Four Grads Reflect on College Journey, Prepare for Future

Posted by: Elizabeth Richardson on April 29, 2019, No Comments

On May 10 and 11, a total of 1,187 undergraduate and graduate students will participate in commencement ceremonies at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. Many will begin the next step in their life’s journey by attending graduate or professional school or starting a new career.

Meet four students whose Warrior Spirit brought them to ESU, helped them find their path, and will take them to on incredible journeys in life.

Early in her life, Alicia Kakakios knew that she needed to set a good example for her brothers. She dreamed of the college experience as the first in her family to attend, but hesitated because she knew the financial burden for her family would be great. At 15, the East Stroudsburg native was fortunate to be accepted into the TRIO program at ESU. TRIO is a federal student outreach program through the U.S. department of education. That experience, coupled with her campus interactions, changed her; she was not only accepted at ESU but earned scholarship funds that enabled her to attend ESU and complete a degree in mathematics. Kakakios did it all! She was member of the community board, women’s rugby team, employed as a member of the residence life staff, and became a tutor counselor for other TRIO students. This summer she is heading to the University of Texas at Arlington to complete an internship with the Association of College and University Housing Officers (ACUHO-I). As a first-generation college student, Kakakios notes that ESU gave her the confidence to step out of her comfort zone and to grow to her full potential.

Decontee Krayee is an immigrant of a war-torn African nation who survived the challenges of a refugee camp in Abidjan on the Ivory Coast and the dizzying new start for her and her family in the U.S. at the age of six. Krayee’s journey in Whitehall, Pa. included learning a new language (English), attending school, an unattainable dream in Africa due to financial circumstances and the unrest of civil war, and trying to fit in a world that was new and different. Krayee’s amazing adventure brought her to ESU, where she was a four year member of the track and field team and will earn her degree in athletic training on May 11. Krayee attributes her success to the encouragement and guidance that she received in elementary school and to her positive mentoring and friendship experiences at ESU.

Kendahl Nester, a native of Telford, Pa., will graduate from ESU with dual degrees in Early Childhood PreK-4/Special Education PreK-8. Throughout her childhood, she was curious about American Sign Language (ASL) and practiced her skills with her very own sign language dictionary. Entering college she was keenly aware of her vision for a professional career including teaching and, perhaps, incorporating her passion for ASL and the deaf community. In her career preparation to combine her degree with her passion, she researched graduate programs that would enable her to become a Teacher of the Deaf (TOD), and has been accepted into Columbia University’s Teacher College where she will earn her master’s degree in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Studies. Her journey is a testament to the adage that dreams really do come true.

Raquel Sosa, a native of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., is one of those students you know was born to lead in a meaningful way. Since her arrival at ESU she’s shared her passion for psychology with others by partnering with her peers to speak openly about mental illness through ESU’s chapter of Active Minds, a national nonprofit organization aimed at combating the stigma surrounding mental illness. Her efforts have been so impactful locally that she was elected president of the national Student Advisory Committee for Active Minds which is comprised of 20 student leaders from over 450 chapters nationwide. In a society where mental illness has become a topic of significant discussion, Sosa’s work has made an impact among ESU’s campus community and the community-at-large by raising awareness and affecting change. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Sosa will begin work on her doctoral degree at Lehigh University in counseling psychology.

To interview these outstanding ESU graduates individually or as a group, please contact Elizabeth Richardson, assistant director of the office of university relations, at 570-422-3139 or email erichard10@esu.edu.