I attended my final honors convocation at SMU. One of the first in-person and socially-distanced indoor university-wide event since the pandemic began, the honors convocation was a celebration and ceremony recognizing the many acheivements of students throughout this last year. I was recognized for several accomplishments and awards, but two awards in particular were really important to me.
Firstly, I was recognized for the international fellowship that I received, the Schwarzman Scholarship. SMU's office of national fellowships uses the honors convocation to recognize students who receive international fellowships, such as Fulbright and others, and it was so wonderful seeing so many friends and peers who have received these awesome fellowships.
Secondly, I was recognized as the Dedman College Outstanding Senior, the top award given to a single graduating senior from the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. The chairs of all the departments in Dedman College come together each year and select one student that they believe represents the idea behind a liberal arts education that values both humanities and sciences. Of course, my friends and I would joke that it doesn't hurt that both the chairs of the physics and political science department are my two closest professors and mentors, but receiving this award was clearly a recognition of my outlook on my time in college and the role of a liberal arts education. College is not just about studying for the sake of getting a job, it is so much more than that. So many students spend their time in college focused on learning what they need to in order to contribute to society, but don't step back to think about how a broad education betters society. An appreciation for history, art, music and culture is extremely important, even for technocrats, and SMU has numerous resources to encourage students to explore more than their degree.
I also got a hilarious and serious shout-out from one of my favorite professors at SMU, Professor Jospeh Kobylka, chair of the political science department, in his speech at the honors convocation. I've known Professor Kobylka since I came to SMU, since he has served as the faculty sponsor for the President's Scholars program, but I also came to know him when I took his course on "Law, Politics, and the Supreme Court" in the spring of 2019. The class was quite the workload, but it was an incredible exprencience and explored a passion I had for constituonal law and debating the role that the law and a judiciary plays in society. He always finds it silly that a physics student, and one-day hopefully a future physicist, would have an interest in the supreme court and constitutional law. I love telling people that it is exactly the kind of education that liberal arts colleges should be encouraging. Scholars can, and realistically do have, more than one academic interest and they should be encouraged to explore it while in college.