HAMPTON, Va. (May 15, 2019) – Hampton University’s 149th Commencement Ceremony was an exciting and momentous day, especially for graduating seniors, Elisabeth Kuester and Jose Thomas, who were named Valedictorian and Salutatorian, respectfully, for the graduating class of 2019.
Elisabeth Kuester – Valedictorian, 4.08 GPA
Kuester, originally from Milan, Italy, attended Hampton University as an international student, and a star athlete on the Pirates sailing team. She spent three years sailing for the team, where they earned straight bids to nationals, three years in a row.
An accounting graduate, she will start working in July at Goldman Sachs in London, as an Investment Banking Analyst on the Mergers and Acquisitions team. She speaks three languages: German, Italian, and English. Kuester took on two internships during her time at Hampton, one in New York and one at Goldman Sachs in London, which presented her with the opportunity to eventually be offered a full-time position at the prestigious company.
Kuester’s brother is Maximilian Kuester, Hampton University graduate class of 2018, who was also a star athlete for the sailing team and is now attending Cornell, working on a master’s degree in engineering.
Kuester worked hard to become valedictorian and she will remember giving her speech to the large crowd for years to come. “If you really put hard work into something, you can achieve anything,” Kuester said.
Jose Thomas – Salutatorian, 4.02 GPA
Thomas was born and raised in the Commonwealth of Dominica, and attended Hampton University as an international student. At Hampton, she majored in Economics with a minor in Leadership Studies. From a young age, Thomas displayed a keen interest in academic excellence, which extended into her undergraduate educational pursuits at Hampton. At the end of her primary education, she received a bursary to attend North East Comprehensive School and graduated with six academic awards, including best performance at the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) for successfully passing twelve CXC subjects.
On April 13, 2019, President William R. Harvey recognized Thomas during the 44th Honors Day Program as the recipient of the President’s Cup. Thomas was also a W.D.C. Harvey Scholar and traveled to Panama in 2018 for an eight-day international service learning and study abroad experience. She also received the President’s Award for her major and minor.
Outside of the classroom, Thomas made it a priority to delve into extracurricular activities. She spent her time over the past four years as a Campus Ambassador for Teach for America, as an on campus tutor for the Student Success Center, and as a Student Researcher and Vice President of the Economics and Entrepreneurial Studies Club. Thomas was also the recipient of the White House Initiative HBCU Competitiveness Scholar award in 2018.
After graduation, Thomas will head to Atlanta, Ga., to work as a Tax Associate for KPMG. Her long-term goal is to be Prime Minister of Dominica.