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Washington chosen as top of class for 2010

KATIE PERALTA | Friday, April 9, 2010

Notre Dame announced Katie Washington of Gary, Ind., as the valedictorian of the graduating class of 2010 Wednesday.

Having earned a 4.0 GPA in biological sciences with a minor in Catholic Social Teaching, Washington said she owes the success she’s had to the support she’s gotten from loved ones.

“By no means do I feel like I’ve done this on my own,” she said. “I’m humbled and grateful to have had this experience at Notre Dame.”

Washington, who received the announcement Tuesday evening, said she is still processing the news.

“I’m still trying to distill my feelings and get a grasp on what it really means,” she said. “It’s very surreal.”

During her time on campus, Washington was the director of the Voices of Faith Gospel Choir and active with the Center for Social Concerns, serving as the student coordinator of its “Lives in the Balance: Youth Violence and Society Seminar.”

For more than two years, Washington has worked in a research lab with biology professor David Severson, with whom she co-authored a research paper. 

Washington said working as an undergraduate in a research lab has been one of the most significant parts of her college experience.

“It has been a really transformative experience,” she said. “I was able to take charge of a project on my own but also build relationships with people in my lab.”

Washington said her work in the lab with mosquitoes that transmit diseases like dengue fever and malaria has cultivated her interested in global health equity.

“These diseases account for many of the deaths of people in impoverished countries,” she said.

University spokesman Dennis Brown said the Valedictorian Selection Committee unanimously chose Washington from a group of 11 students.

“The Valedictorian Selection Committee was greatly moved by the address that Katie Washington wrote for her fellow graduates and their families and guests,” Associate Provost Dennis Jacobs.

Jacobs said Washington is an exemplar for the graduating class.

“Katie’s time at Notre Dame exemplifies the principles by which she lives — excellence in all she does, compassionate service to those in need and a deeply rooted faith life that animates her,” he said. “Katie’s humble but determined spirit represents well the Class of 2010 and will serve as an inspiration for generations to come.”

Upon graduation, Washington plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. dual degree from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.