plan to pursue in the future? I’m excited to move to New York City this coming July to start my career at Bloomberg as a financial product analyst! After my virtual internship with Bloomberg, I learned a lot about the position and the company culture, and I can see myself staying on for years to come. I’m also hoping to spend some time living abroad and working out of Bloomberg’s London office!

Melanie Marulanda ’21

Major: English (Literature)

Hometown: Spring, Texas

What was a class you took that positively impacted you? I took “Women, Religion, and Food” with Associate Professor of Religious Studies Kathleen Self my senior year and it was wonderful. Understanding such a basic yet essential part of my identity in relation to religion, gender, and food, changed how I understood myself and how I saw those around me.

Who is your most influential Laurentian mentor? Associate Dean of Academic Advising and Associate Professor of History Elun Gabriel was my FYP professor and became my advisor for the next three years. Although he is a history professor, he found time to sit and discuss my English major or books in general, offer advice, or simply talk—not to mention letting me play with his dog, he made SLU better for me.

What was the greatest St. Lawrence adventure you embarked on? I was one of the lucky few who were chosen to go to the Women's March in Washington, D.C. in January 2019. I met some of the best people that weekend and felt like I was a part of something. Although we slept on the floor of a church and got stuck in a snowstorm, more than 30 of us marched for our rights and for the rights of others.

What do you hope or plan to pursue in the future? Come October, I will be an assistant English teacher in Spain. I will be working with middle schoolers to help them better learn English. I am very excited to finally have the opportunity to be a teacher, and to get to teach in Spain.

Zejian Zhou ’21

Majors: Economics; Government

Hometown: Ningxia, Yinchuan, China

What accomplishment are you most proud of? I am proud of my leadership contributions and involvement in activities in my first two years that helped me get selected for the Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) leadership society. I am proud of my academic performance in my last two years that allowed me to earn recognition on the Dean’s List and graduate Magna Cum Laude.

Who is your most influential Laurentian mentor? Associate Professor of Government Grace Huang and Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics Cynthia Bansak are both my favorite mentors on campus. They not only taught me very interesting knowledge relating to politics and economics but also helped me in my life on campus and my career development.

What was the greatest adventure you embarked on? The SLU Connect-D.C. Program and, especially, my internship with the World Bank Group. It was an eye-opening experience. I am grateful to SLU for providing me such valuable opportunities.

What do you hope or plan to pursue in the future? I will go to UIC John Marshall School of Law directly after graduating. I would like to step into the legal field and explore the opportunities there.

Sydney Giacin ’21

Majors: Economics and Business in the Liberal Arts

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

What was a class you took that positively impacted you? In my first year, I took the “Sports and Gender” First-Year Seminar, and it really opened my eyes to so much about gender and society. I also love sports, so seeing the role of gender in the sports world helped me better understand it and inspired me to stay in athletics. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of? How much I changed as a person and an athlete in to be a competitive goalie for my team. After I didn't play my first year, I completely changed my lifestyle and tried to be in the best shape possible as well as really understand the game. My sophomore and junior seasons were the most fun I've ever had playing field hockey. 

What is your favorite St. Lawrence tradition and why? Ringing the bell after a Saints win! There is no better feeling than sprinting to that bell after a win. 

What do you hope or plan to pursue in the future? I was lucky enough to get an offer for my dream job! I met a SLU graduate that works at Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment for the New Jersey Devils and Philly 76ers. I've always wanted to work on the business side of the National Hockey League, so I applied for a Sales Associate job with the Devils and was offered the position! I start in May and I could not be more excited.

Carla Martinez-Perez ’21

Major: Psychology
Minor: Biology

Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico

What accomplishment are you most proud of? Getting into a Ph.D. program. Ever since my first year, it seemed that there were always obstacles to my success. I was able to work through them and, I’m not going to lie, I doubted myself until the very last minute. But having a strong research background, thanks to Associate Professor of Psychology Adam Fox, really helped me out. 

What do you hope or plan to pursue in the future? I’m going to start my Ph.D. in cognitive and brain sciences at Auburn University in Alabama in the upcoming fall. Those are my plans for the immediate future and my long-term plans are still up in the air. I’d like to do a post-doc somewhere abroad. 

If you were any spot, location, or building on campus, which one would you be and why? La Casa— so many memories happened there. You can also catch beautiful sunsets there. 

Cameron Morrissey ’21

Majors: Business in the Liberal Arts and Economics

Minor: Statistics

Hometown: Baldwinsville, New York

What was a class you took that positively impacted you? My First-Year Program course, the “Art and Practice of Failing Successfully,” was one of the first courses I took at St. Lawrence but was one of the most impactful.  Learning about how to deal with failure and view it in a positive light helped me not just through the past four years but is something that will help me throughout the rest of my life as well.

What do you hope or plan to pursue in the future? I am entering the asset management industry starting out as an analyst with Wells Fargo this fall. 

This was a challenging year in ways that none of us could have anticipated. What were your silver linings? Becoming extremely close with those in my extended family unit. The townhouse community became extremely close over the past two semesters and it was great to be able to experience some sort of senior year with the Class of 2021 regardless of the circumstances.