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Natalia Orlovsky, Frances Mangina named valedictorian, salutatorian

<h5>Frances Mangina (left) and Natalia Orlovsky (right) have been named the Class of 2022 Salutatorian and Valedictorian.</h5>
<h6>Photos courtesy of Frances Mangina and Natalia Orlovsky</h6>
Frances Mangina (left) and Natalia Orlovsky (right) have been named the Class of 2022 Salutatorian and Valedictorian.
Photos courtesy of Frances Mangina and Natalia Orlovsky

Natalia Orlovsky ’22 was named as the valedictorian for the Class of 2022, and Frances Mangina ’22 was named the salutatorian, the University announced on Monday, April 25.

Natalia Orlovsky

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Orlovsky is a Molecular Biology concentrator from Chadds Ford, Pa., who is also pursuing a certificate in Quantitative and Computational Biology. Described by the University press release as a “Renaissance woman,” she has earned 10 A+ grades in six different departments.  

On campus, Orlovsky has worked in the bioengineering lab of Cliff Brangwynne, Princeton’s June K. Wu ’92 Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, since the spring of 2019. 

“Natalia has done all this and more, in the midst of a pandemic and senior-level STEM classes and teaching and participating in theater and applying to graduate programs,” Amy Strom, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab, wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian. “I feel so lucky to have worked with her here at Princeton and know that whatever Natalia sets her mind to next, we will all learn more about the world through her.”

Her thesis research focused on the physical properties, or “squishiness,” of cell nuclei, and this work is what Orlovsky was most proud of from her time at Princeton.

“Nuclear softness is a really important determinant of how cells interact with their environment, and how they crawl through small spaces in processes like cancer metastasis,” she wrote in a statement to the ‘Prince.’ “My project was entirely self-directed, so it was especially rewarding to get through the tricky experiments and to see some exciting data.”

She has also been involved with the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center and has performed in a number of shows on campus, in addition to serving on the board of Theatre Intime.

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After graduation, Orlovsky will be entering the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program at Harvard University.

“Eventually, I’d really like to be a researcher and an educator, and I’m excited to keep exploring cool biological questions through both quantitative and experimental lenses,” she told the ‘Prince.’

Frances Mangina 

Mangina, a philosophy concentrator from Toronto, Ontario, is also pursuing a certificate in the language and culture of ancient Rome. 

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She became interested in the study of classics during a summer intensive at the College of New York (CUNY) and began her studies at Princeton with the Humanities Sequence. 

Her thesis focuses on Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura. “It touches on plagues and the idea of death,” she told the ‘Prince.’ “I think it’s also relevant to COVID.”

In addition to Latin, Mangina has studied French, German, and Greek. Her love of studying languages has been important to her time at Princeton. The salutatory address is traditionally given in Latin, which excites Mangina. 

“Being able to give the address in Latin is just a way of engaging with a language I love and also to some extent, sharing it with other people,” she told the ‘Prince.’

On campus, Mangina is also a part of multiple musical groups, including the Glee Club and the Chamber Choir. 

“It's filled my time with joy in a way that some other things haven't,” she said of her time in these groups. “I love schoolwork, but it can really drain me. Whereas I think that my engagement with music has helped keep alive a side of me I really value, which is a side of me that feels a lot of wonder at the world.” 

Following her graduation, she will be spending a year at Oxford University pursuing a master’s degree in ancient philosophy through the Ertegun Scholarship program and will then begin a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Chicago. 

In terms of advice for underclass students, Mangina said to prioritize friendships. 

“Princeton is great in terms of classes. But for me, the most important thing has been related to friendships,” she said. “So if you’re able to prioritize your friends, whether that means when you’re studying, or even deciding not to study when you could be instead hanging out with friends, and just having really quality time, I’d say do that.”

Kindred Spirits

Orlovsky and Mangina are themselves friends, and both discussed the importance of their friendship on campus. 

“I think we’re somehow kindred spirits. And I just feel so lucky to know her. And I think that being salutatorian will be less scary, because we’ll be able to go to rehearsals together and know that if we mess up, the other will kind of be there,” Mangina said. 

“So it changes something that would have been exciting, but intimidating into something that’s hopefully exciting and a bonding experience, or more time with friends, which is something that I already value,” she added. 

Orlovsky shared similar sentiments with the ‘Prince.’

“She’s a deeply kind person, in addition to being a super talented scholar, an excellent musician, and a brilliant writer. She pushes me to be a better, more compassionate person, and routinely challenges me to expand and interrogate my perspectives on the world,” she wrote.

Both Mangina and Orlovsky are members of the LGBTQ+ community, and talked about the impact of that community on their experience at the University. 

“At Princeton, through my involvement with organizations like Theatre Intime, I got to meet a lot of wonderful (and absurdly talented!) queer-identifying theater-makers,” Orlovsky wrote to the ‘Prince.’ 

“Getting to work with other queer folks to tell stories in ways that felt true to me and my identity was a tremendously meaningful experience, and I feel super lucky to have found such a welcoming artistic home,” she said.

Mangina had similar experiences with her group of friends, including Orlovsky.

“The house that I live in off campus, the queer people very much outnumber the straight people in the house. We have a pride flag up front, and then a lesbian flag and a bi flag and an ace flag in our living room,” she told the ‘Prince.’ 

“And it’s just very open, that this is kind of how our house identifies. And so I've just felt very lucky at Princeton that I found that kind of community. I mean, it's something I did not have in high school.”

Katherine Dailey is a Head News Editor who often covers breaking news, politics, and University affairs. She can be reached at kdailey@princeton.edu or on Twitter at @kmdailey7. 

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