Spring Convocation Celebrates Joy, Excellence, Achievement

a young woman speaks at a podium

"Convocation is not just about achievement, it also highlights the kindness, compassion and empathy that defines our campus." –Daisy Hoover '24, Class of 2024 President

There’s a political science and theatre double major whose “utter joy” in describing a Shakespeare performance lights up her face — and the room — delighting professors, classmates and castmates into believing such joy can indeed be contagious.

A biology major heading to Harvard Medical School after graduation “has an intense curiosity for the secrets of life,” and has devoted countless hours to researching pancreatic cancer markers.

A student who double majors in computer science and art created an extensive portfolio with “a riot of color and pattern … that inspires us all to play a little more seriously.”

Two graduating athletes, the college’s leading golfer of all time, and a “legendary” women’s volleyball player, led their teams and conferences, breaking college records and exemplifying true sportsmanship.

These are just a few of the Davidson College students who brighten the college — and their communities. On April 11, Davidson honored them and others during the college’s annual Spring Convocation.

a young woman accepts an award on a stage while wearing regalia

Zaynab Abuhakema ‘24 accepts the Arab Studies Award.

a young Black man accepts an award while wearing regalia on a stage

Nasir Jean-Paul '24 accepts the Agnes Sentelle Brown Award.

From the aspiring musicians, mathematicians and military leaders to the environmentalists, economists and sociologists, convocation celebrates talent and hard work, innovation and perseverance, character and leadership.

The ceremony also recognizes new honor society members, post-graduate international fellowship and scholarship recipients; and staff and faculty members who contribute to students’ success.

a young white man holding a wooden plaque

Prof. Chris Marsicano

a young white woman holds an award

Kaylee Linthicum

Those honored demonstrate a commitment to making their world smarter, kinder and healthier, more understanding and peaceful, and less divisive. They volunteer on campus, in hospitals, at elementary schools and many other places that need them.

For the class of 2024, convocation serves as a prelude for their May 12 commencement ceremony. It’s a fun, festive ceremony, and raucous supporters cheered enthusiastically for award winners in all categories. Graduating students also took a moment to cheer and thank their professors.

an older white man wears regalia while speaking at a podium

President Doug Hicks ’90

a young woman speaks at a podium - behind her are other adults on a stage

Rev. Julia Watkins ’14

“You have learned how to learn, how to discover your world and how to make a huge difference in it,” President Doug Hicks ’90 said. “I can’t think of a time when our world needs you more for leadership and service.”

Rev. Julia Watkins ’14, serving her first year as the college’s chaplain and director of religious and spiritual life, offered her first Spring Convocation invocation. She spoke of the journey that brought students to Davidson, and the many roads they will take when they leave.

Julia Watkins Chaplain

We did not all start in the same place, nor has there always been parity between our paths, yet we are here, having shared an experience that has shaped us as one community composed of poets and scientists, athletes and artists, activists and ambassadors, truth-seekers and servant leaders. We are here, having invested our whole selves in a process of exploration, learning, and transformation. We are here, having followed winding routes with plenty of pauses to question, wrestle, and delight.

Rev. Julia Watkins ’14

These journeys have not been solitary.

“We have not come here alone but in the good company of family, friends, faculty, staff and mentors,” Watkins said. “Thank you for those who have come alongside us to help carry the load and light the way. Thank you for the relationships we have received and nurtured in this place. Thank you for the wider Davidson community to which we forever belong.”

young women smile while wearing graduation reglia
a young white woman laughs while wearing regalia
a group of people stand around in regalia while taking pictures and embracing
a group of young men in graduation regalia smile together

Faculty & Staff Awards

Staff, faculty and community members were also honored with awards:

Omicron Delta Kappa Awards

2024 ODK Teaching Award: Deborah Thurtle-Schmidt, Ph.D.
Chosen on behalf of the Davidson student body by the members of Omicron Delta Kappa; presented to a professor demonstrating outstanding teaching ability.  

“Dr. Thurtle-Schmidt, a genuinely extraordinary professor in the biology and genomics departments, leads innovative courses with unparalleled enthusiasm and deep expertise, mentoring numerous lab and RISE students,” the award says. “She inspires every biology major and actively fosters open dialogue, allowing students to voice questions and share their perspectives.”

2024 ODK Staff Award: Clara Hare-Grogg ’19
Chosen on behalf of the Davidson student body by members of Omicron Delta Kappa; presented to members of the Davidson community and staff who demonstrate outstanding commitment to leadership and service.

“Davidson’s Health Educator, Clara Hare-Grogg, possesses a passion for and knowledge of our student body that drives her work. She is literally a ray of sunshine on our campus. She has tremendously increased the visibility of health education resources and works tirelessly to support all Davidson students. She epitomizes leadership. She advocates for students’ well-being by empowering them with the information necessary to succeed on campus and beyond.” 

2024 ODK Community Member Award: Dick Hay ’77, DVM

Chosen on behalf of the Davidson student body by members of Omicron Delta Kappa; presented to members of the Davidson community and staff who demonstrate outstanding commitment to leadership and service.

“Dr. Hay currently serves on the Animal Care Committee at Davidson College and works with Continuing the Mission to provide top-tier care to service animals in training. For more than 20 years, Dr. Hay mentored and supported pre-veterinary students. Additionally, he serves as a member of the Davidson Housing Coalition, impacting those within the entire Davidson community.”

Student Government Association Awards

2024 Faculty Award: Christopher Marsicano, Ph.D.

“Dr. Marsicano is a mentor and role model who is incredibly invested in his students’ personal and professional growth. He not only cares about what his students get out of his classes but prioritizes how they are doing outside of them. His office door is always open to offer guidance, support, and endless encouragement. Dr. Marsicano’s enthusiasm about education policy is contagious, making three-hour lecture classes feel like mere minutes. He challenges us to think critically, to question our preconceptions, and to explore the depths of our understanding. Yet, he does so with such patience that it can make even the most stubborn students open their minds to new ideas. Dr. Marsicano’s impact reaches far beyond academia, leaving an everlasting imprint on each student fortunate enough to cross paths with him.”

2024 Pre-Major Faculty Advising Award: Kaylee Linthicum 

“Her guidance as a holistic advisor cannot be overstated. In what is certainly a nerve-wracking yet exciting time in a student’s life, she is always enthusiastic in giving expert advice to students regarding course selection and social endeavors. Even after her students have declared their major, she remains open as ever to lending guidance and serving as a helping hand. A holistic advisor is a student’s first connection to a staff member at Davidson, and no one deserves this award more than Ms. Kaylee Linthicum.”

Newly Established Awards

Several newly established scholarships were also announced:

Boswell Family Scholarship

Established by Stewart Boswell, Davidson College Class of 1978, and parent of James Boswell ’08 and Lucy Boswell ’15, the Boswell Family Scholarship provides assistance to students with demonstrated financial need.

Brantly and Kathleen Buck Scholarship

Established by Charles Brantly Buck, Class of 1972, and Kathleen Price Buck, this scholarship provides assistance for students with demonstrated financial need and is in support of The Davidson Trust.

Kirkland Family Scholarship

This scholarship was established by Robert and Elizabeth Kirkland Sickles, both Class of 1988 alumni, and endowed by Ann and Bill Kirkland, Class of 1962. The families hope to see students make the most of their Davidson experience by developing deep friendships and exploring academic pursuits that fulfill and challenge them by learning to balance the intense academic and social environment, and by learning to ask questions and to listen intently and carefully to the answers.

Kulkarni Family Scholarship

Established by Akshay Kulkarni and Sarah Gorrell Kulkarni, Class of 2005, this scholarship provides support for first-generation college students with demonstrated financial need.

Mariano Ayala Scholarship

Established by Lucy E. Broadus, Class of 1992, this scholarship provides support for students who have had coursework in Latino studies, and/or who have a demonstrated interest in Latino history or cultures; or students who have a commitment to enhance Latino cultures.

McArthur-Fitzpatrick Scholarship for Disability Advocacy

Established by Alexandra McArthur and Owen Fitzpatrick, both Class of 2009, this scholarship provides support for students with demonstrated financial need, with preference for a student who self-identifies as having a disability or who has demonstrated a passion for disability advocacy.

McNab Waddill Scholarship

Established by James R. McNab III ’04 and Stephanie McNab in honor of James R. McNab Jr. ’66 and David H. Waddill ’81, this scholarship provides support for students with demonstrated financial need and is in support of The Davidson Trust.

Michael Coltrane ’68 Scholarship

Established by a gift through the estate of Michael Coltrane ’68, this scholarship supports students with demonstrated financial need.

Nickel Family Scholarship

Established by W. Richard Nickel, Class of 1964, this fund provides scholarship support for students with demonstrated financial need.

Porges-Drayer Scholarship

Established by Sarah Porges and Dan Drayer, this fund provides scholarship support for students with demonstrated financial need and is in support of The Davidson Trust.

Roosevelt Wilson Scholarship

Established by an anonymous donor, this fund provides scholarship support for students with demonstrated financial need and is in support of The Davidson Trust. The scholarship honors the life of Roosevelt Wilson, a Town of Davidson citizen who, guided by integrity and caring, dedicated himself to living life for the benefit of others. His respect for life extended to the natural world. The ideal recipient will be a student who reflects Roosevelt Wilson’s work ethic, generosity, resilience and commitment to community well-being.

Thomas Perrin Harrison Sr. Scholarship

Established by Katherine G. Harrison, this scholarship provides assistance to students with demonstrated need, with a preference for those who have an interest in studying English Literature or Creative Writing.

Townsend Family Scholarship

Established by Julie Summersgill Townsend, Class of 2000, and Tim Townsend, this scholarship provides support for students with demonstrated financial need and is in support of the Davidson Trust.