Before we bid farewell to our graduating seniors and welcome them into the ranks of our alumni family, I wanted to introduce you to four students who represent a taste of the extraordinary talent that animates Princeton’s campus. I could have selected dozens of others, but these are just a few examples of students who have impressed many of my colleagues across the University.
Ana Patricia Esqueda, who was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and moved to the United States in the fifth grade, is a psychology concentrator pursuing certificates in Latino studies and linguistics. A promising young scholar, Ana Patricia was selected for a highly regarded Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. She hopes eventually to draw on her outstanding academic achievements to pursue a vocation as a developmental psychologist working with youth from marginalized communities.
During her time at Princeton, Ana Patricia has found many outlets for mentorship and teaching, serving as a peer academic advisor in Whitman College, a mentor with the Princeton University Mentoring Program, and an English as a second language teacher for El Centro, a non-profit organization based in Trenton, NJ. As a Head Fellow for the Scholars Institute Fellows Program, which provides a supportive and intellectually engaging community for students from historically underrepresented backgrounds, Ana Patricia has facilitated mentorship groups and developed workshops for her peers. In addition, through her work with the Princeton University Preparatory Program, she has supported the personal and academic development of rising high school sophomores from low-income and immigrant communities throughout New Jersey.
Elias Berbari, of Greenlawn, NY, is an ecology and evolutionary biology concentrator and a committed researcher. For his senior thesis, Elias traveled to Mexico to conduct environmental assessments and study the effects of changing rainfall patterns on spider monkeys in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. Next year, Elias will serve as a Princeton in Asia fellow in Thailand, where he will teach English at Khon Kaen University’s Language Institute.
Outside the classroom, Elias is a guard on the varsity men’s basketball team. His coaches laud him as both a mentor and role model for his fellow teammates. Elias continues to develop these leadership skills through the athletics department’s Emerging Leaders program. Through learning opportunities from peers, coaches, and outside experts, this initiative gives student-athletes the capabilities and confidence to lead in any situation. Elias puts these skills into practice by supporting healthy lifestyles among his peers as a Student Athlete Wellness Leader.
Mitchell Hallee, who came to Princeton from Colchester, Connecticut, is a civil and environmental engineering concentrator. Outside the classroom, Mitchell is engaged in many areas of campus life. He contributes to the arts as a jazz DJ at WPRB and the production manager of the Princeton Triangle Club. He pursues civic engagement as membership recruitment and development chair on the executive board of Community House, a program housed in the Pace Center for Civic Engagement that works with families to support the academic success of underrepresented youth. And he has helped orient many fellow students to Princeton through Outdoor Action and as a peer academic advisor in Forbes College.
In each of these roles, Mitchell is often the first person to volunteer and the last to leave any event he organizes. Considering this breadth of activities, it comes as no surprise that Mitchell is known for his deep Princeton pride. In fact, since trying out to be an Orange Key tour guide during his senior year, he has already given more tours than almost every other member!
Teeto Ezeonu, of Piscataway, NJ, is an ecology and evolutionary biology concentrator pursuing a certificate in global health and health policy. Here on campus, she is an outstanding community builder, having served as both an RCA in Mathey College and a member of the executive team for Princeton Faith and Action. Her commitment to service has touched communities far beyond FitzRandolph Gate as well. For example, as a community and family liaison on the Community House executive board, Teeto facilitated dialogue between families, community partners, and Community House staff. As an intern with the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation in New Brunswick, NJ, she analyzed patient demographics and clinic performance and assisted with community initiatives focusing on HIV prevention and awareness. And as a training and learning associate with the Pace Center, she evaluated the structure and effectiveness of the center’s education programs in Princeton and Trenton.
Meeting and learning about extraordinary students like these is one of the great pleasures of my job. I hope these brief profiles give you a sense of why all of us should take tremendous pride in Princeton’s great Class of 2019.