An Interview with OC’s Superb Salutatorian

Kathryn Daigle '17, Assistant Editor


Marielle Gleason was named the Salutatorian of the Class of 2016 at the recent Honors Convocation. She has excelled at Oakland academically, but we all know that we will miss her gentle smile and lovely kindness more than her flawless GPA. I recently had the honor of asking her a few questions about her four years at OC, and here’s a sneak peak!

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to attend the University of Notre Dame to study engineering starting this fall! I’m really excited to start learning in a college environment and to explore the various engineering fields further before I choose (or decide it isn’t for me, who knows?).

What teacher has made the biggest impression on you and why?

I would say Ms. McNulty. Her passion for what she does and the topics she teaches always shines through in the classroom. She is extremely diligent about presenting all sides of an issue and forcing her students to consider different viewpoints. I’ve gained so much perspective in the two years I’ve had her and the way of thinking she has imparted will stick with me forever.

What will you miss most about your OC community?

Definitely the supportive environment. For the most part, both the students and faculty here genuinely care and will work their hardest to help out if you need anything. My classmates are never reluctant to help one another study or offer advice and whenever I’ve broken down in times of stress, my teachers have been extremely understanding and accommodating.

What is your advice to incoming freshmen?

Focus on what interests you! Don’t worry about whether or not it’s the “right” thing to do or try to tailor your interests to fit what you might think you want as a future career. There will be plenty of time to figure that out later, and since you’ll probably end up changing your mind tons of times, you might as well focus on what you truly like anyway. Really, don’t be afraid to pour your heart and soul into anything you really care about. But also keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to try new things (and fail!). You never know what you might end up liking.

Academically speaking, we all hear stories about how cutthroat it can be up at the top with slight differences in GPAs determining class rank. At Oakland, how high were the stakes to being top in the class?

The academic attitude of the students in my class was very relaxed and generally free of competitiveness. The environment was very supportive and not at all cutthroat like you hear it is at other schools. In my experience, my classmates were always happy to see each other do well rather than hoping that others do badly to raise their own standing.

Did you ever picture becoming the salutatorian freshman year? 

I didn’t know what a salutatorian or valedictorian were until my junior year! I was academically motivated partially because my parents raised me to be diligent about homework and grades, but also partially because I was terrified of failing at anything- whether it be sports, video games, etc. Most of the time this just led me to avoid participating in things that involved keeping score, but school was something I didn’t have a choice in; I had no other option than to work hard at it. Of course, I also genuinely love learning, but for those moments when I’m buried in assignments and deadlines and I can’t remember why, fear is a sufficient motivator. In all seriousness, I think a bit of anxiousness is a good thing. Otherwise, we’d never get anything done.

Thank you, Marielle, for all of the dedication you have put into OC, and making it a better school for us! We will certainly miss you so much next year, but we wish you the best of luck!