Describe your senior year in three words.
Unexpected, because I didn’t decide if I should graduate [a year early] until the end of October, and because of the coronavirus. Fast-paced, because I was taking the LSAT, applying for internships, and applying for graduate schools, and it was like everything hit me at once. Exciting, because I wasn’t expecting it to be my senior year until the last possible second.
What does being valedictorian mean to you?
It’s been something I’ve been working toward my whole life. Being someone who strives for academic perfection is a huge part of my identity. Every decision I’ve made, every class I’ve taken, every professor I’ve chosen to take at Lafayette has been to learn as much as possible and make me the best student I can be.
What’s your favorite Lafayette memory?
When we found out the College was going online in mid-March due to coronavirus, my entire [lacrosse] team came together, and the underclassmen put together a senior dinner for the upperclassmen and our coaches. That was the most fun I’ve had at Lafayette. It showed me how special of a place it is.
What’s the most impactful class you took?
The United States and Latin American Relations course with Professor Hannah Stewart-Gambino. She opened my eyes to the reality of 19th- and 20th-century U.S. relations with Latin America, revealing that the U.S. has not always been the “good guy” in foreign policy. This course and Professor Stewart-Gambino’s deep dive into the reality of U.S. international relations confirmed for me that I wanted to work in foreign policy.
Who was the most influential person during your time at the College?
Hands down, Professor Ilan Peleg. He was my First-Year Seminar professor, and he asked me to be his EXCEL Scholar because he identified me as a student with potential and promise. He gave me research experience, and as my advisor, he’s given me so much advice on graduate school and my career. He has been instrumental in my academic success, and he has been an incredible mentor.
What will you miss most about Laf?
The community. Lafayette is a really special place. I’m also going to miss seeing my friends from lacrosse every day, because we spent a lot of time together on the field. They’re like my family.
Describe your biggest challenge and how you overcame it.
I got injured my first semester, and because of a difference in opinion with the old coaching staff, I didn’t get a chance to prove myself as a lacrosse player. I did a lot of mental and emotional growing to overcome that. I figured out how to play for myself and have fun playing the sport I love. My current coaching staff gave me the chance to show how I play, and they made my time on the team one I won’t forget.
What do you wish for your fellow graduating classmates?
I just hope the Class of 2020 can embrace this weird time and move forward in the best ways that they can. No one knows what it’s going to look like in a couple of months, but my wish is that we all just stay as positive as possible, keep pushing forward, and not give up on our goals.
What advice would you give to your first-year self?
I tend to be a little bit of a self-defeatist, so I wish I could tell myself to trust in my hard work, and I’m going to do well. I would have saved myself a lot of emotional angst.
What words of wisdom would you like to share with upcoming seniors?
Have an A, B, C, D, E, F, and G plan, especially now that we’re in a time of uncertainty. Have your goals, dreams, and ambitions, and continue to work toward those, but don’t have only one plan. That one plan could get canceled because of reasons out of your control.
How has Lafayette changed you?
College helps you find the person you are, but also the person you want to be. Lafayette made me confident in the kind of student I am and in my potential for the future. Lafayette taught me to have pride in my accomplishments, stand up for who I am, and be my own advocate for success.
How do you hope to change the world?
As of right now, I’m studying for the Foreign Service test. My dad was in the military, and so I love and want to serve my country in my own way. Whether I work in conflict de-escalation or counterterrorism, I want my work to ensure that my kids also enter into the same kind of world that my dad worked to create by defending our freedom and way of life.
The most important thing you learned about yourself at Lafayette is:
Sometimes good enough just has to be OK. You can’t always be perfect.