Campus News

UB’s class of 2022 has drive to change the world

2022 UB graduates at a commencemnt ceremony.

This year's UB graduates are determined to make change in the areas they care most about. Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

By ANDREW CODDINGTON

Published May 24, 2022

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Arlene Kaukus.
“It’s hard to be around our students and not feel optimistic. ”
Arlene Kaukus, director
Career Design Center

This spring, more than 6,000 UB students received their degrees in commencement ceremonies across the campus, the last taking place on Sunday.

From here, they’re heading for jobs ranging from big tech (Amazon, Google, IBM) to finance (Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan), pharmaceuticals (Eli Lilly and Company) and entertainment (Disney, the NFL). Others are choosing to remain in Buffalo and the greater Western New York region, taking positions at M&T Bank, Kaleida Health, Citi, Moog, Lockheed Martin, tech startups like Odoo, and more. Still others will continue their education at institutions like Virginia Tech, Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins, Princeton and UB.

‘Change agents’

These graduates’ plans reflect the diversity of their values, as well as their determination to make change in areas they care most about.

For Arlene Kaukus, director of the Career Design Center, labor market trends, together with the resilience and passion shown by this class, point to good things ahead — for both the individual graduates and society as a whole.

“We have a marketplace bursting with opportunities, so the competition for talent is intense,” Kaukus says, citing low unemployment and booming hiring forecasts. “Students going into the workplace have a great opportunity to make choices that are very thoughtful and intentional.”

Whether that’s choosing to work for a company based on its demonstrated actions toward sustainability, or demanding an organization do more to advance racial justice and inclusion, new grads find themselves with tremendous power to transform the broader economy.

“I think they’re going to be change agents,” Kaukus says.

Passion for a healthier planet …

Zoom image: Mady Radel Mady Radel

Mady Radel, a presidential scholar, straight-A honors student and environmental studies major with a passion for corporate sustainability, has worked at Wegmans for more than five years, starting out as a cashier before rising through the ranks to store management.

In January, Wegmans met with Radel to see how they could entice her to continue her career with the company. As a result of that conversation, Radel is now leading a special project, working with the head of Buffalo’s corporate division to reduce waste in her store and eventually develop systems to share with other stores.

“It felt great to have people take me seriously and say, we really value you, and we know you have these passions, so let’s find a way to incorporate that into what you do,” Radel says.

… And for a healthier populace

Zoom image: Temara Cross Temara Cross

Temara Cross, a first-generation college student, is graduating summa cum laude with a combined BS/MPH in public health, a BA in African American studies and a minor in anthropology. As a student, she was involved in community activist organizations Say Yes Buffalo and Open Buffalo, and served on the President’s Advisory Council on Race at UB.

Now, Cross has her sights set on Buffalo’s racial health disparities, which, as a resident of the city’s East Side, she has witnessed firsthand; while Cross was a junior in high school, her grandmother passed away from preventable diseases. Her plan is to work in public health with underserved communities, eventually pursue a medical degree, and then open a comprehensive health clinic on the East Side that accommodates the social and environmental determinants of patients’ health.

“We’ve seen what can happen in the past 50 years alone,” says Cross. “People have stepped up to the plate and created the change that they wanted to see in their community. And so I’ll continue to do what I’ve been doing, continue to use my experiences at UB and my lived experiences in Buffalo to create the change that I want to see.”

Cause for optimism

There’s no question that the world is facing unprecedented challenges that will take years, and likely generations, to solve. But graduates like Cross, Radel and many others in this class give hope that change is not only possible — it’s probable.

“One of the things I love about working at the university is students’ optimism, openness and their sincere interest to grow and make things better,” says Kaukus, who has spent 12 years in career services at UB, helping young people chart their futures. “It’s hard to be around our students and not feel optimistic.”