By Aïda Rogers
They referenced Lincoln, Tolkien, Proverbs, parents, grandparents, siblings, professors, Jesus, and yes, each other. There was even a memorized recitation from Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata” and a spirited call and response of “Game” and “Cocks.” What else could this be but the annual South Carolina Honors College Revocation, that lively, lovely, bittersweet ceremony where graduating seniors praise mentors, describe thesis projects (both harrowing and inspiring), and finally toast themselves and their school?
“I am sure everyone here has been inspired by someone along the way who has guided their passion,” said Jaleel Jefferson, a Columbia public health major. “Personally I am inspired by my grandmother, who passed away just before college started. She had Alzheimer’s disease, and watching her struggle has inspired me for the past eight years to pursue researching a cure.”
Jefferson, who soon will start the neuroscience graduate program at the University of California, Davis, had a request for his classmates. “If you are able to, I encourage you to find time to reach out and thank those who inspired you. If you cannot, I encourage you to find a way that is special and personal to you and share those feelings, through prayers, visiting a gravesite, or someplace that is important.”
If you are able to, I encourage you to find time to reach out and thank those who inspired you.
Exactly 350 seniors participated in Revocation 2018. As is customary, five are chosen by the SCHC staff as marshals to manage the ceremony. This year, senior marshals were Kara Jones, Ross Lordo, Eduardo Romero Gainza, Olaf Tollefsen, and Louise White. Also customary is the selection by the students for the Michael A. Hill Award for Outstanding Honors College Faculty. Endowed by Hill, ’92 international studies with distinction from the SCHC, the 2018 award recipient is Colin Jones, clinical assistant professor of finance in the Darla Moore School of Business.
2018 marked the fourth year of the William A. Mould Outstanding Senior Thesis Award. Given by his family in memory of Dr. Mould, a founding SCHC dean, this year’s prize was awarded to biology major Habiba Fayyaz. An aspiring neurologist heading to MUSC, Fayyaz researched the neural effects of intranasal-administered orexin A, a neuropeptide with promise for treating age-related cognitive decline. Fayyaz has already co-authored a peer-reviewed manuscript recently accepted for publication; her remaining research will contribute to another manuscript in preparation now.
Four finalists for the 2018 Mould Award were Tony Alessi, Kathleen Blackwood, Alexandra Cordes, and Elizabeth Rizor.
From the podium onstage at the Koger Center, student speakers cheered each other on and issued serious directives.
“We’re all privileged; we’re receiving college educations,” J.M. Williams told his classmates. An accounting/finance major from Thomaston, Ga., Williams researched 100people.org for his remarks. “If the world were 100 people, nine would not have access to clean water. Twenty-two would not have access to shelter, and 93 would not attend college. We’re lucky to be here. Seek out that privilege and share it.”
Luke Jennings, an international business and accounting major from Southlake, Texas, compared their collective college experience to a race.
“Before every race, there is a moment at the starting line when everything goes silent,” he began. “Your heart is pounding; your adrenaline is pumping. You look to your left and to your right and you see your teammates, those who will push you further and faster than you could go on your own. Then suddenly, bang! The starter’s pistol goes off and there is chaos for the first hundred meters of the race. People are everywhere. Elbows are flying. There are moments in the chaos that you don’t think you will break through it, but you do. And once you do, you look to your left and right, and not only do you see your teammates, you see those on the sidelines who have been supporting you since the start.”
Jennings, who will be working for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas, told his classmates that Revocation marked another starting line and graduation another bang of the starter’s pistol. “For the first hundred meters of this race, there may be chaos and you might think you are not going to make it through, but let me tell you, you will make it through. And with our team by our sides and our supporters on the sidelines, we will finish our race well.”
One Revocation tradition is for seniors to be given the notes they wrote themselves four years earlier at Freshman Convocation. Public Relations major Lynn Schutte of Ohio read hers into the microphone: “You made it this far, don’t stop now. Please change the world.”