Class of 2021 co-valedictorians: Chris Avanessian, Shea Delehaunty and Lisa Spagnuolo

Publication Date

Three members of the Class of 2021 earned the distinction of valedictorian. All three graduate with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

Chris Avanessian

Chris Avanessian

Hometown: Salisbury, Md.

Majors: Chemistry and physics

Activities: Gaming4U secretary, Chemistry and Biochemistry Club secretary, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Pi Sigma, Sigma Xi

Favorite class: Religion and Food

What I'll miss most: All the professors who have supported me along my journey

Advice for incoming students: Don't procrastinate.

Life after Union: I will be entering the chemistry Ph.D. program at Johns Hopkins University.

Shea Delehaunty

Shea Delehaunty

Hometown: Marblehead, Mass.

Major: English

Minors: Spanish, psychology

Activities: Student coordinator and peer writing mentor at the Writing Center; Big Brothers Big Sisters; psychology research with Professor Kenneth DeBono; study abroad in Seville, Spain; Scholars Program; Phi Beta Kappa; Sigma Tau Delta; Psi Chi (psychology honor society)

Favorite class: Hamilton and the American Story with Professor Patricia Wareh and Professor Jillmarie Murphy; and Queer Theory with Professor Jennifer Mitchell. The former encouraged me to think cross-disciplinarily about the musical Hamilton, about Alexander Hamilton and the other founding fathers and what it means to be an American. The latter taught me to unsettle boundaries and binaries and to think deeply and critically about how our world is structured and why it functions the way it does.

What I'll miss most: Being challenged to think about something from a new perspective, whether by my professors or by my classmates. My most rewarding experiences at Union have been conversations, both inside and outside the classroom, in which I've been encouraged to think in new ways about myself and about the world around me, and I will certainly miss walking away from those discussions feeling like my brain has just had a serious workout.

Advice for incoming students: Do not be afraid to push yourself to do things that might initially feel outside of your comfort zone, whether that is taking a class in a subject you don't have much experience with or joining a club that you're not quite sure about. That being said, do not be afraid to say no, either - if there is anything any of us have learned attending college during a pandemic, it is that burn-out is real! Look for that balance of pushing yourself and knowing when you might just need a break.

Life after Union: Beginning in late August, I will be working as an associate kindergarten teacher at the Tower School in Marblehead. I plan to eventually attend graduate school to get my master's degree in education and train to become a reading specialist so I can support young children in reading and language learning.

Lisa Spagnuolo

Lisa Spagnuolo

Hometown: Wayland, Mass.

Major: Neuroscience

Activities: Varsity golf, Honor Council, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Peer Tutor, Club Ice Hockey Team, Phi Beta Kappa

Favorite class: I can’t pick just one! My top three are: Experimental Neurobiology with Professor Robert Olberg, General Endocrinology with Professor Brian Cohen and Developmental Psychology with Professor Linda Stanhope.

What I'll miss most: The tight-knit community. The atmosphere at Union is unlike any other, and I know how much I will miss being surrounded by such smart, kind and supportive people every single day.

Advice for incoming students: Be yourself and do not be afraid to try new things. College is a time to truly discover who you are and who you want to be. Union is filled with so many resources and opportunities that you should always try to seek out because you never know what great people or things they may lead you to. Also, be sure to value your college experience, I assure you that it goes by in the blink of an eye!

Life after Union: This year I will be working in a clinical role that focuses on patient care and applying to physician assistant school with hopes of beginning in fall 2022.