Honors Day celebrates students’ achievements

Elliot SteevesStaff Writer

Gustavus will hold its annual Honors Weekend this weekend, May 5-7, 2023, marked by several convocations at Christ Chapel. The weekend is an occasion for proud families of high academically-performing Gusties to recognize their children’s accomplishments.

The event is also an opportunity for the College to show the accomplishments of its students, be it academic or in other areas. The events will be held fully in person.

Students received individual invitations to the convocation based on their academic performance and standings for the year. The invitation was personalized, and delivered by President Rebecca Bergman, inviting the students to the Saturday morning event at Christ Chapel.

At the reception after the event, students will have the opportunity to meet with faculty important to them and introduce their parents and other family to these members. 

The weekend is also an occasion in which many academic awards will be granted to worthy students. These range from National and Statewide scholarships and prizes to college-sponsored scholarships and prizes, as well as individual departmental and program awards.

The process of gathering the students who have won each award is extremely extensive and wide-ranging, as there are many students who have these achievements.

“The biggest part of the job is gathering the names each year for each award…It is impressive when all these awards are compiled into one program as the breadth of talent and interests among the student population become more apparent,” Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communication Barb Taylor said.

The full program for the convocation on Saturday, May 6 is indeed an extensive endeavor. Following a prelude on the organ by Cantor of Christ Chapel Chad Winterfeldt, there will be an address by Professor of Psychological Science Lauren Hecht. After this, the full extent of each student and their respective honors will be announced in a processional by Provost Brenda Kelly and Vice President for Student Life JoNes VanHecke.

After the announcement of student honors, Professor Jill Locke of Political Science will present the 2023 Gustavus Faculty Scholarly Accomplishment Award. Student Senate seniors and Co-Presidents Delaney Bluhm and Birgen Nelsen will then present the Swensen-Bunn Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence. Finally, after a benediction from Chaplain Rev. Maggie Falenschek, there will be a closing processional from Winterfeldt.

In addition to the convocation itself, a heap of other events run by individual departments will be taking place around campus. Highlights include the Honors Day Music Recital from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., as well as individual department honors receptions throughout the day. There is also an individual reception for the Alpha Alpha Alpha honors society for high-achieving first-generation college students at 11:45 a.m. 

“Many Gustavus students do amazing things while they are here. Honors Day and the awards that are presented are just one way of formally recognizing that in front of family and friends. After almost 25 years of working at Gustavus, I’m still amazed every year by our talented and dedicated students,” Assistant Vice President of Student Life Meghan Ruble said.

Ruble was clearly happy with the accomplishments of the student body and thrilled with the opportunity to reward those endeavors.

Professor and Chair of Biology Pamela Kittelson is also the advisor of Fellowships at Gustavus. She facilitated multiple feedback reports on the application process behind the Honors Day scholarships.

“[The students] report spending 30 to 50 hours on one application. They research the mission of the foundation and reflect on how they can fit the foundation’s goals. Students generally write a personal statement, which is a highly focused articulation of how their interests, skills, and goals align with the scholarship, and how the scholarship will facilitate their next step while making a significant contribution,” Kittelson said.

Some of the anonymous feedback Kittelson has received shows the full depth of commitment amongst students who apply and work to gain these scholarships. One student cried when they got the award letter after trying three times. Another reported their renewed strength of vision with their research, which allowed them to get a full award toward the University of Wisconsin. Yet another reported a stronger portfolio toward getting jobs, even though they did not get the scholarship they tried to work toward.

Lauren Hecht, this year’s honors convocation speaker, was last year’s recipient of the Edgar M Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching. Her speech is titled Diving Beyond The Depths Of Knowledge.

Congratulations to anyone and everyone who is being honored throughout this weekend’s Honors Day programs!




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