From the tennis courts to the residence halls to Austin Scholars, Hope Salts has lived a full Merrimack College experience. And at the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 22, she gets one final experience: addressing her fellow graduates.
The political science and pre-law major was selected as the Class of 2022 student speaker and will address more than 700 graduates at Duane Stadium. Salts said the main focus of her address is the deep sense of community at Merrimack.
“Merrimack is a place where you can really build a community of your own,” said Salts, who is from Temecula, CA. “And I think that is indicative of a lot of my fellow graduates’ experiences. This place has really become a home for me.”
The student speakers for both the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies are selected by committees comprised of faculty and staff, following a nomination process and candidates submitting a video of themselves reading their speech.
“The selection committee was very impressed with Hope’s authenticity and humility,” said Mark Allman, vice provost of undergraduate education and faculty affairs. “She is a student with an enthusiasm for life and an inviting personality that exudes gratitude, joy and genuineness. In this she embodies what we hope and work for with all our students.”
In addition to the communities she has built, Salts said when people ask her what sets Merrimack apart from other colleges, she replies it is the connections students can make with their professors. She specifically called out Kevin McGravey, associate professor in political science, for helping her navigate the law school application process.
After Merrimack, Salts will attend St. John’s University of Law in New York and hopes to practice criminal law. She has served as an intern for both the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office in California and the Lowell Court Service Center.
“I am the first in my family to go to law school, and Prof. McGravey wrote me a recommendation letter and helped me craft my personal statement,” Salts said. “At Merrimack you can really build close relationships with your professors.”
As she looks out onto the thousands of people attending Commencement, Salts said one thing that will stick with her is how helpful and supportive those in her Merrimack circles are.
“People really do care about each other,” said Salts. “They go out of their way to help you and apart from my family, the people who I have met here are the ones who have consistently been there for me.”