As Class of 2018 salutatorian, Julia Friedman ’17 (Communication Disorders) of Centerport, N.Y., will serve as student speaker at the Saturday Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on May 19, as she walks the stage with fellow College of Liberal Arts & Sciences graduates.
Friedman has been a core member of the Women’s Soccer team since she arrived at SUNY New Paltz, leading the team in minutes played in the 2017 season and helping them finish strong last fall.
“We were able to pull out two wins in our final two games at home, one of which was our senior game. That was an amazing feeling,” Friedman said. “Playing soccer on this team has been incredible. You make a family of teammates and it’s so rewarding. It teaches you so much too: time management, discipline, leadership.”
She was a model performer off the field as well. She earned SUNY Athletic Conference academic awards throughout her time on the team and served on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, which gave her opportunities to attend NCAA conferences in Syracuse, N.Y.
“We learned a lot about how the NCAA works and got to vote on legislation. It was very cool to see the background of all that,” she said.
As a student in the Communication Disorders program, Friedman gained clinical experience working closely with faculty and clients at the recently-renovated Speech-Language and Hearing Center. She plans to draw on this experience as she progresses toward a career as a nurse practitioner.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with the professors here, and the clients have taught me so much, too,” she said. “They know we’re students learning so they want to help us, and at the same time we’re able to use that information to benefit them.
“I’ve learned so much in this program and I want to take that with me into my career, to be a strong advocate for my clients who have difficulty communicating.”
Friedman also found time to study abroad in Florence, Italy, where she took advantage of a chance to volunteer as an English teacher in a fifth grade classroom. She says the key to all of these experiences has been her willingness to try new approaches to meeting every challenge.
“I’ve grown a great deal in my time here,” she said “I’ve come to understand flexibility – things may not always go as you plan, but you have to adapt and make the best of every situation.”