Finding the Right Path
Through Valuable Experiences
Toby Harmon ’22, graduate student
During my senior year of high school, I was in an engineering program that introduced me to coding, higher-level math and other STEM-focused programming. With that as my launch pad, I applied to 12 engineering schools, including some big names out west and larger universities in New York and New England.
However, coming from a school with a graduating class of 26 and only 400 total students in K-12, I wasn’t thrilled about spending four years at a college with a population rivaling a small city. But I also wanted a school that offered experiences and opportunities like the big schools. Enter Clarkson! The size, community and environment felt like the perfect fit.
Fast forward to the spring of my first year at Clarkson. I was majoring in mechanical engineering and, thanks to the career fair that brings hundreds of employers to campus, had the opportunity to speak to and interview with GE Aviation. They offered me a co-op in the fall of my sophomore year. I was thrilled to have an opportunity like that so early in my college career. I went off to work at a GE Aviation plant in New Hampshire; however, the experience made me realize that engineering wasn’t for me. I liked the people and the company, but something didn’t feel right.
Experiences can make you realize what you want and don’t want. I’m incredibly thankful that Clarkson extends these valuable opportunities early on. Had I not had access to an engineering co-op in my sophomore year, I may have figured out my fate too late.
My professors at Clarkson know me by name and know my interests. Professor Alan Rossner helped me find the right path, which is how I graduated with a bachelor’s in environmental science and policy and minors in math and biology — and on time! I think that’s an important story to tell; even though I changed course, Clarkson was there to support me. A smaller, more personalized educational path lends itself to a much stronger college experience, which is why Clarkson — and its graduates — are so successful.
Clarkson makes education affordable. Generous scholarships during my undergraduate years made pursuing graduate school all the easier financially. With the extra support from Clarkson scholarships, I could afford to take a few risks — which have paid off for me and my personal success and happiness.
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Toby Harmon ’22, graduate student
Hometown: Oneonta, NY
Major: Environmental Science and Policy
Minors: Math and Biology
Clarkson Experience Highlights:
Since my first year on campus, I’ve held leadership roles with Sustainable Synergy, now called the Sustainability Club. Its dedicated professors and like-minded members have impacted and guided me to trust my gut and choose a new career path.
I come from a family of farmers, so food accessibility is important to me. Farmers in St. Lawrence County grow an insane amount of food — including produce, dairy products and meat — but almost all of it leaves the area and goes elsewhere. Within the Institute for a Sustainable Environment, I’m focusing my master’s degree on how Clarkson can leverage its expertise in mathematical modeling, optimization and engineering practices to improve accessibility to healthy, environmentally friendly, sustainable food that won’t break the bank.