Valedictorian Kara Leyden
Hometown: Glenmont, N.Y.
Major: Biology and sociology, Interdepartmental
Activities: Honor Council vice chair, Red Cross treasurer, UCEMS treasurer, Leadership in Medicine Student Advisory Committee senior representative, organic chemistry peer tutor, Sicily study abroad, sociology summer research, Phi Beta Kappa, Beta Gamma Sigma (Business Honor Society), Alpha Kappa Delta (Sociology Honor Society)
Favorite class: Biochemistry 380 with Professor Brian Cohen and Sociology Thesis with Professor David Cotter
What I’ll miss most: Abruptly leaving campus and graduating at home during a pandemic has made me reflect on a great deal of things I miss about Union. Each moment that I long to be back on campus stems from a desire to be once again engaged in Union’s community. Union College is an incredible place with well-rounded students and world-class professors. I will miss being in an atmosphere surrounded by other young adults that emphasizes academics, personal growth and having fun. I will miss being able to casually chat with my professors and advisors, living with incredibly intelligent and inspiring friends, and being able to walk across campus and feel truly proud to be a Union student.
Advice for incoming students: Never feel pressure that you have to have a certain college experience. There is no definition of the perfect college experience—it is all trial and error until you find what brings you joy. Study something you are passionate about and take advantage of the opportunities that interest you. Try to maximize every opportunity to connect with and learn from people who are different from you. Additionally, do not let any one aspect of college consume your life—keep a good balance of academics, extracurriculars and relaxation.
Life after Union: This summer I am working as a researcher for FluroTest L.L.C., a start-up biotechnology company, designing a rapid test for COVID-19. I will then start medical school at Albany Medical College in August.