Valedictorian Amanda Sayegh ’18 is on the Fast Track to Success
May 11, 2018 — For Amanda Sayegh (pronounced “sage”), Marist was not always at the top of her list of colleges to attend. Having grown up just a few miles away in Lagrangeville, she wasn’t sure she wanted to attend school so close to home. But her mom insisted that she at least attend the College’s Open House for Accepted Students, and that visit ended up convincing Amanda that Marist was for her. Says Sayegh, “I’m so grateful my mom made me go. I found such a nice, welcoming atmosphere at Marist that felt different from other schools, and the faculty I spoke with were just amazing. Also, the new science building was being constructed, and there were plans for a PA program, so it just felt right.”
Three years later, Sayegh is the valedictorian of Marist’s Class of 2018, a recognition of her distinctive academic achievements as an undergraduate. Sayegh, a biomedical sciences major, is graduating a year early because of the 33 college credits she brought to Marist with her, a result of both AP courses at Our Lady of Lourdes High School and classes taken at Dutchess Community College. “I had to double up on my science courses at Marist, but my dad is so happy that I saved him a year of tuition,” she said.
Sayegh has always had a strong interest in anatomy and physiology, so biomedical sciences was a natural fit for her. “The classes never felt like a chore, and they prepared me for my goal of working in healthcare,” she noted. “[Assistant Professor of Biology] Paula Checchi was a big influence on me. Her class was the most difficult one I took at Marist, but it was also my favorite. My skill levels really increased over the course of the semester, and I learned a lot of laboratory techniques.” Sayegh went on to serve as Professor Checchi’s teaching assistant, further developing her competencies and earning kudos. Said Dr. Checchi, “Amanda is that student that professors love to see on their course roster at the beginning of the semester – the rare mix of intellect, energy, drive, and humility that we (as faculty) all imagined our classrooms would be full of when we first decided to pursue teaching. She may say I’ve helped her, but she has made me a far better educator, one who is proud to have chosen a career as a teacher-scholar at a liberal arts college.”
Internships and Community Support
During her Marist career, Sayegh has amassed significant experience working with patients in a healthcare setting. Over summers and breaks, she worked as a unit aide at a nursing home in nearby Fishkill, and she also volunteered at a surgery center in Cornwall. At the latter, she had the opportunity to help the nurses with post-operative care and observe surgery. Sayegh also earned college credit for her work in the Mid-Hudson Medical Center emergency room, an internship arranged for her by Lecturer of Biology Amy Cahill. Finally, she gained additional training at the BioSkills Lab in New York City, learning to suture and practicing surgery using cadavers. Supplementing her practical experience, Sayegh got involved in Delta Epsilon Mu, a professional, co-ed pre-health fraternity.
Sayegh’s time at Marist wasn’t all work, though. Despite an intensive schedule, she found time to participate in Campus Ministry’s annual community service day and was an active member of the Red Ink Art Club, which organizes weekend art projects as a way for students to socialize and relieve stress. Says Sayegh, “Marist is such a close-knit community that it feels smaller than it actually is. I can go up to anyone on campus and introduce myself or ask a question; it’s so open and welcoming, and that’s unique. I’ll always carry that camaraderie with me.” In 2016, the Marist community stepped up to lend its support when Sayegh lost her close friend Courtney Fisher ’19. “The College organized a beautiful memorial service for Courtney, and the Cabaret was packed. I was so touched that all of these people who didn’t even know her took time out of their day to attend.”
All in the Family
Interestingly, both Marist and success run in the Sayegh family. Her father’s cousin is an alumnus of the College, as are her brother Michael ’14 and her cousin Samantha ’16. Her cousin David is currently a Marist freshman, while her cousin Kevin will join the Class of 2022 this fall. The family has done extremely well after college: her father’s cousin is a doctor, Michael is graduating from medical school this month, and Samantha is currently attending law school.
Continuing this tradition of academic excellence, Sayegh plans to obtain a graduate degree in Physician Assistant studies. Family is extremely important to her, so she’ll likely pursue her career in healthcare right here in the Hudson River Valley. Sayegh’s only regret? That because of her heavy course load, she didn’t have the opportunity to study abroad. However, the Marist ethos of service to others has clearly rubbed off on her, because her goal is to do an international service trip to Haiti or another country in which people lack access to medical care. And like every other goal Sayegh has set for herself, there’s no reason to believe she won’t achieve it.