Seniors share their post-graduation plans

A look at senior student plans, post-graduation


Four seniors reflect on their four years at Washington and Lee.

Virginia Laurie

It’s a dreaded question: “What are your plans after graduation?” But some senior students already have an answer prepared.

Balen Essak, ‘20, knows exactly what he wants to do with his Bachelor of Arts in economics and his minor in poverty and human capability studies.

“I’ll be working as a Research Assistant at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, DC,” Essak said. “After my two year contract, I’m hoping to go to law school.”

Essak is a senior on the Mock Trial team, where he’s been able to practice trial advocacy. But even with professional experience under his belt, an interim job lined up and plan for his future career, he said graduation conjures mixed emotions.

“I feel a mixture of nervousness and excitement. I feel very fortunate because I know what I’ll be doing for work next year, but I have been going to school for the past 18 years of my life. Not waking up to go to class will be a very different experience, and I don’t really know what to expect from that,” he said. “W&L has been an amazing place for me to grow academically and personally, but I feel like I’m ready to go out into the ‘real world.’”

For Essak, the “real world” means living in a bigger city.

“Lexington has been wonderful for the past four years, but four years is enough for me,” he said. “I’m ready for a bigger city with public transportation, parks and museums.”

Abby Nason, ’20. Photo courtesy of Abby Nason.

Abby Nason, ‘20, also has a job lined up with her Bachelor of Science in computer science: a job with Google in San Francisco.

“I’m excited for graduation and ready for new beginnings,” Nason said.

It’s still early in the game for other seniors, but students still are excited for the possibilities of applying their degree to their future careers.

Laurel Myers, ‘20, with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in creative writing, said she’s looking forward to graduation.

“I’ve worked very hard for my degree, and it’s exciting to have the end in sight,” Myers said. “Of course, it’s also sad to leave behind friends and mentors.”

Myers said one of her mentors is English Professor Diego Millan, who encouraged her to consider graduate school.

“I’d like to pursue publishing and editing jobs and am looking at graduate English programs at schools including Brown, University of Chicago, Duke and places in Scotland,” Myers said.

Myers said she will have studied abroad every year by the time she graduates, and is confident that this will help her adapt and survive outside of the campus bubble. She also said that completing her capstone has given her a confidence boost.

“[It] was the first time I felt like a true scholar contributing to the conversation in academia,” she said. “I want to carry that inspiration and momentum into graduate school.”

Brie Belz, ‘20, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and a minor in poverty and human capability studies, echoed that graduation will be bittersweet.

“Excluding the trials and triumphs, W&L has become my home over the past four years due to the family I have gained,” she said.

Brie Belz, ’20. Photo courtesy of Brie Belz.

Belz addressed the common misconception that seniors have to have everything figured out.

“My ultimate next step is medical school, but I want to take a couple gap years beforehand,” she said. “I have a couple post-graduate opportunities up in the air, but I’m not sure how they’ll fall yet or which on I’ll ultimately decide on.”

Belz said her time on campus has laid the foundation for her aspirations in medicine, but also gave her a comprehensive education.

“I never truly realized what it meant to have a liberal arts degree,” she said. “My education and experiences at W&L have challenged me to reframe my career path in holistic and fruitful ways.”

Graduation is set for May 28. By then, the class of 2020 will go their separate ways after four years together.

“I will always be appreciative of my professors and peers who have challenged me to be the best individual I can be,” Belz said. “This is the place where I began building lifetime friends and mentors, and I will use both my education and network here as a foundation for my future.”