Phi Beta Kappa Citations

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - 15:51
Mallory R. Cohn '08
Mallory Cohn does not lack for admirers, one of whom was William Shakespeare, who wrote of Mallory: "Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice, And could of women distinguish her election, Sh'hath seal'd thee for herself. Give me that woman who is not passion's slave, and I will wear her in my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart, As I do thee." Well, at least Shakespeare would have written that if he had known Mallory. And Mallory's love for Shakespeare is surpassed only by her love for Kenneth Branagh's productions of Shakespeare's plays.

So, of course Mallory is doing a senior thesis on Charles Dickens. And, she knows a ridiculous amount about British naval history. She sings a cappella; she works summers at a youth camp. She is, in the words of one of her professors, as good as those students of 40 years ago who read widely and deeply and knew all those cultural reference points which once were the norm of a liberal arts education.

And Mallory writes well, extremely well. As one professor notes, "Sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, she is a joy to read." And another professor notes that her essays are always substantive, deep, and worth reading. In the last two years, she has taken on the role of copy editor and managing editor of the Mount Holyoke News, where she has, by virtue of attention to grammatical niceties, vastly improved the quality of the undergraduate journalism on display there. She is, in short, a modern Horatio, which Mallory will tell you is the highest praise possible.

Lindsay Goodale '08
When Lindsay Goodale is in class, the professor knows that there will always be someone with a thoughtful response to every assignment and that there always be an exam that is fun to read. Lindsay catalyzes learning and thinking in everyone around her. Her questions are not the sort that can be answered off the top of one's head--faculty had better be ready to ask for an extension.

Gary Gillis writes that he has had the good fortune of learning from Lindsay for four years, first in introductory biology, where she received her lowest grade at Mount Holyoke, an A-, then in several upper-division courses, and now in his laboratory, where she is doing her honors thesis studying the projectile tongues of feeding chameleons (and enjoys blasting episodes of NPR's "This American Life" on the computer speakers). She makes microsurgery, complex equipment, statistical analysis, and truly beautiful writing seem easy. When she's not in the lab, which is rarer and rarer these days, Lindsay might be found working as a PLUMS tutor for the chemistry department, playing ultimate Frisbee, or studying microeconomics.

From her first year, Lindsay expressed a serious interest in becoming a veterinarian, and she has never strayed from that course. Lindsay was recently accepted into Cornell University's veterinary school, and has an array of interviews at other schools in the coming weeks. Given her love of animals, this is a fitting way to bring her Mount Holyoke experience to fruition. She has done many challenging things extremely well, and, though she will always be asking hard questions, now they often arise from the answers she is discovering.

Sundus Husain '08
If you ask around the economics department, you will not find anyone who does not speak of Sundus Husain in glowing superlatives. On her way to a Ph.D. program in economics, Sundus is spending the next year or two working at NERA Economic Consulting, one of the premier research consulting firms in the country. They are lucky to have Sundus working for them; she is an accomplished economist and is capable of doing wonderful economic research.

Since Sundus is so keenly interested in research, she is, of course, writing a senior thesis--in the English department. Naturally, one would assume it is something akin to a study of capitalist norms in the novels of the Gilded Era. But, it's not. For her senior thesis, Sundus is writing a collection of short stories. And beautiful short stories at that; as a professor notes, "the writing is full of nuance--descriptive sympathy that brings settings and characters alive and make the intricacies of generations in Lahore vibrant, lyrical, close at hand."

An economist who can write fiction well, a scholar who combines mathematical aptitude and literary sensibility, Sundus epitomizes the aim of a liberal arts education.

Elizabeth Petcu '08

Elizabeth Petcu is a natural scholar: inquisitive, critical, and disciplined. Already as a high school junior, Liz was, in the words of museum curator Wendy Watson, "one of the very best summer interns of any age and academic standing." Now six years later, she continues to be a curatorial assistant extraordinaire, deftly organizing student events, hosting visiting luminaries with grace, and conducting research on eleventh-century Turkish ceramics for an Islamic art history course. Out of her investigations, the museum identified and purchased a stellar example of Iznik pottery that perfectly complements the collection's other holdings.

Liz's passion for art is everywhere apparent in her courses and independent research, most recently in projects on ancient Roman triumphal arches and baroque architecture. Not only does her ability to read German scholarship enable her to plumb the depths of the discipline; she is that rare historian who looks and then sees the work of art as a product of creative thought and purpose. Liz's vivid historical imagination ranges from antiquity to medieval Paris to baroque Vienna, the focus of her senior research. For her intense motivation, her scholarly rigor, and her interpretive originality, Liz Petcu has earned the respect of everyone in the art history program here at Mount Holyoke.

Kathryn Plass '08
Kate Plass's honors thesis in history immerses her in the documents and letters that record the several lives of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. As professor of rhetoric at Bowdoin College, he mastered nine languages. Though without military training, he planned and executed the bayonet charge that saved the battle of Gettysburg for the Union. He went on to be the president of Bowdoin, where he introduced its science curriculum, and, then, served four terms as the governor of Maine.

On the side, Kate catalogued the Skinner Museum, a part of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. Mr. Skinner weaved lots of nineteenth-century ribbon and lace, hundreds of stuffed birds, farm implements, and bits of gravestones he chipped from the monuments of the great or notorious, into South Hadley's own Hearst's Castle. And then there is her science curriculum: she has completed a major in biology, where she ranged from plant evolution to immunology, and served as an outstanding lab instructor in biology. And, on another side, there are her years of ballet.

Kate is on to graduate school, where she will combine the study of American history and material culture. We are pleased to note that today she follows Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain into Phi Beta Kappa. She does so on toe (and with no more military training than a summer working at Gettysburg National Military Park).

Related Links:

MHC Awards Day Celebrates Achievement