Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

Shaker Erbini headshot.jpg

Shaker Erbini named salutatorian of Notre Dame’s class of 2024

Notre Dame's salutatorian reflects on academic success, personal growth

Shaker Erbini has been honored as the salutatorian of Notre Dame’s Class of 2024 for his exceptional academic achievements and contributions to campus life. Erbini will be graduating with a 3.97 grade point average. 

Born in Damascus, Syria, Erbini has called Crown Point, Indiana, home since he was one-and-a-half years old. Throughout his four years at Notre Dame, Erbini called many residence halls home, including Alumni Hall, Pangborn Hall, and Baumer Hall. Erbini will be the first in his family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

Majoring in neuroscience and behavior with a minor in compassionate care in medicine, Erbini was deeply involved in the Muslim Student Association (MSA), a club close to his heart. 

“[MSA] was my favorite club because my faith is the most important thing to me. Through the club, the board and I were able to build a stronger sense of community, hold weekly on-campus prayers, and improve dining hall accommodations for Muslim students in addition to hosting game nights, a retreat, a humanitarian fundraiser, Islam Awareness Week and providing mosque transportation,” Erbini wrote over text message. 

Following graduation, Erbini will continue his academic journey at the Indiana University School of Medicine and pursue his passion for healthcare and service.

“I always say being at Notre Dame has been both the hardest and most rewarding time of my life. It pushed me a lot academically for sure,” Erbini wrote.

Reflecting on his time at Notre Dame, Erbini shared insights on academic rigor, personal growth and finding balance that he has learned over the last four years. 

“I have three main takeaways. One takeaway from my time in college is that it’s the people that make it special. We need close relationships to live fulfilling lives. Another main takeaway is that there will always be something to worry about, so the time to choose to be content is now, not later. Another one is you have to decide where you want to ‘draw the line,’” he wrote. “You can always sacrifice more time, energy and mental health for the sake of ‘success.’ But there are some things not worth sacrificing. For instance, for me, that was my health and praying to God.”

Despite his academic success, Erbini remains humble, acknowledging his imperfections and the support of his community. 

“Even though I am selected as salutatorian, I am not perfect. No one at Notre Dame, or anywhere, has it all figured out, no matter what it may look like to you. I have experienced imposter syndrome and I am sure many of us have as well,” Erbini wrote.

His journey to becoming salutatorian was marked by personal challenges and the loss of classmates, shaping his perspective on life’s transient nature and the importance of living with purpose.

“I lost a classmate to an accident in high school, and I’ve experienced the loss of several classmates due to accidents during my time at Notre Dame. Death is a sad reality that we will all have to face one day, and the wise person does not ignore it,” Erbini wrote. "I remember the fact that our time on earth is temporary every single day. This helps me focus on what really matters most ... Thinking about death motivates me to always evaluate whether I am living my life the way I want to live it right now or if I need to make changes,” he continued. 

Erbini’s path to medicine was a gradual discernment process, driven by his belief in the importance of health and service to others.

"I think health is at the foundation of any dream any person might have. I also believe our relationship with God and our health are the two biggest blessings we have in this world. Therefore, being able to serve others by helping them preserve their health is very important work. I found out gradually that medicine was right for me as I shadowed, volunteered at the hospital, conducted research, and took classes,” Erbini wrote.

 As he prepares for the next chapter of his academic and professional journey, Erbini encourages his peers to explore their beliefs and embrace opportunities for growth during their college years.

“College, especially being at Notre Dame, is a great time to figure out what you believe in spiritually. Utilize [breaks] to reflect on the previous semester and/or year and what you will do better for the next one," Erbini wrote.