Learn where these grads are headed next, and how Gateway Career Center became a resource Twitter
By Kelly Huth
Throughout their college journey, Lafayette students have a dedicated resource in the Gateway Career Center. From organizing alumni panels and career fairs, to coordinating internships and externships and helping students chart their future paths after Lafayette, career counselors at Gateway are there every step of the way.
See what’s next for some of the members of the Class of 2023.
Natalia Baez ’23 (economics; anthropology and sociology)
Hometown: Bronx., N.Y.
Destination: Analyst with Goldman Sachs in Texas
Involvement on campus: Posse Scholar, rugby player, and member of NIA, Bohio Association, and Hispanic Society of Lafayette. Baez also started the Hispanic Finance Association at Lafayette. As a Posse Scholar, “I came into college with a community and a network, including Posse mentor Wendy Wilson-Fall,” Baez says. “Lafayette has supported me through my whole journey.”
Path: Baez found her path after taking Intro to Economics her first year. “I never in a million years thought I’d be an econ major,” she says. “I wanted to be a lawyer. I got a chance to work at a law firm but decided it wasn’t for me.”
At Lafayette, Baez found professors who believed in her, talked with her about her career, and inspired her. Connecting with Gateway led to internships at Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, the latter of which led to a full-time job offer.
“Alana (Klass) is my coach, and she’s been real with me from day one. Throughout my journey and internships, she’s connected me with alums and resources,” Baez says. “Even though she didn’t sign up for it, she was my therapist too. Having someone who understood me—being a first-generation college student—was a great experience to have.
I think Lafayette has been one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve learned so much—in and out of the classroom—during my four years here. This campus is one of love and support, and it was the right choice for me—not too far from home, but far enough that I could be independent.
Anna Kunz ’23 (biology; minor in religious studies)
Hometown: Yorktown Heights, N.Y.
Destination: Med school at Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University St. Luke’s Regional Campus
Involvement on campus: For stress relief, Kunz joined Running Club and played violin in the chamber orchestra for seven semesters. She served as a TA for Molecular Genetics for two semesters. “I love molecular genetics,” Kunz says. “I loved meeting with students and helping them. This work also solidified my knowledge in the field.”
Kunz’s interest in emergency medicine led her to the EMS Club, which she was a member of during her first two years on campus. Members volunteer as EMTs alongside Easton Emergency Squad. Kunz was hired as an EMT last summer and continues to balance her schoolwork with her role on the squad. “I wanted hands-on experience, knowing I wanted to go into the medical field,” she says. “I love Easton, and this was a great way to get involved in the community that has given me so much.”
Path: In 2021, Gateway helped Kunz line up an online externship shadowing a pediatric doctor at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
“I can’t say enough about Melissa Schultz. I love her and couldn’t have made it here without her,” Kunz says. “She always has the most amazing ideas and is so caring. She is the most helpful presence on campus.”
Kunz says Gateway and the Health Professions program provided support as she prepared applications for med school. The support she received, and the courses and clubs that challenged her, shaped her Lafayette experience.
“The rigor of the courses here has taught me how to study and manage a heavy workload. I was very well prepared for the MCATs because of my professors.”
Mikias Stewart ’23 (international affairs)
Hometown: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; but lives in Bowie, Md.
Destination: IBM in Washington, D.C.
Involvement on campus: Posse Scholar, Finance Club, Brothers of Lafayette, Investment Club, and Association of Black Collegiates. Stewart says one of the best things about being at Lafayette is being around people who are always open to learning. He says being at college is like building your community, with everyone growing and learning together.
“Chisom Njoku ’23, another Posse Scholar, he’s my best friend, and he’s helped me. We keep each other accountable to achieving our goals. We’d always text each other job opportunities and events happening at the College.”
Path: “When I came to Lafayette I was a computer science major, but I was struggling—I wanted to find something I was passionate about,” Stewart says. “My Posse mentor, Rob Young, saved my life and helped me get on the path I am today. He helped me learn and grow, and encouraged me to explore while at Lafayette.”
At Lafayette, Stewart could explore different career paths and opportunities, finding a way to combine his love of technology with a degree in international affairs.
He also utilized the resources available to him through Gateway Career Center.
“Alana (Klass) has been one of the best mentors ever. She’s been helping me since freshman year,” Stewart says.
Stewart found an internship working as a developer with Noblis, where he worked for two summers. He also made LinkedIn an everyday activity and connected with someone who works for IBM. That connection led to a summer internship and later, a full-time job offer. After graduation he’ll apply his skills in a data analytics role.
Claire Fedor ’23 (government and law; history)
Hometown: Chagrin Falls, Ohio
Destination: Joining Case Western Reserve University School of Law’s class of 2026 in the fall as a Vattel International Law Scholar
Involvement on campus: “I committed to be on varsity track and field at Lafayette as a senior in high school, and have grown immensely in the sport over the years—not only as an athlete but also a leader of the team,” Fedor says. She balanced her classes amid a 20-hour-per-week training and competition schedule. In addition, she served as the Oaks Leadership Academy (OLA) fellow, vice president of NCAA Legislation and Student-Athlete Experience for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and vice president of operations for Lafayette’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) club.
Fedor served on search committees, participated in EXCEL Scholar and Gov Lab research, worked as a notetaker for Academic Resource Hub, and volunteered as a political theory paper consultant. She also took part in the Orientation Program, first as an orientation leader sophomore year and later a commons captain her junior year, helping to design and facilitate the program.
“Each of these experiences allowed me to give back to the Lafayette community either as a student, athlete, campus leader, or active contributor,” Fedor says.
I am aware of the unique ability to pursue my many passions here at Lafayette, a distinct experience that I know I would not have been able to achieve at another institution. I am honored and grateful to be a Lafayette student, and to soon assume the title of an alumna.
Path: Fedor connected with Gateway her first year at Lafayette and says she’s grateful for the exceptional opportunities she was able to access. During her first two years, Melissa Schultz helped her to apply for a winter 2021 externship and a summer 2022 internship with Frantz Ward LLP in Cleveland, Ohio. Junior and senior year, Fedor worked with Maureen Walz Boehmer, Lafayette’s pre-law adviser, during the law school application process.
“Both Melissa and Maureen had a positive impact on my life and in helping me plan for my future beyond Lafayette,” she says.
Fedor adds that getting involved through activities in multiple areas of campus life helped her develop lasting connections within the community.
“Giving back and involvement has held immense value throughout my experience, and the day-to-day conversation with peers, professors, coaches, and administrators is what drove me to seek out opportunities to advance and grow our school,” she adds.
Taking two courses each with Profs. Seo-Hyun Park and Helena Silverstein inspired her to push herself in academia. “They demonstrated a passion for teaching and the material they shared with their students.”
Fedor says she also had the privilege of working alongside Prof. Bruce Allen Murphy as an EXCEL Scholar and through independent study on the partisan nature of the current Supreme Court. “He confirmed my passion for law, and is a significant reason why I have confidently chosen to pursue a Juris Doctor degree.”
Fedor worked alongside assistant athletic director Carly Riepenhoff through Oaks Leadership Academy and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. “Her commitment to Lafayette Athletics inspired me to work hard within the positions I held in an effort to continue to better and grow the Lafayette Athletic Department.”
“A core tenet of my experience has been to serve members of Lafayette and demonstrate active citizenship on campus, and I’m grateful for the many opportunities I’ve had to do so.”
Anastacia Negron ’23 (anthropology and sociology; women’s, gender, and sexuality studies)
Hometown: Norwalk, Conn.
Destination: Analyst for Spencer Stuart in NYC
Involvement on campus: Negron was involved with the Mar-Keys a cappella group (three years), McKelvy Scholar program (three years), and Ambassadors of Lafayette (four years). As an ambassador, she worked in a variety of roles including onboarding and serving as a tour guide and a senior interviewer. Negron says getting involved with organizations on campus helped her refine time management skills.
Path: “I never saw myself going into the field of executive search,” Negron says. “The one piece of advice I’d give to other students is to really step outside your comfort zone, experience and try new things.”
Negron applied for an externship at Spencer Stuart through Gateway Career Center her junior year. She met Jordan Brugg ’03, who introduced her to the career possibilities within the field.
“It was so nice to meet up with him, and he connected me to so many people in different departments,” Negron says. “Alums are so welcoming and supportive, and Gateway makes it easy to connect directly with alumni.”
Negron says Gateway has been an amazing resource, with “Alana (Klass) just a phone call away.”
“The Gateway staff are very helpful and attentive—and the faculty and staff are also great resources. They’re available, and they want to help you build your network.”
In Negron’s case, the winter externship led to an internship that summer, which in turn led to a job offer.
“I was really grateful to have that externship experience that exposed me to that field and a job I enjoy,” Negron says. “It’s great to know I have a support system here at Lafayette and beyond.”
Chisom Njoku ’23 (economics)
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Destination: Deloitte in NYC
Involvement on campus: “I came in with an open mind, and thought ‘I’m going to make this place my home,’” Njoku says. He joined the Caribbean African Dance Club his first year and remained active throughout his time at Lafayette. “I’m not a dancer, but that club helped me step out of my comfort zone,” Njoku says. “The classes and clubs I got involved in helped me transform into this more versatile human being.”
He was a part of Brothers of Lafayette, Investment Club, and Lafayette Consulting Group. He served as co-event coordinator for the African Caribbean Student Association, team manager for the basketball team, and was a Posse Scholar.
“As a Posse Scholar, I came in already knowing 79 other Posse Scholars,” Njoku says. “I’ve realized the importance of going to a school like Lafayette and really getting to know your professors, your fellow students, and building relationships.”
Path: His first year at Lafayette, Njoku met Alana Klass and Holly Akers at Gateway Career Center. “They believed in me and have been in my corner, a part of my village.”
They suggested he try the Finance Career Track—an incentive Lafayette provides that sends students for three days to visit different sites in the career field of their choosing.
“That changed my life,” Njoku says of the experience, which introduced him to Deloitte. “I took a video of myself in that office, saying ‘I’m going to be here someday.’”
During his time at Lafayette, he was able to take a broad range of classes through the liberal arts curriculum.
“I was able to learn how to build a tech startup, took a class on real estate analysis, even a class on women, gender, and sexuality studies,” he says.
Lafayette is a place where they don’t exactly say ‘no.’ Either someone helps you or connects you to the next person who possibly can.
Aidan Tai ’23 (computer science; economics)
Hometown: Barnegat, N.J.
Destination: Financial analyst for Amazon at its headquarters in Seattle, Wash.
Involvement on campus: In addition to being a track and field athlete, Tai held roles as a computer science peer mentor and an RA. “It forced me to challenge myself physically, mentally, and learn how to balance all my responsibilities as a student-athlete,” he says.
Though it kept him busy, he relished the role of mentor. “It allowed me to reflect on my successes and failures in my years at Lafayette and impart impartial guidance to someone who will undoubtedly experience difficulties in their years as all students do. I struggled significantly, and being able to provide insight to help someone else struggle just a little less is a phenomenal opportunity.”
Path: Tai learned to be a creative problem solver and to work through challenges.
Tai is thankful for the many Leopards he had the pleasure of meeting, working alongside, and growing with. At Lafayette, Tai found professors who were truly passionate about what they were teaching, and Gateway counselors, such as Laura Wallace, who connected him with resources and tools to help build his career.
“Gateway provided so many opportunities and platforms to engage with Lafayette’s vast and connected alumni base,” Tai says, adding they provided the tools he needed to be successful.
Danielle Lemisch ’23(chemical engineering; minor in biotechnology/bioengineering
Hometown: Scarsdale, N.Y.
Destination: PepsiCo supply chain leader
Involvement on campus: “Throughout my four years at Lafayette, I have had the opportunity to get involved in many different clubs and organizations,” Lemisch says.
Lemisch competes on the swimming and diving team, works as a tour guide, is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta, and is a mentor in the Engineering Department. She also serves on the executive boards of Lafayette’s chapter of American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), Hillel, and Tau Beta Phi.
“All these different experiences have really allowed me to find many different groups of friends all around campus and have helped me to create the best memories from college,” she says.
Path: Lemisch says her professors served as great mentors, helping her to understand difficult concepts and introducing her to career paths in chemical engineering. “They really made studying chemical engineering an exciting and rewarding experience,” she says.
Lemisch also connected with Melissa Schultz at Gateway Career Center to explore opportunities. “I really enjoyed participating in the winter externship and Career Tracks programs where I was able to network with alumni and learn about many different industries. Through the externship program, I was able to experience what working in a cosmetic manufacturing site was like and see the real world applications of the chemical engineering concepts we learned about in my chemical engineering courses. This experience really showed me how exciting the world of manufacturing is, and I’m excited to begin my career in food manufacturing.”
“I think Lafayette has prepared me for life by really allowing me to embody the ‘Cur Non’ motto of the school,” Lemisch says.
Throughout her Lafayette experience, she competed at the collegiate level in swimming, had the opportunity to research and present her findings at a national conference, and take on multiple leadership roles.
That’s what makes Lafayette so special—the fact that you can be involved in, and try, so many new things that you otherwise never would have thought you would do, and meet so many different people along the way.
Sara Vaca ’23(international affairs; Spanish; minor in religious studies)
Hometown: Brownsville, Texas
Destination: Full-time Spanish I teacher at IDEA Yukon in Odessa, Texas
Involvement on campus: In her time at Lafayette, Vaca was a Team Success Scholar, an EXCEL Research Scholar, and a Gateway ambassador and peer adviser. She worked as a Skillman Library circulation desk assistant and student supervisor. Vaca served as the president of Model United Nations (2020-2021), vice president of Spanish Speakers of Lafayette (2021-2022), and joined Hispanic Society of Lafayette, Spanish Conversation Partner, and was an e-portfolio mentor in the Languages and Literary Studies Department.
“These activities and experiences have shaped my journey by letting me stay close to my cultural Latina identity being away from home, and exploring new fields of which I would not have been aware and part of otherwise,” Vaca says, adding it was all while “working on my passions such as teaching, sharing my cultural perspective, and coaching people in any/every way I can.”
Vaca says Lafayette prepared her with a holistic, well-rounded education and skill set, while providing a family and community-like environment.
“It has been a life-changing experience and of extraordinary influence to me to be surrounded by, introduced to, and to work alongside wonderful people from staff, administrators, faculty, and students from all around the world, and getting to know and learn from them,” she says.
Path: “My professors, Skillman Library staff, and Gateway counselors helped me reach my goals by making me aware of a wide variety of opportunities and resources on campus such as research, on-campus leadership, and events such as the EXCEL Research Scholar program, career fairs, document review, a lot of networking events, and more since my first year.”
The connections made at Lafayette helped her to discover her passions and aspirations, and demonstrate her potential.
“As a first year, first-generation college student, and Latina, having a support system such as the one I found at Lafayette via my professors and Gateway counselors, Alana Klass and Mark Choquette, allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and empowered me to take on new experiences and get involved in positively challenging environments.”
Vaca gained real-world experience through internship roles with IDEA public schools, first at Rio Grande Valley Regional Headquarters, and later with two internships at Austin Regional Headquarters prior to her full-time job offer at IDEA Yukon.
Vaca is an IDEA Frontier (RGV Region) 2019 alumna.
“Having constant support from IDEA and IDEA Alumni Affairs to get to and through college was very meaningful to me, and having been enrolled at IDEA and coming to Lafayette were literally very similar environments, a reason which led me to choosing Lafayette,” she says.
Vaca says she’s grateful for the support received at Lafayette and the resources made available to her.
“Words cannot emphasize enough how grateful I am to Lafayette as an institution and community (family) for all that I have accomplished thus far and is yet to come! As I once read from Amelia Earhart, ‘What do dreams know of boundaries?’”