At long last, a decision: Seniors show off post-grad plans on May 1 Commit Day

May 27, 2023 — by Saachi Jain and Aiden Ye
Julian Berkowitz-Sklar, Carolyn Pyun, Caden Lee and Merriam Labban discuss how their highschool experiences have impacted their post-grad plans.

Over 80 members of the senior class mingled at the quad steps during lunch on May 1, traditionally recognized as “Commit Day,” the day when most college decisions are due and students commit to one for the next four years. Across the quad steps, groups of friends gathered in clumps, taking photos and celebrating one another’s accomplishments. The excited buzz of soon-to-be graduates filled the air as classmates discovered one another’s plans. 

This year, the tradition was expanded to include other post-graduation plans, such as taking a gap year, getting a job or choosing another career path like joining the army. Other seniors take more traditional options, such as a four year college or attending community college and transferring. 

Here are a few closer looks at some of their choices.

Julian Berkowitz-Sklar: gap year and then Yale, Environmental Science and Policy

Inspired by the conservation work with the youth environmental organization, Nature Now International (NNI), which he co-founded in 2017 with his older siblings, 2017 alumni Daviana and Danielle Berkowitz-Sklar, he plans to explore environmental science and policy at Yale.

“My participation in environmental science based conferences such as the UN Ocean Conference and COP27 [the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] further sparked my interest in government and politics,” Berkowitz-Sklar said.

Berkowitz-Sklar plans to take a gap year to backpack and work on sustainable farms in order to better experience new cultures and continue conservation projects. In the future, he also hopes to intern in Washington, D.C., at the House of Representatives or Senate in order to better learn about the nuances of working in politics. After his gap year, he is excited to reconnect with his siblings. 

“Growing up as the youngest of five siblings and the only non-twin, it has been a really cool yet strange experience to live without them for the past few years. Most of them are in the Northeast so I’m excited to rejoin them during college,” Berkowitz-Sklar said.

Carolyn Pyun: UC Berkeley, Mechanical Engineering

Pyun, who committed to UC Berkeley, was accepted as a Mechanical Engineering major. After attending the Mechanical Engineering track of the MIT Women’s Technology program in the summer of her junior year, she fell in love with the hands-on nature of mechanical engineering and the applications she found to both her real life and subjects she had learned about in school. 

However, after applying, she has thought about her long-term plan and realized that she could not see herself pursuing Mechanical Engineering in industry after college. Rethinking her major choice, Pyun now hopes to transfer into Biomedical Engineering once at the school. Although Berkeley allows students to switch majors, Pyun will have to apply for the change once the term begins. 

Pyun chose Berkeley for its top-tier engineering program, in-state tuition and proximity to home.

“I was looking for my college experience to teach me what the real world is like,” Pyun said. “Berkeley, with its large population size, is perfect for that. I look forward to learning more about myself through a newfound independence and creating long lasting friendships.”

Caden Lee: Northwestern, Saxophone Performance and Cognitive Science

When initially choosing which schools to apply to, Lee was conflicted between solely applying for music or choosing other majors. In the end, the only music school he applied to was Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music, since he could join their dual-degree program and major in both saxophone performance and cognitive science, another field which he wanted to pursue. 

“I heard a lot of people did the dual-degree program and were pretty successful, so I wanted to try learning music in a more professional setting,” Lee said.

As part of the music program application, he submitted video auditions in late November, after which he was selected to fly to Northwestern’s campus and audition by playing a predetermined set of pieces and scales. Though Northwestern has a large music department, the spots in their saxophone section are limited. In the end, Lee was one of only 10 applicants who ultimately made it into the program. 

Lee will also be dual enrolling in cognitive science, an interest sparked in freshman year when he began volunteering at Academy of Music and Arts for Special Education (AMASE), a nonprofit dedicated to providing music education for students with special needs. 

Through AMASE, Lee partook in community service and saw first hand the impact music can have on people’s communication and expression. Inspired by his experience in psychology and interaction at AMASE, he also completed a psychology course at Brigham Young University (BYU) over the summer before his senior year to expand his knowledge in the field.

“[Cognitive science] is a combination of computer science, psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy, anthropology and biology,” he said. “The multifaceted nature of the program at Northwestern really attracted me, and all the subjects it connected were things I either pursued outside of or enjoyed learning in high school.”

Merriam Labban: Fashion Institute of Technology, Fashion Design

Merriam Labban, who has committed to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York, has been interested in fashion and design since she was 6, when she designed her first dress. Inspired to go into the arts by her mother, an architect, Labban continued designing apparel throughout her childhood. 

In high school, that passion has expanded into full-fledged events: She hosted a fashion show at her church during August 2022 and had her friends model various outfits which she had designed over summer. She gave the money she raised in donations to the American Cancer Society. 

“I enjoy that there aren’t really any rules,” she said about fashion. “You can do whatever you want with the designs, and I like the process and the fact that I can make whatever I want.” 

The application process for fashion is similar to that of other majors and careers. Labban had to submit a portfolio of various designs, and she created some new pieces specifically for FIT.

“I’m really excited to be in a city where there is so much fashion and design everywhere,” she said. “I’m going to be surrounded by people who are also passionate about fashion and similar things to me.”

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