When Emma Kiesekamp crossed the stage at Convocation on Monday she closed another chapter on a truly unique career. Like so many graduating student-athletes crossing the stage this week, Kiesekamp is part of a group that helped to redefine what it means to be a Raven.
Kiesekamp, from Merrickville, Ontario, is the first Ravens women's basketball player ever to win two national championships. A champion in her rookie season, Kiesekamp returned in 2022-23 to help the team to their second Wilson Cup and Bronze Baby. Like Kiesekamp, the numerous graduating student-athletes who will cross the stage this week have had a lasting impact on their teams and the community.
"Being a Raven allowed me to create bonds and friendships that I will hold forever," reflects Quinn Honeyman-Wootton. "When you spend every single day with the same people for four years straight, you become family."
Graduating from the Sprott School of Business, like Kiesekamp, Wootton and his teammates enjoyed incredible national success, attending multiple national championship tournaments during his time at Carleton. Wootton will now move to Portugal to pursue a Masters in Football Business and he's not alone in continuing his education.
Graduating women's hockey player Nicole MacNeil is already off at Cape Breton University where she's continuing her studies towards becoming a teacher. "Outside of hockey my favourite memory was working the Ravens' hockey camps in the summer," she explained. "Coaching at these hockey camps was extremely rewarding and gave me invaluable experience for my future."
Not only did her work experience on campus help her to prepare for her career, MacNeil feels her time as a Raven simply made her a better person. "Being an athlete at Carleton means you are part of a community with tons of resources to make you both mentally and physically a better athlete. The years I spent at Carleton as a Raven will be cherished for the rest of my life."
Travelling much further from home, Macneil's teammate Hanna Unis-Thibault will be putting her Food Science and Nutrition degree to work at Adelaide University where she'll pursue a Master's in Viticulture and Oenology.
Reflecting on her time at Carleton, Thibault admits it's the habits that have shaped her the most. "I don't think I have one particular memory that sticks out," she reflected. "It's all the small things that seemed like habits at the time that I find myself thinking about the most."
Thibault and MacNeil leave a program on the rise, coming off its best season in nearly a decade, an idea that wasn't lost on Hanna as she reflected on her time at Carleton. "Being a Raven means being part of a community and doing your best to leave that community better off than when you arrived," she said. "I did not realize when I committed to Carleton how many friendships I would have made. The Carleton community has many different types of people that I never thought I would connect with and these people have become some of my closest friends."
That friendship and comradery have meant so much to so many student-athletes, for women's soccer player Chloe Doherty, it was so much more than an athletic experience. "When I transferred to Carleton, I felt very lost and my teammates, coaches, and all athletic staff made me feel at home."
Doherty would go on to have a stellar career with the Ravens, helping to guide the team back to the playoffs while receiving several accolades and award nominations in her final season.
The team captain, Doherty also played a critical role in the Carleton community, as an active member of the Varsity Council, coordinating many community outreach initiatives, charity drives and events. "I never had the chance to take a full tour of campus or get a feel of the community before attending," she admits. "However, I was not disappointed at all, as the campus has a wholesome feeling and Carleton has a very tight-knit community."
While some will remember a championship or time in the locker room, there's always a competitive element amongst all student-athletes. For Ravens football's Danny McWhirter, those big wins - like a playoff-clinching victory over Laurier in 2019 will always be special. "It was always an honour to defend the shield with my teammates," McWhirter admits.
Reflecting on his time at Carleton, McWhirter is quick to acknowledge that while the wins and game were a great part of the experience, it was the comradery that made his experience so special.
"When you take the creed, you really are committed for life. You become part of an amazing group of motivated individuals."
"Everyone is always supporting each other," Thibault says speaking of her team and the athletics community. "We overcame many obstacles together throughout our years at Carleton which for me created strong bonds and friendships."