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Merritt, ’17, announced student speaker for commencement

Susan Donahue, News Editor

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Robert (Robbie) Merritt tells The Crier he has wanted to be the student speaker at graduation since he watched Saint A’s commencement his freshman year. He has been attending Saint A’s graduation every year since. On April 24 President Steven DiSalvo told Merritt at a private meeting that he has been selected as the student speaker for 2017 commencement.

Merritt says that writing his commencement speech has been “a four year long process.” He started to write his speech freshman year and would go back and add to it when he had meaningful experiences during his time at the college. He says that while living on campus this past summer, “the framework of the speech came to me.” He tells The Crier that the theme of his speech is “full circle.”

The President’s Office told The Crier that the speech selection process begins with an email sent out to the senior class which describes the theme of the speech and invites students to submit speech transcripts. A committee reads all of the speeches blind, without knowing which students wrote them. The top speeches selected by the committee are then given to Dr. DiSalvo who makes the final selection. The student who is selected will then work with an English faculty member. Merritt will be working with Professor Gary Bouchard of the English Department to edit and finalize his speech.

Courtesy\Maggie Lynch
Robbie Merritt ’17.

Merritt says the first people he called when he got the news that his speech was chosen were his mother and grandmother. He tells The Crier that delivering this speech will “mean a lot” because he has about 15 people attending his graduation including many family members from far away who have not been able to see many of his college career milestones.

Merritt is from Salem, New Hampshire and majoring in English and Spanish.  He will be attending Boston University in the fall to earn a master’s in English. He tells The Crier he will pursue a Ph.D. in English and a career as an English Professor.

“I want to teach at a school that has similar student faculty relationships to here because I know that has made a difference for me. Having my professors so accessible, to be able to just walk into their offices and talk about classes, has been great.”

Merritt states he was not sure initially about his decision to attend Saint A’s. He had applied to many large urban schools. Saint A’s was the first school he toured but he says what made him settle on the Hilltop “was that I kept coming back to this school, comparing every other college to what Saint A’s had.” He says that within the first few weeks he knew Saint A’s was the right place for him.

Freshman year he ran for class president and was elected. Merritt says, “that was the pivotal moment in my college career. That’s where I got introduced to all my friends. That also got me in contact with the administrators who just wrote my recommendations for me.”

He also served as Class Senator for his sophomore and junior years. He was again elected this year as Senior Class President along with his Vice President, Amy Vachon. He calls his time as class president his “most meaningful experience here.”

Merritt has also been involved in the Admissions Office. He applied as a first semester freshman and became a tour guide spring of freshman year. He has worked in the Admissions Office every summer since freshman year. Merritt became a mentor in the office junior year and a coordinator senior year.

“My favorite part of working in the office is following prospective students through the admissions process. It’s cool to take somebody on a tour and then out of coincidence have them for an interview. Then when they get accepted seeing them at Open House then seeing them deposit. Knowing you were able to share how much you love the school and get someone else to love it too.” says Merritt.

He also discussed how spiritual development played a huge role in his time at Saint A’s. A few weeks into freshman year he was invited by his friend to go to mass. “l immediately loved it. I think the first thing that hit me was the choir, how beautiful it was.” Merritt states. Sophomore year he enrolled in Campus Ministries RCIA program and was confirmed in the spring of his sophomore year. Merritt also calls his Spring Break Alternative trip to Philadelphia, which came just a few weeks before his confirmation, an “affirmation” of this decision to get confirmed.

He says that “you don’t have to be Catholic to come here but the fact that you have the resources to become a [participant] is a really special thing. If I didn’t have those opportunities I don’t know if I would be where I am today.”

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The student news site of Saint Anselm College
Merritt, ’17, announced student speaker for commencement