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Senior Speaker: Arielle Valdez

April 26, 2017

Photo by Ted Jack ’15


Arielle Valdez ’17 will be the student speaker at the College of Arts and Sciences commencement on May 6. A committee of seniors, staff, and faculty selected Arielle, who is completing majors in both psychology and rhetoric and media studies, as the winner of this year’s Senior Speaker Competition.

During her time at Lewis & Clark, Arielle has been busy both in and out of the classroom. A four-year varsity athlete on the golf team, she also served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, sang with student a capella group The Merryweathers, and worked in Student Support Services and the Trail Room.

We talked with Arielle about her time at Lewis & Clark and how a liberal arts education has prepared her for a future in teaching.

Do you feel Lewis & Clark has changed you?

Lewis & Clark has allowed me to grow into someone I am very proud to be. It’s difficult to put it into words because I feel like I’ve learned so much about so many different things. The people I’ve met have not only encouraged me to be a better student and friend, but also pushed me to be more confident in myself. Without their support, I would not be where I am today.

What was your favorite class? How did it expand your knowledge?

My favorite was Education in a Complex World, taught by Jennifer de Saxe. This class taught me so much about education in America, and allowed me to reflect on my own path. I was able to learn about and discuss the perspectives various scholars have on public education, what value society places on education, how the public school system works in America, and how we can improve education in our country. This class is what made me want to go to grad school to become an elementary school teacher.

What was your favorite activity outside of class?

I loved being a resident advisor! Being an RA allowed me to get to know so many people on campus, including some who impacted me greatly. One of my favorite things is learning other people’s stories, and I was extremely fortunate to become friends with not just students, but a lot of amazing faculty and staff members as well. 

What made you want to come to L&C?

One of the things I was really adamant about during my college search was finding a liberal arts school where I could get to know my classmates and my professors. Lewis & Clark totally fit the bill, so it went on my list. Then, when I came for a tour, I was awed by the beautiful campus. Those two things convinced me that I wanted to be a part of the community.

What’s your favorite memory from your four years here?

I have so many great memories, but one of my favorites is actually from my first year. I invited eight or nine friends over to one of the Copeland lounges, and we just had a food party. That was when I began to feel like L&C really was my home away from home. I’ve met so many people since then, and the food parties just get bigger and better. But that first one—it’s a moment I’ll never forget. 

Do you have any plans for after graduation?

I’m going home for the summer to spend some time with my family. Then, I plan to move back to Portland to work as a teacher’s assistant. I intend to follow that experience by applying to the Graduate School of Education and Counseling program in elementary education.

What message do you hope to convey to your fellow graduates at commencement?

I have two. First, I want to tell my fellow graduates that I am truly honored and humbled to be representing our class. I cannot adequately express how grateful I am for this opportunity and I hope to do them proud. Secondly, I hope to convey that I am so impressed with all the work we have done in the past four years, and that I want them to continue pursuing their passions beyond college. 

Commencement Academics Admissions

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