On Tuesday 1 May, the Dean’s Home at Rutgers’ Douglass Residential College hosted an elegant Classics Department celebration of undergraduate achievements and graduate milestones. Faculty, students, parents, and friends converged for an afternoon of ceremony and short presentations, all accompanied by seasonal refreshments and much good cheer.
Associate Professor and Undergraduate Director Emily Allen-Hornblower chaired the festive occasion, overseeing the award of gold medals to 13 Classics majors from the Rutgers class of 2018, and laurel crowns to four new members of the Zeta Epsilon chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, the national Classics honor society.
Recognized at the event were graduating Classics majors Madison Akins, Michael Antosiewicz, Akari Armatas, Michael Collins, JuliaRose Driscoll, Kat Garcia, Shannon Gilbert, Molly Kuchler, Katie Moretti, Eric Ng, Kim Peterman, Thomas Pettengill, and Tiara Youngblood.
“It’s a joy to be a Classics professor”, remarked Professor Allen-Hornblower, “not just because we all share a deep passion for what we are learning or teaching—and those of us teaching are always learning from our students—but because it brings together a small community of students whom we get to know very well, and whom we follow as they progress through the demanding hoops that lead to graduating from Rutgers with a Classics BA.”
Of the seniors present receiving departmental Honors—Michael Antosiewicz, Molly Kuchler, and Katie Moretti—two summarized for the capacity audience the results of their Honors theses, Moretti on the reception of the figure of Dido (director Prof. T. C. Brennan), and Antosiewicz on cultural contestations around dice games in ancient Greece (director Distinguished Prof. T. J. Figueira). Antosiewicz’s thesis, submitted to both Classics and History, won from the History department its top undergraduate thesis distinction, the Harold L. Poor Memorial Prize (1st place), as well as the School of Arts & Sciences Henry Rutgers Scholar award.
Though it is of course quite early to talk about outcomes for the graduating seniors, the event saw some good news shared: graduate study in Classics (M. Antosiewicz at Cambridge, on the Gates Scholarship; M. Kuchler on fellowship at Bryn Mawr), in Electrical Engineering (M. Collins, at Illinois, funded by the SMART Scholarship), and in Information Science (M. Akins at Rutgers), as well as work in editing (K. Moretti, at Oxford University Press, and E. Ng), ESL teaching (T. Youngblood), the nonprofit sector (J. Driscoll), and healthcare or pharmaceutical administration or communications (S. Gilbert, K. Peterman).
Two of the three Rutgers PhD candidates who will receive their degrees in 2018 also summarized their research, Aaron Hershkowitz (on demagogues and finance in 5th century Athens) and David Wright (on myths of gigantomachies in classical Greek and Roman literature). Aaron Beck-Schachter, who recent defended his dissertation on mobile cult icons in archaic and classical Greece, was absent—in Greece, where he is finishing a year on the Fulbright Scholarship.
Undergraduate officers of Eta Sigma Phi—Max DuBoff ’19, Molly Kuchler ’18, Kim Peterman ’18 and Tiara Youngblood ’18—also undertook the initiation of a new class of members, securing a pledge of loyalty from inductees to the honorary society’s purposes and ideals. Joining the Rutgers Zeta Epsilon chapter were Christiaan Bedrij-Arpa ’19, Thomas Boisvert ’20, Gabrielle Discafani (George Washington University ’17, current RU Classics post-bacc), and Jonas Tai ’20, each receiving a wreath of fresh laurel to commemorate this signal honor.
Professor Allen-Hornblower rounded out the occasion by announcing the recipients of the main departmental distinctions for “all-around excellence in Classics”. Rutgers’ 2018 Jacob Brodhead Prize was awarded to Max DuBoff ’19, and the Douglass Residential College’s Cornelison Alumnae Prize to Tiara Youngblood ’18.
She also noted that in the New York Classical Club annual College Latin and Greek Sight Translation Contest, Rutgers undergraduates took away three of the six prizes: Max Duboff ’19 won third prize in Latin, while Jonas Tai ‘ 20 and Michael Antosiewicz ’18 received second and third prizes respectively in Greek.
In closing, Professor Allen-Hornblower asked, “What is a Classics major? Someone driven. Someone who does not choose the easy road, and enjoys a good challenge. Whatever you did Moms and Dads, you really did something right!”