The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Editor-in-Chief Rachael Perrotta named Class of 2024 Outstanding Senior

The Hustler sat down with this year’s outstanding senior finalists to discuss their campus involvements and biggest takeaways from their four years at Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt University
The ten Outstanding Senior finalists pose for a picture during the Homecoming football game on Nov. 4. (Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt University)

The Hustler’s Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, was announced as the Class of 2024’s Outstanding Senior at the Nov. 4 Homecoming football game. Perrotta and the nine other finalists were recognized for their contributions to Vanderbilt at halftime.

Perrotta said winning the award felt “very surreal.”

“The craziest part was seeing everything unfold in real-time on the jumbotron in the opposite end zone. I’m so grateful to my friends and family for showering me with love after I was announced the winner and for their support over the past four years,” Perrotta said. “I’m honored to have received the award and to be considered a peer among people who have shaped Vanderbilt.” 

Perrotta and the other finalists were all nominated by various student organizations on campus. Nominees completed an application and interview process, after which a slate of 20 seniors was selected for the Outstanding Senior election. Elections ran from Oct. 22-25, during which the Vanderbilt student body voted. 

Campus involvement

This year’s Top 10 Outstanding Seniors cultivated their passions, found friendships and mentorship and gained valuable leadership skills through their various campus involvements. 

After finalist Angela Yan pushed for the establishment of the Asian American Studies program at Vanderbilt, she became involved in the Asian American Advocacy Project and forged a unique space for Asian American students on campus. 

“Getting involved in various organizations on campus was a great way to meet other people and collaboratively create campus change,” Yan said. 

Additionally, Yan serves as the head Resident Advisor of McGill and has lived there since her sophomore year. 

“It has been a great place to meet people and be a part of a community where everyone is truly themselves,” Yan said. 

Finalist Amaris-Lynn Joubert is also a strong advocate for campus organization involvement. She is the president of the Vanderbilt Prison Project and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Chair of the Greek Mental Health Initiative, as well as the historian of the Sigma Delta chapter of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated. 

“I have found it important to get involved and would encourage everyone to join organizations, not for the sole purpose of padding your resume, but rather to participate in a few that you are truly passionate about,” Joubert said. 

As president of the Vanderbilt Investment Club and editor for the Vanderbilt Business Review, finalist Vikki Tang encouraged underclassmen to get involved on campus. 

“Embrace every opportunity that you can to engage on campus,” Tang said. “There are thousands of research opportunities, organizations and additional resources, both academically and in extracurriculars.” 

Advice to underclassmen

Tang advised underclassmen to learn from and adapt to the challenges they encounter. 

“Move forward, be resilient and [do] not be stopped by setbacks,” Tang said.

Finalist Omari Rivers, who serves as the president of Vanderbilt’s chapter of the Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity, echoed Tang’s point about embracing opportunities. He encouraged underclassmen to engage with their surroundings and the broader community.

“Getting to a school like Vanderbilt, it’s very easy to get bogged down in the classes, in the grades and all of that,” Rivers said. “But it really makes your experience much more holistic if you’re able to see what’s around you to get involved and meet people and just learn and listen to others and what they have to say. Don’t keep your head down always, look up sometimes.” 

Academic highlights

Along with being the former president of the Ethiopian-Eritrean Student Association, finalist Danait Issac is a fierce advocate for environmental justice on campus. She said one of her fondest memories at Vanderbilt was hearing from Dorceta Taylor, a pioneer in the environmental justice field.

“[Taylor] gave a talk about how Martin Luther King Jr. was an environmentalist. It was an amazing lecture; I was in the back of that room tearing up,” Issac said. “It was just amazing.”

Perrotta said she was particularly moved by the course “Guns in America” taught by Dr. Jonathan Metzl and Dr. JuLeigh Petty. 

“After I covered the Covenant School shooting last year, it’s been really interesting to learn more about gun politics and laws from an academic perspective,” Perrotta said. “I also think it’s a class that’s really relevant to everyday life, and I really value that in my education: having classes that I feel like apply to the real world and aren’t just contained to a textbook.”

Significance of the award

Finalist Sung Jeon, former treasurer of Vanderbilt’s chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity and student consultant for Students Consulting for Non-Profit Organizations, told The Hustler that his nomination for Outstanding Senior represents not only his leadership, but also the support from his family and friends. 

“I don’t think the award means as much to me as it means to my parents and their continual sacrifices; the friends that I’ve made throughout Vanderbilt; and the faculty that have shaped me as a person,” Jeon said. 

Finalist Caroline Rutigliano also emphasized the importance of her support network in being named a finalist. She serves as co-president of Vanderbilt’s chapter of Generation Action for Planned Parenthood.

“This award means that I have succeeded in making a positive impact on Vanderbilt,” Rutigliano said. “I am immensely proud and honored to be receiving this award, and I could not have done it without the support of friends, family and mentors in my life.”

Looking back

Finalist Yunah Song is the head residential advisor of Crawford House and has been an RA for the past two years. She is also the co-founder of Heart Strings, which partners with the Wond’ry to make and donate stuffed animals to Vanderbilt’s Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital. She spoke about her experience being an RA on Commons as something she will remember from her four years at Vanderbilt. 

“It’s been fulfilling to be able to get to know first-year students and their passions and see different resources on campus that can benefit them,” Song said. 

Finalist Sky Hooley also spoke about relationships on campus as an important part of their Vanderbilt experience. Hooley is the station manager of VandyRadio, a member of the Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity and a tour guide. Hooley said they will remember Vanderbilt’s dining hall tables when they look back on their time at the university. 

“For whatever reason, every year of school, I have — without even thinking about it — informally instituted with my friends ‘let’s all come together, this day, this time and sit at’ what was Commons, then was EBI, then was Kissam, then Rothschild,” Hooley said, “It’s been the most special part of my week and my Vanderbilt experience. There’s nothing better than conversation with friends. That’s definitely the thing I’ll miss the most: sitting in the dining hall, hanging out.” 

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About the Contributors
Lexi Abrams
Lexi Abrams, Staff Writer
Lexi Abrams (‘25) is majoring in political science and minoring in French and gender and sexuality studies in the College of Arts and Science. Outside of The Hustler, you can find her making Spotify playlists, going on a run or drinking tea. She can be reached at [email protected].
Danni Chacon
Danni Chacon, Staff Writer
Danni Chacon ('25) is from Orlando, Fla., and is majoring in political science and Latin America studies in the College of Arts and Science. In her free time, she enjoys doing outdoor activities, such as running, swimming and hiking. You can reach her at [email protected].
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