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Classical studies major wins both top academic honors

May 21, 2011

Rachel Louise Smith swept the academic awards at McDaniel’s May 21 Commencement ceremony. The Classical Studies major received the Argonaut Award for her 4.15 GPA, the highest grade-point average among her 2011 classmates, and the Edith Farr Ridington Phi Beta Kappa Writing Award for the most well written paper.

Rachel is graduating summa cum laude with honors in her self-designed major. She received the Maria Leonard Senior Book Award and was among the first juniors ever inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at McDaniel. She is the daughter of Elizabeth and Bradford Smith of Frederick, Md.

A student of both Latin and Greek, Rachel has been reading Plato’s “Apology” in the original Greek with her advisor Dr. Donna Evergates, during the spring 2011 semester. For her paper, “Friendship and Advice Giving in the Letters of Seneca and Pliny,” Rachel read the letters in the original Latin and all translations are her own.

“This paper compares the rules of friendship, advice-giving, and epistolary form in the Latin letters of Seneca and Pliny the Younger,” says Evergates of Rachel’s award-winning paper. “Friendship between elite Roman males was based on an economy of reciprocity and equal exchange.  While Pliny gives and requests advice from an actual network of friends, Seneca, in his letters, establishes an imaginary correspondence that serves as an exchange of knowledge of Stoic principles between equals.”

A graduate of St. John’s at Prospect Hall, the Frederick, Md. resident knew from her first days on campus that she wanted to design her own major in Classical Studies, and with the help of Professor Evergates, designed a major that enabled her to study the languages, literature, history and cultures of the Greek and Roman worlds. She enhanced her program of study with minors in Art History and Medieval Studies.

Rachel has served as a peer mentor and Latin tutor. Her studies made her a natural in Professor Gretchen McKay’s Reacting to the Past sessions – she played Nero in the Rome game and eagerly served this semester as the student instructor also in the Rome game.

Rachel’s professors deem her the consummate scholar, who is considering graduate school in Library Science and a career possibly as an archivist

“Rachel is a thoughtful and mature thinker, a true scholar,” Evergates says.

The Argonaut Award was named for the College’s original honor society founded in 1935 and superseded by formation of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in 1980.

Established by the College’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter in memory of Edith Farr Ridington, a longtime faculty member, the writing award honors her work as a charter member and historian of the Delta of Maryland Chapter of McDaniel.