Class of 2022 valedictorian Madeline Carroll leaning against a stone wall in front of a picturesque landscape

Maddie Carroll ’22

Major: Chemical engineering; computational methods minor

Co-curriculars: American Institute of Chemical Engineers; Engineering Student Council, EXCEL Scholar, Engineers Without Borders, Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection (LEAP), Salsa Club, Student Grader for Engineering Division

Post-graduation plans: Participating in Air Products’ two-year chemical engineering/mechanical engineering Career Development Program, beginning this fall

Describe your senior year in three words.

Collaborative. The greatest skills I developed and the largest reason for my success senior year were due to the collaboration I had with my fellow students and professors, particularly in the Chemical Engineering Department in the fishbowl. I have never felt so constantly supported in an academic setting than in our community this year, and I am so grateful to have had all of them and for the bonds we formed.

Fulfilling. From a social standpoint, being back on campus with all of my friends, and being able to have family visit and to travel was amazing. Academically, I felt like I was truly able to say I was proud of projects I worked on and was able to see all of my work and courses over the last four years come together in really exciting ways.

Demanding. Although senior year was amazing, it was definitely my most demanding year at Lafayette, particularly in the fall semester. Between three upper-level chemical engineering courses—including lab, design, and research—as well as jobs and other responsibilities, I spent more hours in Acopian than ever before.

What does being valedictorian mean to you?

Being valedictorian is a validation of my constant hard work, determination, and discipline over the last four years. Although I am proud to have accomplished this personal goal of mine, I am also reminded of the privilege I have that allowed me to put so much time into my schoolwork and be so well supported.

What’s your favorite Lafayette memory?

Although I have so many amazing memories, one standout is Halloweekend of senior year. While we had been back on campus for two months, it felt like the first truly normal college weekend in a long time, filled with fun and seeing so many friends.

What’s the most impactful class you took?

PHIL 102: Basic Social Questions with Prof. George Panichas during my first semester at Lafayette. The class challenged me and taught me so much about critical thinking and how to develop efficient study methods. I was excited to go to class every day and engage in a type of material I had never gotten to explore before, talk about social issues I was very interested in, and learn methods I can apply to everyday issues as well as large controversial political debates.

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

Prof. Aseel Bala in the Chemical Engineering Department. She has been not only my professor for four courses, but also my research professor for years. I first met her first-year spring to talk about doing research, and she was the first professor I really made a connection with. Working with her is what led me to pursue my minor and interest in general in computing and data analytics. She has taught me so many skills pertaining to both research and life in general, and she has been a constant mentor and friend during my years here.

What will you miss most about Laf?

The people. The highlights of my everyday life on campus were going to lunch or dinner with my friends, hanging out with fellow chemical engineering majors in the fishbowl, and being able to walk a few minutes to see anyone I wanted to.

Describe your biggest challenge and how you overcame it.

The hardest part of my time at Lafayette was spring 2020, both before and after the pandemic hit. I was in two computer science courses that were extremely challenging, which made me feel isolated and constantly doubt my abilities. Moving online and leaving all of my friends made things worse, and it was a huge adjustment to be successful online in courses I already did not feel confident in. I overcame it through hours and hours of office hours, Supplemental Instruction (SI) sessions, work, and knowing that every semester after would not be as bad.

What do you wish for your fellow graduating classmates?

I hope that everyone is able to, above all, put themselves first and focus on their mental health, values, and priorities. It is a really turbulent time in the world, and with social media it’s easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to others; but everyone has their own path and things that fulfill them.

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

Have fun no matter what. I feel like I was able to strike a much better balance of work and fun during senior spring, and I wish I had earlier on. Work smarter, not harder, so you don’t put in more time and energy than you need to for basically the same result. Also, trust yourself, but also trust those around you; it will make things much easier.

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

Reflect on what is most important to you. There are so many things you can put your time into, whether it be academics, sports, social life, clubs, jobs, theses, etc.; but you need to focus on the ones you value most while also prioritizing your mental health.

How has Lafayette changed you?

Being at Lafayette has made me more understanding of other perspectives, and taught me how to better prioritize my time and values in my life.

How do you hope to change the world?

I do not think I am going to change the world any time soon, but my goal for now is to help move forward green energy at Air Products, make safe spaces for fellow women in STEM, and make an impact on whatever company and social circle I go to next.

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

I have learned how important it is for me to be confident in my abilities, and to trust myself and my gut.

Commencement Highlights

Lafayette College's 187th Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 21

Video, photo galleries, recording of the full ceremony available

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Categorized in: Academic News, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Class of 2022, Commencement 2022, News and Features, Student Profiles, Students