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Holy Cross valedictorian emphasizes community, resilience

| Friday, May 15, 2020

When senior Caleb Mishler found out he had been selected as the valedictorian for the Holy Cross class of 2020, he said the experience was nothing short of “surreal.” Though many students worked hard and were qualified, he said, the amount of support he received from the College community was unparalleled. 

“It’s a close-knit community,” he said. “So everyone’s always super excited for each other. There’s a whole ordeal of people congratulating me and being able to celebrate with family and friends.”

Mishler is from Elkhart, Indiana, and grew up around 30 minutes from Holy Cross. Growing up watching Notre Dame football, he said being from the area was a big part of his decision to attend the College.

“That was kind of one of the big things that drew me to Holy Cross, and then being able to have a big environment with a small classroom feel,” he said.

Courtesy of Caleb Mishler
Holy Cross senior Caleb Mishler is the valedictorian for the College’s class of 2020.

At Holy Cross, Mishler majored in business with minors in marketing and communications. He also minored in computer science through the Northern Indiana Consortium for Education (NICE) program. He participated in student government, eventually serving as student body vice president his junior year, and was a resident assistant in Anselm Hall for two years. 

Mishler said the biggest thing he learned from his four years as a Saint is that learning goes far beyond the classroom. 

“School is not necessarily all about classwork,” he said. “It’s also about getting involved and trying to make a difference in your community. Holy Cross really drives that force of wanting to be involved in and create global citizens. So the more we get involved, I feel like it helps in the classroom, but, two, it helps you understand various perspectives and different opinions that maybe you might not understand at the time but become aware of more.”

Mishler is currently searching for jobs, hoping to be employed in business systems in a community aspect, such as city government. 

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Holy Cross is intending to have an in-person graduation celebration in early September. Though commencement is still several months away, Mishler said he plans to focus his valedictory address on the concept of resilience and perseverance.

“There’s been [a lot] to come up in the past few years that we’ve kind of grown from and grown together, and this senior class I feel like embodies that,” he said. “So even with this pandemic, I feel like when we come back together in the fall, it’s going to be a good representation of everything we’ve come through and just grown together as a unit.”

His fondest memory of his time at Holy Cross, he said, was when Holy Cross student government got to present the flag at the Vanderbilt game in 2018. Along with fellow senior and student body president Dave Napierkowski, the two stood side-by-side Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s student government leaders as representatives of the tri-campus community. 

“The two of us got to stand down there with everyone and the flyover happened. They introduced us, and it was really cool because we’re decked out in the Holy Cross apparel,” he said. “All of our peers are there supporting us, and we got to just be a representative of Holy Cross and the tri-campus. It’s a moment that we still talk about and will not forget.”

Mishler said if there was one message he could convey to the class of 2020, it would be one of gratitude. 

“Thank you for the support and just being there, being present, whether it was in athletics or student government or just seeing each other in the dining hall,” he said. “Don’t lose that passion or lose that focus of wanting to talk to each other and hear each other’s stories. Because I feel like that’s the most important thing we have.”

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About Claire Rafford

Claire is a senior from Tempe, Arizona majoring in English and minoring in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy and Business-Economics. She peaked when her team won the Battle of the Books state championship in 2011.

Contact Claire