Graduating students reflect on their futures—one in pediatric medicine and another leading an education-based nonprofit

May 9, 2023

Commencement is an annual period of reflection for many graduates. 

Here, two La Salle University students share why they became Explorers; what their time at 20th and Olney has brought them; and how they are looking to shape the world after completing their degree programs. 

Nayeli Picon, ’23 

Nayeli Picon, ’23

International Business and Finance major 

Involved in: Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS) president, Beta Gamma Sigma, Business Fellows Leadership Program 

Why did you choose La Salle?  

I decided to come to La Salle because I was interested in the International Business program. I also wanted to continue with my Catholic education in an institution that has strong core values.  

What are some of your favorite memories at La Salle? 

Some of my favorite memories at La Salle include playing volleyball late at night at the La Salle Townhouses and being able to travel with OLAS for the first time to New York to attend a Hispanic Heritage Month parade.  

What are your plans after graduation? 

After graduation, I am going to focus on working on my project called “Proyecto Dalia.” This is a nonprofit organization that I founded in 2022, where we focus on helping low-income communities in the rural areas of Ecuador. Helping others has always been one of my passions.  

What does this moment mean to you? 

I am the daughter of two immigrant parents, raised in Peekskill, N.Y. I have been fortunate enough to travel back to Ecuador and Honduras to visit family and learn more about my culture. I have a sister who is 20 and is currently in her second year of culinary school. Since we are so close in age we grew up as best friends and look forward to traveling together. My mother and father have always been my mentors for any dream I put forward. They have always been supportive in all the decisions I make. I am excited to finally tell them, “We did it!” once graduation comes around. 

Uche Okafor, ’23 

Uche Okafor, ’23

Biology major

Involved in: La Salle Honors Program, Neighborhood Tutoring Club coordinator, African American Student League (AASL) leader, and resident assistant   

Fun Fact: Okafor recently published an article in a health humanities journal published by Emory University & Emory School of Medicine.  

What was it like coming to La Salle, and what was the journey that brought you here? 

I’m an international student from Nigeria. I come from a large family with two parents and 10 siblings. Growing up, I spent most of my time with family because there was always someone to play with since the house was almost always full. Right before high school, I left Nigeria for the U.S. I attended high school in New Jersey and although it took a while, I created a home away from home. When the time came to go on to college, I worried about having to start over. Fortunately, I was accepted into La Salle which was conveniently close to everyone. Learning about the hard work the La Salle Multicultural and International Center does to help students adjust to college in America and Philadelphia made it an even more enticing choice. They have international student orientations, meetings, and guides that help international students navigate their new environment. In the years I’ve been away from home, I’ve simultaneously become more independent and extroverted. I spend a lot of my time working alone but still enjoy spending time with friends. 

What are some of your favorite memories at La Salle? 

My favorite times at La Salle were the moments spent with friends where we talked, played, and laughed. Debates about sports, athletes, or even whatever random topic comes up. My favorite thing about school is the social life it provides. 

What are your plans after graduation? 

It’s always been my passion to work with kids so after I graduate, I plan to go to medical school and get trained to become a pediatrician. 

—Meg Ryan