Then and Now: Graduating Seniors Reflect on Their Transformative Years at WPI

May 8, 2018
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In this time of reflection just before Commencement, students and their families often look back over the college years and marvel at the transformative changes. Four years ago these students came in with their own hopes, dreams, and expectations, not realizing how profoundly being a member of #goatnation would change them or how their passions would emerge as a career path.

They say every picture tells a story and we agree. To celebrate their transformative years at WPI, the Daily Herd asked graduating seniors to share photos from their earliest days on campus, which were revisited in the time leading up to Commencement. From academic and athletic successes to personal triumphs to lasting friendships, look how far these WPI students have come.

Rachel Huntley (left) and Tess Meier (right) formed a bond during band camp before their classes even started. They posed on August 22, 2014, during the Pep Band’s nerd themed day. Nearly four years later, Rachel says transformative experiences like her IQP have made her a better team player and overall worker.


In April 2015, from left, Kofi Colecraft, Nde Nkimbeng, Obianuli Obiora, Brandon King, Yaw Opara-sem, and Darvin Sainte-Luce (kneeling) gathered for the Black Student Union "Playas Ball" in the Odeum. Nde says WPI shaped his ability to be a more responsible and more adaptable person.


When Sarah O’Grady arrived on campus for her first year, she didn’t realize how WPI would inspire her to become senior student advisor and undergraduate student representative for the robotics engineering department or the president of the RBE honor society Rho Beta Epsilon. “When I was a freshman," she says, "I could have never imagined all that WPI would give me.”


Warren Staver’s WPI experience is anchored in teamwork. Whether on the field or in a group project, he saw firsthand the benefits of working collaboratively. As a track and field athlete, Warren discovered how individual strengths become a powerful force. “Working with people,” he says, “I found that I achieved more than I ever would have alone.”


Taylor Venter (bottom) and best bud Sydney Brooks (top) know the lifelong friendships formed in college create memories that last a lifetime. The two goofed around on the Higgins House grounds at the end of freshman year and again three years later as Commencement was just around the corner. “I met Sydney the first night of New Student Orientation, and we have been partners in crime ever since,” Taylor says. “We have lived together for the past three years, and I don't think my time at WPI would have been so enjoyable or impactful if it wasn't for her.”


Whether through his four years as a wrestler or his IQP in Australia, Jack Nigro says WPI boosted his confidence to tackle challenges and assume leadership roles. He gained essential life skills and also made some of his closest friends.


Erin Dixson says she found her second family at WPI, one that started forming in her first year and even extended to her IQP in Namibia. The first photo of, from left, April Locke, Megan Hoppe, Aaron Hartford, Liam Beal, Erin Dixson, Samantha Eaton, Wesley Rogers, and Seth McClenahan was taken in D-Term of freshman year as the friends gathered on the basketball courts in the Rec Center. (Wesley missed the now photo as he graduated early and landed a great job at Vertex Pharmaceuticals.)


The softball team’s NEWMAC championship during Katie Chagami's sophomore year was a highlight in her four seasons of play. “It was a validating moment for all the hard work we had put in that season. And it was made even sweeter, winning at home in front of all of our friends and families.”