A total of seven students — including a record four students from Georgetown College — will be honored as valedictorians and Dean’s Medal recipients for their GPAs this weekend.
Adam Barton (COL ’16), a Spanish and Portuguese studies major with a minor in education, inquiry and justice, Adam Jacobson (COL ’16), a computer science and math major, Chandini Jha (COL ’16), a women’s and gender studies and government double major and Grace Funsten (COL ’16), a classical languages and French double major all tied with perfect 4.0 GPAs to be named as valedictorians for the College.
Barton and Jha will give a joint speech in the College’s Tropaia ceremony today after they submitted a speech to the College Dean’s Office for consideration.
Rahul Kaul (SFS ’16), an international economics major, and Jeff Haake (NHS ’16), a human science major, will both be awarded Dean’s Medals for their 3.99 GPAs. The School of Foreign Service and School of Nursing and Health Studies do not name valedictorians.
Jack Harrington (MSB ’16), a marketing and finance major with a minor in sociology, maintained a 3.99 GPA to be named as valedictorian from the MSB.
Barton said the four-way tie in the college is representative of the school’s academic culture.
“It wasn’t a fight to the death at the end to find the one valedictorian or the one salutatorian, but rather we have four people who are all carrying the banners together in some combination, which I think is pretty reflective of the Georgetown experience,” Barton said.
Jha said her and Barton’s speech will reflect on the last four years with a more casual structure.
“We met with [Fr. Matthew Carnes, S.J.], and that’s why our speech is — we all agreed we wanted to look at reflecting over the four years — a lot of discernment. The format of the speech is essentially a conversation between two friends — which it is,” Jha said.
According to Harrington, his speech will focus on both academics and business ethics.
“My draft right now is about intellectual curiosity … and about ethics in business, which are two topics I think that MSB kind of hits home and that I think are valuable as we all leave Georgetown and go into these different fields, whether it’s banking or consulting or marketing or whatnot,” Harrington said.
Jha said it is important for students to find enjoyment in even the seemingly boring moments on campus.
“I would say my advice would be to really enjoy every moment even though you might sit there and wonder what you’re doing,” Jha said. “I think that’s what helped me a lot in my classes. Even though sometimes you’re there in classes and you really want to go check your email for the 150 clubs you’re involved in as a Georgetown student, per the stereotype, sometimes it’s better to be present in that moment and actually pay attention.” Jha said.
Funsten said her time at Georgetown helped her discover an often underappreciated and misunderstood department in classics.
“A lot of people don’t know what it is. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘Oh, classical literature?’ And I explain, ‘No, Latin and Greek.’ It’s a lot bigger than people think, and it’s a pretty tight-knit group, which is really nice,” Funsten said.
Barton said he has learned the value of perseverance and optimism on his path to becoming valedictorian.
“Everything won’t necessarily work out just because you take a step back, but every time things seem to be falling apart, they’re going to be put back together in some way, even if it’s in a way that you don’t like, even if it’s a way that’s scary. But through that you’re going to learn something,” Barton said.
Kaul said knowing he could not achieve a perfect 4.0 GPA after his freshman fall ended up helping him on his road to earning a Dean’s Medal.
“After I got an A-minus freshman fall, I actually was relieved of any pressure to have a perfect GPA and just sought out to do the best work possible in interesting classes,” Kaul wrote in an email to The Hoya.
According to Haake, his success stemmed not from a desire for good grades, but to learn as much as possible.
“Initially, it was like, ‘OK I want to get these good grades so that I can go to medical school,’ but then it really did turn into, ‘I want to get as much out of my education as I can,’ — that’s something that I think you’ll definitely come to appreciate,” Haake said. “And a lot of the times those things do come in parallel.
Taking a lot from the class, learning a lot from the class, and then doing well and being successful in the class, and actually learning the information from the subject.”
Haake said a clearer vision of what he wanted to do after college — driven by a year off between his freshman and sophomore years spent volunteering in a Palestinian refugee camp — helped motivate him academically.
“I do feel I think sophomore year on, sort of coming back from that experience I definitely do think that my academic rigor, discipline, whatever you want to call it, was driven by sort of this future idea that I knew what I wanted to do in terms of medicine and health care,” Haake said. “I knew that in order to make the biggest impact I would just have to work my hardest from here on out, and I was OK with that.”
Harrington said approaching his education with an open mind helped him academically.
“I’m pretty open to different subjects and stuff like that, and I’d say intellectually curious. I did marketing and finance, which are kind of two opposite disciplines in the MSB but I didn’t really feel the need to shoehorn myself into one, or I don’t think I’m really stronger at one or the other,” Harrington said.
According to Jacobson, academics were not the most valuable part of his Georgetown experience; the people at Georgetown were.
“Honestly, I’d say it was the people in general. The people who applied and get accepted to Georgetown [are] a lot of very, very interesting people. People who are fun to talk to, have classes with, intellectually interesting to talk with,” Jacobson said.
Hoya Staff Writers Jess Kelham-Hohler, Kshithij Shrinath and Emily Tu contributed reporting.
Correction: This article previously stated Grace Fenton (COL ’16) was named valedictorian. Grace Funsten (COL ’16) was named valedictorian.
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