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What’s On My Mind: Reflections on 2019, and the years ahead

May. 8, 2019—Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos looks ahead to his final Commencement ceremony as chancellor in this week's column.

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I Am Vanderbilt: Randy Smith

May. 8, 2019—The Vanderbilt campus hums with a particular energy in the days leading up to Commencement. Randy Smith, a supervisor in Plant Operations, manages a team of housekeeping staff tasked with getting buildings ready to accommodate the more than 25,000 friends and family members who will be on campus celebrating graduates.

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Happy Helping Others: Robby Perry, BE’19

Apr. 11, 2019—From an Alternative Spring Break trip to renovate houses with Habitat for Humanity, to a Home Depot–sponsored web-coding hackathon, to a semester of study abroad that took him to cities such as Madrid, Marrakesh and Istanbul—Robby Perry’s time at Vanderbilt exemplifies just how much you can pack into four years.

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Beyond the Petri Dish: Gabriela Alvarado, PhD’19

Apr. 11, 2019—Gabriela Alvarado began her graduate program intent on studying something microscopic, but she ended up developing a passion for understanding the bigger picture of her research.

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Wellness Influencer and Entrepreneur: Sloane Chmara, BA’19

Apr. 11, 2019—What does it take to run a growing health brand with a positively focused social media presence while excelling at academics and maintaining a social life? For Los Angeles native Sloane Chmara, it’s all about wellness.

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Special-needs Siblings Inspire a Career in Care: Alexandra Vierling, BS’19

Apr. 11, 2019—It was at Vanderbilt that Alexandra Vierling found her passion for nursing. But the idea of working at the intersection of health care and education was a seed planted long ago.

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Flying on to Medical School: Riley Ferguson, BA’19

Apr. 11, 2019—A Facebook query seeking Vanderbilt students who were pilots led Riley Ferguson to two of her closest friends and the founding of AviaDORES, a campus organization with the mission of making aviation accessible to VU students.

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Refugees and a ‘Third-Culture Kid’: Aya Abou-Jaoude, BS’19

Apr. 11, 2019—Aya Abou-Jaoude has always planned to become a physician. But she says an eye-opening Vanderbilt course last year about refugee resettlement helped affirm her ultimate goal: to pursue pediatric medicine, with a particular focus on refugee health.

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Great App for Great Apes: Ben Scheer, BS’19

Apr. 11, 2019—Ben Scheer jumps imagination-first into big projects, and he’s not afraid of a lot of trial and error. The human and organizational development and economics double major has worked on dozens of entrepreneurial endeavors that focus on solving problems through technology.

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Using Science to Spark Innovation: Jasper Lu, BS’19, MS’19

Apr. 11, 2019—Creative writing and computer science classes in middle school and high school inspired Jasper Lu to pursue a liberal arts education at Vanderbilt, where he could explore all his passions and identify connections between them.

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Combat Veteran and Future Trauma Surgeon: Kathleen Gallagher, MD’19

Apr. 11, 2019—Like many medical students, Kathleen Gallagher knew by the time she’d finished high school biology that she wanted to become a doctor. It was the tragedy of Sept. 11, however, that launched her journey into trauma surgery.

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A Scientific Mind and a Heart for Women’s Issues: Ananya Sharma, BA’19

Apr. 11, 2019—As the only child of a university biology professor, Ananya Sharma’s talent in science came naturally. Yet, while navigating a STEM-specialized curriculum in high school, she discovered an interest in women’s studies.

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