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May 30, 2000

Andrew Houck, Electrical Engineering Major, is Valedictorian; Classics Major Kenneth Shaitelman Gives Latin Salutatory Address

Princeton, N.J. -- Andrew Houck, whose research has blended electrical engineering and physics, was the valedictorian at Princeton University's 2000 Commencement on May 30. The salutatorian, who gave his address in Latin, was Classics major Kenneth Shaitelman.


Andrew Houck majored in electrical engineering, but his research on experimental condensed matter required him to study materials through a lens of physics. He plans to study physics at Harvard University next year.

Houck, from Colts Neck, N.J., achieved a near-perfect grade point average. His teachers described him as an exceptional young scientist who has consistently undertaken the most difficult intellectual challenges and delivered consistently superior results.

He received numerous awards during his time at Princeton, including the Freshman First Honor Prize and the George B. Wood Legacy Sophomore Prize, for highest academic achievement during the freshman and sophomore years. He received a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for the last two years, and won a Hertz Fellowship and Van Vleck Scholarship to support his study at Harvard.

At Princeton, Houck served as a tutor and lab assistant in electrical engineering courses. He pursued non-academic interests as well, as an active member of the Princeton Evangelical Fellowship and a member of Tau Beta Pi.

One of his most enjoyable experiences, he said, was serving as a residential adviser in Wilson College. "I enjoyed it because, besides helping people, you get a taste of everything at Princeton," he said. "You can vicariously taste all the extra-curricular activities about a day at a time."

Houck intends to pursue a teaching and research career at the university level. He is the son of David and Dennie Houck.


Kenneth L. Shaitelman of Great Neck, N.Y. studied Latin since the sixth grade, which no doubt was useful as he prepared his humorous salutatory address. Like Houck, Shaitelman has interests that are not easily pigeonholed. For his senior thesis, he explored the subject of Jewish acculturation and assimilation throughout history by examining case studies in Rome, Cordoba and New York.

In addition to his major in Classics, Shaitelman received certificates in Russian Language and Culture and in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. As part of those studies, he researched the Russian energy sector and interned in the U.S. Department of State.

A longtime musician who played the viola in the Princeton University Orchestra, Shaitelman said one of the most satisfying Princeton experiences was his work as a program host and classical music director at WPRB-FM, a student-run commercial station. "I have been a violinist and a violist, but I had never done anything in the media before I went to college," he said. "It's been very interesting."

Among other honors, Shaitelman won the Daniel M. Sachs Scholarship to study at Worcester College, Oxford University, where he will pursue a graduate degree in Russian and East European Studies. He received grants from the Woodrow Wilson School and the Classics Department to pursue research as an undergraduate.

Shaitelman served as a peer academic adviser at Forbes College. His parents are Mark and Carol Shaitelman.

Related pages
Valedictory Address
Latin Salutatory Oration (Translation)