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“BE OPEN TO YOUR PASSIONS”: Dr. Laura Appell-Warren Speaks at Cum Laude Society Ceremony

Posted: April 26, 2012

On Tuesday evening, April 24, in the Class of 1945 Hall, guest speaker Dr. Laura Appell-Warren told her audience of St. Markers to “be open to your passions” as a dozen students were installed into the Cum Laude Society. Follow them,” continued Dr. Warren, “and be tenacious.”

In her presentation, Dr. Warren described her career path as an anthropologist, relating stories of her childhood in Borneo and her time at Milton Academy. “The great thing is” she said, “that you never know where your passions will take you.” Her study of psychological anthropology and personhood took her to Australia and back to Borneo. She urged her listeners to never give up, recommending tenacity. “I started grad school in 1983, but because of the vagaries of life, I didn’t get my doctorate until 2007. The important thing,” she told the newly inducted Cum Laude honorees, “is that I never forgot what I really loved and I came back to it.”

Membership in the Cum Laude Society is granted to students who have consistently shown academic promise by vote of the faculty who are members of the St. Mark’s Cum Laude Society. The St. Mark’s Cum Laude Society is made up of faculty members who were Cum Laude at their prep school, Phi Beta Kappa at their college, or elected by the Cum Laude Committee. The committee meets twice a year to elect students—once after the mid-year exams to elect VI formers, and again after the spring mid-term to elect both V and VI formers. Current faculty members of Cum Laude are Jeanna Cook, Marion Donovan, Peter Glomset, Christopher Kent, James LaMacchia, Lindsey Lohwater, Sarah McCann, Katharine Millet, Barbara Putnam, Lauren Sischo, Lynette Sumpter, Barbara Talcott, Richard Umiker, John Warren, Lee Wells, Samantha Wilson, and Michael Wirtz.

This Spring’s St. Mark’s Cum Laude inductees were VI Formers Amelia Ames, Elizabeth Arone, Camilla Bradley, Elizabeth Kim, and Haily Tran (all named to the Society after mid-year exams) as well as VI Former Katherine Ballen; and V Formers Rohit Bhatia, Ming Jung (Angela) Koh, Shenghan Li, Adamm Norgren, Yeong Seo (Sera) Park, and Katerine von Campe. Installed last year (Spring 2011) were current VI Formers Adam Cimpaneau, Jack Dewey, Mimi Gualtieri, Erin Leist, and Allegra Terhorst.

In order to be eligible to join, students must have at least a B average. As there are usually more students eligible to join than there are spaces available, members of the Cum Laude Society must look closely at each prospective student’s academic record, examining not only their grades, but the rigor of their courses, their intellectual leadership and their intellectual curiosity. Most VI Formers who are invited to join carry at least a B+ average for their last two years at St. Mark’s, while V Formers usually have at least an A- average.

“Remember,” said Dr. Warren at the conclusion of her talk, “that you are the only ones who know what you love, so indulge your interests and let them take you to great places—you never know where you’ll end up.”