Ashely Duraiswamy ’20 Named Valedictorian
Ashley Duraiswamy ’20 has been selected as the Class of 2020 Valedictorian.
Ashley Duraiswamy ’20 has been selected as the Class of 2020 Valedictorian. Each year, the Valedictorian is selected from a group of V Formers as the individual with the highest academic achievements, curiosity, and intellectual vitality. Duraiswamy will address the V Form at this year’s virtual graduation ceremony on May 31.
Duraiswamy is an editor of The Lawrenceville Historical Review, The Linguist, and Prize Papers and served as a Beta Reader for Working Title. Her writing has been published in The Lit, Working Title, and on the School’s website. She is also Co-President of the School’s Creative Writing Club, President of the Classics Club, and a two-time finalist in the Woodrow Wilson Speaking Competition and the Poetry Out Loud Competition. She is also involved with numerous performing arts groups on campus, singing in The Lawrentians and performing in two musicals: Romeo and Juliet and Guys and Dolls.
The process of naming this year’s Valedictorian started with Housemasters and Assistant Housemasters nominating certain students. A group of faculty, including Housemasters, Deans, and V Form Level Director Jason Larson H'03 '19, then discussed the nominees. According to Larson, they took into consideration the rigor of their academic schedules as they wanted “somebody who excels in the humanities, math and science, someone who is involved in extracurriculars, and someone [who] studies and follows their passion outside of the classroom.” “Ultimately, the person who becomes Valedictorian...is very well respected amongst the faculty who are discussing the top scholars,” said Larson.
Once a decision was reached through a faculty vote, Larson called Duraiswamy with the news. “She was so happy and...thankful when I called her,” he said. “It was one of the most fun things I [got] to do all year.”
For Duraiswamy, the news was a surprise. “At first I was just very shocked. It took me awhile just to...get over that,” she said. “Afterwards, I was deeply honored, but I was also a bit worried about how the speech was going to go...The way I think about it, it’s not just an empty title that you can put on your resume. It’s...a responsibility...to make sure that even if it’s just five or eight minutes, [I] give a decent speech to the School...[and] say goodbye to everyone after four years of being together.”
Due to the fact that this year’s graduation will be held virtually, Duraiswamy plans on incorporating some of what she has learned from being away from campus into her speech. “I don’t want to spend my whole speech...lamenting that we couldn’t be on campus, because I think everyone feels that way...but at the same time not being there...has made me realize and appreciate a lot of the things before that I took for granted,” she said. “The last [term] has given me a new angle in which I look at the School, and that’s helped me when it comes to designing my speech.”
Duraiswamy’s speech will be pre-recorded and shared online, a sizable change from past years; but, she still plans on preserving a sense of normalcy. “I hope, in a way, that I can...make everyone feel that even though we already left campus, we’re still in the process of graduating from Lawenceville, and in that way it’s the same as it’s been in the past years,” she said.
Reflecting on her time at Lawrenceville, Duraiswamy said the thing that will stick with her the most is the supportiveness of the community. “There have been a lot of times when I thought I couldn’t do something, but there were so many people behind me who were saying, ‘You can do this. You’re capable of doing this,’ and I think...because of that support, I’ve managed to get through these four years...I couldn’t really imagine a Lawrenceville in which people didn’t support each other like that.”