University of Maine names 2020 valedictorian, salutatorian

Published: Apr. 9, 2020 at 10:28 AM EDT
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Two Maine women have earned the University of Maine's top academic honors for the Class of 2020. Windham native Sierra Yost is UMaine's valedictorian and Holden's Grace Smith is this year's salutatorian.

Yost is a chemical engineering major and member of the Black Bears cross country and track and field teams. Smith is a molecular and cellular biology major.

Both are students in the Honors College. They're each involved in various clubs and programs and have shown strong community involvement.

It's been an emotional few weeks for the seniors, but they're able to see the bigger picture.

"I would rather do this and flatten the curve and do all the things we're supposed to do to save lives than to have my Graduation ceremony," said Yost. "That doesn't matter to me. I know I'm valedictorian. I have that. I will always have that and so how we celebrate is irrelevant to me when people's lives are at stake."

"As a researcher, it brings into context how important what we do is," said Smith. "Hopefully in the future, I probably won't be contributing towards the next pandemic, but hopefully I'll be able to help people."

The University hopes to hold a belated in-person Commencement celebration in the fall.