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Two Department of English students named Dean's Distinguished Graduates

posted: Wed, Sep 12, 2012

The Department of English congratulates James Lamon and Kathleen Burns, the 2012 Department of English Dean’s Distinguished Graduates. 

Every year the College of Liberal Arts names twelve Dean’s Distinguished Graduates on the basis of high scholarly achievements, leadership, and service to the college and university community. The Dean’s Distinguished Graduate program has yielded over 370 alumni. Often honors students, those who have undertaken extensive undergraduate research projects, or those who have held active leadership positions, the recipients represent the highest standard for academics and service in the College of Liberal Arts.

 James Lamon began his journey at UT as a Liberal Arts Honors freshman with an English major.  He quickly added a philosophy major, joined a great books program, and then added a government major. He graduated with all three majors and a certificate from the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas. After participating in the Shakespeare at Winedale program in the summer of 2009, James went on to appear in nine student-run and professional theatre shows. Four of those performances were with the Spirit of Shakespeare club, for which James served as the Master of Revels. James also volunteered with the Shakespeare Outreach organization. Apart from Shakespeare, James has been active in the Liberal Arts Honors community. He has served as a student mentor, led Rousseau’s Reading Groups, and volunteered as an orientation adviser. James is also passionate about creative writing.  His fiction and poetry have won prizes in Department of English writing contests. James’ English Honors Thesis uses optical technology to understand solipsism in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.

In addition to these studies, James possesses an interest in political theory. He completed an independent research paper on Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America that won Best Paper Award at the Illinois State University Conference for students of political science. The paper will be published in the Spring 2012 issue of Critique, an international journal of political science. James will be applying to M.F.A. programs in creative writing and moving to L.A. to pursue a career in screenwriting. 

Kathleen Burns began her collegiate career at the Cleveland Institute of Music to study voice. Due to the program’s lack of general education requirements, she transferred to UT a year later to pursue more intellectually rigorous courses. Kathleen majored in Biology and quickly added English Honors as a second major. She is an active member in the College of Natural Sciences, where she was a Freshman Research Initiative Mentor for a Biology course and served as a writing counselor for students who were conducting independent research for the first time. She is currently a mentor for a Multilevel Selection Experiment in Integrative Biology. Kathleen has been awarded the UT Unrestricted Endowed Presidential Scholarship, the UT Bee Caves Ecology Fellowship, the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Fellowship, and most recently won the coveted Rapoport-King Thesis Scholarship for her English Honors Thesis, “Landscapes of the Mind: A Phrenological Reading of Nature in Jane Eyre.”

Kathleen would like to disseminate scientific information and explain scientific methods to the general public, and is considering a career as a science journalist.

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