Notre Dame salutatorian advises balance
Courtney Becker | Friday, May 19, 2017
University class of 2017 salutatorian José Alberto Suárez said he balanced earning a cumulative 4.0 GPA as a computer science and engineering major with his duties as a resident assistant (RA) in Keenan Hall and president of the Student International Business Council (SIBC) by prioritizing what was most important to him during his time at Notre Dame.
“The biggest thing for me was just being timely with my work,” he said. “I never left anything for later, I never had to pull an all-nighter or anything. The biggest thing for me [is you should] just be timely, prioritize what you’re doing so that you don’t overcommit yourself and you actually do what’s important to you. Because if you’re just trying to fill it up, it’s not going to work that way.”
A Hesburgh-Yusko Scholar, member of three University honor societies and a four-year member of the Dean’s List, Suárez said he fit so much into his life at Notre Dame by recognizing that he couldn’t do everything at once.
“I think that I was able to prioritize one or two big things a year,” he said. “ … I kind of had one big thing at a time alongside academics as opposed to trying to put them all together. So I think that’s kind of how you can still get a lot done in four years, but you have to balance that.”
Suárez said he got different things out of each new challenge he took on as a student and leader in the community.
“SIBC was a really cool way to explore my professional future, and meet a lot of people and travel internationally and that kind of thing,” he said. “ … [Being an] RA, for me, was a lot about giving back to the community — to Notre Dame as a whole, but especially to Keenan, which has given me a lot.”
His selection as the second salutatorian in 46 years was an honor, Suárez said.
“[I was] extremely honored,” he said. “I’m really happy that I’m getting this opportunity, and being able to share that news with my friends … was probably the most important thing for me. More than speaking, it was just seeing how happy other people were for me. The continued support on that end was just really satisfying.”
This support from his friends is the most valuable gift Suárez will take away from Notre Dame, he said.
“It’s really important to have your friends around for both the parts that are hard and the ones that are easy,” Suárez said. “Because if you can count on them for that kind of stuff, you can get past it all.”