Elms College achieved an unprecedented milestone for Commencement 2015, having two valedictorians.

Meghan Goodrow and Julianne Stasiowski

Social work and psychology major Julianne Stasiowski (left) and communication sciences and disorders major Meghan Goodrow are Elms College's two valedictorians for 2015.

Elms Doubles Down on Valedictorians 

Elms College was pleased to have not one, but two valedictorians this year. Meghan Goodrow of Sunderland, a communication sciences and disorders (CSD) major, and Julianne Stasiowski of Chicopee, a social work and psychology double major, both earned perfect 4.0 GPAs during their college careers.

At Elms College’s 84th commencement on May 16, both women also received the Founder’s Cross of Honor, established by His Excellency Most Rev. Thomas M. O’Leary, bishop of Springfield, and co-founder and first president of the college. The Founder’s Cross has been awarded since the college’s first commencement in 1932 to the member of the senior class with the highest grade-point average. The fact that there are two recipients this year – even after examining both student’s GPAs beyond several decimal places – is unprecedented.

This fall, Meghan will enter graduate school at the University of Massachusetts to pursue her master’s in speech-language pathology. It was a life-changing meeting with an exceptional third-grader with cerebral palsy that put her on the CSD path when she was still in high school.

“This little boy who had numerous challenges to face every single day was the happiest, most genuine soul alive,” Meghan said of the young man she called Gradie in her valedictory address. “This was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be inspired. I wanted to inspire people and children myself. I wanted to touch people’s lives in deep and profound ways, just as Gradie had done for me.”

Julianne will pursue her master’s in social work at Springfield College -- she has received advanced standing in the program there, so she will complete her MSW in a year -- but said her degree in psychology will also come in handy.

“I’m leaning more toward social work for my degree and what jobs I’ll be doing, but psychology always helps. They go together pretty well,” she said.

Julianne flexed her psychology muscle this spring by presenting a paper at the Eastern Psychological Association Conference in Philadelphia with classmate Dan Teague, a fellow psychology and social work double major, on an experiment they had developed as part of their independent-study project for Associate Professor Jennifer Rivers, Ph.D. Their work studied the factors that can affect willingness to donate to charitable organizations, using pound puppies as their example.

“It was a great experience, being able to present our own research and share that research with colleagues,” Julianne said. “Most people were very surprised about our finding in our particular study: that more donations were made to a puppy shelter when participants were presented with a positive picture of a ‘happy’-looking puppy. We’re so used to seeing commercials with sad music, and heartbreaking pictures of suffering animals,” she said.

Meghan’s valedictory address

Julianne’s valedictory address

 

Commencement 2015 photo gallery