By Grace Apostol
On Thursday, Sept. 1, Washington College held the 240th annual convocation to honor faculty, staff, students, and the newly inducted Class of 2026.
President of the College Dr. Mike Sosulski opened the annual event, going on to introduce Rabbi Peter E. Hyman of Easton, Md.’s Temple B’nai Israel for the invocation. Hyman led the convocation guests in prayer to begin the evening.
President Sosulski then spoke directly to the Class of 2026, welcoming them to the College’s community.
“As the next generation of proud WC students, you represent the very bright nature of our story and institution, and it is a true honor and a privilege to welcome you into our community of teaching and learning,” President Sosulski said.
During his speech, President Sosulski also advised the new first-year class on learning from one another.
“Use your time, students, to learn about yourselves, but also learn from and about each other,” he said.
President of the Student Government Association senior Alex May also addressed the Class of 2026.
“I really enjoyed hanging out with you all this past week. Your enthusiasm and energy here are truly amazing,” May said. “I cannot wait to see the positive impact you all bring to WC and greater Chestertown.”
May discussed the resources and opportunities available to the first-year class.
“I encourage you all to embrace the change and the challenge of being your absolute best selves here,” May said.
Vice President of Enrollment Management Dr. Lorna J. Hunter also addressed the Class of 2026, sharing the class’s many different aspects and characteristics.
“Each class, in the end, has its own personality,” Dr. Hunter said. “And…what has been written about you and what you have to say about yourselves shows you to be intellectually curious, multi-talented, and very interested in having a good time.”
Secretary of the Board of Visitors and Governors Valerie Sheppard ’86 delivered a speech to the new class, too.
“You have embarked on an incredible journey in a truly wonderful place,” Sheppard said.
Chair of the Alumni Board Jennifer Svehla ’03 awarded Rachel Glasser ’11 and David Melnick ’09 the Alumni Horizon Ribbon Award.
President of Phi Beta Kappa, Thea of Md. Kerrin Ehrensbeck awarded the First-Year Awards for Excellence in Liberal Learning and the First-Year Scholarship Medal to current sophomores with high academic achievement. The recipients of this award were Victoria Baker, Rachel Beall, Vani Chauhan, Katherine Esposito, Noah Gentry, Elisabeth Hartmann, Matthew Hutter, Jason Ikenaga, Kami Lentzsch, Jeremy Liberman, Reagan Longridge, Andrey Perez, Halina Saydam, Anna Treadway, and Bailey Vogt.
The presentation of Academic Honors for the 2021-2022 academic year was then led by Provost and Dean of the College Dr. Michael Harvey.
The Alumni Medal is given to juniors who achieved the highest academic average for the previous academic year. The recipients of this award were Sneha Vireshwar Dixit, Jordan Fairchild, Abigail Laubach, Kaitlyn McCaffery, Holly Myers, Delaney Runge, Julia Stanley, Rachel Thiem, Libby Whitham, and Samantha Wolfgang.
Seniors who earned the highest academic average of the previous academic year achieved the Visitors and Governors Medal. The recipients of this award were Zeeta Abubakar, Rachel Chatfield, Emilee Cramer, Kyra Heap, Destiny Hunter, Sharon Niedringhaus, Takeyah Selby, Max Tucker, and Emily Turfitt.
Dr. Harvey also awarded the Middendorf Scholar Foundation Award to rising seniors who achieve academic excellence and demonstrate leadership. This award’s recipients include Queen Cornish, Tamara Dyer, Benjamin Horgan, Alex May, Kathryn Ruppert, Tatum Schatt, Daria Shirokova, Dylan Snow, Nicholas Splendoria, and Maegan White.
The recipient of the 2022 Alumni Association’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, Dr. Sara Clarke-DeReza, professor of education at the College, spoke as well, discussing the role of being an educator.
“I think respecting your students means a lot of things. Like the subjects we teach, our students are deep, complex, historical, contextual, and sometimes hard to read,” Dr. Clarke-DeReza said. “Respecting them means learning these things about them, and learning these things about them also requires us to learn some things about ourselves.”
Photo courtesy of Tim Corrao
Photo Caption: President Mike Sosulski welcomes the Class of 2026 to the Washington College campus