At Sunday’s commencement ceremony, six valedictorians and four salutatorians will be recognized for earning the highest grade point averages in the Class of 2019.
“These exceptional students exemplify the curiosity of mind and intellectual engagement with the world that are among Dartmouth’s highest values,” says Kathryn Lively, interim dean of the College. “They have made Dartmouth proud.”
To become a valedictorian, students must earn a 4.0 grade point average. This year, Liu “Nicole” Chen ’19, Andrew Liu ’19, Anant Mishra ’19, Siyuan “Sonia” Qin ’19, Alexander Sullivan ’19, and Ruoni Wang have achieved this distinction. At commencement, they will march to the Green at the head of the class of 2019 and be recognized from the podium for academic excellence. A committee representing the deans of the faculty and the interim dean of the College selected Andrew Liu to deliver the valedictory address to the graduates.
Salutatorians, who each achieved at least a 3.99 grade point average, include Christine Dong ’19, Colleen O’Connor ’19, Arvind Suresh ’19, and Samantha Stern ’19.
Liu “Nicole” Chen ’19
Computer Science major; Japanese minor
What’s next: A job as a software engineer at Facebook
“I’m grateful for the flexibility that Dartmouth offered me to follow my intellectual curiosity. I love learning about algorithms and building software programs, but I also enjoy analyzing a Haruki Murakami novel or critiquing an Andy Warhol painting. In my sophomore winter, Professor Kenneth Bauer, who taught my anthropology class, introduced me to the Kathmandu Living Labs, a nonprofit organization in Nepal that builds digital tools to serve the needs of Nepali citizens. I got funding from the Dickey Center and interned at KLL over sophomore summer. My project was to build a web portal for people to report issues they had been facing in their daily lives so government agencies could track and follow up on those issues. By the time I left, the portal was mostly complete, but we didn’t have the time to launch it. A year later, a coworker reached out and told me the portal was launched and had helped resolve many issues people submitted. In one instance, he told me, a village got a new bank. I’ll never forget that moment when he told me that—it was the most rewarding experience I have ever had. And it could not have happened without the opportunities Dartmouth offered.”
Andrew Liu ’19
Computer Science and Economics double major
Post-graduate plans: Joining McKinsey & Company in Boston as a business analyst
“Academically, I’ve always been inclined towards problem-solving. I also play classical piano. What I find most interesting is when I can apply that more creative side of my thinking toward a technical problem, looking for novel solutions that might ultimately be more effective. Early in my time here, I didn’t have much time to spend on piano, but this year I was able to give two recitals, performing works by Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, and Ravel. In a recital you put yourself out there—it’s just you on the stage. It was particularly meaningful because even though my friends knew I played piano, I hadn’t been able to share it with them before. The friendships I’ve made here have been very deep and meaningful, and the professors here genuinely care about their students. Dartmouth has been an environment where I’ve been able to learn about myself, to have challenging and engaging discussions with peers that have illuminated parts of myself to me that I wouldn’t have otherwise discovered.”
Anant Mishra ’19
Ellicott City, Md.
Biology and Economics double major
What’s next: Plans to work for Putnam Associates, a life sciences consulting firm, before going to graduate school
“When I came to Dartmouth, I knew I liked biology, but after taking some economics courses, I was drawn that kind of analytical, problem-solving thinking, too. Dartmouth really embraces the liberal arts ideal of letting you experience lots of different fields with different perspectives—I took a religion course this term that was kind of a totally different mode of thought than I’m used to. That broad exposure is really valuable. I had the opportunity to go on a study abroad at Oxford, which was a great opportunity to participate in a totally different form of education in a different country, but it also drove home the value of Dartmouth. Probably the most lasting thing for me will be the relationships I developed with friends and faculty here. I worked in Professor Yashi Ahmed’s lab at the Geisel School of Medicine for three years. What I like about working in a lab is that you are developing experiments to really understand ideas, and when you get results back, you have to analyze what they mean, their limitations, and synthesize all of that and choose a way forward. You’re pushing the boundaries of science, creating knowledge.”
Sonia Qin ’19
Economics and Government double major; French minor
What’s next: Starting Yale Law School this fall
“Economics taught me a new way to think. I tell people ‘Econ 1’ was my most difficult class because there were so many threshold concepts that once I understand them, it’s was like entering a new world, but before then, that world didn’t make sense. I took a government class with Professor Stephen Brooks, and thought government would be a great background for law school. And I’m interested in languages, so I am a French minor—the Paris FSP was really rewarding. I’ve been able to meet many different types of people from different corners around campus and weave that into one Dartmouth narrative for myself. I worked for The Dartmouth and I loved covering campus news and feeling like I was making an impact. I tutored at RWIT, which helped me discover my passion for writing and helping others. And I played on the club table tennis team. Dartmouth taught me that sometimes unexpected things can end up being my most meaningful experiences. This term I spent a lot of time at the ceramics studio and canoeing with friends—memories that I’ll have forever. I’ve learned to move out of my comfort zone and try new things.”
Alexander Sullivan ’19
St. Albans, Vt.
Engineering Sciences major modified with Economics
What’s next: Starts as an analyst at Philadelphia-based private equity firm Graham Partners in July
“Dartmouth gives you the freedom to explore lots of different interests. I was drawn to engineering because I’ve always liked problem solving and I like the creativity it requires. There’s always more than one way to solve a problem. But sophomore year I started taking more economics classes, which is how the modified major developed. With economics, I like the interconnectedness of everything—how you have to take into account so many different variables and aspects of human behavior. Another big part of my time at Dartmouth was being part of the alpine ski team, which was incredibly rewarding. You’re with a very driven group of individuals, all pursuing similar goals. Our team was great at supporting each other and pushing each other to be better every day. The tight bonds I formed with my teammates are really special. I love skiing for the freedom it gives you in general, but I also like being able to see improvements in technique over time and having something that I’m always pushing myself to do a little better each day. That’s something I try apply to other areas of my life.”
Ruoni Wang ’19
Xichang, Sichuan, China
Computer Science and Economics double major
What’s next: working at Facebook as a software engineer
“I took ‘Computer Science 1’ with Professor Thomas Cormen and I really fell in love with CS. I love the theory side of things, and senior year I was able to explore some software development—we made augmented reality mobile apps and mobile apps using Watson, IBM’s AI platform. Every new area in CS is exciting. I’m also majoring in economics, concentrating in industrial organization and tech governance. I’m so inspired by the many caring professors I’ve had in both departments. Professor Diego Comin, who teaches “Econ 70, ” which was an immersion experience in China, and macroeconomics, has been a mentor. He inspired me to take a broader look from an economics perspective on how companies grow and become productive, and how technology diffuses into different parts of the world. All those bigger issues helped me better frame my understanding of the tech industry. I feel like he believes in me and I feel that support. I’m also very involved in the Street Soul dance group, which has been a huge reason why Dartmouth has been a great experience for me.”
Christine Dong ’19
Coquitlam, British Columbia
What’s next: Joining Bridgewater Associates in Stamford, Conn.
“I’m interested in understanding how things work—processes and systems. For me economics is a way of understanding the world analytically, from a quantitative perspective. I came to Dartmouth as an English major, because I really love stories, and econ was interesting because you could see a story in a graph. Dartmouth helped me explore my interests: I’ve taken a class on Daoism, on comparative literature and fairy tales, on literary history. I studied abroad at Oxford in my junior year—my first time in Europe. I received funding from the Center for Service to work at a nonprofit my freshman summer and support in getting my junior internship at Bridgewater, which led to a full-time offer. Junior year I did research with Professor Pavcnik in economics and that led to her publishing a paper. It’s a very cool feeling to see that something I contributed to could have a broader reach. Outside of academics, I worked as an undergraduate adviser, which was great because I got to know the people in my residence hall and meet more people in the community. That was really meaningful.”
Colleen O’Connor ’19
Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Modified with Economics; Human-Centered Design minor
What’s next: Working as a consultant at Parthenon-EY, then starting the MBA program at Harvard Business School
“I came into Dartmouth excited to embrace the liberal arts. I had very disparate interests and was looking forward to diving in and studying Chinese, economics, design. Then I got fascinated by social entrepreneurship, and focused my research and travels on how to use entrepreneurship for female empowerment in indigenous communities in South America and East Asia. Through the Stamps Scholarship, Dartmouth funded me to go abroad seven times in the past four years for research, work, and study in Peru and Japan and China and Argentina. Working with local people and putting what I was learning in the classroom to use has helped me feel confident I was gaining both the soft skills and the hard skills to excel in the work that I was doing. Through the Stamps program and Dartmouth, I’ve found a community of some of the most incredible, intellectually curious, supportive people I’ve ever met. At Dartmouth I’ve been exposed to people from all over the world, all walks of life, all different majors—people who genuinely want one another to succeed. People celebrate your successes and support you in your failures. That’s been huge these past four years.”
Samantha Stern ’19
New York, N.Y.
Government major and Spanish minor
What’s next: Working as a research assistant in counterterrorism and intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
“As a science student in high school, I came into Dartmouth thinking I would be pre-med. However, my freshman fall, I took a government course called “Nuclear Weapons: Physical and Strategic Effects” with Professor Daryl Press and was completely awed, both by his compelling teaching style and the course’s integration of international relations theory, military analysis, and nuclear science, ethics, and history. I quickly became a national security wonk and spent most of my Dartmouth career on the International Relations track. The greatest gifts the government department has given me are critical thinking and communication skills, such as the ability to distill and synthesize information and to carefully construct an argument. The Dickey Center for International Understanding has also been a key component of my undergraduate experience. I was a student leader and participant in the War and Peace Fellows program, which granted me unparalleled access to highly esteemed public servants. This academic year alone, we had the rare opportunity to meet with former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, former Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner ’83, Special Representative to Iran Brian Hook, and Special Representative to Venezuela Elliott Abrams, among others, to discuss their career paths and the greatest national security threats of the day. These discussions have helped to shape my future ambitions. I also am grateful for Dartmouth’s teacher-scholar model and the chance to learn from and develop one-on-one relationships with professors. I am especially indebted to Professor Press and Professor Benjamin Valentino, both of who have served as academic, personal, and professional mentors, role models, and advisers throughout these past four years.”
Arvind Suresh ’19
Ladera Ranch, Calif.
Biology major and Computer Science minor
What’s next: Starts medical school at Geisel School of Medicine in August
“I’ve always wanted to become a doctor, but Dartmouth encouraged me to explore how different fields interact with each other. I’ve tried to do that with my interests in biology, computer science, and music. I’ve sung Indian Carnatic music since I was a kid, and that’s something I’ve been able to continue here through Shanti, the Hindu student organization on campus. As a Stamps Scholar, I traveled to India to explore how listening to and playing music can impact health. Other meaningful experiences include a class about eye diseases in which we had the chance to travel to India to a famous eye hospital to see the impact of research in this field; completing my senior thesis on a protein called PV1, based on research started during my freshman winter working in a lab at the Geisel School; and organizing the TEDx conference here on campus. This April we had over 800 people in the audience. The main lesson I’ve learned in my time here is that sense of community when you’re learning from others and helping them learn. It’s something that we do extremely well at Dartmouth and I hope to be able to take with me.”
Hannah Silverstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.