With a smile and a handshake, 50 new Antonian Honors students officially joined the St. Kate’s honors program during a pinning ceremony held on Tuesday, September 10. Students, staff, faculty, and family watched as current students and alumnae from the honors program presented the new members with pins in Our Lady of Victory Chapel, followed by a reception in Derham Parlor.
The yearly ritual “recognizes our high-achieving students at the beginning of their time at St. Kate’s rather than as they are about to graduate,” as put by Rafael Cervantes, PhD, honors program director and Communication Studies Department chair.
President ReBecca Roloff ’76 delivered a warm welcome to the group of students, alums, faculty, and family gathered in Our Lady of Victory Chapel. She also shared the history of the honors program and the tradition of academic excellence pursued by Mother Antonia and Sister Margery Smith, the program’s founding director.
“Students, this is your legacy,” Roloff said. “Be proud of the opportunity you have been given and remember the resiliency and tenacity of this program’s namesake.”
A community of learners
Antonian Honors students engage in an ambitious curriculum that pushes them as learners and leaders, maintaining a 3.5 GPA and completing four extra seminars and a year-long senior project. But the program offers more than academic laurels — the honors students benefit from a community of motivated, supportive peers. Students’ interest in the program as an experience of fellowship has resurged to the point that as of this year, members have revived the Honors Program Student Organization (HPSO).
Emily Robinson ’22, president of HPSO, welcomed her peers with a piece of seemingly counterintuitive advice: “I give you permission to fail this year,” she said. “This program does not demand that you are a better student, but that you are a bigger dreamer and more passionate leader. … You will bring honor to this University by making mistakes, changing your mind, and growing from those experiences.”
The 2019 ceremony was only the third annual Antonian pinning, but has met with enthusiasm since it began. Natalie Nation ’19, Antonian Honors alumna, returned to campus to participate in the welcome ritual.
“We didn’t have the pinning ceremony when I was a first-year, so I’m glad this is something new honors students get to experience,” she said. “It was cool to place a pin on a student, look them in the eyes, and tell them, ‘Welcome, we’re so glad you’re here!’”
“We hope to foster a stronger, more integrated community that will support honors students in taking pride in their role as high-achieving students,” said Robinson, after the program concluded.
“Being an honors student at St. Kate’s is about more than completing a checklist of requirements,” said Cervantes. “It also gives students the opportunity to be part of a community following a different, more engaging path.”
To learn more about joining the Antonian Honors program, contact Cervantes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-690-6907. Honors students who are interested in being active in HPSO are encouraged to contact Robinson at email@example.com.
All photos by Mara Landon ’20.