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Georgetown’s 2018 Valedictorian: Grace Lafaire ‘11

At Georgetown University’s McDonough Undergraduate School of Business 2018 Commencement, Grace Lafaire ‘11 was honored as valedictorian of her graduating class, having earned a cumulative grade-point average of 4.0. The finance major/ economics minor visited Green Vale this week where she was received with enthusiastic congratulations and expressions of pride from a dozen of her former teachers. With a month of free time before starting a job with JP Morgan's Mergers & Acquisitions group, Grace sat down with GVS’ Marketing & Communications Director to discuss her achievement and its origins at Green Vale:

GVS: How did you do it? What made you so engaged?

GL: After high school at Chapin in Manhattan, I chose Georgetown over Duke and Johns Hopkins for its undergrad business program. Due to the Washington DC location, we benefited from visiting professors from places like the World Bank and the IMF. As far as the work, I took it semester by semester, exam by exam. I always studied on the quiet floor of the library, and ran on Clif bars, water, and eight hours of sleep without exception.

GVS: Was there a particularly hard course?

GL: My sophomore year I took “Macro-Economic Policies & Institutions.” Near the end of the semester, I learned it was a masters-level course. That explained why there were a bunch of older adults in there!”

GVS: How did Green Vale help prepare you?

GL: I would have to say CURIOSITY. Starting with Mrs. Pappas encouraging us to explore and ask questions, that message of constant learning has always stuck. Also careful time management. Mrs. Pries and later Senora Aguirre taught me to study with hand-written flash cards and that was still my go-to method at Georgetown. I hope current Green Vale students know that what they are learning here will be truly foundational -- you WILL see the themes and topics emerge again. I used notes from Mr. Quartararo’s math class in college. One of the best papers I ever wrote in any school was an 8th Grade US history paper taking a contrarian view of Richard Nixon as one of our best presidents. This class and Mr. Vachris inspired my love of history and eventually an internship with the New York Historical Society where I came across Ford’s signed pardon of Nixon. My learning really came full circle.

GVS: What was it like giving your speech?

GL: It was a challenge giving a speech that would be relevant to a diverse audience of classmates as well as their families. My sister Marielle ‘09 won the Green Vale speech contest so she was my coach! I spoke about being inspired by Georgetown’s Jesuit values--- a passion for learning and being well rounded. Another theme was reshaping what it means to be a businessperson. We may be graduating into an economy where faith in business leaders is perhaps at a low, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

We asked some of Grace's Green Vale teachers what they remembered most about her. Their focus was on her strength of character:

"Bright, sweet, funny...never an unkind word or deed...always happy to see you." - Peter Zaloom

"There was NEVER a day she didn't have a giant smile. Ever.  She was so responsible that she could have been a substitute teacher, even at age 7." - Melissa Noga