Jodi Graf

Major: Chemical engineering

Co-curriculars: Alpha Phi sorority executive board, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, EXCEL Scholar

Postgraduation plans: Working full time as an associate specialist engineer at Merck’s Global Vaccine Technology and Operations Division, starting in August

Describe your senior year in three words.

Growing. Challenging. Defining. Senior year is the year you really discover what you want to do, who you want to be after school, and grow as a person.

What does being valedictorian mean to you?

It means I truly tried my best throughout my time at school and put my all into my work. It means I never settled.

What’s your favorite Lafayette memory?

The last night we were on campus right before we left for spring break this year. I was with all my friends, in my friend’s apartment, and we were celebrating our last night. We knew we were going to leave for spring break and potentially not come back [due to COVID-19], and my friends and I all got together, and we were singing the alma mater.

What’s the most impactful class you took?

My favorite class was my senior design project. We got to pick our own engineering project, design it from the bottom up, and apply what we learned throughout all four years at Lafayette to one project. My project was about manufacturing an influenza vaccine.

Who was the most influential person during your time at the College?

I would say my research mentor and thesis advisor, Professor Lauren Anderson. She really got me interested in the biomedical field. I never thought I would do research, but she helped me accomplish a lot, research-wise, during my time at Lafayette. I was able to publish a paper and do a senior thesis, and she introduced me to a contact at Merck, where I got an internship and now a job. She was really influential in my success.

What will you miss most about Laf?

The sense of community I felt, especially within my department, with the professors and all the students. We formed a family and supported each other. I would like to thank everyone in the Lafayette community for everything they’ve done for me.

Describe your biggest challenge and how you overcame it.

My greatest challenge was adapting to a new community and being in a place where I didn’t know anyone. At first, I didn’t really have anyone to lean on. But then I developed a support system, and I was able to meet new people and form a whole new community.

What do you wish for your fellow graduating classmates?

I wish that everyone finds a place where they can be happy, feel like they’re important, and feel like they can make a difference.

What advice would you give to your first-year self?

To not be afraid to take on new things and actively seek out new experiences.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with upcoming seniors?

Network as much as possible. Make as many connections as you can—not just for your career, but also with other students and professors. Form as many relationships as you possibly can that you can take with you after college.

How has Lafayette changed you?

Lafayette definitely helped me mature over the last four years and showed me that there’s a world way beyond what I’ve experienced before. There are so many different people in different cultures, and Lafayette taught me to embrace people and let myself grow from other people.

How do you hope to change the world?

I hope to save lives, and I am confident my work will allow me to accomplish this goal.

The most important thing you learned about yourself at Lafayette is:

Just because something is new and you’ve never done it before, it doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish it and be successful.

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