Long Beach High School students are taking steps in their college and career pursuits, and they received inspiration from members of Class of 2020 on January 8 during a virtual Alumni Panel. While the annual event typically invites the college freshmen back in person, it was held remotely this year due to COVID-19 safety protocols.
Coordinator of School Counseling Kerry Fallon moderated the Google Meet live stream and guest panelists represented college, the military and employment. They included Sage Bernstein, St. Francis College; Jeremiah Cochran, Carnegie Mellon University; Tori Famighetti, U.S. Army and New York Institute of Technology; Janeris Gonzalez, Farmingdale State College; Arjun Gupta, Vanderbilt University; Amy Ramon, Stony Brook University and Brooke Yellin, Nassau Community College.
The graduates each shared their own take on the first few months of life after high school and offered tips for success. They brought a unique perspective, having begun college, military involvement and new jobs in the midst of a pandemic, and discussed their experiences in navigating the transition during such atypical times. They described the variety of in-person, remote and hybrid college class structures and explained how they have established friendships through group chats and virtual meetings.
The alumni discussed their future aspirations, factors that influenced their choices and ways that challenging high school courses helped prepare them for the rigor of college and the workforce. They also reviewed their high school involvement in clubs, sports and other activities, as well as college opportunities that they have embarked upon. Several speakers noted that their high school participation helped them determine their interests and steered them towards their future paths.
“Don’t be afraid to get involved,” Sage said. “Do something that interests you because then you’ll find other people who are interested in the same things, and friendships can spark from that.”
With regard to adjusting smoothly to the college workload, the alumni emphasized the importance of time management and taking responsibility for oneself. They advised students to reach out to professors and college officials when needed and take advantage of peer study times and other sources of extra help.
“Make a schedule, don’t try to wing it,” said Jeremiah. “Schedule your social and study times.”
“It’s really a whole responsibility shift in your life,” said Brooke. “You’re on your own, but there are people to help you manage it.”