Q&A with 2022 Valedictorian Peter Rawlins
May 26, 2022
In an impressive graduating class of Academy men, CBA senior Peter Rawlins earned the honor of being the 2022 valedictorian. Both in and out of the classroom, Rawlins has immersed himself in the CBA experience, including playing both lacrosse and rugby, serving as the captain of the math team, participating as an altar server, and being inducted into the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society.
Rawlins will be attending Rice University in the fall with plans to enroll in the engineering program.
After delivering his valedictorian address at the Class of 2022 graduation, Rawlins reflected on his four-year career at the Academy in a question and answer series.
CBALincroftNJ.org: Explain the feeling of earning the right to be called the 2022 CBA valedictorian.
Rawlins: It definitely means a lot to me, especially given how many extremely talented kids I’ve gotten to meet and work with during my time at CBA. I think more than anything, the title of valedictorian is a reminder for me as I move into the future. In college and eventually in my career, I hope to do something that truly makes a difference in the world, and I believe that being valedictorian is a reminder to go for my goals and to push myself to do something great.
CBA: During your four years at CBA, what classes did you find the most challenging? Although challenging, how did these courses help you grow as a student?
Rawlins: At CBA, some of the AP science classes that I took, like Chemistry and Physics C, definitely challenged me to think deeply about complex concepts, but while they were some of the most challenging classes I took, they were also some of my favorites. I appreciate that CBA gave me the opportunity to take these challenging classes because they pushed me out of my comfort zone and sparked my curiosity by encouraging me to think about the world around me on new and different levels. They also helped me to grow as a student by stimulating me to think independently to understand new ideas. AP Lit was another course that challenged me to grow as a student. As someone who was generally more oriented towards STEM courses, it pushed me to consider literature on a deeper level, which was both captivating and challenging. Through AP Lit, I have definitely developed a greater appreciation for the artistic nature of literature.
CBA: Were there any teachers that stood out as great mentors or role models to you? If so, why did you value their teaching?
Rawlins: At CBA, I felt that it was very meaningful how passionate my teachers were. The fact that they really cared about us both as students and as people was truly special. In particular, I’d like to thank a few teachers that stood out during my time here. Mr. Nunan’s enthusiasm this year inspired me to develop an interest in poetry, and he helped me to appreciate the details of literature. In Physics C, I appreciated how Mr. Dashkavich was open to discussion and to answering some of the deeper questions that we had about the material. He definitely helped spark my curiosity about the subject, and he always made class fun and exciting. I also had Mr. Speidel for three years, and I know I’ll miss his jokes and his genuine excitement about math next year. In APUSH junior year, Dr. Gustavsen took learning about history to a more powerful level by helping us to look deeper into the material and by sharing interesting parts of history that he was passionate about. Finally, although I never had him as a teacher, I had the opportunity to get to know Mr. Reagan through math team. He was always happy to discuss problems even after our Monday meetings had already ended, and I am very grateful for all the time he put into math team and that he helped us to explore deeper levels of math and problem-solving in a fun way. Generally, seeing how passionate a lot of my CBA teachers were was amazing to me, and it inspires me to find something I am just as passionate about in the future.
CBA: Outside of the classroom, what aspects of CBA did you enjoy the most?
Rawlins: One part of CBA that was very impactful to me was the service program. I had the opportunity to work with young students from Neptune and Red Bank during the summer through the Horizons program, and it was honestly an unforgettable experience. It was amazing to meet all of the kids and to be able to make a difference in their lives on a very personal level, and I could tell that their experience at Horizons helped them to develop an excitement about learning, which was very meaningful to me. I also think that I learned a lot from the kids, through their genuine excitement about coming to Horizons. Seeing how excited they were about each day was very inspiring, and I’m glad to have been a part of their experience.
CBA: How did this pandemic-modified year at CBA help you get stronger as a young man and as a student? How will it help you through challenges in the future?
Rawlins: Looking back, I think the pandemic has helped me to gain a better perspective and a greater appreciation for normal life. It is sometimes easy to take for granted little things like seeing friends in classes and sitting with them at lunch, and the pandemic definitely helped me to remember that it is important to appreciate and enjoy every day. Having a mostly normal senior year was very exciting after my sophomore and junior years were heavily impacted, and the return to normal school was really a reminder of how great everyday life can be. I hope to learn from the pandemic and make it a positive by continuing to appreciate every day in the future.
CBA: Finally, what advice would you give the CBA students coming up behind you?
Rawlins: For the next generation of CBA students, I have two pieces of advice. The first is to get involved. There are a lot of interesting opportunities at CBA that aren’t necessarily available at other schools. For me, I found a passion for service through CBA’s program, and I loved being able to help people on a personal level. Academically, one opportunity that I never could’ve imagined was the opportunity to participate in a 14-hour math challenge with four other seniors through math team. As crazy as it sounds, it was truly an amazing experience and pushed me to think about math in a new context. Which opportunities you may want to take advantage of definitely depends on who you are as a person, but I would encourage every incoming student to push themselves and to try out some of CBA’s unique experiences because these experiences can truly be transformative. My second piece of advice is to have fun. Your four years here are going to go fast, so take the time to form those lasting friendships and amazing memories. You only get one chance to go through high school, and while it can be stressful at times, it really is a fun four years, so enjoy it while it lasts.