Laracy named 2003 valedictorian
By ANDREW THAGARD
Assistant News Editor
Her commitment to academics may have earned her the honor of valedictorian, but classes are just one aspect of Margaret Laracy's experience at Notre Dame. The psychology major from Jersey City, N.J. has been active in community service and campus life.
Laracy, who earned a 3.97 grade point average, made the Dean's List each semester. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa undergraduate honors society and Psi Chi, the national psychology honor society, and was named a National Merit Scholar.
"It's an enormous honor," Laracy said, in reference to being named valedictorian. "I just think of all the amazing people I know at Notre Dame. I'm so excited to be addressing my class."
Laracy is scheduled to deliver an address to the student body during Commencement Sunday. She said that her speech will focus on having courage in the face of recent national and international events, especially terrorism and war. She also intends to speak on the anxiety that is characteristic of the transition from college to the "real" world and the fear of not living up to others' expectations.
"I hope to encourage my classmates and myself to really live courageously," she said. "The main focus is not to be fearful."
Laracy has worked to make the most out of her four years at Notre Dame, devoting her time to assisting in the Notre Dame Encounter Retreats, teaching English through a program at La Casa de Amistad, working at the Center for Social Concerns and studying abroad in Chile during her junior year.
"It was really different than a lot of abroad experiences," she said of her semester in Chile. "I got the opportunity to not only live with a family but to do some service in the community. I love Chile and the Chilean people. I could see myself going back to Latin America."
Next year, Laracy will devote time to service, but it won't be in Chile. She plans to volunteer for at least a year through a L'Arche Community program, living in a house that assists people with special needs in Washington, D.C.
"It's really an incredible community that has a wonderful philosophy and spirituality," she said.
Eventually, Laracy said she hopes to continue her education in psychology and use what she learns to help others.
"I've always had an interest in working with other people," she said. "Academically it's very interesting to learn about [them]."
Laracy, the first Domer in her family, was attracted to Notre Dame because of its sense of community and Catholic identity.
"I think that Notre Dame, among Catholic universities with a good academic program, really seems to value its Catholic identity," she said. "It wasn't just Catholic in name. It seemed like a perfect package for me."
Notre Dame begins the selection process for valedictorian in February when the Register's Office determines the two students in each college with the highest grade point averages. Selected candidates then complete an application process that includes a recommendation from the college's dean and a peer and a draft of their commencement speech. A selection committee then nominates a valedictorian and the second place candidate is invited to deliver an invocation at graduation.
This year, Meridith Runke, a science preprofessional studies major from Batavia, Ill. will deliver the Commencement invocation.
All News Stories for Friday, July 11, 2003