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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Early grads graduate early

For most students, the last weeks of the fall semester are a time to get work done and see the people they’ll miss in the next month of break. But for some, it is a time to say goodbye to their life as a Grinnell student. Connor Schake ’14, Chen Liang ’14 and Sam Mulopulos ’14 are three of the 11 Grinnellians graduating a semester early and halfway through the school year. They have all earned enough credits to graduate early and are in the process of figuring out what’s next in store for them. For these three, life beyond Grinnell is something that is becoming more and more apparent.

It wasn’t something they’d planned on from the start. Graduating early was never what Mulopulos intended, it “kind of just happened.” He was able to transfer many of his Advanced Placement scores from high school to obtain the necessary number of credits early on. Liang, too, didn’t see her decision to graduate early coming, having a solid four-year plan in her first year. For Schake, it was also a late decision, partially motivated by financial reasons.

Instead of thinking about which classes they’ll take next semester, the three will be preparing for jobs and other projects. In June, Liang is set to work at AllianceBernstein, a financial investment firm, as a fixed income associate.

“[I’ll be] constructing different assets into portfolios, talking to the investors, and trading the securities,” Liang said.grad cap

However, Liang has to first take a professional exam to ensure she is ready for the position, but she hopes to squeeze in some time for travel and recreation, too.

“I’m going to visit my Dad in China and I’m also going to Europe to see some friends over there,” Liang explained. “I felt like, if I graduate in May and I start work right after that in early June … I would have no time to do whatever I wanted to. So I really want to use this extra semester.”

For Schake, after this semester, he hopes to explore outdoor programs and leadership opportunities in his home state of Colorado. But he intends on keeping Grinnell as his home, at least for a while, because he will still be leased to his house off campus. He also plans on returning to walk for Commencement and staying involved in the activities of the student body while he still can.

“I’m not going to take it for granted, and I’m going to very much try to remain an active part of things in the spring,” Schake said.

Schake believes that for the future, the possibilities are endless. He might take a year off to travel and backpack. He might become a counselor at a summer camp. But he knows he wants to travel, to work a job that he finds interesting or work toward a potential career. These are the motivations that will guide his life after Grinnell.

“Ideally, I’d be in the position to choose those options,” Schake said with a laugh.

A sense of adventure and exploring the unknown seems to be a common theme amongst the three.

Mulopulos plans to take all that he has learned and experienced in Grinnell and practically apply it to potential careers.

“[I want to] take what I learned in the classroom, apply that, solve problems in the world and go on adventures,” he said.

Mulopulos currently has a job with the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit group that advocates for disabled combat veterans, helping with PTSD, rehabilitation, re-integration, going back to school and more. He found out about this position last summer and, even better, he will be working in their office in Washington, D.C., which happens to be just two blocks from the White House.

Mulopulos is unsure of exactly what his position will entail, but, being in D.C., he plans to focus on working to advance the Wounded Warrior’s legislative agenda, public policy and acting as a liaison between the group and the government.

“Veterans issues are issues that are very, very important to me,” Mulopulos said. “[Some are] homeless veterans, [others] got their legs blown off. These are the people who need our help the most.”

For each early graduate, they are eager to take what they have been doing in the classroom and putting it towards a good cause. As she prepares to leave, Liang will miss the unique diversity that exists in Grinnell.

“[College is] filled with young people with dreams, and it’s amazing how everyone comes from a different world—they talk differently, they think differently and they will go somewhere different from others,” Liang said.

But Mulopulos summarized what seems prevalent in each, not just early, graduate’s mind:

“I want to get out into the world, I want to solve problems.”

The complete list of early graduates is:
Mariam Asaad
Lauren Emery
Omeed Kashef
Chen Liang
Hannah Margolies
Sam Mulopoulos
Connor Schake
Tyler Smiley
Dilan Ustek
Yelena Varley
Xiaoxi Yang

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