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Skidmore College

Meet the Class of 2017

A lot of things were different when the Class of 2017 first arrived on Skidmore's campus four years ago. At the time, the class broke the record for applications to the College, topping 8,300 (though the new record stands at 10,000).

These 622 newest members of the alumni community came from all over the world to study and live at Skidmore for the next four years. As they approach Commencement on May 20, here are some of the reasons they stand out.


With honors

Nearly 100 students received departmental awards, academic honors, and cocurricular accolades at Honors Convocation and the Student Government Association's Leadership Banquet.

Morgan Baum, Eliza Burr, Lisa Moran, and Gaby Perez were nominated for a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. In 2016 Skidmore was named a Fulbright Scholars top producer for its long tradition of success with the international program.

World map of class of 2017
Pursuing international study is vital to furthering global understanding. Students from the Class of 2017 come from 30 countries all over the world and speak 30 different languages. Domestic students represent 33 different states.
State map of the class of 2017

Nicholas Friedman and Matt Lueckheide were nominated for Rhodes Scholarships. Friedman was also nominated for the British Marshall Scholarship and received departmental recognition in the form of the Jo C. Hebard '69 Memorial Prize. The prize is given to outstanding seniors who demonstrate particular promise of making a significant contribution to the field of health and human services. Lueckhiede was also one of the recipients of the Charlotte W. Fahey Prize in Chemistry. He plans to attend Brown University in the fall as a Ph.D candidate and research assistant.

Two other students received multiple awards. Brian Allan is the recipient of both the Edwin Moseley Prize in English and the Sara Bennett '92 Prize for Fiction. He plans to continue writing in the MFA program at Boston University next year. Soccer player Derrick Yam received the Seymour and Sylvia Goldman Memorial Prize from the Management and Business Department as well as the Gladys Gillman Taylor '48 Prize in Mathematics.


Senior student-athletes have left their impact on Skidmore.

All-Academic conference awards
Athletes graduating
Teams with graduating athletes
Average First-Year Aid
League/conference championships
All-Conference awards

Academic showcase

Nowhere does a mix of creativity and excellence manifest itself better than at Academic Festival, the annual showcase of student talent. Every year, top students share senior theses and projects with the Skidmore community as the culmination of their academic careers. This year's festival featured 115 solo and team presentations of student work ranging from "hard" sciences to social sciences and humanities to art.

For her sociology research project, Lauren Gorstein investigated "The Influence of Fraternity Presence on Reported On-Campus Sexual Assault." It's a problem that many institutions have grappled with, and stories like the misreported case at University of Virginia have thrust fraternities into the national spotlight.

Art history students Ellie Rochman, Alicia Russo, Hannah Traore, and Olivia Tyson examined a range of topics involving the visual representation of black identity, motivations for collecting anonymous daguerreotypes, and figuring place, whether it's 1950s Cuba or 2017 Skidmore.

Self-determined majors are required to make a presentation at Academic Festival and this year's six presentations reflected the diverse and distinctive academic passions of each student:

  • Robert Brown, self-determined major in Chinese literature and translation
  • Diki Dolma, self-determined major in public health
  • Simon Klein, self-determined major in contemporary media and culture studies
  • Ryan Springer-Miller, self-determined in biological anthropology: public health and the human condition
  • Chelsea Nuesi, self-determined in communication design for social innovation
  • Michael Stein, self-determined in universal frequency response


President's picks

Five seniors won President's Awards, given to individuals and groups who have embraced the educational mission and progressive spirit of the College through exemplary commitment to personal excellence, campus pride, and community service.

Abude al-Asaad '17 was freshman class president and senior class gift co-chair. Also president of the J Street Chapter, he organized forums on Israeli-Palestinian relations, affirmative action, and other issues. When Prof. Bob Turner helped bring Define America founder Jose Antonio Vargas to campus, he invited Abude to meet Vargas. Later, at his formal talk, Vargas asked Abude to come up on stage and talk about what it means to him to be American. With no preparation, Abude gave a 10-minute speech about the American Dream that left the large audience in tears.

Julia Elstein '17, who served the Student Government Association as VP for financial affairs, was a strong student representative to the all-college Institutional Policy and Planning Committee. An economics major, she also integrates her sociology minor into her studies for a more nuanced perspective. She served as a peer mentor in Prof. Sheldon Solomon's courses, worked to combat sexual and gender-based misconduct, and raised the most donations for the senior class gift.

Lauren Gorstein '17 had her senior project (research on fraternities and sexual assault on campuses) accepted for presentation at the annual meetings of the Eastern Sociological Society. As a leader of the Skidmore College Emergency Medical Services, Lauren amassed more than 1,000 on-call volunteer hours and also served as personnel officer and training officer, ensuring the quality of all providers' basic life support skills. She founded SCEMS divisions for sexual misconduct, mental health, mass casualty, and rapid deployment. Lauren is working with Saratoga's sexual-violence crisis center as a community educator and trainer.

Jonathan Ogunleye '17, a social work major, has done fieldwork for Shelters of Saratoga. Outside the classroom, he has directed the Ujima club's fashion show; served three years as president of SkidTV; provided students, faculty, and staff with technological assistance as a student worker for Skidmore's Media Services; volunteered for the senior class gift campaign; and got involved on short notice to help plan senior week. Cited as a caring, funny, and thoughtful person, Jonathan has contributed to the Skidmore and Saratoga communities in many other ways as well.

Madison Plummer '17 has been a strong force in the Student Government Association as senior class president (and a mentor to SGA's younger class presidents), senator, and member of committees. She has welcomed new and prospective students as an ambassador and a pre-orientation leader. An art major with minors in film and media studies as well as dance, she studied animation in London and then brought her new perspectives home to the Dance Department, creating animations to be projected during a professor's choreographed piece. She also taught acrobatic and circus techniques for a student dance performance.


No matter their major or their story, we are proud of each and every creative member of the Class of 2017. Congratulations, graduates!