Despite a disrupted last year and a half as students at the University of Kansas, seniors are preparing to walk down the hill and graduate on May 16. Many members of the class of 2021 will enter the workforce or attend graduate school, an accomplishment after a year full of hardship.
Ben Grimes, a senior from Chicago, will graduate with a dual degree in film and media studies and English, with a minor in theatre. After graduation, he will attend the University of Southern California for its film and television production program.
“It’s been my dream to go to that school and be in that specific program since I was a kid,” Grimes said. “It’s a really hard program to get into, and quite honestly it’s something I never thought could happen.”
Grimes hopes to work in post-production and sound design for film and television after graduating from USC and would also like to write and direct his own independent features.
“USC has a pretty solid pipeline into working in the production industry and the film and television industry in Los Angeles, and the USC alumni network is massive, so I think that will help,” Grimes said.
Grimes is excited to live in Los Angeles, but knows that he will miss Lawrence and KU.
“I’ve hardly been on campus for a year, and I love that campus,” Grimes said. “There are so many little spaces and nooks that I’ve found that were my favorite spots, where I would go study. KU has been hard work, but it’s also been a peaceful place and there’s a lot of people that I’m going to miss.”
Sneha Verma from Wichita, Kansas will also graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and a minor in mathematics. Following graduation, Verma will join the Urban Institute as a research assistant at their Health Policy Center, a think tank in Washington D.C. that focuses on state and national policy.
“It’s kind of exactly what I went to school for, so that’s exciting,” Verma said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to leave Kansas for a little bit, because I’ve been here for pretty much my whole life. The prospect of spreading my wings a little bit is really exciting.”
The pandemic and lack of open positions made it difficult for Verma to find a job, and she applied to nearly 800 positions before receiving six job offers.
“I’m really lucky in that I got a lot of choices, but I think a lot of other people are not as fortunate, especially international students and those who don’t have prior internship experience,” Verma said.
KU senior Zach Thomason is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, and has accepted a full-time offer with Ernst and Young, a global firm that specializes in accounting and consulting. He will start his position as a risk consultant in their New York City office come August. Ernst and Young employees are currently working remotely, but Thomason hopes this changes before the end of 2021, as he wants to move to NYC so he has the ability to work in person.
“As someone who grew up in the Midwest, being in a big city has always been a dream of mine, and I’m so excited to get the opportunity to do that in the biggest city in the country, and one of the biggest cities in the world,” Thomason said.
Thomason had an internship at Ernst and Young’s Kansas City office last year during the beginning of the pandemic. Despite most of his internship taking place virtually, Thomason enjoyed the experience so much that he decided to apply for a full-time job.
“I still had an amazing experience,” Thomason said. “I know jobs were harder to come by for a lot of people, so I’m so fortunate to be with a company.”
Thomason is excited for this year’s commencement ceremony and is glad that he will be a part of the KU tradition. He also plans to visit Lawrence often once he graduates.
“It’s one of my favorite places in the world,” Thomason said. “Being a Jayhawk is something I’ll take pride in for the rest of my life.”