The Class of 2023: Making Its Mark

By IC Staff, May 17, 2023
Here are the stories of just a few of the stellar students joining the Ithaca College alumni community.

It’s time to celebrate Ithaca College’s Class of 2023! Some 1,160 seniors are being awarded degrees at this year’s Commencement. Here are the stories of just a few of the stellar students comprising the next class of Bomber alumni.

Eva Salzman '23, Sena Namkung '25, and Diana DeLuca '23 contributed reporting to this story.

Anchal Indu Dhir

This past winter, voice performance major Anchal Indu Dhir got an exceptional opportunity to travel to Carnegie Hall in New York City and participate in a three-day master class taught by award-winning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. 

Anchal had first discovered DiDonato’s master classes when her high school voice teacher showed her YouTube videos of DiDonato. From then on, Anchal recalls, she was mesmerized. “I knew then, at age 15, that I wanted to work with Joyce,” she shares.

Anchal was one of just five—of nearly 500 applicants—from around the world chosen to take part in this prestigious program, which consisted of training and a mock audition with industry professionals. She shares that every moment of preparation for the prestigious master class also helped her prepare for her work at IC. 

“Because of this master class and everything I learned, I’ve delved into breath and body work this semester full throttle,” Anchal says. “And I put everything I learned into my role as Mabel in our production of Pirates of Penzance. The master class was a perfect practice opportunity for me, and I am so thankful and grateful.”

Raevyn Goodson

During high school in her small hometown of Ketchikan, Alaska (pop. 8,477), Raevyn became an emergency trauma technician and then completed clinical work to become a certified nurse assistant (CNA). 

“When I got to see the real thing as far as what CNAs do, it was so different from what we see in the books and learn about in videos. I kind of fell in love,” she said. 

That love brought her 3,000 miles from home to Ithaca College, where she could pursue IC’s pre-health professions program. To meet the rigor of the program, she realized she had to boost her study skills and found friends who helped. Raevyn was just settling into her new home when the COVID-19 pandemic sent her back to Alaska for remote classes. She used the sudden change to put her education to work, obtaining a position at a long-term care facility.  

There, she worked 12-hour shifts while studying remotely. Juggling a demanding job, challenging coursework, and a four-hour time difference wasn't easy. But seeing how she could give her patients and their families hope and support inspired Raevyn and restored her strength. 

Her experiences in Ketchikan during the pandemic helped her discover an ability to rise to big challenges, leading her to a new career focus: “I want to be a doctor now.”

Li de Jong and Steven Howard Jr.

Each year, the American Advertising Federation (AAF) selects the top seniors from a nationwide pool of applicants as Most Promising Multicultural Students and connects them with industry leaders. This year, integrated marketing communications (IMC) students Li de Jong and Steven Howard Jr. became the 41st and 42nd Ithaca College students to receive the honor of being accepted into the program. 

For four days, Li and Steven were in New York City to attend luncheons and all-day expos, and to meet with other students from around the country. Both students credited Scott Hamula, professor and chair of the Department of Strategic Communication, with encouraging them to apply. 

“I remember hearing about the program from Scott my sophomore year, and I wrote it down,” Steven shares. “When my senior year came, I remembered, brought it up to him, and he recommended that I apply.”

Both students also praised their experience as students in the Roy H. Park School of Communications for preparing them for this event. “I want to thank the strategic communications department, especially the faculty,” Li says. “This opportunity, as well as others, has allowed me pursue art direction as a career. But I wouldn’t have become interested in that field without [assistant professor of strategic communication] Mark Addona’s Advertising Copywriting and Art Direction course.”

Martha Kemp-Neilson

Mathematics major and IC Women’s Track and Field student-athlete Martha Kemp-Neilson was awarded the competitive LPGA Leadership Academy Scholarship just prior to joining the Ithaca College community as a first-year student in 2019.  

The scholarship, which is awarded to a female high school senior who is pursuing a college education in the United States, is designed to inspire, cultivate, and support female undergraduates from diverse backgrounds to achieve their potential as future leaders.

While at IC, Kemp-Neilson took part in Women in Math Day in 2023 where she shared that it’s important for younger girls who are interested in STEM fields to see women who study or work in those professions.

“It’s really important to bring awareness to women in STEM and hard math and sciences because a lot of the time we're deterred from the field because it's male dominated,” she said. “That’s why it's important to show that women are doing well in these fields and it's not as scary as it might seem.”

Sam Williams

Business Administration major and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Sam Williams secured Startup Demo Day funding in support of an axe-throwing range he co-owns in Scranton, PA.

Sam created his business plan in 2019 while attending IC, and began working to turn his idea into a reality by taking time off school during the Spring ‘21 and Fall ‘21 semesters to work on opening the business. Electric City Axe Throwing opened its doors July 31, 2021, and is Scranton’s first and only axe throwing range.

After getting the business the ground, Sam returned to South Hill to complete his degree. He was awarded $1,500 during Startup Demo Day and plans to use the money for new state of the art projector systems. “[Demo Day] was a good experience,” Sam says. “When we pitch for future investments, we’ll definitely be ready.”

Sam previously served as a Marine Security guard for four years at the American embassies in Moscow, Russia; Podgorica, Montenegro; and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Sam and the range’s co-owner, Jose Bataller, met during their service in the Marines.