On Commencement Day, members of the Carroll School Class of '21 took their socially distanced seats in Conte Forum, in front of proud parents and guests, and stepped up to receive their richly earned diplomas. It was an exuberant end to the most unusual of years—a year in which Boston College seniors found ways to thrive and have fun while they were at it. On May 24, our newest graduates left the Heights with a keen sense of hope, excited about careers and life in the latter days of COVID. Here are 11 of them—looking back and looking ahead.
Mary Kate Viceconte
Hometown: Hillsdale, New Jersey
Concentrations/Minor: Finance and Information Systems; Medical Humanities
Mary Kate Viceconte speaks of how she and her friends went about recreating Boston College traditions, in the time of COVID. “Our fake Parents Weekend was so much fun,” she said, referring to when parents of her friend group came to Boston for a safe and socially distanced celebration off campus. With tailgating not an option this year, she and her friends also frequently dined out watching BC football games livestreamed. And there was the Friendsgiving with her roommates, among other restyled traditions.
Academically, one of her fondest experiences was serving as a teaching assistant in Professor Joseph Cioni’s Portico section—“I looked up to my Portico TAs a lot in my freshman year and I hope I was able to provide the support and guidance just as they did.” Viceconte also cites her in-depth conversations with Amy LaCombe, associate dean for undergraduate curriculum—“basically the idea that your first job doesn’t have to be your be-all-and-end-all passion for life. It gave me less pressure to find my dream job.”
She did find a fabulous job, as an investment banker at UBS in New York. As she steps into the wide world in the twilight of COVID, Viceconte says, “I’m genuinely excited to start work, to have a sense of financial independence, and to live with friends in Manhattan.”
Hometown: San Diego, California
Concentration/Co-Concentration: Finance; Business Analytics
For Omo-Dafe (Dafe) Uvieghara, the pandemic was “an unfortunate opportunity.” Without the parties and other fixtures of campus life (what he called “the distractions of our social atmosphere”), he threw himself into other enriching pursuits. In a year of social justice awakening, Uvieghara worked on laying the groundwork for a Black undergraduate business club at Boston College. He also bolstered his proficiency in computer science languages including Python and R. And he began teaching himself Igbo, the native language of his mother’s ancestral tribe in Nigeria.
Although he had done his summer internship in UBS’s private funds group in New York, during senior year he eagerly set his sights on the company’s technology group in San Francisco. “I spent a solid three months from December until March networking and interviewing to land myself a position in that group. So I’m really grateful for that,” he said. Asked about starting a career in the latter days of a global health crisis, Uvieghara pointed out, “The shock of the pandemic has kind of worn off because we’ve been doing this for the whole school year now. So yeah, I’d say that I’m excited and, not gonna lie—ready to get out there.”
Victoria (Huiyi) Lyu
Hometown: Hangzhou, China
Concentrations/Minor: Accounting and Information Systems; Applied Psychology
While some students were choosing between one job offer and another, Victoria Lyu was seesawing between two very different options—Cornell University for graduate study and Deloitte’s office in Silicon Valley. She chose Deloitte, where she’ll be working as a global transfer pricing consultant. “What really got me committing to the job was that I was attracted to the different environment. The West Coast is very innovative. I love Boston, but I feel like the West Coast would be a totally different environment,” she said.
Boston College helped point her in that direction: On the cusp of the pandemic, Lyu took part in the TechTrek West course, which ended with a study tour of Silicon Valley companies in March 2020. “The trip made me realize that I’m very mission driven. Tech companies’ products are tailored toward different missions to really improve the lives of humans on earth,” she said. But she’s keeping a distant eye on graduate business education, for the purposes of learning more about data and technology. “My grand goal is to work in lavish technology to improve the lives of people,” Lyu added. “I really want to work in female health technology. I have some ideas.”
Hometown: University Heights, Ohio
Concentration/Co-Concentration: Information Systems; Entrepreneurship
“There are some different opportunities that have come out of COVID, especially entrepreneurial opportunities,” said Kevin Callanan. During the summer of 2020, Callanan and friends founded Woolgather, a music platform that finds new artists and promotes their work, as a community service. The social venture morphed into a Spotify playlist that the team refreshes weekly with music from new artists. The idea was to bolster these artists who had lost revenue streams during the pandemic and who needed “extra encouragement and love from their fans,” he explained.
Like many students, Callanan focused on a smaller circle of friends during the year of social distancing on campus. In an interview in late March, he said, “My friends and I have started to change the conversation and think about our time at BC and what we mean to each other because you want to find that closure and want to find that connection during COVID.”
Now, he’s getting ready to begin his full-time job as a brand associate at Thrasio, a Boston-based company that acquires third-party Amazon businesses and continues to grow them under its control. As to the realities of post-college life during a late-stage pandemic, he said, “There’s definitely a bit of nerves but more excitement to be on my own, to live in Boston, to work a job I am excited about in the e-commerce world.” And Callanan said he’ll continue helping new artists with his side hustle, Woolgather.
Hometown: Allendale, New Jersey
Concentration/Co-Concentration: Finance; Managing for Social Impact and the Public Good
Asked about her feelings as she prepared to leave Chestnut Hill, Julia Homan did not skip a beat. “Grateful. When I reflect back on my time here, I just feel incredibly lucky for the opportunities Boston College has provided, the professors who taught me more than I ever could have imagined, the friends I’ve made, even the ways I was challenged over my four years here. There were a lot of incredible moments here and some very difficult ones too, but all the experiences have really expanded me.”
Homan says the pandemic taught her life lessons that she might not have learned otherwise, or so soon. “This year, I’ve definitely learned the importance of letting go of things you cannot control. This can be extremely difficult. It’s definitely something I’m continuously working on,” she said. “The past year has been full of a lot of unexpected things, and I’m a person who thrives off of setting goals, making plans and checking boxes, but the reality is that life doesn’t always work this way.” Homan added that senior year in a pandemic has also driven home the value of self-reflection—a life skill she developed further in her capstone class, The Moral of the Story, in which students write about their experiences at Boston College. “No matter what’s going on, these reflections always have a way of providing me with some sort of positive perspective and really giving me a feeling of gratitude.”
Hometown: Basking Ridge, New Jersey
Concentration/Co-Concentration: Accounting; Managing for Social Impact and the Public Good
When the coronavirus hit, in the spring semester of 2020, students had to evacuate campuses and flee studies abroad. Chris Agugliaro had to do it sooner than most: He was studying in Rome, which emerged as an early global hotspot of the virus. “So I was one of the first people to be sent home from any college, either abroad or domestically,” he noted. Then, he learned that his summer internship with PwC in New York had been downsized to two weeks, and that he’d be doing the work from his room at home in New Jersey. The picture brightened considerably as Boston College invited students back to campus for the fall of 2020.
“I was grateful that we were on campus in any capacity. That was huge for me, just being able to be at BC with my roommates and friends. We were able to get the experience of community even if we weren’t experiencing football games and senior traditions and activities,” he said. Around that time, Agugliaro also received a job offer from PwC, where he’ll be a deals advisory associate, performing financial due diligence. He looks forward to making new friends and connections in New York and his goals for the future are expansive—“finding happiness and enjoyment in whatever I’m doing, whether that’s public accounting, traveling, being a father, just in whatever way that comes about.”
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Concentration/Minor: Information Systems; Hispanic Studies
Morgan Montgomery experienced her share of COVID-19 disruptions during her senior year. “I think living in a dorm with six of us online was pretty crazy—trying to balance all of that,” she said. “I would say that was definitely pretty new.” Montgomery, however, is one of those who thrived on remote learning as well as remote working, which she had done in her internship at Goldman Sachs the summer before. “I was actually a bit more comfortable online. I think it’s a little easier to reach out to people and send a link and quickly have a 15-minute Zoom chat,” she explained.
Her passions eventually led her in a new direction: She’ll be working for Malk Partners, an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) consulting firm in New York. And she’s already talking like a veteran in the field. “Our job is to come in and look at the companies in the portfolio and see whether or not their business practices are environmentally or socially sustainable. So if they are a chemical company, we make sure that they are dealing with hazardous waste in a way that’s not going to harm the environment.” And if the work has to start off remotely, she’ll be all set.
Hometown: Merrick, New York
Concentration/Minor: Economics; Theology
When Sara Samir returned to Chestnut Hill last August, in the ongoing throes of the pandemic, she had low expectations. “I really thought we were not going to last here more than two weeks, to the point where I barely brought anything up for move-in,” she recalls. “My walls were white for months because I thought we were going to have to move out early.” It didn’t happen, and what helped her get through the challenging times was a close circle of friends and widespread support on campus—“It really just kind of feels like this BC family.”
By late winter, Samir was seeing light at the end of the tunnel—and a job offer from McKinsey in Boston, where she’ll be doing direct client work and no small amount of traveling as part of her job. Longer term, she wants to continue the kind of work she’s started as a longtime volunteer and youth leader for Plan International, a global nonprofit that advocates for the rights and wellbeing of children, especially girls. “We take so much for granted,” she said, speaking of access to social goods like clean water and formal education. “It just makes me want to use whatever power I have in my future to try to create a better life for those girls abroad.”
Hariharan (Harry) Shanmugam
Hometown: Hopkington, Massachusetts
Concentration/Major: Accounting for Finance and Consulting; Biology (pre-med track)
Harry Shanmugam came to Boston College wanting to be a physician, but quickly learned there was so much more to the healthcare business. “Being at BC, I think my intellectual horizons are just broad in the sense that I was exposed to the whole world of public health, health systems, health policy. It really expanded my thinking of what a future could look like,” he said. Fast forward to this coming fall: He’ll be working at Boston Consulting Group in Chicago, in the firm’s healthcare and social impact practices. And, medical school is still in his plans, not too far down the road.
At BC and the Carroll School, Shanmugam got into the habit of stretching himself. Though he was far from a natural dancer (by his own assessment), he signed up for a dance show with the South Asian Student Association, simply out of a desire to “step out of my comfort zone and put myself in a position that’s unfamiliar to me.” He looks forward to his career—and giving back to BC. “I want to be a resource for BC students in the way that so many BC alums were for me throughout my four years as mentors and supporters and people who were my strongest champions in a lot of different things.”
At Boston College's 144th Commencement, Shanmugam accepted the Edward H. Finnegan, S.J., Award, given to the Boston College graduate who best exemplifies the University’s motto, “Ever to Excel.”
Hometown: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Concentrations: Finance and Information Systems
Nisha Momin was an active participant in the Edmund H. Shea Jr. Center for Entrepreneurship, but she sees entrepreneurship as a skill that goes far beyond starting your own business. Whether in a startup or an established corporate role, “I think you just have to learn how to do things differently and better than other people in order to progress in your job,” she says. “You don’t really hear stories of people doing everything the same way—you hear about the ones who did something different and off the beaten path.”
Momin has traveled off that path frequently, like when she and Sofia Yepes, MCAS ’21, founded My Brother’s Friend, a podcast and website. On the podcast, the two students interview designers, musicians, and other creatives from around the world about their work and perspectives. They got the idea from their time abroad, including Momin’s study-abroad experiences in Cape Town, South Africa, where she would stumble upon a small boutique or shop and find amazing clothes she’d never come across otherwise. She and Yepes are bringing that experience online to more people.
James (Jimmy) McDermott
Concentration: Information Systems
Many business students dream of launching their own company someday. For Jimmy McDermott, it’s not a distant goal: It’s his job. He’s the founder of Transeo, a Cloud-based educational tool that helps students and administrators track, report, and celebrate their community service-learning and internship experiences. “I probably have 50-60 hours a week on Transeo and then have school on top of that,” McDermott said in an interview near the end of the semester. “It’s great. It’s a very intentional choice, but yes, it’s a lot to balance for sure.”
McDermott founded Transeo just before arriving at Boston College for his freshman year, and the quickly growing company now has eight full-time employees working remotely. Local school districts purchase the tracking tools, which in turn help students bolster their applications for college and other opportunities including internships.
He credits Carroll School professors and the Edmund H. Shea Jr. Center for Entrepreneurship with helping to further develop and channel his entrepreneurial instincts. “Now, one thing I am really looking forward to is living without the safety net of college,” said McDermott, who will be moving to New York as he and his staff continue to work remotely. “I think one of the really awesome things about college is that there is an amazing safety net there and you can fail really hard on one day and stand up the next day and be totally fine. I’m kind of excited to do it without that and see how it goes.”
Interviews conducted by Ada Anderson ’23, Michaela Brant ’23, and Isabella Kehl ’23. Photos by University Photographer Lee Pellegrini.