The Passing of the Torch

May 26, 2014, by Travis

Hello everybody,

It’s been a week since graduation, and I’ve just begun to decompress and find a regular sleep schedule once again. It’s unbelievable that I am seventy-five percent of the way done at Mudd, but it’s even more surreal to find myself and my fellow class of 2015 at the helm of the school. While this is obviously a huge deal for any college senior, at Mudd it doesn’t just mean that we’re a year away from graduating. At Mudd, it means that we are responsible to our community both as role models to younger students as well as future ambassadors for all Mudders as soon-to-be-alumni. With Mudd being such a small school with dorms that are not segregated by class year, seniors just as much as professors and student resources like the Dean of Students office are relied upon to guide underclassmen. That is not to say they are always the stoic advice-givers more than just our friends, but at times they really were.

Thinking back on my freshman year, I looked up to my FunShine seniors an incredible amount. Dylan Marriner ’12, now at Amazon, Alena Rau ’12, now at Raytheon, Louis Ryan ’12, now at Harvard, Robert Hoyt ’12, also at Harvard, and Phil Aelion-Moss ’12, now at Microsoft especially were especially helpful in showing me the in’s-and-out’s of life at Mudd. I oftentimes thought to myself that I would never be in a position like they were, they all seemed too smart and on top of everything to even be human at times. Of course, they were also crazy fun lunatics at times, but speaking on behalf of all the FunShine freshmen that year, they were our crazy seniors and we loved them for it! Even though we only see them at alumni weekend now, they’re still some of our best friends from Mudd, and the same goes for the seniors after them. The Class of 2014, however, was special. Not that the ones before them were any less so, but because we got to spend 3 years at Mudd with them, so long that we actually don’t know what it’ll be like without them.

I cannot count the times Christian Stevens ’14, my best friend at Mudd, and I spent talking hours into the night about politics, hockey, or just whatever was going on at Mudd at the moment. I’ll be taking over from him as 3rd floor proctor, and would feel absolutely inadequate for the job without his guidance and encouragement to pursue it in the first place. He’s headed off to Malawi and three other countries after winning the prestigious Watson Fellowship.

Christian and I at graduation.
Christian and I at graduation.

Robyn Low ’14 and Sophie Parks ’14, you guys not only are great role models in lab but as friends. I’m so proud to call both of you best friends and that you let me into whatever orbit your electron pair resides on. Soph, you’re going to kill it at Hofstra Med, and Robyn, it doesn’t matter whether you end up at USC or Penn, you’re going to be an incredible doctor either way.

Sophie, Christian, myself, and Robyn at graduation.
Sophie, Christian, myself, and Robyn at graduation.

Ray Hurwitz ’14 (since 1993) is plain and simple one of the hardest-working and dedicated people I know, whether as an engineer, an athlete, or a friend. I’m proud to have been able to attend Mudd the last 3 years with him around, and can’t wait to buy that beach house in Laguna next time after he tears it up at Northrop Grumman and I figure out what I’m going to do with my life.

Brian Cheney ’14, what a guy. I knew we were going to be friends as soon as I found out that you played water polo, but I never thought we’d have as much fun as we did. Thanks for always reminding us to step back and not take Mudd so seriously all the time, and for making us laugh literally anytime we hung out. I know you’ll do us and Cheneyville proud out there.

Courtney Keeler ’14, you’re going to be just as incredible of a biomedical engineer/whatever type of engineer you decide to be as you were at being the go-to voice of reason for us all. Grad school in Sweden sounds epic and I know I’ll be hearing about your work with bionic prosthetics and microcontrollers sooner rather than later! Lycka till i Sverige!

Courtney, Ray, Christian, and Brian at graduation.
Courtney, Ray, Christian, and Brian at graduation.

To all the proctors for the 2013-2014 year, thank you for being such incredible role models for all of us incoming proctors. Dean Maggie, the Dean of Students, truly was not lying in saying that you all are the greatest group of proctors Mudd has seen, and although I believe our group is up to that challenge, we’re going to miss you all dearly! Brianna Thielen ’14 said it best when she complained to me that she wishes we all would’ve gotten to know each other sooner (and I’m glad we got to become best friends even in just the few months we got to hang out)! And to Katie Shepherd ’14, Sherry Zhang ’15 and I promise to take care of Atwood!

All but 2 of the 2013-2014 proctors after graduation. (Top row: Ray Hurwitz ’14, Brianna Thielen ’14, Christian Stevens ’14, Alberto Ruiz ’14; Bottom row: Nate Bean ’14, Natasha Parikh ’14, Miranda Parker ’14, Katie Shepherd ’14, Becca Thomas ’14, Mitul Verma ’14; Not pictured: Carling Sugmarman ’14 and Carolina Reyes ’14)
All but 2 of the 2013-2014 proctors after graduation. (Top row: Ray Hurwitz ’14, Brianna Thielen ’14, Christian Stevens ’14, Alberto Ruiz ’14; Bottom row: Nate Bean ’14, Natasha Parikh ’14, Miranda Parker ’14, Katie Shepherd ’14, Becca Thomas ’14, Mitul Verma ’14; Not pictured: Carling Sugmarman ’14 and Carolina Reyes ’14)

Aside from bragging about these guys, I wanted to reach out to them through the blog as a means of showing you just an example of how big of an impact each class has on their underclassmen. I could go on and on about so many more individuals and their accomplishments, but so could just about every underclassmen. The Mudd community is as tight-knit as it gets, and as a result seeing these students leave isn’t just a same-old, same-old occurrence here, it really represents a passing of the torch. As their commencement speaker Beth Shapiro spoke, something caught my attention. “Be in the moment.” Although she offered it as advice to the graduating seniors, I feel they already knew that and had demonstrated as such in their impact on the school and all of us. In that sense, she puts words to what they had all showed us, and because of that, I feel more confident than ever about going into my senior year, even if they’ll all be off saving the world rather than looking over all of our shoulders as they have for our entire Mudd lives.

In closing, congratulations to the Class of 2014, I am fully confident in all of your abilities to change the world, but if you find yourself a bit lost, just remember you’ve got an entire school behind you back at Mudd!

Travis

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