Congratulations to our 2010 graduates! I had the pleasure of marching with students at Saturday’s CCAS Celebration, which went amazingly smoothly, given the challenging logistics. (In the photos posted here, we’re in Funger Hall, eagerly awaiting the call to march into the Smith Center.) Most people’s names were pronounced correctly, and there were photo ops galore: here, approaching the dais! here, as one’s name was being pronounced! here, as one accepted a rolled-up document from the Dean! My job was to greet each graduate and to give out the Columbian College medal, which resembles an Olympic medal except that it’s made of a cheap alloy. (But like the Olympic medal, its value cannot be measured in mere monetary terms.) And I set a new personal record for the number of “congratulations” consecutively offered. But really, it was quite thrilling to celebrate with everyone and to be part of the general gladness and cheer.

In the Smith Center, we were pleased to see 2010 graduate Samantha Barry, recipient of a 2009-10 Luther Rice Award for undergraduate research, and English Professor (and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies) Tara Wallace on the podium along with CCAS Dean Peg Barratt. And there was now-Emerita Professor Judith Plotz, leading newly minted English MAs and Ph.D.s in her crimson Harvard regalia, which featured a fine beret. Among this group were the department’s first class of BA/MAs: Carolyng Gomes, Scott Jacobsen, Landon Manjikian, and Rosemary Tonoff. Also marching was our former work-study student Sasha Moss, who is off to Scotland soon for graduate work in English.

Before the Celebration, English department faculty and staff feted our graduating class at a reception for students and their guests. Well over 100 people showed up, and were treated to spirited readings from (now ex-) seniors Laura Feigin and Carolyn Kerchof. Laura, who hails from Flemington, NJ, read William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech. She’s not finished with GW, yet, however; Laura will be staying on for our 5-year BA/MA program. Carolyn, who grew up in and is returning to work in Birmingham, Alabama, read a wonderful poem by the young South Carolina-born poet Terrence Hayes.

We are especially proud of the accomplishment of students who received Departmental Honors this year: Emily Anderson, Laura Feigin, Darci Frinquelli, Erica Manoatl, Emma Martin, Rajiv Menon, Sean Mooney, Samuel Munford, Candice Shang, Makala Skinner, and Margaret Wexler. All of these students produced an honors thesis, evidence of their ability to do sustained independent research. And we congratulate those who won this year’s departmental prizes for their creative and critical works: Emily R. Murphy, Margaret A. Ilersich, Rajiv Menon, Tay Tufenkjian, Jason Krasner, Chen-Wen Lo, Elizabeth Lothian, Emma Martin, and Chelsea Kerwin.

As I told the group of us gathered together in Phillips Hall, from the point of view of faculty, the best teaching experiences are also learning experiences. So thank you to all of our graduates for the privilege of teaching you, and for teaching us, during your four years at GW. Keep in touch!

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