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ISSUE 119 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/17/2006

Boldt receives award

By Andrea Horbinski
Opinion Editor

Friday, March 17, 2006

On Wednesday night, students, professors and college officials gathered in the Valhalla Room in Buntrock Commons to honor the 2006 Great Conversation Student of the Year, Hannah Boldt ‘08.

In accepting her award, Boldt emphasized her surprise at the choice.

"There was never an e-mail announcement that you should prepare a speech," she said, before thanking her fellow students for enriching her education. "I learn so much more discussing with everybody than thinking on my own.”

The award is a merit scholarship given to one student in the final course of the two-year Great Conversation program. Lowell Johnson, a professor emeritus of English and a former teacher and director of the program, along with his wife endowed the scholarship in 1996.

"We really thought that it was just such an excellent program," Barbara Johnson said. "We wanted to contribute to the enrichment of the program in our own small way." She and her husband envisioned the scholarship financing study abroad programs for winning students in their junior or senior years.

This year’s ceremony was attended by the current crop of "Conners" and their professors, as well as the Johnsons themselves, Provost and Dean of the College James May, Pastor Bruce Benson, previous Student of the Year Mary Sotos ‘07 and former Great Conversation professors and students.

Current program director and Professor of Religion Edmund Santurri presented the award. He began his remarks by referencing Karl Marx and that writer’s vision of a community of "individuals fulfilled by the accomplishments of others." The Student of the Year award, he said, is an example of an individual representing a community, "a cohort of students and teachers in this year’s program."

Santurri then detailed the qualifications of the Student of the Year, saying that each cycle’s teachers look for a student who has demonstrated academic achievement, a "manifest love of great works and great ideas," and dexterity of mind. But above all, he said, the student must enjoy and facilitate conversation, and his or her conversations must show that he or she has read and listened well.

"It’s always exciting to win something,” Boldt said after the ceremony. “But I feel like it’s not so much about my own personal achievement ... as [it is] about the other people in class and learning from them and their ideas."

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