Graduating seniors earn top awards

May 26, 2009

Three graduating seniors were awarded the College’s top academic honors at McDaniel’s May 23 Commencement ceremony. Stuart Clarke and Jennifer Piechocki, each with a 4.12 GPA, tied for the Argonaut Award, given to the senior with the highest grade-point average. Laura Kurrle received an Edith Farr Ridington Phi Beta Kappa Writing Award for the most well-written paper.

Stuart is graduating as a College Scholar having completed the Honors Program with a double major in Political Science and International Studies and Art History and a minor in Economics. He also has earned Departmental Honors in Art History and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He will begin graduate studies in law this year at Catholic University in Washington, where he has been awarded a Faculty Merit scholarship. He also intends to pursue a Ph.D. in Art History.

His Political Science professor Herb Smith says:

“Stuart has compiled an amazing record of academic achievement and service to McDaniel College. He has not only been a star – he’s been a supernova. In 2008, while serving as an intern for State Delegate Rosenberg, he distinguished himself with his stunning testimony on the importance of state aid to private higher education before the Maryland General Assembly.”

Moreover, Stuart has completed a 127-page honors thesis in Art History on a major Japanese Zen artist that is deserving of publication.

Stuart graduated from Clonlara School and is the son of Coleman and Donna Clarke of Mount Airy, Md.

Jennifer is graduating with a major in Biology, with a specialization in Molecular Biology, and a minor in Chemistry. She has been a member of the Honor and Conduct Board. She has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Phi Omega, Tri Beta and Gamma Sigma Epsilon honor societies.

Her Biology professor Ralene Mitschler says:

“The quality of Jen’s work is incredible. She’s self-motivated and takes on any problem and comes back with the answers that can knock your socks off. She’s a leader among her student peers.

“In the most advanced class I teach [Immunology], Jen kept up and kept me on my toes. She possesses all the academic skills that will ensure her success in graduate school.”

While maintaining an excellent academic record, Jennifer has worked locally as a pharmacy technician and will begin graduate studies at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

Jennifer is a graduate of Kenwood High School and the daughter of Denise Piechocki of Westminster, Md.

Laura, who is graduating as a College Scholar having completed the Honors Program with a major in History and a minor in Psychology, is the winner of the Ridington award for her paper titled “Solemn Attestations and Ingenious Forgeries of Evidence: The use of Prince Lichnowsky's Memoir as Wartime Propaganda in 1918.”

The paper is a close study of the fascinating history of the 1916 memoir of Karl Marx Lichnowsky, a member of the German nobility who served as ambassador to London just before the outbreak of World War II. Soon the supposedly private memoir was being intentionally altered, misrepresented, leaked and disseminated by the Allied powers in their propaganda efforts to promote anti-German sentiment and establish German war guilt, and was used as evidence at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference to convict Germany of premeditating the war. In spite of the fact that over 80 widely different versions of the memoir are known, their value as propaganda has been virtually ignored by historians until now.

History professor Stephen Feeley says Laura’s research and writing abilities are admirable and he praises her “ability to explore the finer, subtle points of an argument.”

“Rather than merely accepting what other historians have to say about a subject, she was always eager to look for herself at old letters, diaries, and newspapers in order to examine how such evidence can either sustain or challenge prevailing interpretations,” Feeley says. “She's had the independent initiative and drive to set out in pursuit of substantial projects, and the humility to come back, accept professors' feedback, and incorporate such ideas to produce an even stronger work.”

Laura is a graduate of North Harford High School and is the daughter of E. Brian and Karen Kurrle of Jarrettsville, Md.

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.