Providence College Commencement 2013
Academic Lives of Meaning and Purpose
Excellence, Giving Spirit Define Valedictorian’s Past, Present, and Future
~ Christopher Machado, Academic Communications Director for Academic Affairs
Providence, R.I. - Four years ago, Margaret “Maggie” Szot ’13 (Keene, N.H.) left her high school as class valedictorian. In a few weeks, she’ll leave Providence College the very same way.
Szot, who will address fellow graduates at the Academic Awards Ceremony on Saturday, May 18, has earned summa cum laude honors — with a 4.0 grade point average — as a member of the rigorous Liberal Arts Honors Program. A biology major with a minor in public and community service studies, she has earned the distinction as top student after achieving straight A’s at PC.
In addition to highest in rank, her sterling academic record will be recognized with two other honors during the Academic Awards Ceremony. She will receive the Highest in Concentration honor for biology and the St. Thomas Aquinas Health Professions Award, which is given to the pre-medical or pre-dental senior who best exemplifies the ideals of Aquinas in scholarship, moral character, and devotion to PC.
Following graduation, Szot, who is a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta (the national premedical honor society) and an oboe player in a PC quartet, will attend Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.
While she’s unsure as to what her medical school specialization will be, her choice of major and minor at PC have been extensions of her personal interests and life goals — which have oftentimes been intertwined.
Science and service
Szot became a licensed nursing assistant in high school. During winter and summer breaks from PC, she has worked as a nursing assistant at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene, monitoring vital signs and assisting in the intensive care unit.
“I love it,” Szot said. “It’s such a privilege to care for someone in that way. It reinforced my dreams of becoming a doctor.”
As a student on the premedical academic track at PC, Szot complemented her science-heavy course load and medical career aspirations with earnest efforts to give back.
Through the College’s Feinstein Institute for Public Service, she volunteered in a pediatric playroom at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. She also led a group of PC volunteers at Clinica Esperanza, a Providence clinic that offers free, high-quality medical care and preventative health services to uninsured Rhode Islanders.
On a more far-reaching scale, Szot has volunteered on three medical missions to earthquake-ravaged Haiti with a team of doctors and nurses from New Hampshire. During the weeklong missions, which took place in the summer of 2010 and the winters of 2011 and 2012, Szot helped set up a clinic for residents who needed to be treated for a number of maladies.
“People would come to the clinic and sit there all day in the hot sun with children, but they had so much patience,” Szot said.
She added, “If I had to choose what I wanted to do right now, it would probably be family medicine, and I want to be sure that a part of my career in medicine is focused on caring for underserved populations. The trips to Haiti gave me a new perspective.”
Graduating with gratitude
Coming in as a freshman at PC, Szot said she was “overwhelmed” and found it difficult to find a “balance” between being a high-achieving student concentrated on academics and a teenager focused on acclimating to college life.
“But, this is the place where I learned to do good work and also do things that I love to do outside of school,” she said. “I found out quickly just how welcoming and caring PC was. There are so many genuine and kind people here.”
Many of those people, she said, are the faculty members who helped guide her through an undeniably successful academic career.
“The faculty genuinely cares for our well-being and wants us to have a meaningful experience,” she said. “I am so blessed to have a PC education. I have a well-rounded knowledge, and the classes that I took in philosophy, sociology, and public service studies, for instance, will be invaluable in helping me relate to patients from all backgrounds.”