The tower radiated orange last night, commending Honors Day students.
This year marked the 60th annual ceremony, recognizing undergraduate students earning high academic achievement as College Scholars and Distinguished College Scholars.
Each scholar is given honors cords from the University Co-op to be worn at commencement. Distinguished Scholars are presented an honor medallion by their college dean.
The Honor Students’ Representative this year was Sarah Miller, a physics and astronomy major and Rhodes Scholar. Sarah’s talents lie however in more than just one part of her brain. Not only does she research galaxies and black holes, but is also an artist, instrumentalist, singer and composer. Sarah urged students to “revel in the holistic” dimension of our talents rather than dwell on the significance of a single GPA score. Sarah impressed the power of ambition and “solution seeking” in her own experiences. While she holds a high GPA, it is not out of this world she said. It was her background and interview for Oxford that opened doors. While our transcripts are very important, they do not determine our lives. We must do that for ourselves.
The convocation address was given by Professor Hart, the Dean of the College of Communication. Professor Hart has won innumerable prestigious awards for his teaching, writing and scholarship. He holds a position in the UT Academy of Distinguished Teachers.
Hart began his speech by saying that in 1968, 40 years ago, he found himself in our very position. Except that 1968 was a very different time. A time that saw two assassinations, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, and a time with no cell phones or Internet. “If you ever wondered why your parents turned out so weird,” Hart joked, “that’s why…1968.” However it is 1968 that Hart says has imprinted itself onto his life, into his teaching and writing. In turn we must ask ourselves how we will be defined by our time. Enron, Iraq, corruption, oil, the environment. Hart asked, “Sure you’re smart, but are you good?” Hart emphasized a purposeful life early on. “You can’t cheat purpose,” he said. You will begin to question yourself as time goes by.
Our classes do not always test ethics, teach purpose or goodness, but in the end, each of our decisions collectively will shape history. To ultimately fulfill our potential, we must not strive to mere accomplishments for accomplishments sake, but keep in mind a greater purpose and power.