Senior Series 2024

Senior Series 2024: Outstanding Creators

UMass Amherst is proud to celebrate the class of 2024, a cohort of diverse, determined, resourceful, and resilient students. This year’s Senior Series spotlights the creators among them. From storytellers to inventors to programmers to musicians, the term “creator” covers a wide range of creative and academic output, depending on the student's field of study or interests. This can range from research, software development, and scientific experiments, to artistic, music, community, and film projects. No matter their endeavor, each creator embodies UMass Amherst's revolutionary spirit, pursuit of progress, and unwavering commitment to the greater good.

From Inspiration to Innovation: Celebrating Creators in the Class of 2024

Robin Cabral

Robin Cabral

Portuguese and Comparative Literature Double Major with Minors in Information Technology and Catalan Studies

College of Humanities & Fine Arts

 

A childhood passion turned into academic interest when Robin Cabral discovered that investigating video games can be research: 

“Much like film and novels, video games have a lot to offer when it comes to storytelling and representation. As a gay Latino man, representation is important for me... My current big project is my honors thesis analyzing the women of the Super Mario franchise. Beginning next fall, I will be attending UMass Dartmouth to earn my PhD in Luso-Afro-Brazilian Studies, where I will be looking at Brazilian representation in video games.”

Aaryan Chaudhary

Aaryan Chaudhary

Biomedical Engineering Major

College of Engineering, Commonwealth Honors College 

 

As president of the UMass MedTech Team, Aaryan Chaudhary has designed and prototyped innovative medical devices with real-world applications to help people in need:  

“Your 'why' is more important than your 'how'. You may not immediately know how to solve a problem, but if your heart is in the right place, then you will be part of the solution. The beauty of working on medical devices that can save and improve the quality of life for millions of people worldwide is that the field is inherently driven by compassion at a large scale. Not only does this make the destination meaningful, but the journey enjoyable at every step.” 

Isabella Craft

Isabella Craft

Spanish and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Double Major

College of Humanities & Fine Arts, College of Natural Sciences

 

Isabella Craft is helping younger students take an interest in the academic and professional possibilities that come with language studies:  

“Creating a high school course to increase language access awareness among students has been such an enriching endeavor for me. This cutting-edge opportunity allows students to explore career options from professionals in language-related fields as well as understand the benefits of knowledge of this work for careers in other fields.” 

Emily Day

Emily Day

Communication and Management Double Major

College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Isenberg School of Management

 

Emily Day has used her time at UMass to build an impressive portfolio of articles for Her Campus (HC), an online magazine focused on student life:  

“I am now a Senior Editor for HC and have published over 25 articles spanning a variety of topics, from music and media to campus life and personal experiences. These articles chronicle my transition to college, my evolving interests as a UMass student, my study abroad experience, and now, as a senior, my reflections on what these past four years have given me. As I've grown more secure in my writing skills and my abilities to help other writers in HC, I've also grown more confident as a member of the UMass community. I feel very lucky to be part of an organization that has allowed me to express myself so freely and take ownership of what I create.” 

Oluwole Fabikun

Oluwole Fabikun

Computer Science Major with a Minor in Biology

Manning College of Computer & Information Sciences

 

Once set on a medical career, the focus shifted when Oluwole Fabikun realized the broader possible impact of software engineering. Harnessing the power of generative AI, Fabikun is part of a team creating a chatbot initiative to help simplify New York's intricate paid leave policies: 

“My passion is deeply rooted in my Christian faith, Nigerian heritage, and a lifelong mission to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. As an eldest sibling, setting a positive example has always been a priority for me. It's about demonstrating that success is not confined by our initial circumstances but by our ambition and resilience. My journey reflects a commitment to breaking barriers and showing my siblings and cousins that with the right mindset and effort, any goal is achievable. It's not just about personal achievement but about paving a way forward for others to follow.” 

Aisling Finnegan and Dylan Waters

Aisling Finnegan and Dylan Waters

Aisling Finnegan | Psychology

College of Natural Sciences

Dylan Waters | Psychology

College of Natural Sciences
 

Finnegan and Waters, as part of their band Stock Goblin, can be found performing for crowds around the UMass community and throughout the Pioneer Valley:

“Music is humanity's purest form of communication. The nuances of emotion can get obfuscated or convoluted when trying to express them verbally. Music, specifically performance, can convey so much more depth without being verbose.” - Aisling Finnegan

“Music allows me to close off chapters in my life, and to help others who are currently in those same chapters. I get to tell stories through lyrics, and in the same ways I have used music to get me through hard times, I hope I can give some of the back, if only for a few.” - Dylan Waters

Mahidhar Lakkavaram

Mahidhar Sai Lakkavaram

Chemical Engineering Major with a Minor in Engineering Management 

College of Engineering, Commonwealth Honors College 

 

As an editor for the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, UMass Amherst’s student-run newspaper, Mahidhar Sai Lakkavaram strives to think out of the box and reimagine the ways in which content is consumed:  

“Storytelling is something that I’ve always valued, whether that’s yapping to my friends or writing about the latest breaking news in Amherst. There’s so much power in being able to use your words to share someone’s story, to give them that agency and letting them know that their perspective and their work is valued. That’s why I’m passionate in creating stories and writing articles, I find this sense of fulfillment knowing that every story I write can have some sort of impact.” 

Claudia Murray

Claudia Murray

Sustainable Food & Farming

College of Natural Sciences

 

Claudia Murray has been creating an educational curriculum for the Amherst School Garden program that focuses on permaculture and nurtures relationships between the students and the land: 

“Permaculture is about creating a world based on reciprocity and care for the earth and for people. I am passionate about creative education and permaculture because they present solutions to our current systems of ecological destruction and exploitation. I hope to continue working with ecologically friendly and socially just ways of growing food and community after graduation.” 

Josh Negrin

Josh Negrin

Nutrition Major with a Minor in Food Science

School of Public Health & Health Sciences, College of Natural Sciences
 

From a young age, Josh Negrin found a love of cooking that proved to be a creative outlet and inspiration for a future career: 

“Upon completing my degree and my time at UMass, I've learned how much I enjoy the intersection of food, health, and education. I think that many health issues (both physical and mental) can be prevented or resolved in the kitchen. I'm eager to use my learning and experiences from the last four  years to continue down this path by bringing people together to achieve their health goals through the universal language of food.” 
 

Eden Olayiwole

Eden Olayiwole

Communication and Psychology Double Major

College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, College of Natural Sciences 
 

Putting her keyboard to work and heart on the page, Eden Olayiwole wrote a full-length screenplay during her time at UMass Amherst:

"I am most proud of the screenplay I just finished titled "Let's Share the Grace" - which is an Honors Thesis project about a young Nigerian girl growing up in church and having to contextualize her Christian faith for herself. It has always been a goal of mine to write a full screenplay of my own because I love storytelling. As a first-generation Nigerian student, I wanted to take some of the most special, funny, and unique parts of the first gen immigrant experience and shape it into a coming-of-age story that those of similar and different backgrounds can read and say ‘wow, I’ve felt that before!’ Writing this script, doing the research for it, and finishing it, was a huge milestone for me! I am excited to continue storytelling in any and every capacity for the rest of my life."

Vy Phan

Vy Phan

Nutrition

School of Public Health & Health Sciences 

 

Vy Phan’s proudest accomplishment at UMass has been combining a passion for art with a degree in nutrition:

“During my position as a Nutrition Educator and Illustrator Intern [with FoodPlay Productions], I have a chance to collaborate with the organization's founder to publish a hardcopy book titled "Veggies Got Talent! A Coloring Activity Cookbook", aiming to help children build a good relationship with vegetables. I assisted in creating coloring illustrations, fun activities, and easy-to-remember nutritional facts so that children can learn more about each vegetable and make friends with them.”

Maria Pitel

Maria Pitel

Art History Major with a Minor in Information Technology

College of Humanities & Fine Arts

Working alongside Professor Laetitia La Follette, Maria Pitel found a happy medium for creativity while developing a set of learning modules for the introductory art history courses at UMass:

“As an Art History major and Information Technology minor, this project was a perfect blend of both my interests, and it introduced me to the field of Instructional Design which I may have otherwise never discovered. I worked alongside a dedicated team to craft an educational resource that will benefit future students of UMass."