Rachel Hurley ’23

Major: Integrative engineering (environment and energy concentration)

Co-curriculars: Engineering student council (president), cross country and track and field, EXCEL Research Scholar

Post-graduation plans: Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. I will be working with the architectural engineering department with a research focus on indoor environmental quality.

What’s the most important thing you learned at Lafayette?

Oh boy, that’s a tough question because I have learned so much! I’ve learned the importance of stepping out of my comfort zone. I was able to learn much about myself as an academic and researcher by taking courses outside of my ‘specialty’ or engaging with research that I might know little about. As a result of these experiences, I was able to gain new skills, discover my interests, and learn more from the people around me. Alongside this, I learned how important it is to learn from others and engage with people with different experiences. Especially when thinking about engineering compared to other disciplines. When branching outside of my engineering courses and engaging with the humanities, I have learned more about how the world works and feel as if I am becoming a better engineer compared to if I had stayed within engineering courses only.

What one lesson or memory from Lafayette will remain with you for the rest of your life?

There are so many lessons and memories from Lafayette that will stay with me, so it is hard to pick just one. One of the biggest lessons from Lafayette that will remain with me is that the Lafayette community is a strong one, even when you are not on College Hill. One instance where I experienced this was when I was on leave during the fall of 2021 doing research at WPI. I had often felt disconnected from Lafayette, and I missed being part of the College community. Therefore, when I found out that Lafayette football was coming to Worcester to play Holy Cross, I was HYPED. Not only was I excited, but one of my friends from WPI, Deidra, had told me that her father was a Lafayette alum who would love to attend the game and meet me. I texted one of my friends and fellow IntE’s on the team immediately, Marco Olivas, saying ‘You’re coming to Worcester, you have to get us tickets!’ The game itself was exciting for me because I was able to cheer on my own team despite being so far away from campus. Deidra, her father, and I all got decked out in Lafayette apparel, made a goofy poster for Marco, and some of my other WPI friends asked to join. It was great to see friends from Lafayette as well, and I felt connected to the Lafayette community as a whole by cheering on the Leopards with an alum whom I had never met before the game, but could bond with through our shared connection to Lafayette.

What advice would you give to high school students who are considering Lafayette?

If you are considering Lafayette, it is important to note that because of the small size and liberal arts focus, you’re not going to disappear in the eyes of the faculty. They care about all their students, and if you are struggling, they will help you to be successful. However, this can be a double-edged sword, because along with this, faculty will challenge you. Because of the small class sizes, you are expected to participate often and will likely be put on the spot to answer questions or to ask them. You cannot easily sit in the back of a large lecture hall and disappear into the background because those types of classes are less common. However, the close connection with the faculty inside and outside of the classroom has been one of, if not my favorite, aspects of my time at Lafayette. I would recommend, if you decided to attend Lafayette, to go to office hours, ask professors about research or life in general, and form these personal connections.

Student Spotlight

Meet the 2023 valedictorians

Congratulations to these 15 academic stars, who are poised to take on the world and make a difference across a gamut of professional fields.

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Categorized in: Academic News, Class of 2023, Commencement 2023, Engineering, Integrative engineering, News and Features, Student Profiles, Students