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Notre Dame gives valedictory honor

Ann Marie Jakubowski | Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mallory Meter’s academic success at Notre Dame earned her the valedictorian honor for the Class of 2013, but she said one of the most important lessons from her college years did not come from the classroom.

Meter said her valedictory address will reflect on ways to “appreciate what’s happening while it’s happening” to close the gap between past and present.

“The main theme of the speech is basically to try to learn at our young age how to live consciously and to be present in the moment,” Meter said. “It’s this idea that we tend to go through our day-to-day lives and they seem repetitive and dull, but then for some reason we look back at that experience and see it as perfect. I want to talk about how to change that disconnect.”

Meter, a psychology major from Beverly Hills, Mich., graduates with a cumulative grade point average of 4.0 and a string of consecutive Dean’s List honors from each of her semesters at Notre Dame. The former Lyons Hall resident said her freshman year Introduction to Psychology course helped her finalize her choice of major.

“I had always been interested in something where I could work with people and something more science-oriented,” she said. “For a long time, I thought I wanted to do pre-med, but after taking that first psychology class, I decided on that instead.

“I enjoyed it so much, it made sense to me and it was really interesting to me, so that made up my mind.”

Though the courses for her major have been difficult, Meter said the most academically challenging part of her time at Notre Dame was the broad range of required classes taken during her first two years.

“To be honest, I think probably the most challenging part was freshman and sophomore years when your classes cover a lot of different topics,” Meter said.

“Freshman year, you have to do the science, the math, the English, the philosophy. … I think having to switch between so many different modes of thinking was really hard.

“Once I got into my core psychology classes and I could really focus on just that, it became easier for me.”

Meter said her family’s links with the Irish influenced her decision to come here.

“My grandfather went here and played football in the 1940s for the national championship team,” she said. “He was one of the guys who was here, then had to leave for the war and came back. A few of my uncles went here, and then I have an aunt who went to Saint Mary’s. It’s big in the family.”

Though she said she has “absolutely loved” her time here, Meter said her best memory as a Notre Dame student came during her one semester away from campus.

“When I look back, I think going to London to study abroad in the fall of my junior year was my most valued experience,” Meter said. “I feel like living in another country pushes you to go outside your comfort zone, and you really mature while you’re there. Being able to learn in a place that’s so rich in history and culture – you really feel like you’re living what you’re learning.”

Meter said she worked in several psychology research labs at Notre Dame, including a childhood/adolescent early education study involving Head Start program participants. During her junior year, she worked with Dr. David Watson and Dr. Lee Anna Clark at the Center for Advanced Measurement of Personality and Psychopathology, exploring the relationship between personality and psychopathology and the psychometric properties of various measures of mood and personality.

“When I was working specifically with Dr. Watson, I was able to do actual clinical interviews with the participants, which is awesome because as a psychology major, you really can’t do a lot of one-on-one work with people until you have a Master’s or PhD degree,” Meter said. “The specific study was looking at how different traits and personality facets line up with different forms of psychopathology, … which refers to every mental health disorder from depression to anxiety disorders to schizophrenia.”

Meter’s ideal career would blend psychopathology and interaction with children, she said.  

“I’m going to the University of Chicago to get my Master’s in social work, and I hope to focus on the clinical track rather than administrative,” she said. “Afterwards, I hope to become a licensed clinical therapist working with people with mental health problems and someday, probably, I could see myself going back to get my PhD, too.”

Contact Ann Marie Jakubowski at ajakubo1@nd.edu