By Taylor Dobbs, News Staff
High school math left Emily Batt so frustrated she swore she’d never take another math class as long as she lived, but five years later, she is graduating from Northeastern with a degree in physics.
“Why not try to learn the thing that I found most difficult?” she said.
Batt will give the student address at Northeastern’s commencement May 4 at TD Garden.
“[My speech is] about articulating some of the more subtle challenges I think our class and our generation will face and how Northeastern has prepared us,” she said.
She was chosen by the Student Speaker Selection Committee for the Class of 2012 from a pool of 12 applicants who submitted their resumes, a written copy of their speeches and a video of themselves delivering the speech.
Batt, who grew up in Merrimack, N.H., said she was surprised when she found out she was selected, but excited to have the opportunity.
“I thought that maybe I could use this as an outlet to talk about what I think are the greatest parts about the student body here,” she said.
One of the things she hopes to capture is the academic diversity she has seen during her time at Northeastern.
This won’t be Batt’s first time speaking in front of a large crowd. She was both class president and valedictorian at her high school in Merrimack, and gave a short speech at graduation there as well.
“I kind of always thought that would be the most people I would stand up in front of,” she said, “but this trumps.”
Emily Hardman, the director of student programming and communications in the university’s student affairs office, was on the team reviewing the applications.
“They were all really good,” Hardman said, “but Emily’s speech and presentation was just excellent and really got the deciding group pretty excited.”
Batt, who entered Northeastern undeclared said she decided to pursue a physics major as a sophomore despite promising herself she would never take another math class after high school. Being in an academic setting with many opportunities to learn and get help outside class inspired Batt to challenge herself, she said.
After choosing her major, Batt completed three co-ops, starting with physical oceanography research at Oregon State University. Batt also studied protein networks at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as part of the Steamboat Summer Scholar Program. In the fall, she completed her third co-op at Fikst Product Development, a Woburn firm that helps move product ideas from concept to production, where she and won one of Northeastern’s Outstanding Co-op Awards.
As she did her various co-ops, Batt said, she discovered a passion for design engineering, which ties the aesthetic needs of design together with the practical needs of engineering. Batt said she plans to pursue a career in that field, but she was recently accepted into the engineering masters program at Cambridge University in England. She is deciding whether to continue her education in the U.K. or jump into the workforce here in the states.
Batt was also one of the university’s selected 100 Most Influential Seniors who attended a reception at President Joseph Aoun’s home on Beacon Hill Wednesday.
Despite her success, Batt said her time at Northeastern was not without its challenges. She said Electricity and Magnetism – a required class for all physics majors – was a rough one.
“I still have nightmares about that class,” she said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the name of Batt’s co-op employer as Fikst Production Development and mistakenly switched Hardman’s name with Batt’s.