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Streicher named 2004 valedictorian

Amanda Michaels | Thursday, May 13, 2004

Class of 2004 valedictorian Sarah Streicher remembers all too well the slight smudge of an A minus on her near perfect record. “It was second semester sophomore year, Literature of Southern Africa,” she recalled. “It was one of my favorite classes ever, so that makes it a little better. If I had hated the class and gotten an A minus, I would have been so mad.”She recovered well. With her 3.995 in tow, the English and French double major was chosen from amongst a group of Notre Dame’s top 15 graduates – three from each college – to speak as valedictorian at this year’s commencement. Each nominee was required to submit a speech and a résumé to the valedictory committee, and from that number, four were asked to interview in front of what Streicher described as “a huge room full of so many faces, mostly professors, with all these grand titles.”With a hint of modesty, Streicher denied it was her academic record that earned her the no. 1 position, and claimed that she babbled incoherently through her interview. Rather, she believed her speech was what won the committee over.”It was probably the freshness of my speech that got me here, because I had brilliant competition,” she said. “It’s not one of those heavy-handed, ‘go change the world’ speeches. While I was writing it, all the graduation speech clichés were running through my head, so every time I got close to using one, I would step back. I knew I had to do something quasi-original.”Streicher insisted on keeping the topic of the speech secret, though she did call it “unacademic and light. Not spicy, but light.”She also said that while she is grateful for the honor, she never expected to be named valedictorian.”I kept track of my rank on IrishLink, but I was always fifth or third or seventh, so Valedictorian was always a distant dream,” she said. “The day I actually got the envelope nominating me, I was blown away.”Her family was thrilled as well, especially because they are now allotted a larger number of graduation tickets, joked Streicher.Though she worked as a tutor at the Writing Center since her sophomore year, Streicher chose to focus on academic work rather than participating in a laundry list of extracurriculars. Looking back on her years at Notre Dame, she does, however, regret not having a fuller social life.”I definitely did neglect certain friendships because of work – not on purpose, but a lot of times I would stay in to study while everyone else went out,” Streicher admitted. “I could have found a better balance. Being valedictorian is justification for all the work, but in a way, not. Now I have to fit four years of missed nights into Senior Week.”With a year of teaching English in France to look forward to, Streicher said she is ready to graduate.”I’m ready to read books, think about them, but not write about them,” she said. “I’m going to miss the college atmosphere, though. I’m going to miss it with a passion.”