Marisa Gargaro ’15 of West Islip, N.Y., has been named the Class of 2015 valedictorian at SUNY New Paltz. As the top student in her class, Gargaro will address her fellow candidates for graduation at the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 17, at the Old Main Quadrangle on the New Paltz campus.
As of Commencement, Gargaro, a communication disorders major with a minor in linguistics, will have completed her degree requirements in just three years.
Outside of her studies, Gargaro is the captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team, and also part of the Relay for Life club, in which she held various positions.
“As soon as I came here to visit, I fell in love with the school,” said Gargaro of New Paltz. “The campus is beautiful.”
Gargaro was initially interested in studying education and working with special needs children. But on her way home from visiting the New Paltz campus, she discovered the communication disorders program among the brochures she picked up during her visit, and thought it sounded like a better fit.
“I was thinking I’d go the special education route,” said Gargaro. “But through this (communication disorders) major, I saw that I could work with kids with special needs in schools, but I could also work with adults in hospitals or rehab facilities. The field is so much wider, which I love. … As I got more into my major, I knew I was in the right place.”
After graduating from New Paltz, Gargaro will pursue her master’s degree in speech-language pathology at Queens College in Flushing, N.Y.
Class of 2015 salutatorian Sarah Walling ’14 of Castleton-On-Hudson, N.Y., majored in Spanish and minored in linguistics and music. She was a member of Circle K International, and was also involved with the Anime Club and the Gaming Society during her freshman year.
“I liked that the school was fairly small, and I didn’t feel so anonymous,” said Walling. “I liked the scenery, and I liked the majors that were offered.”
Since graduating in December 2014, Walling has been seeking employment in the Spanish translation/interpretation field. She said she would also be interested in securing a position in the arts which would allow her to utilize her music minor.
Walling said one of her fondest memories of New Paltz is playing the alto saxophone in the Symphonic Band ensemble with Joël Evans, deputy chair and associate professor in the Music Department.