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Saint Mary’s names three valedictorians

| Friday, May 13, 2016

Editor’s note: A version of the story appeared online March 18.

Saint Mary’s announced the names of three students who will represent the Class of 2016 as valedictorians during the College’s 169th Commencement.

The three honorees are Paige Aldrich, Annie Cavalier and Alex Vizard. Aldrich is a chemistry and mathematics double major, Cavalier is a chemistry major with a concentration in biochemistry and a minor in biology and Vizard is an accounting major with a concentration in finance and a minor in mathematics.

St. Mary's webSusan Zhu

After graduation, Aldrich said she plans to study nuclear chemistry at Michigan State University’s graduate program. Vizard said she will be working at Ernst & Young in Chicago, while Cavalier will attend medical school at Loyola University in Chicago.

Vizard said she was surprised when she found out she was one of three valedictorians.

“I never thought there would be three,” she said. “I thought there would be some sort of tie-breaker. I never really thought about getting it. It wasn’t an explicit goal, but I was very excited and proud to be able to represent my class.”

Cavalier said during her college search, she initially did not have Saint Mary’s on her radar because her mother graduated from the College in 1988. She said she wanted to go somewhere that felt more like a place of her own, but then she came to the College to visit.

“When I came to visit, I was walking through the buildings and talking to professors and students,” Cavalier said. “It just felt like the right fit.”

Aldrich said Saint Mary’s has helped make her accountable for her own life.

“I’ve learned a lot about the world around me and realized that I need to match what I believe with my actions,” she said. “When I was a freshman, I learned about factory farms and realized that I needed to become vegan in order to support what I believed to be right. I’ve also struggled with my faith throughout my life, so I took a critical look at my beliefs and have deeply improved my spiritual life.”

Cavalier said the close relationships between students and professors make Saint Mary’s special.

“It makes the classroom experience so much better,” she said. “You don’t feel like you’re being talked at. That gave me a lot of confidence to speak up in class and share my opinions. … I think that confidence is what I’ve gained in general, but also the ability to be independent and leave here with no doubts of the success that I will see in the future. I don’t doubt my ability to do things that I want to do.”

Vizard said the College and the Sophia Program, Saint Mary’s liberal arts curriculum requirements, helped her gain confidence in all areas of her life.

“It’s caused me to try a lot of new things,” she said. “I took a lot of classes that I probably would have never tried taking, and I ended up really enjoying them. I think it’s caused me to expand my mindset and grow as a person in general.”

Cavalier said she is proud to a Saint Mary’s student because of the College’s larger community.

“You can graduate from a state school or another larger private school, and you don’t ever really go back or associate yourself with the school after that,” she said. “I know I will have ties to this school and this area for the rest of my life. I know it is a place I will always come back to, a place that I’m always going to miss.”

Aldrich said she is proud to be graduating from a college that produces strong, kind, driven women.

“I could have learned information from textbooks,” she said, “but it wouldn’t have compared to the rounded education that I’ve gotten from the caring, intelligent professors at Saint Mary’s.”

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About Nicole Caratas

Nicole is a senior English Writing and Humanistic Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. Now a senior news writer, she previously served as the Saint Mary's Editor. She was born in real Chicago but grew up in the suburbs, and she currently lives in Opus Hall.

Contact Nicole