students in cap and gown leaving the gates of Bucknell
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Bucknell’s Class of 2023 leaves campus prepared to lead, innovate and make meaningful contributions across a variety of fields.


Onward typographic title
Commencement marks the end of a college career — and the start of a promising future. From designing cars at Toyota to researching pediatric therapies at a children’s hospital to pursuing an advanced degree at Harvard, members of the Class of 2023 are ready to make an impact. Here, five grads share their next steps.
photography by Emily paine
Elliot Thorp welding iron bars together

Driving Innovation

Elliot Thorp ’23, mechanical engineering

Next step > Body design engineer for Toyota

Ever since I decided to become a mechanical engineer, I have maintained two career goals: to work on cutting-edge technology that pushes the boundaries of what is possible, and to use my skills to improve the lives of others.

I feel extremely fortunate to start my journey at Toyota, a company that is focused on creating safe cars using sustainable engineering principles. In my role, I’ll be designing features such as body panels, seats, lights and airbags for newly manufactured vehicles and also building prototypes and testing the safety of new vehicle components.

The design experiences I acquired at Bucknell prepared me well. I spent two semesters designing sheet metal body shields for Professor Craig Beal ’08’s [mechanical engineering] electric vehicle research project. For my senior design project, I competed in Baja SAE, an undergraduate design challenge in which teams design and manufacture an off-road vehicle that they then race in a multiday competition. My role entailed designing, optimizing, manufacturing and testing the vehicle’s rear suspension system. Overseeing a project from start to finish and working as part of a team was extremely valuable and enhanced my educational experience.

“Bucknell taught me how to be a supportive leader, to work in a collaborative environment and to have confidence in my decision-making.”
April Hurlock in a lab working on wiring

Advancing Discovery

April Hurlock ’23, chemistry

Next step > Research assistant at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)

I’ll be joining the lab of Wesley Baker ’05 at CHOP. He develops tools and techniques to study oxygen and blood flow in the brain. It’s an important area of research that can inform treatment for children who suffer from brain injuries or babies who are born needing life support.

The research integrates neurology with physics and engineering and will prepare me for my ultimate goal of becoming a physician-scientist with a pediatric speciality; I think there is a real opportunity for me to make a difference.

At Bucknell, I didn’t have to wait to get research experience. I was accepted into the STEM Scholars program, which lets incoming first-year students start working in a lab the summer before their first semester. I was paired with Professor Douglas Collins [chemistry], who encouraged me to launch an investigation to study the chemical makeup of thirdhand smoke — pollutants left on surfaces following exposure to a cigarette. The research was daunting at first, but it became my focus for the next four years and taught me how to be a scientist.

“Bucknell prepared me to be a scientist — and a leader. I broke out of my shell and grew more confident. My Bucknell experience has been truly transformative.”
Christian Melgar giving a lecture at the front of the room

Transforming Lives

Christian Melgar ’23, English — literary studies and education

Next step > Harvard Graduate School of Education

Through Harvard’s Teaching and Teacher Leadership (TTL) program, I will gain teaching experience while earning a master’s in education. TTL is designed for teachers who are interested in advancing equity and social justice in the classroom.

An influential high school teacher told me that success is not defined by others but by ourselves. I took that to heart. It inspired me to step up academically and to pursue a degree that would enable me to influence lives as part of the public education system.

Bucknell’s secondary certification teacher preparation program enabled me to gain classroom experience right away as a first-year student. And Bucknell’s supportive faculty helped me connect with opportunities to dive deeper into my passion for equity in curriculum.

As a student-teacher, I learned patience, responsibility, and that while you can’t change your past, you have the power to shape your future. I’ll carry that into my own teaching.

“I hope to inspire my students to keep going forward and never be afraid to take a risk or a big leap in life.”
Jamie Tsao smiling, wearing a blue Bucknell shirt

Influencing Behavior

Jamie Tsao ’23, markets, innovation & design (MIDE)

Next step > Personal bank and wealth management analyst at Citi

I’ve always been interested in pursuing a career related to people, and the combination of a MIDE major and psychology minor gave me a broad understanding of consumer behavior and how marketing influences people psychologically. I am entering a two-year program at Citi that has three rotations. Being able to experience several departments within personal banking and wealth management will allow me to continue to learn and to see what will be the best career path for me. I’m eager to see how my background in psychology can contribute to marketing strategy and to learn more about consumer advertising and data analytics.
“Bucknell gave me the opportunity to be involved in activities outside the classroom that benefited me. All of those things will help me in my career.”
Jaxon White smiling, wearing a red shirt

Bringing Truth to Light

Next step > Statehouse reporter for LancasterOnline

A few weeks into my first semester at Bucknell, one of my professors suggested I submit a class assignment to The Bucknellian as an op-ed. Looking back, I realize it was a pivotal moment in my life. I ended up writing op-eds the entire year, and then advanced to become the paper’s opinion editor. I enjoy talking to people, learning new things and uncovering stories. That curiosity enabled me to transition into news writing — and eventually into the role of editor-in-chief of the paper.

As my interest in journalism grew, Bucknell’s Center for Career Advancement helped me find an internship with the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, which kickstarted my career. That led to another internship with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association. I remember working on a story about legislative pay raises and was initially worried about it. I was facing a bit of imposter syndrome. But I listened to my editors, learned from other reporters, and when it was time to pull the story together, what I learned on the job — plus the toolkit I had from Bucknell — helped me be successful.

“Bucknell has really shaped me as a person. The professors have always been supportive in fostering my interests.”
Nine months after graduating, 94% of the Class of 2022 reported being employed, attending or preparing for graduate school, or volunteering. Learn more about graduate outcomes.