Allegra Dawes '19, Thomas Gagliardi '19 and Samantha Miller '19 honored as co-valedictorians

Publication Date
2019 Valedictorians

Samantha Miller '19, Thomas Gagliardi '19 and Allegra Dawes '19
each achieved a 4.0 grade point average.

Three members of the Class of 2019 earned the distinction of valedictorian. All three graduate with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

Allegra Dawes

Hometown: Corning, N.Y.

Major: Mathematics

Minor: Political Science

Activities: Union College Activist Network; the Association of Women in Mathematics; Writing Center Fellow

Favorite class: Topology with Professor Alan Taylor and Shakespeare with Professor Hugh Jenkins.

What I’ll miss most: I’m tempted to say the Nott (who wouldn’t miss that bizarre 16-sided building), or the tree in Jackson’s Garden, but it’s easily the people I’ve met here that I’ll miss the most. The students, faculty and staff are what make Union the enlivening and rewarding place it is. I will miss my friends who have always supported me, laughed with me and argued with me. I will miss my professors who have guided me on this journey and have gifted me immeasurably with their time, dedication and love. I am forever grateful for a community that has enriched my life in every way.

Advice for incoming students: Take time to explore. Do not be afraid to take classes in fields that are completely new to you; look for classes that expand your spheres of interest and try to find the connections between them. I felt a lot of pressure to know my major immediately (which I didn’t), and to have a set plan for my four years here (which I never made), but I’ve found that wandering in different fields and trying new things has enriched my time here and my life immensely. Ask questions. Read stories. Talk to new people and visit new places. Learning requires time, so take it.

Life after Union: I will be attending the London School of Economics and Political Science for one year to complete a master’s degree.

Thomas Gagliardi

Hometown: Armonk, N.Y.

Major: Biochemistry

Activities: Men’s Crew Team, Phi Beta Kappa, NSF STEM Scholar, 2018-2019 Obenzinger Scholar, Writing Center Fellow, Organic Chemistry Tutor, Academic Affairs Council, Study Abroad in Brisbane, Australia, Career Assistant at Becker Career Center, Undergraduate Research and a volunteer firefighter back home.

Favorite class: Spanish 202. We had so much fun in that class.

What I'll miss most: Opportunities and community seem endless at Union. Think of anything you want to do and you can find others who share your passion to do it with.

Advice for incoming students: Welcome to the family! You will have many opportunities over the next four years, and with them, many decisions to make. Just remember that whatever you choose to do, give it your all. Celebrate your successes, learn from your mistakes, and all the while grow as an individual. Do not be afraid to try something new, and do not worry about impressing people! Just be you. While you are at Union, learn to love and love deeper. Love your classmates, your professors, your friends and your family. Remember, you can do whatever you set your mind to and you will. So make sure to pursue what is meaningful to you. Everyone is his or her own protagonist. Reflect on and build your story, but also take time to listen to someone else’s; it matters. Finally, HAVE FUN! You can find enjoyment in every aspect of your college experience, there is no need to compromise. The resources and support are here, capitalize on everything the college has to offer. Your experience comes down to attitude. Bring a good one. Be positive, create your own luck and make Union your own!

Life after Union: As of now, I will be attending New York Medical College to pursue an M.D., entering in fall of 2020. In the gap year, I am pursuing healthcare opportunities with IBM.

Samantha Miller

Hometown: San Diego, Calif.

Major: Visual Arts

Activities: Art and layout editor for the campus literary magazine, The Idol; layout editor for the campus satirical paper, The Dutch Oven; cross country and track and field athlete (track captain my junior year and cross country captain my senior year); Phi Beta Kappa

Favorite class: Physical computing my sophomore year, and my senior thesis project with Professor Fernando Orellana

What I'll miss most: Always having friends and academic resources so close and accessible

Advice for incoming students: Dive into whatever interests you. There are always times when schoolwork feels exhausting but it becomes easier if you care about your studies. Get to know your professors. Utilize office hours, ask those questions about their work, discuss your common interests, and talk to them about your goals. They know so much and can teach you about opportunities and resources you might otherwise miss. And do your best to find a balance between work and the rest of your life. It will not always be easy or even possible, but always strive for some semblance of balance.

Life after Union: I will be pursuing a Watson Fellowship in Japan, China, Malaysia, Bulgaria, and England studying abandoned architecture. After that, I will attend graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in architecture.