Eight College of Liberal Arts students who graduated in 2020

Congratulations, Class of 2020! You did it! It wasn't the way you (or us) envisioned your final semester at Temple University's College of Liberal Arts (CLA), but we're so proud of you for pressing on and crossing the finish line. Please join us in celebrating the entire class's amazing accomplishments by spotlighting a few of your fellow graduates!

  • Erin Curry | Environmental Studies and Geography and Urban Studies Double Major
  • Ariana Davis | Psychology Major
  • Ankit Deshmukh | Global Studies Major
  • Kate Freni | English and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Double Major
  • Chris Mason | Anthropology Major
  • Marci Monaco-Vavrik | Sociology Major
  • Cheryl Nickel | English Major
  • Rehana Ramcharitar | Criminal Justice and Spanish Double Major



Erin Curry | Environmental Studies and Geography and Urban Studies Double Major

As a CLA student, Erin won the Henry N. Michael Prize in Geography and Urban Studies and worked as a transportation intern with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

My favorite thing about the College of Liberal Arts is: the professors. I have been so fortunate to be taught by professors in Geography and Urban Studies who are very passionate in their area of teaching and are actively invested in my success in and out of the classroom. 

Finishing school amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been: an adjustment. It's very disappointing not to be able to finish my senior year with my friends, classmates and Ultimate Frisbee team, but I think it goes to show how much I've loved my time here and the people I've met.

Winning the Henry N. Michael Prize in Geography and Urban Studies made me feel: really excited! The Geography and Urban Studies Department has been so great to me in my growth both as a person and as a student the past three years, so it's very fun to cap off my time here with this award.

My Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission internship was important because: I've been able to experience what it's like to work in the field of Urban Planning while in school and will continue to do so this summer since it is what I want to do in the future. The Office of Safe Streets has allowed me to be very actively involved in all of the work that we do, and now I'm planning to eventually go back to school for a master's degree in City and Regional Planning


Ariana Davis | Psychology Major

While at Temple, Ariana became president of the Psychology Majors of Color organization, participated in the Diamond Research Scholars Program and was a research assistant in the Child Health and Behavior Lab.

My favorite thing about the College of Liberal Arts is: the uniquely interesting classes that are offered! One of my favorite classes I took was the Inside-Out Program with Patricia Way and it was completely life-changing. 

My advice to my fellow graduates is: If we were able to graduate during a pandemic we can make it through anything, so don't lose hope!

My post-graduation plans are: Working as a lab coordinator at the University of North Carolina for Dr. Mitch Prinstein on a study regarding depression, suicidality, and self-injury in adolescent girls. After that, hopefully, earning my PhD in clinical psychology.

I enjoyed being President of Psychology Majors of Color because: my e-board and I were able to talk about issues that mattered to us by getting people engaged in conversations surrounding mental health and other social topics. And I'm proud to say I helped create something that will live beyond my time at Temple. 

Working as a Child Health and Behavior Lab research assistant taught me: that research is about being able to help the people and communities around you in addition to investigating important topics. And that it is OK to not know the answers to everything because that is the purpose of research.


Ankit Deshmukh | Global Studies Major

Kit stood out at CLA by earning a 3.99 GPA, winning the Distinguished Writing Award in Global Studies, having several prominent internships and studying at Temple Rome, where he advised on the hiring of a new dean.

Finishing school amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been: a somewhat surreal and sometimes disheartening process, especially since I was looking forward to the end-of-year events associated with senior year and graduation. However, I do understand that I need to put my disappointments regarding my senior year into perspective and realize that these issues, while unfortunate, are inconsequential to the thousands of more pressing concerns people across the world currently face.

My advice to my fellow graduates is: as we graduate into an uncertain world and are forced to start our professional lives in a devastated economy, the most important qualities to have are kindness, an open mind and the ability to put in hard work. To quote late-night talk show icon Conan O'Brien, "If you work really hard, and you're kind, amazing things will happen."

My post-graduation plans are: I will be working for a health and human services-focused policy research company whose clients include federal agencies, state and local governments, universities, private-sector companies and international organizations. I eventually plan on returning to school for a master's degree—either in Public Policy or Public Administration.

Winning the Distinguished Writing Award in Global Studies made me feel: extremely grateful and appreciative of the professors I've had the pleasure of learning under. Thanks to the advice and candid feedback of my professors, my writing improved immensely over the course of four years, and I gained the confidence to tackle a quality capstone project.


Kate Freni | English and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Double Major

Kate began college in 2004 before taking some time off and coming to Temple CLA as a transfer, nontraditional student. At CLA, she earned mostly A's in her courses, won a 2020 Edie Windsor Scholarship for her fieldwork and secured an exciting internship.

My favorite thing about the College of Liberal Arts is: being able to easily transition from my Community College of Philadelphia program into Temple University. I also was able to persuade Cheryl Nickel, a fellow English major, to transfer with me, which sweetened the deal.

Finishing school amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been: incredibly difficult for me because I am the mother of a young child whom I must care for while attending Zoom classes. The pandemic has made visible the privilege that some students have. As I struggled to meet the expectations of my professors and their course loads, some students chose to discuss their boredom or lack of motivation in completing assignments. This pandemic exposes the importance of flexibility and adaptability but, more importantly, that time is a privilege that many neglect to recognize.

My post-graduation plans are: to continue my freelance editorial work and look for a full-time employment opportunity in the editorial field.  In the future, I may return to complete my master's degree. 

My summer internship stipend was a game-changer because:  the experience was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and it dramatically increased my ability to market myself as an editor. Because I am a nontraditional student, the summer stipend allowed me to gain experiential learning at an esteemed and highly recognized institution that I would not have had the time to complete during the semester.


Chris Mason | Anthropology Major

As a nontraditional CLA student, Chris Mason won the prestigious Milton Moses Memorial Award in Anthropology and is experiencing the culmination of a 25-year journey by graduating this month.

My favorite thing about the College of Liberal Arts is: it has a variety of course offerings, and my fellow classmates were always curious and cared about contemporary social issues. Even the "dreaded" GenEd requirements were interesting.  My favorite one was Race in the Ancient Mediterranean taught by Dr. Beeler.

Finishing school amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been: challenging! As a nontraditional student, I have attempted to obtain my bachelor's degree for over 25 years, so it's a little bittersweet to finally achieve that this year, but without celebrating this accomplishment with my classmates and professors on campus or with all of my friends at home.

My post-graduation plans are: to re-enter the workforce in Austin, Texas and, later, apply to graduate school programs in visual anthropology/archaeology and Middle Eastern studies. But, I'm first going to take some time to relax and celebrate my accomplishments!

Winning the Milton Moses Memorial Award made me feel: surprised! I am grateful to Dr. Stankiewicz for nominating me. Two years ago, when I chose Visual Anthropology as my concentration, I had little formal training in the field. Winning the award is a huge vote of confidence in my abilities and talent. I am inspired to continue my journey in anthropology, and I look forward to what happens next.


Marci Monaco-Vavrik | Sociology Major

While a CLA student, Marci served in leadership roles doing important work on college accessibility. She was also a LAURA Scholar and won the prestigious Robert K. Merton Award and the Diamond Award for her academic achievements and volunteer work with the local community.

My favorite thing about the College of Liberal Arts is: the amazing staff and faculty. They are always there for students and push you to improve and grow academically, personally and professionally. The staff and faculty are the heart of the College of Liberal Arts.

My advice to my fellow graduates is to: stay positive. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we will all make it through these trying times. I know the hard work and dedication all of us graduates have put in to finish our education, and we shall persevere.

My post-graduation plans are: to start a career in higher education administration or human resources. I have not yet decided which path I will take, but I'm looking forward to what the future brings.

I organized college major fairs for low-income high school students because: I realized the privilege I had, and how I could leverage it to enact positive change. Education is a universal right, and I wanted to do anything I could to break down the barriers many low-income students face to achieve higher education.


Cheryl Nickel | English Major

Cheryl transferred to CLA as a nontraditional student with her good friend and went on to be inducted into Phi Theta Kappa and win the Loretta C. Duckworth Prize.

My favorite thing about the College of Liberal Arts is: while in my last semester at Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), Kate Freni somehow convinced me to turn down a scholarship from LaSalle University and enroll at Temple with her! So, my favorite thing was attending with her because we got to go to a great university, which happens to be local. Labeled the "Bronte sisters" at CCP, we got to remain ourselves while at Temple where some may refer to us as Laverne & Shirley! 

My advice to my fellow graduates is: stay true to who you are and never sacrifice that for a job that you'll only wind up hating. It may take longer to find a better fit, but you'll be happy you did. Do something that benefits others as well as yourself. 

My post-graduation plans are: not determined yet. Even though I'm over 50, I still haven't quite decided what I want to be when I grow up! I'm considering working in higher education in some capacity because I love the environment. 

Winning the Loretta C. Duckworth Prize made me feel: recognized, accomplished and very grateful. 


Rehana Ramcharitar | Criminal Justice and Spanish Double Major

An Honors student while at CLA, Rehana worked as a peer advisor and conversation partner. She also interned in Philadelphia's Drug Treatment Court and studied abroad in Oviedo, Spain.

My advice to my fellow graduates is: to reflect on all the great friends you've made, the wonderful faculty you've worked with and the unforgettable experiences you've had at Temple. Although this wasn't the ideal way to end our last semester, don't let that overshadow everything we've accomplished and all the things we have to be grateful for.

My post-graduation plans are: I'm a graduating senior with no concrete plans other than to be open to any opportunities that come my way. I plan to continue exploring my career options and eventually find my passion through trial and error.

Studying abroad was important to my college experience because: it gave me a cultural perspective that I never would have found otherwise. Beyond improving my Spanish-speaking skills, the friends I made and the experiences I had helped me grow in ways I never expected.

Working as a CLA peer advisor taught me: the value of being able to support other students. Everything I learned about on the job-from the diverse needs of students to the behind-the-scenes of Temple administration-has broadened my understanding of all the different ways I can help others going forward.


Congratulations Once Again To The Entire CLA Class Of 2020!