Honors Program alumni and students celebrate 25 years

November 14, 2011

Honors alumni and current students gathered in Klitzberg Pavilion Nov. 12 to celebrate the Honors Program’s 25th anniversary. Before joining other tailgaters for the match with Johns Hopkins, they swapped updates on happenings, degrees and careers since graduation – with Amanda Lofton Groff ’02, holding 2-month-old Evelyn, summing up the major events in her friends’ lives by saying, simply, “We are procreating.”

Playing with balloons are future Honors students Alexa Scarff, daughter of Jason and Stacey Starleper ‘02 Scarff,  with Keegan and Audrey McKay, children of Clint McKay ’01 and Jessica Fitzgerald-McKay ’03.

The Groffs – Jeff Groff ’02, Ph.D. in Biophysics from William and Mary University, is a biophysicist and professor at Shepherd University in West Virginia and Amanda teaches Art in elementary school – caught up with friends Stacey Starleper Scarff ’02, who teaches Music in Harford County and is mom to 15-month-old Alexa; Katherine Boyle Brantley ’02, who teaches high school Economics and Government Reisterstown and is soon to be a mom; and Jennifer McCabe ’99, a Psychology professor (Ph.D. UNC-Chapel Hill) at Goucher College and mom to 4-year-old Chloe Diller and 9-month-old Paige Diller.

Over the past 25 years, the college’s 350 Honors graduates have made their marks across the country and around the globe. Current program director Stephanie Madsen, associate professor of Psychology, and assistant director Sara Raley, assistant professor of Sociology, presented a top-ten countdown about Honors students in true David Letterman style.

Goucher Psychology professor Jennifer McCabe ’99, Economics and government teacher Katherine Boyle Brantley ’02, Music teacher Stacey Starleper Scarff ’02 with 15-month-old Alexa, Art teacher Amanda Lofton Groff ’02 with 2-month-old Evelyn and Shepherd University Biophysics professor Jeff Groff ’02.

“People often ask me, ‘Just who ARE our Honors students?’” Madsen said. “Well, they are an amazingly diverse bunch and it is hard to sum up everything that they do in just a few minutes… but we thought we’d try anyway. Here is our list of the ‘Top ten things you need to know about honors students.’”

Number 10: Honors students not only appreciate references to Don Quixote and Voltaire, but also to Dumbledore and Voldemort. (Yes, I spoke his name!)

Number 9: Honors students study abroad at twice the rate of non-honors students. During spring 2010 semester alone 16 of them traveled to locales such as Scotland, Hungary, Ghana, and Spain.

James and Sarah Vannoy Lipchock, 2004 graduates who earned their Ph.D.s in Biophysical Chemistry at Yale, with Rebecca Jayne, who earned a Ph.D. in Mathematics at North Carolina State and is a professor at Washington College, and former Honors Program director and McDaniel Spanish professor Tom Deveny. The Lipchocks with their 2-year-old son, Simon, live in Philadelphia where Sarah is a researcher at Monell Chemical Senses Center and James is a lecturer at Ursinus College and Philadelphia University.

Number 8: Honors students show tremendous loyalty to their first-year housing, continuing to live there well beyond the first year. You don’t see that kind of loyalty to Rouzer or Whiteford now, do you?  Did we mention that the housing is co-ed?

Perhaps the co-ed housing has something to do with Number 7: There’s almost a 9-percent chance that an Honors student will marry someone else from Honors, and an 18-percent chance they’ll marry someone from McDaniel. Of the total marriages we have on record for Honors alumni, 42-percent are intra-McDaniel marriages.

High school English teacher Courtney Yates ’04, M.S. in English Literature from New York University, with Heather Kirkwood ’05, J.D. from University of Maryland Law School, and Sarah Vannoy Lipchock ’05, Ph.D. in Biophysical Chemistry from Yale.

Number 6: Honors students are intellectual risk-takers. We ask them to take courses outside of their primary disciplines, with amazing results.  We have Chemistry majors writing poetry about chemical bonds, Political Science majors applying chaos theory to psychological concepts, and English majors analyzing the physical make-up of wood.

Number 5: Honors students, as a rule, take on “more” than your typical college student, often completing multiple majors and minors. Honors alum Eric Lemmon ’10 set a new record when he completed not two…not three…but four majors. It’s no mystery why he was honored with the Portz award for outstanding Maryland Honors student in 2010. After graduating, our Honors alumni continue this trend of doing more, often acquiring multiple post-baccalaureate degrees. I’ve seen the list, and it is an impressive set of letters after your names M.A., J.D., Ph.D., M.D. and more.

Audrey Osborne Mazur ’96, M.S. in Religious Studies from Seminary at Gettysburg who is homeschooling 4-year-old Evalyn and 8-year-old Isaac, with Laura Veise Bateman ’97, M.S. in Mathematics from University of Massachusetts-Amherst, who works in missile defense engineering at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and is mom to 7-year-old Charlie.

Number 4: Honors students are known for giving back to their communities. All students living in Honors housing complete community service hours, engaging in projects such as Zoo Boo, Relay for Life, and Serv. Many complete service projects outside of the program, such as Betsy Warner who heads up “Palabras to Words” or Sarah Krome who was awarded the Griswold-Zepp prize for volunteerism. Our Honors alumni continue this tradition of community service, including Amy Latta, who coordinates fundraising efforts for Breast Cancer research through her blog, “One Artsy Mama.”

Number 3: Honors students are well-rounded and know how to have fun. Almost a quarter of our Honors students participate in varsity sports, including basketball, soccer, field hockey, swimming, cross-country and track. In fact, some of our Honors students couldn’t be here today because they are out representing McDaniel at regional conferences. Honors students throw Halloween parties, play life-sized chess, and stage epic snowball fights.  Our Honors alumni are marathoners, professional ballroom dancers, floral designers, actors and authors.

Kathryn Kent ’91, who earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics at Stony Brook University, with Chad Westphal.

Number 2: Honors students are leaders on campus. A disproportionate number of them serve as writing tutors and peer mentors. Honors student Matt Love was recognized as being Hero Peer Mentor of the Day just this past August. Honors students make up 75 percent of the Trumpeters, many of the members of the leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa, an impressive percentage of Phi Beta Kappa inductees, and nearly half of the leaders of multicultural student organizations on campus.

Number 1: In its 25 years, the Honors Program has graduated more than 350 College Scholars, and they go on to do amazing things. They are surgeons, lawyers, professors, award-winning authors, grant recipients, research scientists, AmeriCorps members, librarians, psychologists, executive producers, teachers, fellows, project directors, geneticists, FBI special agents, and parents.

Current Honors students Marlee Nelson ’14 of Hagerstown, Md.; Danielle Hagglund ’14 of Moorpark, Calif.; Victoria Koslak ’14 of Elkton, Md.; Barnabas Furth ’14 of Brookline, Mass.; Kerri Morrison ’13 of Glen Burnie, Md.; Caitlin Bennett ’13 of Bothell, Wash., and Veronica Lathroun ’13 of Linthicum Heights, Md.

Senior Honors students Betsy Warner ’12 of Hagerstown, Md.; Meagan Pilar ’12 of Conowingo, Md., and Nathan Wuertenberg ’12 of Big Cove Tannery, Pa.