When senior Jason Wang dons his cap and gown and begins speaking to his fellow 2021 Indiana University Bloomington graduates, as well as 2020 graduates finally celebrating their accomplishments, he'll share one message: This campus is a place of opportunity and options.
And nobody knows that better than Wang himself, a New York state native who will graduate with degrees in finance from the Kelley School of Business and computer science from the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering. Originally on track to become an investment banker, he was crushed when he didn't get a job offer following his internship at a well-respected technology and media investment bank last summer.
Wang said he panicked when thinking about looking for a job during the COVID-19 pandemic and a tight job market. But his resilient nature -- and the opportunities he'd taken advantage of while at IU -- allowed him to pivot quickly and work toward his second degree in computer science.
Now, he will head to the San Francisco Bay Area after graduation, where he'll be a software engineer for a start-up company trying to streamline the medical claims process.
"I really learned the intrinsic value of education and in grounding your worldview here at IU," Wang said. "Not every institution would let me pursue two degrees at the same time, but IU was more than happy to facilitate that. And that value on interdisciplinary education we have here, that broad scope, that holistic view, those are the qualities and characteristics that made me love IU so much."
There's one place on campus Wang will definitely miss: his office in the Luddy Career Services Office.
IU Bloomington will celebrate the resiliency and dedication of its undergraduate students during an outdoor commencement ceremony at Memorial Stadium on May 8.
The Class of 2020 is invited to participate in commencement ceremonies after their in-person ceremonies were canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ceremonies are limited to graduates only, but guests are invited to celebrate virtually by watching a livestream on IU's commencement website.
"I'm a peer advisor, and I'm very passionate about that," he said. "And the best thing is, I don't need to impact 100 people or 1,000 people. If I can help one student get a job, that has a super meaningful impact on that student. And I really love being able to have that effect on my fellow students' lives."
In this last year at IU, Wang combined his personal experience obtaining a double major and his career advising skill for a project with the Board of Aeons, a research and advisory organization that works directly with the Office of the President.
"We looked into interdisciplinary student engagement and how to give students broad exposure to more opportunities," he said. "We went about it with a very complex process and met with at least 20 to 30 administrators personally. We had the autonomy to select what we worked on, which was an immense opportunity."
How does Wang feel about being chosen to speak to his fellow graduates? "It's an incredible honor and very surreal, especially to be addressing the class of 2020 too, since they're coming back for commencement," he said.
"It's been such a hard year for all of us. And that's where I think about resilience. I've made any number of mistakes. I've bombed tests, I've failed interviews, I've embarrassed myself. But it's about how much you learn and how much you improve going forward, and it's the same for these classes that are graduating, in managing to rise above our circumstances with COVID-19 and truly thrive."