Later this week, Johnson & Wales University will award 8 honorary doctorate degrees and a total of 3,279 undergraduate and graduate degrees at its 2017 commencement ceremonies, across the university’s 4 campuses. Below, meet 5 of our graduating Arts & Sciences seniors in the first of a two-part Senior Spotlight series.
Name: Kristen Batista
Hometown: Cumberland, RI
Major: Liberal Studies
Kristen Batista originally came to JWU's Providence campus to study Graphic Design, but found her calling in our Liberal Studies program.
Although she began her studies on campus, Batista ultimately completed her degree online after relocating to southern California when she and her husband found out he would be stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
“I found the transition from an on-campus student to an online student to be fairly easy,” Batista said. “I enjoyed the freedom to work on my classwork at any time...while not being restricted to attend the classroom at a particular time. At the time we only had one vehicle, and I was very busy with schoolwork while also training out eight-week old pug puppy, Biscuit [pictured above].” Despite the transition, Batista was able to remain organized and dedicated to her schoolwork and will even be graduating cum laude.
During her time in Providence, Batista was part of the Wildcat Dance Team. While she admits the practices were sometimes time consuming, being part of the team allowed her to take her mind off the stress of school work and become more involved on campus.
“My advice for any current or future JWU students is to try and get involved in at least one sport, club, or extra curricular activity. During my first year at JWU, I was a commuter and did not know many people. I would attend class then go right home. I felt like everybody was involved and making great friends, which I was missing,” Batista said. “My second year, I joined the Wildcat Dance Team, which allowed me to become involved [on campus] and make a lot of great friends and memories while doing something I love.”
Name: Stephanie Bowker
Hometown: Glocester, RI
Major: Media & Communication Studies
“I enjoyed the atmosphere when I took a tour here, decided to take a chance, and I was not disappointed,” Stephanie Bowker said of her decision to transfer to Johnson & Wales from another local, Rhode Island school. “I took a look at JWU Providence because it's close to my hometown and it has programs I was interested in. I picked the Media & Communication Studies program because I felt it allowed me to be creative, while also being applicable to a large number of different fields.”
During her time at JWU, Bowker was a writer for the Campus Herald, JWU Providence's student-run newspaper. She was even able to travel to Austin, Texas as one of 7 members of the newspaper staff to attend the ACP/CMA National College Media Convention in 2015.
Bowker also worked as an office assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences and served as a student representative on the Arts & Sciences Curriculum Committee, which allowed her to work closely with many faculty members in addition to those she knew through her studies. “These are all truly amazing people and I am glad they were part of my college experience. They always went out of their way to be kind and to help me succeed, and it means so much to me that they did,” Bowker said.
Name: Taylor Klein
Hometown: Orange County, NY
Major: Counseling Psychology
Taylor Klein will not only be receiving her bachelor's degree in Counseling Psychology from Johnson & Wales, but she will be continuing her studies here in the Counseling Psychology master's program.
Klein was very involved during her time at JWU Providence. In addition to playing on the varsity women's tennis team — which won the GNAC championship to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history this season —she was a campus liaison on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and a Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless Youth Advocate. She found that communication and prioritization was key in balancing all of these activities, along with her school work.
Klein encourages future JWU students to take advantage of all of the opportunities JWU offers. “Talk to professors about what your future dreams and aspirations you have for the future, and join clubs and organizations where students have the ability to gain leadership experiences,” Klein said.
Name: Rachel Paulin
Hometown: Cumberland, RI
Major: Counseling Psychology
When it came to choosing an area of study, the decision was an easy one for Rachel Paulin. “Helping people was my main priority,” she said. “What I love about the Counseling Psychology major is that there are so many directions one could go with this degree.”
For Paulin, that direction is graduate school. She will be continuing at Johnson & Wales in the Counseling Psychology master's program, focusing on addictions.
“This is the time to try something different — try everything, talk to new people, and learn something new,” Paulin said. “Four years did not seem like enough but you will carry these memories, friends, experiences, and lessons with you forever.“
Paulin also urges students to step outside of their comfort zone, but to remember: “College is fun, but don't forget to study! You'll regret it if you don't!“
Name: Alyssa Pearce
Hometown: Chaplin, C.T.
Major: Criminal Justice
From the moment Alyssa Pearce set foot on JWU's Providence campus, she immediately felt a sense of belonging. By taking advantage of JWU's accelerated SHARP program, Pearce was able to complete her undergraduate degree in just three years while in the Honors Program and participating in a number of extra curricular activities, including New Student Orientation & Support and OTEAM programs, the Collegiate Ambassador Team, University Involvement Board, Criminal Justice Association and Psychology Club.
It was through participation in these clubs that Pearce really came into her own. “When I first came to JWU, I was very quiet and shy, and did not speak to anyone unless they approached me first,“ she said. “However, by joining clubs and organizations, especially OTEAM, I was able to meet and interact with so many new people it really brought me out of my shell.“
Pearce knew from the start she wanted to study Criminal Justice. “When thinking of what I wanted to pursue as a career, I found that all of my thoughts kept coming back to the criminal justice field,“ she said. “I know that I will definitely enjoy a position in this field and believe when you love your job, it does not feel like a job.“
After graduation, Pearce will begin her criminal justice career as a Community Service Officer with the Narragansett Police Department. She will also begin pursuing her master's in Criminal Justice at Roger Williams University.
Visit JWU Commencement for all the details on each campus’ ceremony, including times, locations and each college/school’s respective speaker.