Top undergraduate awards presented during Class of 2020 Celebration
Nicolette Brookman, an English major with a Secondary Education minor, Veronica Johns, who earned a bachelor's in Spanish and master's in Teaching, and Ravi Patel, a Political Science and Spanish major, were recognized with the top undergraduate awards during McDaniel College’s virtual Celebration Day on May 23.
Nicolette Brookman, an English major with a Secondary Education minor from Sykesville, Md., received The Argonaut Award for highest GPA of 4.0 in her entire completed course of study and The Edith Farr Ridington Writing Award for the best paper among those submitted by the various departments.
Veronica Johns of Baltimore, who earned a bachelor’s in Spanish and master’s in Teaching, was honored with The Mary Ward Lewis Prize, awarded to the woman of the graduating class who has made the best record during her undergraduate course. Ravi Patel, a Political Science and Spanish major from San Diego, Reno and Mexico City, was awarded The Bates Prize for the most outstanding male graduating senior. Brookman, Johns and Patel were recognized during McDaniel College's virtual Celebration Day.
A College Scholar, Brookman earned the highest GPA and the top writing award for her English department honors paper titled “Conceptual Metaphors in the Work of Taylor Swift: How We Act When We Believe That LOVE IS A NATION,” based on her research into Taylor Swift’s lyrics, specifically related to love and how Swift approaches the topic.
“Nicolette’s essay challenges assumptions about Swift’s writing promoting unhealthy types of relationships, reflecting regressive ideas about dating,” says English professor Paul Muhlhauser, Brookman’s senior seminar advisor on her capstone paper. “She argues that taken as a whole, Swift’s use of metaphors to explain love as a concept is complicated, critical, and anything but regressive.”
An excerpt from Brookman’s paper illustrates her professor’s point.
“Art allows us to consider and reflect on a variety of complex ideas, and popular culture makes this process possible for the general public through its easily accessible format. Artists like Taylor Swift can arguably have more of a cultural impact than authors like Shakespeare and John Donne because of her accessibility and relevance to modern audiences. When audiences think actively and thoughtfully about what they consume, they go beyond the face value of the lyrics to consider complex ideas for themselves. Thus, Swift’s complex themes and powerful lyrics are able to help her listeners become more informed, capable, and mature consumers of all kinds of ideas.”
During McDaniel College's virtual Celebration Day, Brookman also received The Maria Leonard Senior Book Award given by Alpha Lambda Delta to the graduating seniors with the highest GPA, The Michael and Polly Beaver Award for Excellence in Education and The Makosky Award for Excellence in English.
A member of the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society, Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society for Education, Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, and Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society, Brookman has also been an active member of McDaniel’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
“She’s kind, generous, and thoughtful and has a drive to learn and make sure others are learning along with her," says English professor Paul Muhlhauser.
Named a Maryland Teacher of Promise by the Maryland State Department of Education, Brookman earned a Teachers for Tomorrow Scholarship and will be returning to Howard County to teach in the Howard County Public School System. A career in the classroom may be the perfect profession for Brookman, whose professors say can understand complex concepts and complex writing – and explain the concepts clearly and effectively.
“She makes her audience wish they had received the information from her or read her writing on a topic rather than the text she got the ideas from,” says Muhlhauser, explaining that students were quick to compliment her after listening to drafts of her paper, saying they never understood the conceptual metaphors until they read her paper. “She’s kind, generous, and thoughtful and has a drive to learn and make sure others are learning along with her.”
Johns is not only graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish but has also earned her master’s degree in Teaching in four years. A Dorsey Scholar and member of the McDaniel Honors Program, she is also a Global Fellow and studied abroad in Granada, Spain during her sophomore year.
She served as president of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society for Education and is a member of both the Phi Sigma Iota World Languages and Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Societies.
Selected as a Maryland Teacher of Promise by the Maryland State Department of Education, Johns has accepted a contract to teach Spanish in Baltimore County Public Schools. During her time at McDaniel, she has performed in Theatre productions, as well as in the Gospel Choir and the African Drum Ensemble. She has also worked as a Student Ambassador in Admissions and as a graduate research assistant in Hoover Library.
Graduating with a double major in Political Science specializing in International Studies and Spanish, Patel was recently awarded a Fulbright Award by the U.S. Department of State to represent the United States as a cultural ambassador to Indonesia where he will teach young adults. Patel also received The Robert Joseph Weber Award for Excellence in Political Science and International Studies at the virtual Celebration Day.
During his years at McDaniel, Patel has served as an international student peer mentor, guiding international students adjusting to U.S. culture and society, and worked in the Study Abroad Office where he helped students travel abroad for the first time, calmed parents’ concerns and helped students if they needed anything during their time abroad. Equally at home in three cities – San Diego, Reno and Mexico City – he leaves behind a closer community of international and multi-cultural students.
Ravi, who has experienced 28 different countries, studied abroad teaching at a school in Bueno Aires, interned at a political consulting company in Barcelona, Spain, and spent a month in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, learning about the role of a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State. He is currently an intern with Wild Forests and Fauna, a nonprofit co-founded by Environmental Studies professor Jason Scullion.
He’s a student member of the Honor and Conduct Board, Global Fellows academic enrichment program, Model United Nations in Xi’an, China, and New York City, Pi Sigma Alpha, Phi Sigma Iota, and Alpha Lambda Delta honor societies. He has also been a part of Palabras to Words service-learning group for all four years at McDaniel.
View the virtual ceremonies