University of Vermont

The Honors College

Commencement: Congratulations to the Honors College Class of 2013!

Marley Nordmeyer

On Saturday, May 18, the Honors College recognized the 112 students in the class of 2013 who completed all college requirements and would be graduating the next day from the University of Vermont as Honors College Scholars.

The class was one of the largest and most distinguished to have graduated from the college. Honors College graduates received numerous prestigious departmental and institutional awards. Among those, Rob Rudy '13 received the F.T. Kidder Medal, which goes to, "the senior man ranking first in character, leadership and scholarship," and Tram Tran '13 won the Mary Jean Simpson Award, which, "honors the senior woman who exhibits the highest qualities of leadership, academic competence and character." National award winners were also among the group, including a Goldwater Scholar and a Fulbright Scholar. Others are pursuing prestigious teaching fellowships through Teach for America, or the New York City Teaching Fellowships

The Honors College had graduates representing all seven UVM undergraduate colleges, and it has graduates going off to a variety of impressive professional or graduate school opportunities. One student will spend the next year on a Fulbright grant conducting cancer research at Cardiff University in Wales. Another student is pursuing research at the National Institutes of Health. Others are pursuing professional opportunities in the public, private and non-profit sectors all over the country at places including Brigham & Women's Hospital, Team 180 Sports, Global News Intelligence, HOPE Works, Robert Frost Farm, Epic Systems Corporation, the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, the Yale New Haven Hospital, or General Electric.

Others still are pursuing graduate study; one student is pursuing a PhD in pathobiology at Brown University, another is pursuing a PhD. in ecology at the University of Minnesota, another is pursuing an MFA in acting at Harvard University, another is pursuing a DVM at the University of Florida, another is pursuing a law degree at Northeastern University, and two will begin medical school at UVM.

Honors College students were led into the Saturday ceremony and Sunday commencement by faculty marshals Professor Dave Jenemann and Associate Dean Lisa Schnell. Vanessa Perez '13 and James Aglio '13, the two Honors College students to graduate with the highest grade-point average, were banner bearers for the college. Students received their Honors College medallion from Dean Abu Rizvi, President Tom Sullivan, and Provost Bob Low.

For students, commencement was a time to reconnect with family and friends, reflect on their college experience, and seek wisdom from their UVM mentors for their next steps in life. During the Honors College ceremony, history professor Paul Deslandes urged graduates to reflect on the experience they had of completing an honors thesis, and how that unique and rigorous experience will set them apart in their future endeavors.

"Those of you assembled in Ira Allen Chapel this afternoon as soon-to-be graduates have displayed remarkable tenacity, intellectual curiosity, and rigor," Dr. Deslandes said. "You have also proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you know how to identify a research or creative objective, implement a course of study, and effectively utilize the considerable resources that have been placed at your disposal at the University of Vermont. Hopefully, throughout this process, you have also come to understand, more fully, your potential as a creative thinker and a person capable of getting a job done.

So, what are the larger lessons to be taken from the hard work, intellectual energy, hand-wringing anxiety, and sleepless nights that accompanied your quest to produce knowledge, to think innovatively, and to create? On a very basic level, I hope that you have experienced pleasure in mastering a subject and presenting your findings in a product that you will be proud of for the rest of your lives. The ability to claim an idea, insight, or artistic product as yours and to highlight how you contributed to knowledge in your selected area of study should never be underestimated as a credential worth its weight in gold."

Dean Rizvi reminded the audience that, while the Class of 2013 had some impressive accomplishments, they could not have done it alone.

"I have had the privilege of working with these students for a long time and I know how much they have relied on the help of so many of you " teachers, mentors, family members, and friends - to allow them reach the point at which they arrive today," Dean Rizvi said.

And Professor Deslandes urged graduates to let the experience they had in the Honors College carry them forward on to their next academic or professional endeavors.

"For many of you, the [thesis] process has only confirmed what you already knew: that a life of research (be it in a lab or a library) or creating art is what you've always wanted to do," he said. "But, for some in the audience, completing your honors project has meant considering new career or life paths that, before you began the process, seemed very far removed indeed - The skills you've honed while completing your projects or practicums have given you new credentials, new experiences, and new ways of seeing the world that you will apply to a variety of professional contexts as you explore exciting career opportunities, tackle countless social problems, and seek to make your mark upon the world."

Last modified June 11 2013 10:16 AM