We all know colleges across the country have valedictorians, but do we know where this word comes from? The word comes from the Latin term vale dicere, “to say farewell.” Historically it is the role of the valedictorian to be the final speaker at graduation before students receive their diplomas. The valedictorian’s remarks are considered a farewell to fellow classmates, wishing them luck before they pursue future endeavors.
Nine SNC students are competing for the prestigious honor to be SNC’s 2017 valedictorian. Finlay Neeson, Ivo Ricou, Francesca Curtolo, Angel Gonzalez, Luke Hupp, Justine Nelson, Aaron Vanderpool, Juan Luque and Juan Sandoval are competing for the coveted title.
Students are nominated in one of two ways. The department chairs in business, humanities, science and art can each select up to three candidates from their departments. Nominees must have at least a 3.7 GPA, and they need to have attended SNC for at least two years. Students who have a 4.0 GPA are a part of the “top 1 percent” category and can nominate themselves.
Dan Aalbers, psychology professor and head of the valedictorian committee, said the committee is “not only looking for a student who is academically excellent, but somebody who is really connected to other students and the community at large.”
Nominees are interviewed by the valedictorian committee, consisting of faculty members from each of the academic departments. They answer a series of questions and give a short example of what they would say in their valedictorian speech.
“We interview all the candidates with a mix of standardized, tailored and spontaneous questions as they come up. We’re trying to make sure that we treat everyone equally and that all departments have an equal say. It’s really a democratic process,” Aalbers said.
Valedictorian candidates say they are honored to be nominated and realize what this award means at SNC.
“If I do win the title, it is a huge accomplishment for me because I am being recognized for my achievements both as a student and as a part of the SNC community as a whole,” said Juan Sandoval, a candidate from the top 1 percent category.
Humanities department nominee Angel Gonzalez said being named valedictorian “is a reflection of how hard you are willing to work.”
The committee will announce this year’s valedictorian Friday, April 7.