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Schaerer selected to give ND’s 2005 valedictory address

Kate Antonacci | Friday, May 13, 2005

Researching alone in the basement of Malloy Hall, senior Enrique Schaerer “just about got up and did a dance” upon reading the e-mail notifying him of his selection as the University’s 2005 Valedictorian.

“As you can imagine, I was beside myself with joy,” Schaerer said. “I thought to myself, ‘Wow! This is one of those truly big moments in life!’ ‘Thrilled’ would be an understatement.”

The political science and finance double major boasts a perfect 4.0 G.P.A., a reflection of his dedication to his academic career over the last four years.

“It’s funny, people sometimes get the impression that I study all the time. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Schaerer said. “Needless to say, I do work hard in school. I take my studies very seriously. But I’m one of those ‘work hard, play hard’ kind of guys.”

Schaerer was chosen from an original pool of 16 other exemplary students, some of whom chose not to compete. The group was narrowed down to the top three candidates, and following a process he described as “rigorous, albeit straightforward and well organized,” Schaerer was chosen.

Candidates were invited to participate in the nomination process just before spring break and all résumés, letters of recommendation and speeches were required to be submitted by the first week of April, Schaerer said.

“I am very excited about my speech. It is not your typical valedictory address. I think it celebrates Notre Dame while challenging the University to strive for great excellence and more inclusiveness,” Schaerer said. “The speech speaks directly to my own values and beliefs, so it did not take me too long to write. It sort of flowed organically from my own experiences.”

Schaerer said the main themes of his speech are community and diversity.

“I really hope to move some hearts on Sunday,” he said.

As the son of 1981 immigrants to America, Schaerer was the first member of his family to attend Notre Dame.

“Truth be told, I wanted to be valedictorian more for [my family] than for myself.” Schaerer said. “I think my achievements are a testament to my upbringing, to the discipline and love with which my parents raised me. They were the ones who first taught me to dream big dreams.”

While at Notre Dame, Schaerer was involved in numerous extracurricular activities. As a freshman and sophomore, Schaerer held Class Council positions, was active in the Student International Business Council and was a member of the Knights of Columbus. In his senior year, he served as Resident Assistant in O’Neill Family Hall. An avid runner, Schaerer hopes to compete in his fourth marathon next spring.

“I also held two research assistant positions in philosophy/biology and political science,” Schaerer said.

For his philosophy and biology work, he was advised by Professor Kristin Shrader Frechette. Professor Anthony Messina served as his thesis advisor.

Schaerer was recently awarded the Helen Kellogg Prize for best senior thesis in the field of comparative politics for his work on immigration and political extremism in Spain.

Schaerer was also involved with service work through the Center for Social Concerns, which helped him become a mentor to disadvantaged children at the local youth center, La Casa de Amistad.

Following graduation, Schaerer will head to New Haven, Connecticut, where he will begin Yale Law School in the fall.

“The people there are amazing, and I am very much looking forward to this next step in my life,” Schaerer said. “My political science and finance background will serve me well in law school, since my interests are so eclectic – international, corporate, labor relations, civil rights and immigration law.”

Though excited about beginning a new chapter in his life, Schaerer said he will miss Notre Dame, the school he originally chose for the “close-knit community with a good sense of balance.”

“I will miss the people the most. I have met some remarkable people here at Notre Dame over the past several years,” Schaerer said. “Here, people encourage active participation in not only academics, but also athletics, social events and spiritual activities. This is the right place to grow as a whole person, to become a well-rounded human being.”