Robinson named SNU 2020 valedictorian


Clayton Coates, Editor

Skipping class and flunking out of college. This is not your average valedictorian.

Rocklin, California native Alisa Robinson has been chosen as Sierra Nevada University’s class of 2020 valedictorian. She will graduate with a degree in psychology and a minor in marketing, after a winding path that began with a short, unproductive semester as Hawaii Pacific University and is ending with Robinson at the top of her class. Her path, however, was not without its share of bumps along the way.

“After my first semester at SNU I had gotten all A’s and that was my Christmas present to my parents,” Robinson said. “I think just seeing the excitement in them because I did well was such a gratifying feeling.”

The summer following Robinson’s freshman year, her father passed away. Up until that point she had always wanted the perfect GPA. However, life has a way of changing one’s priorities.

“I realized during that transition in my life and going through what I went through, the importance of caring so much about getting the perfect 4.0,” Robinson said. “Because what does that show? I could take easy classes, and I could get the 4.0 if I really wanted, however, I decided, it’s more important just to learn. That’s what my dad had taught me. He’d said, ‘That’s great, you have a 4.0, but what did you learn?’”

Following this shift, Robinson began to take full advantage of the different classes at SNU, such as web design, marketing (which became her minor), and now biostatistics, as well as other opportunities that she wouldn’t have otherwise, such as becoming a class TA or learning how to develop and submit a grant.

“I began taking the little opportunities that would provide me more benefit than getting that 4.0 GPA,” Robinson said. “I think when the desire to maintain the perfect GPA left my head is when I really started to thrive as a student.

Robinson’s drive to learn and become a better person were all that she needed to become valedictorian.

“I just realized I need to be more in the moment and not worry about this distant future and just becoming a better person for myself, right here and now and stop stressing on the minor issues.”

After returning to school after her father’s passing, Robinson also began to realize how close-knit the SNU community is.

“After all the challenges I faced over that summer, my friends and my peers were all there for me,” Robinson said. “Not only have all our challenges been shared, but our achievements as well, which is such a great feeling that you’re not alone. I realized that I was in such a lucky place to be able to grow as an individual and become resilient with all of my peers.”

When asked if she had a message to share with the students of SNU, she said the importance of how we face uncertainty.

“With the state of society right now, it’s important to be driven by uncertainty as opposed to fearing it,” Robinson said. “We must face uncertainty with confidence and courage, same as college and everything else.”

This mentality also translates to her views of the upcoming virtual commencement.

“It was hard to foster a sense of community and excitement when I know the valedictorian speech wasn’t going to be in person, being shared in front of everyone,” Robinson said. “On the other hand, I think just the possibility that our school has even provided us a way to still be able to have graduation right now is great.”

And for her sendoff?

“Congratulations class of 2020,” Robinson said. “We fucking did it!”