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Q&A with the Valedictorian of the Class of 2021

As commencement approaches for the Class of 2021, Valedictorian Chantal Chacho ’21 took a few minutes to look back on her time at Saint Peter’s University. She is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in psychology.

What is your favorite Saint Peter’s memory?

There are so many incredible memories I can recall, but if I had to choose one, it would have to be the first time I attended the Michaelmas Convocation. The Michaelmas Convocation is an annual event that recognizes the academic achievements of undergraduate students at Saint Peter’s. This moment was special to me because it was the first time my work was recognized at a college level. It gave me a boost of confidence, demonstrated that my freshman year was a success and proved that all the hard work paid off.

What is one piece of advice you have for the incoming freshman class?

I would advise them to find an intermediate point between having fun and working hard. It is important for you to manage your time between academics and fun activities. Freshman year marks the beginning of college life and is important for you to be responsible for your grades. However, there should always be time to have fun, to socialize and make new connections.

What is one thing you would have done differently over your time at Saint Peter’s?

As a freshman, I had the mentality that my first year of college was going to dictate my GPA and I solely focused on studying and getting those A’s. Yet, I feel that I missed the opportunity to enjoy that time much more than I did. I should have opened myself up to new experiences and gave myself the chance to meet new people. It would have made the beginning of my freshman year more enjoyable and less stressful.

What was your favorite course?

As a biology major I enjoyed most of my science classes, but the one course that I consider my favorite is Anatomy and Physiology. I am interested in a career in physical therapy and I believe A&P is one of the most essential courses for this field as it investigates the structure and function of the human body.

What will you miss most about Saint Peter’s?

I will miss the close family I have formed with my fellow classmates and the faculty at Saint Peter’s. I will miss the campus where students would sit together at the Quad, library or cafeteria and just enjoy the time together. I will also miss the many times professors took the time to help us with material we did not understand.

What are you most excited and most nervous about for graduation and what comes next?

I cannot wait for my in-person graduation activities on June 17. I am both excited and nervous to meet the new adventures awaiting me outside of Saint Peter’s after I graduate. Yet, I am confident that the education I received from Saint Peter’s will help me to succeed in my future challenges.

My next, and by far my biggest challenge, is attending graduate school. I will be attending Columbia University’s physical therapy program this upcoming fall where I will spend my next three years preparing myself to earn my doctoral degree and become a physical therapist.