On her way back from going to the toilet, Lorelai has a poignant moment looking at a display of past valedictorians, and makes a point of gazing longingly at Erika Hilson Palmer, the valedictorian for 1990. This is the year that Lorelai would have graduated from university if she’d gone straight from high school instead of having Rory, and it’s a reminder that Harvard was her dream first, and that she seems to have had high ambitions for herself.
In real life, Harvard University does not have class valedictorians.
Reader Sazz has noted that the surname Palmer seems like a nod to Twin Peaks, the television show directed by Amy Sherman Palladino’s idol, David Lynch (mentioned a short time earlier in this very episode). Twin Peaks centres around solving the mystery of teenage Laura Palmer’s death.