Meet student speakers Sophie Brown '23 and Melissa Murphy '23

Publication Date
A graphic that reads class of 2023
Sophie Brown ‘23 and Melissa Murphy ‘23 decided to audition together for the role of student speaker at commencement. A committee selected them for the honor. 

Sophie Brown ‘23 and Melissa Murphy ‘23 decided to audition together for the role of student speaker at commencement. A committee selected them for the honor.

Nearly as soon as they stepped on campus for their first year, Sophie Brown ‘23 and Melissa Murphy ‘23 became fast friends. Despite a host of differences, they made a connection that endured for the next four years.

So, when it came time to audition for the role of student speaker at commencement, they chose the unusual route of presenting together, instead of individually.

“We wanted to emphasize the amazing friendship Union has given us,” said Brown. “We have led separate academic lives here at Union but that hasn’t stop us from creating this special bond. We also wanted to serve as an example of the amazing friendships that come out of Union and leave our mark on this special place the way we know best, together.”

Sophie Brown

Hometown: West Hartford, Conn.

Major: Visual Arts (dual concentration art history and studio fine arts)

Activities: The Garnet Society; Student Docent; member of Delta Phi Epsilon; volunteer at Young Parents United; and Strong Girls United.

Favorite class: European Modern Art with Professor Ogawa. Through this class, I truly became captivated by art and discovered my passion for immersing myself in it, both during my time at Union and in my future professional career. Professor Ogawa's class was a source of immense joy, filled with laughter, thought-provoking conversations, and a sincere reverence for art. I am deeply grateful to Professor Ogawa for igniting this spark within me and inspiring me to view art in a way that forever changed my life.

What I will miss most: There are countless aspects that I will deeply miss and hold close to my heart forever. However, above all, I will miss my extraordinary group of friends. Arriving at Union without knowing a soul and leaving four years later with the most incredible group of friends one could ever ask for is something I will forever be grateful for. I will also miss the sight of a Union College sunset, as the sky is painted in hues of pink and orange, casting a glow over the Nott Memorial.

Advice for incoming students: I have two pieces of advice that my parents have instilled in me that I have carried throughout my college career that have shaped who I am today. First, thoughts become things, so choose the good ones. And second, do your best and be a leader.

Life after Union: I am moving to New York City to pursue a career in the art market specializing in modern and contemporary art.

Melissa Murphy

Hometown: Cranston, R.I.

Major: Biomedical engineering

Activities: Women's soccer; Tau Beta Pi; PCA at the Becker Career Center; Innovation intern for the Center for Disability Services in Albany; Biomedical Engineering Society

Favorite class: Biomedical Instruments with Professor Takashi Buma. This class encompasses a lot of the material I have learned in my other biomedical engineering classes while building my confidence as a future engineer through the assignment and lab work. This class confirmed that innovation and engineering is what I would like to pursue, and I give a lot of credit to Professor Buma's teaching style and the way we can empower students.

What I will miss most: There are so many things that I will miss, but one thing that has become evident to me is that the people make the place. Union has given me the best friends, connected me with personable and intelligent professors, and has created an environment of growth and self-reflection. I will miss the familiarity of Union and the life the senior class has created for itself.

Advice for incoming students: Make the most of it and take advantage of the opportunities Union has to offer. Get involved early, be open to people and things, and do not let anything hold you back. You choose who you want to be. Discover what that is, and surround yourself with people who allow you to be that person.

Life after Union: I am attending Tufts University to pursue a masters in innovation and management.