graduation caps in the air

Meet some of VCU’s newest graduates

We interviewed 16 students in the weeks leading to commencement. Here are their stories.

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From forensic science and psychology to business, nursing and fine arts, Virginia Commonwealth University’s December graduates are pursuing careers in a variety of fields. They also come from a wide range of places — both geographically and in terms of their life experiences.

An injury cut short Shae Gavit’s military career. Now she hopes to help veterans, active-duty military and military families struggling with substance and alcohol abuse. Matthew Hussmann has built a career as a real estate broker. Now armed with a degree in urban planning, he aims to focus on bringing positive change to neighborhoods. Andy Mensah was born in Italy and orphaned in the U.S. at age 11. When he graduates from the VCU School of Business this month, he will set his sights on a future in business and law and being “a voice for my community.”

Elijah Dawson, the first in his family to graduate from college, now aims to be the first “to have a ‘Dr.’ in front of my name.” Madisyn Elam wants to pursue a career in both medical practice and clinical research. Craft and material design student Madeleine Dugan is now looking into both making art and a future in museum work after she helped create a groundbreaking exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on the famed photographer Man Ray. And Khada Dulal’s journey from a refugee camp in Nepal to earning a doctoral degree from the VCU College of Health Professions will leave you cheering until the end.

As the fall semester concludes, these newest VCU graduates are preparing for the future. We interviewed them and some of their classmates in the weeks leading up to commencement. These are their stories:

Shae Gavit

Former Marine Shae Gavit wants to help veterans who suffer from addiction

Though an injury cut short her military career, Gavit wants to carry out the oath she took to serve others.

Read Shae’s story

Triniti Turner

Triniti Turner is driven by a passion for research and forensic science

The graduating student’s experiences include time in a forensic molecular biology lab and as a research intern at the National Institutes of Health.

Read Triniti’s story

Fatima Osborne

Fatima Osborne is using a love of storytelling to bring business to Richmond

The mass communications student and intern-turned-administrative coordinator at the Greater Richmond Partnership enjoys working in social media and ‘letting people be heard.’

Read Fatima’s story

Matthew Hussmann

Matthew Hussmann wants to focus on bringing positive change to communities

The real estate broker has long had a passion for building. Now, as a graduate of VCU’s urban and regional studies and planning program, he is looking at his career in a new way.

Read Matthew’s story

Laura Stevens

Laura Stevens is supporting pregnant and postpartum individuals through research

The graduating VCU Nursing student is working on several studies aimed at improving the mental health of those who are struggling during and immediately after their pregnancy.

Read Laura’s story

Madeleine Dugan

Madeleine Dugan digs into art history, Paris at her fingertips

The graduating School of the Arts student has made her mark, uncovering lost information to tell a more complete picture in a groundbreaking VMFA photo exhibit on Man Ray.

Read Madeleine’s story

Luci Harris

Luci Harris hopes to help immigrants navigate the U.S. immigration system

A summer internship helped solidify her decision to pursue a law degree after graduation “so that I can help individuals feel recognized and heard.”

Read Luci’s story

Elijah Dawson

Elijah Dawson, the first in his family to graduate from college, has big plans

The School of the Arts student is ambitious and has a passion for art history and research. “The goal is to have a ‘Dr.’ in front of my name.”

Read Elijah’s story

Madisyn Elam

Madisyn Elam looks for improvements to health care

Elam, who graduates in December with her master’s in clinical and translational science, aspires to be a clinician and researcher, where she will help patients and pursue new ways to treat disease.

Read Madisyn’s story

Joel Rosback

Joel Rosback threw everything he had at his student loans — including his car — to graduate debt-free

The soon-to-be School of Business graduate sold his Honda Accord to pay off the last of his student loans while working and pursuing a degree in supply chain management.

Read Joel’s story

Heather James

After overcoming steep health challenges, Heather James now inspires others

Her eight-year journey to a VCU degree was full of obstacles — including multiple organ transplants. Now, the public relations student aspires to a career in the field of organ donation advocacy.

Read Heather’s story

Andy Mensah

As he combines passions for sports, law, politics and business, Andy Mensah remembers his roots

Born in Italy to Ghanaian immigrant parents and orphaned in the U.S. at age 11, the VCU soccer player and School of Business student now sets his sights on being “a voice for my community.”

Read Andy’s story

Winfred Walker

Winfred Walker is an advocate for racial equity at VCU and better representation in comics

The College of Humanities and Sciences student aims to help create a more racially just society through his work in the community and his research.

Read Winfred’s story

Tiffany J. Hite

After three careers, Tiffany J. Hite takes ‘leap of faith’ to accomplish her dream of becoming a nurse

Hite will be one of the first graduates of a dual-enrollment program at the VCU School of Nursing designed to help students at partnering community colleges earn their B.S. in nursing faster.

Read Tiffany’s story

Khada Dulal

Growing up in a refugee camp fueled in Khada Dulal a desire to help others

Dulal, who will graduate with a doctor of nurse anesthesia practice degree, is ready to start his career at VCU Health.

Read Khada's story

Estefania de la Rosa

Estefania de la Rosa advocated for a campus ‘where everyone feels included’

A DACA recipient, de la Rosa co-founded UndocuRams while studying to become an elementary school teacher.

Read Estefania's story