Assumption College honored 73 students with awards for academic excellence during the 34th Annual Honors Convocation, held on April 23 in the Jeanne Y. Curtis Performance Hall. Awards ranged from departmental honors to special recognitions, to Augustine Scholarships, the College’s highest academic honor.
During the ceremony, Monika Rettler, of Lee’s Summit, a member of the Class of 2018, received the departmental award for biology with a concentration in neuroscience and behavior.
“The Honors Convocation recognizes those students who have not only demonstrated academic excellence, but also outstanding character and service to the community in which they reside,” said Louise Carroll Keeley, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs. “During the Convocation, Assumption’s 15 academic departments select the most meritorious student in each of their primary programs of study to receive a prestigious department award, a significant achievement for any undergraduate. On behalf of the College, I congratulate these devoted scholars for their commitment to learning.”
Each year, the College invites a distinguished alumnus to address the honorees on the value of a liberal arts education. This year’s keynote speaker Thomas McCarthy, Ph.D., ’71 enjoys a longstanding relationship with the College. His father, Prof. James McCarthy, served as professor of economics at the College and holds professor emeritus status at Assumption; each year, the Prof. James McCarthy Scholarship for the Study of Economics or Global Studies is given to a student during the Honors Convocation.
Since earning an economics degree from Assumption, McCarthy has served as an economics professor at Oakland University in Michigan; a staff economist for the Federal Trade Commission; and is currently a senior vice president and head of the health care antitrust practice of National Economic Research Associates, a consulting firm located in Los Angeles.
McCarthy shared that a liberal arts education provides students with knowledge, critical reasoning-which he called the “gem of a liberal arts education”-humility and most important, intellectual independence. “The temptation to stop thinking for yourself is great,” he shared with the honored students, adding that in a world filled with analysis and opinions, one might become apathetic. “I hope the liberal arts has nourished your instincts to [perform] your own evaluations and weigh an argument from both sides. It’s a good habit. And I hope you also have the confidence to trust your own conclusions. Be brave enough to rely on your learning.”
McCarthy said that a liberal arts education not only gives one’s life adaptability but also enriches it. “There are simply more things for you to enjoy when you are familiar with the many great books and many great ideas,” he explained. “These are skills that give you a breadth of interest and experience, so I would suggest you use all of what you’ve been given Your liberal arts background is the key to that enormous and brewing life of facts and ideas Enjoy what you have and do your best to pass it on. That’s what Assumption has done for students like you year after year after year.”