Skip to main content

Kennedy Center Names Valedictorians for 2022

Photo: Director Stan Benfell (center) at the Kennedy Center’s April 2022 graduation ceremony with (from left to right) Rachel Barnes, Patricia MacCabe, Jo Huey, and Morgan Selander

This year, for the first time, the Kennedy Center has named valedictorians for each of its six major programs. Quinn Mecham, Associate Director for Academics and Research, explains, “We thought it was important that each major honor their top students.”

The seven valedictorians (one program named two) are as follows:

  • Ancient Near Eastern Studies: Rachel Barnes
  • Asian Studies: McCall Andersen
  • European Studies: Morgan Selander
  • International Relations: Patricia MacCabe
  • Latin American Studies: Roman Orr
  • Middle East Studies/Arabic: Christian Moody and Shelby Jo Huey (co-valedictorians)

Valedictorians were chosen by the major faculty of each major based on their overall performance, which included academics, leadership roles, and other extracurricular activities.

Being chosen as valedictorian was “kind of a surprise,” says Selander, the European Studies valedictorian, but was the result of “a lot of hard work and just focusing a lot on classes, schoolwork, and involvement at BYU and the Kennedy Center, which I loved.”

She says that being named valedictorian will help with her future goals. “I think, going forward, being a valedictorian can help me with grad school; I’m hoping to apply for grad school in the next few years, so maybe it will help me get my foot in the door at some good schools.”

Barnes, the Ancient Near Eastern Studies valedictorian, is full of praise for her program and for her time at the Kennedy Center. “It taught me to think outside of myself,” she says. “It taught me how to communicate in writing and it taught me how to read lengthy, technical, niche things that other people aren’t really going to understand. At the end of the day, what I want to do is law school; my major is only peripherally related to that, but it’s valuable to me as someone who was raised religious because it’s all about religion and it’s all about the Bible, and it’s valuable to me to know the source of what I have been raised with my whole life. This is the source of my beliefs; this is the source of how I’ve been living my life.”

“The valedictorians honored by the Kennedy Center are some of the most accomplished students at BYU,” says Mecham. “Because of the unique academic experience that the Kennedy Center provides, they are also some of the most globally experienced, linguistically talented, insightful, and empathetic graduates one can find anywhere.”