47th SNC Commencement Set For May 13; Curtolo Named Class of 2017 Valedictorian

47th SNC Commencement Set For May 13; Curtolo Named Class of 2017 Valedictorian

Jamie Wanzek, Managing Editor

Valedictorian, derived from the Latin word vale dicere (“to say farewell”), is the top honor and coveted title of any graduating class. Traditionally, this capstone achievement frames a singular senior who has exhibited excellence academically. At SNC, this student also embodies SNC’s liberal arts motif: a scholar who can analyze and contribute to the interdisciplinary world. The valedictorian has exhibited professional preparedness while emphasizing his or her knowledge and practice within the environmental, social and economic values of SNC’s curriculum.

As a senior who reflects SNC’s values and has displayed academic excellence, Francesca Curtolo will deliver the class of 2017’s final adieu at graduation as Valedictorian.

“As a department, when we were selecting our Valedictorian nominees, it was Francesca’s involvement across the college that made her a natural candidate for us,” business department chair Kendra Wong said.

“Francesca has shown leadership in the business department as a peer advisor, on the Eagle’s Eye as an editor and on the ski team. Beyond that, Francesca has proven to be one of our top students, consistently performing above expectations.”

Francesca Curtolo, the vigorous Italian with a curious heart, has left remnants of her character in every niche across the SNC campus. Her trademark laugh and Italian accent have resonated with many faculty members and students over the years. She’s strong, she’s sweet and has a drive to achieve excellence.

“Francesca is the embodiment of an empowered female. I have always been impressed with her assertiveness and determination,” Assistant Professor of Business Richard Gire said. “During her tenure at SNC, she’s faced a lot of challenges and has always risen to the occasion. She has always persevered, and with a smile on her face.”

Graduating with a major in finance and economics and a minor in journalism in only three years, Curtolo has excelled at SNC academically and athletically: an honorary alpine women’s ski team member, 2016 United States Collegiate Ski Association (USCSA) Slalom Champion, Eagle’s Eye sports editor, honor student, peer advisor, member of the young professional’s club and SNC Waterski Club team member.

“I see the past three years as more than a bachelor’s degree. I see it as the first time I moved from home, I see them as learning a new language and as receiving a diverse education. It was never boring because of the liberal arts approach,” Curtolo said.

It all began three years ago, under an Austrian sky with the Alps as the backdrop, when Curtolo was at an alpine ski race. The race attracted skiers from across the globe. Naturally, Curtolo seized the opportunity to socialize with the diverse crowd, to learn their stories. To fulfill her itch to practice English and meet others, she approached the American ski racers, and one of the racers explained that back in the United States he was ski racing for a college.

Curtolo, who has been alpine ski racing her entire life thought, “Wow, that is really cool, because I have been fighting for my whole life to do both (ski racing and education).” The conversation lit a spark for Curtolo.

A year later, Curtolo connected with head alpine ski coach Branko Zagar and came to SNC.

For three years Curtolo was one of SNC’s top women alpine racers earning SNC national championships while at USCSA Nationals. With hard work on and off the hill, Curtolo held herself to a high standard.

“Here at SNC we have a really strict schedule for practices because you need to work so many months for a race that’s only a minute when you have to be at 100 percent,” Curtolo said.

Prior to SNC, Curtolo was primarily a speed event racer (downhill and super-G events). During the past three years Curtolo transitioned to tech events–an example of Curtolo’s willingness to adapt and accept new experiences.

“Skiing is a very complete sport because it requires great physical motor ability, you have to have tactic, you have to be elastic and mentally versatile,” Curtolo said. “You have to be able to meet the variables, the weather, the hill, the course setting. No matter how much training you have, it’s never the same.”

Competing on the SNC ski team has also broadened Curtolo’s appreciation for alpine skiing.

“It’s a very isolating sport but the formula of collegiate skiing frames it as a team sport,” Curtolo said. “At the start gate you not only have your victory in mind, but the whole ski team’s in mind. And that’s amazing. That’s a jump from a very individual sport of alpine skiing, (that I’ve always known).”

Curtolo’s determined and strong-willed character is reflected in her passion for ski racing. In February of 2017, Curtolo’s senior season, she tore her acl and meniscus while at Diamond Peak training. While the injury ended her season, the recovery has revealed Curtolo’s strength.

“Being this my first injury, I did not know how to handle it and the first weeks have been very hard,” Curtolo explains. “I was committed to give everything in my last season, I set goals that I wanted to achieve and in a fraction of second, a bad fall, and all of this was gone. In this injury journey I had to rethink myself, and that was the hardest part. It made me reflect a lot on my identity as a ski racer and as a person.”

Looking forward, Curtolo plans to redirect her passion with ski racing. She is currently working in the marketing for Big Truck Brand in Truckee, Calif. Curtolo also applied for the Powder Magazine Fellowship in San Diego, California.

“Franny/Bella is the Italian supergirl and sunshine on the ski team, who can light up a rainy day,” Henriette Haug, women alpine ski team member said. “She is tough, determined and a very thoughtful friend. Her Italian way of doing things have brought us a lot of good laughs. No wonder she has so many close friends, because it is impossible not to love her.”

In the classroom, Curtolo has experienced a wide variety of SNC’s curriculum, with majors in economics and finance and a minor in journalism. Aside from her required business classes during Curtolo’s freshman year, she took Ann Marie Brown’s introduction to journalism class, which inspired her to enter journalism.

“I really developed an interest in journalism, thanks to Ann Marie Brown’s class, and entered a field that was not part of my plans on my arrival at SNC,” Curtolo explains.”

“I love the fact that liberal arts exposes you to many disciplines and allows students to find what they are passionate about, which is what happened with journalism with me.”

Following her curiosity with journalism, one class led to the next and Curtolo found herself as the sports editor of the Eagle’s Eye for two semesters.

“One of the things that is unique about her is her interest in journalism. Many of my student pursue a second degree, but it is almost always in the business department,” economics professor Stacy Taylor said. “Because she interfaces with two different departments, she has a wide network of friends across campus.”

Curtolo’s experience with the Eagle’s Eye allowed her to learn more about the English language and writing. As an editor, Curtolo also attended the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) conference in Washington D.C.

“Francesca has been an absolute delight to work with over the last four years,” Journalism Professor Ann Marie Brown said. “It’s been amazing to watch her progression as a writer, and in particular as a writer using a very complex second language. She’s an inquisitive person who always strives for improvement, and that makes her a joy to work with.”

As Curtolo ends her chapter at SNC, she looks back on the past three years with gratitude.

“We, people, are the salt of the earth, and we too can shape other peoples’ lives. It is our turn to share. We each became this place, each picking up bits of people, history, ideas, that changed the way we saw the world,” Curtolo said. “From tomorrow on, we can all leave a footprint of all the best we took from SNC on our destinations.”