Next Steps for the Class of 2019!

Graphic showcasing several senior student-athletes who will graduate in May of 2019 and where their careers are headed after MHC.

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. - It is an exciting time at Mount Holyoke College as graduation for the Class of 2019 is just around the corner. The big question for many is what is next? Sitting down with several members of the senior class, we discovered what the next step in their education journey is after receiving their degree from MHC. 

First up is senior Deyscha Smith, a Boston, Mass., native who is a four-year member of the Lyons lacrosse team. A sociology major with a nexus-in journalism minor at Mount Holyoke, she has spent the past four years of her career not only as a student-athlete, but also as a writer for Mount Holyoke News, a summer intern for the Boston Celtics, a writer for Bleacher Report and a student assistant in the MHC Athletic Communications Office. 

Smith has known since she was younger that she wanted a career in journalism. Growing up in a huge sports family, she would watch basketball games with her dad, and even practice writing her own articles. In high school, after learning the real details behind being a journalist, it became clear that it was a way to combine her passion of writing with engaging people and covering sports – all the things she loved. 

Upon her arrival at Mount Holyoke, Smith's passion truly took off after taking a magazine writing class her sophomore year. She profiled the UCONN women's basketball team during their run in the NCAA tournament and watching every game. Smith learned about the team, the culture of sports at UCONN, talked to die-hard fans, and became really invested in her subject. It was her first time writing a feature story and it solidified for her that it was what she wanted to do with her life. 

While it is not the traditional career path for a sociology major Smith's interest in the study of people and how they interact lent itself very well in the sports world. Combining her major and her love of sports she can articulately examine people based on observation, statistics and facts to think critically in an ever-changing field. 

Though her senior lacrosse season continues for the Lyons, Smith has made an indelible impact on the squad during her career. In 50 games, she has scored 48 goals with 21 assists for 69 points. She has experienced back-to-back outstanding seasons, with 67 of her points, 47 of her goals and 20 of her assists all coming over the last 27 games. 

So what is next for Smith? Following graduation, Smith will be joining the staff as a writer for the Boston Globe. It is a dream come true for the native Bostonian, who will spend her days covering the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Bruins, the Boston Celtics and the New England Patriots. 

Next, we have senior Amanda Manaster, a Beverly Hills, Calif., native who has been a member of the Lyons soccer team all four years as a goaltender. Veterinarian School has been her career goal since she was young and that did not change when she arrived at Mount Holyoke. Originally determined to be a biology major, she switched to Biochemistry as plenty of both subjects were a necessity for vet school. 

The influence that Mount Holyoke has played on her future plans has not only been shaped in the classroom, but by one of the College's many outstanding alumnae. About a year and a half ago she had stumbled upon an article from an alum in the Class of 1999, a fellow yellow Sphinx whose name was also Amanda. This alum was a wildlife veterinarian in Malawi and Manaster emailed her to ask if she could work for her. 

During the winter break of her junior year, Manaster headed to Malawi to volunteer at the wildlife center, gaining experience that she described as "unforgettable." The research opportunities that Mount Holyoke has provided her as well have led to an amazing experience that has prepared her for what is to come. 

A four-year keeper on the Lyons soccer team, Manaster finished her career ranked third in saves in a season with 158. She is also fifth all-time in program history in saves (356) and lowest goals against average (2.69).

So what is next for Manaster? Her dream of becoming a veterinarian continues as she has been accepted into the University of California, Davis, which is the top-ranked veterinary school in the world.

Next up is senior Alex Kenoian, a member of the Lyons soccer team and an Oak Park, Ill., native. An International Relations and Computer Science double major, she says that she chose to focus on international relations because she felt "that history and politics are something we can take for granted and it is incredibly easy to overlook how deeply both are woven into every aspect of people's livelihoods."

Following a class in World Politics with Professor Khory during her first semester, Kenoian realized that she wanted to learn about international diplomacy and, one day, influence it. Between the amazing faulty, her time abroad in Argentina, the interdisciplinary course load, and the unique global perspectives present in Mount Holyoke's student body, her major has challenged and rewarded her greatly over the last four years.
Kenoian's interest in Computer Science came during the spring of her first year at the recommendation of Professor Khory, who stated "anyone who wants to work in politics in the next ten years needs to have basic programming skills." Thus, Kenoian took Intro to Object Oriented Programming and found her calling as she wove her collegiate career between two majors. 

A four-year varsity soccer player and a member of the Diversions A-Capella group, Kenoian served as a member of the Lyons' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee while also working in the Institutional Research office for the College. So what is next for Kenoian?

Following graduation, she will begin working for Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting company, as a Modern Web Developer in Washington, D.C. Her beginning work will see her start on a federal contract with other projects to be determined.

Additionally, Mount Holyoke College basketball senior captain Zahkeyah Allen was selected for the United States Olympic Committee's Finding Leaders Among Minorities Everywhere (FLAME) program, which provides diverse college and graduate-level students with a unique look into the world of elite sport. The 2019 FLAME program runs from May 27 through June 3 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"Being named to the USOC FLAME program is a dream come true as it is not everyday that an inner city minority student is selected to be a representative on the national level. Therefore, this endeavor is an opportunity to apply myself to make the best impact that I can to represent minorities, Mount Holyoke, and myself."

Allen is the first Mount Holyoke student-athlete to be accepted into the FLAME program after going through the application process and receiving her acceptance. A senior captain on the Lyons basketball team, Allen is majoring in mathematics with a minor in sociology.

On the court, Allen played in 81 career games, including 64 as a starter. She scored 183 points while pulling down 173 rebounds. She also posted 89 assists with 73 steals and seven blocked shots. During her senior campaign in 2018-19, Allen served as a captain, recording 67 points and 58 rebounds in 23 games. She also recorded a career-high 29 assists and 26 steals on the season.

Quick Looks

Senior squash player and captain Lessly Portillo, who hails from New Haven, Conn., is headed to graduate school at Southern Connecticut State University where she plans to get her masters in Social Work. Additionally, she hopes to work part-time at the school in the social work department.

Senior tennis player and captain Clara Wang, a native of Madison, Conn., will spend next year working as a research assistant conducting biomedical research in a lab at the National Institute of Health (NIH) near Washington, D.C. The NIH is the largest biomedical research center in the United States. Following her work at the NIH and gaining a wide set of lab skills, she plans to apply to graduate school.