Bowdoin College held its 19th annual Honors Day ceremony on May 6 in Kanbar Auditorium, Studzinski Recital Hall, to recognize the academic accomplishments of Bowdoin students. In addition, the 2015 Karofsky Prize, which honors a talented junior faculty member, was announced.
Each year, the previous recipient of the Sydney B. Karofsky Prize gives a talk at Honors Day. 2014 Karofsky winner Ingrid Nelson, assistant professor of sociology, gave a talk on what she called “breathtaking opportunities.”
In our society today, Nelson said, the time is takes to reach so-called adulthood is increasing, giving young people many years to explore and obtain self knowledge. “The lengthening of this period between adolescence and adulthood not only impacts you, it also impacts our society more broadly,” she noted. “In a nutshell, because you have more time to explore on your own, you’re more likely to do things your parents may not approve of. So we’re seeing higher rates of inter-racial marriage, inter-faith marriage and same sex marriage.”
As they enter the next stage of their lives, Bowdoin students will face an array of choices — about where to live, what careers to pursue and how to spend their time. Nelson urged the young people to use their liberty to explore and engage in the world, and to begin tackling some of the world’s problems.
“These days the world is full of problems — big problems. Poverty, violence, climate change, racial inequality, gender inequality…the list goes on,” she said. But they are not insoluble. Quoting John Gardner, who was President Johnson’s secretary of health, education and welfare, Nelson said, “What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.”
She continued, “As you think about what comes next, I invite you, rather than being shut down by the big insoluble problems facing our community and our world, to instead choose to be inspired by the breathtaking opportunities that lie in wait.”
Following Nelson’s address, Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd presented this year’s Karofsky Prize to Assistant Professor of Earth and Oceanographic Studies Emily Peterman. The Karofsky Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding Bowdoin teacher who best demonstrates the ability to impart knowledge, inspire enthusiasm and stimulate intellectual curiosity. The award is generously funded by members of the Karofsky family, including Peter S. Karofsky ’62, Paul I. Karofsky ’66 and David M. Karofsky ’93.
Peterman, who earned her B.A. from Middlebury College and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, teaches courses on geology, petrology, tectonics and climate. Her research uses petrology, mineralogy, geochronology and geochemistry to quantify the timing and rates of metamorphic recrystallization, deformation, melting and other aspects of crustal evolution.
The evening’s musical interlude, Sonata for Flute and Piano by Francis Poulenc, was performed by Emily Licholai ’18 on flute and Jae Yeon Yoo ’18 on piano. Departmental prizes were then presented to students by academic department and program chairs.