Of Deep Friendships, Community and Gravitas (Or Lack Thereof)

The three Class Marshals and Faculty Marshal in regalia at Senior Assembly

The Class Marshals, Kennedy Countess ’18, Fernando Liu Lopez ’18, Olivia Mastrangelo ’18, and the Faculty Marshal, Gregory Call, the Peter R. Pouncey Professor of Mathematics.

Senior Assembly, which is traditionally held the last day of classes, is a time for Amherst College faculty to honor the graduating students, celebrating their accomplishments and their bright future. During the annual event at Johnson Chapel on Wednesday, the two featured senior speakers offered very different takes on their time at the College.

Mohamed Amhed Ramy speaking at a podium

Mohamed Ahmed Ramy ’18 spoke of distance: The distance between his father’s dreams to study in the United States and his own; the distance that all students travel; and the distance between his native Egyptian culture and that of the country where he studied.

“I struggled making deep friendships my first year because I wasn’t sure what I couldn’t ask, how I could set up a gathering, or if I could just actually sit with people I didn’t know in Val,” he said. “During that time, you were all kind to me, welcoming me into your lives, patting me on the shoulder, and telling me to just be myself. Thanks to you, the staff, and faculty, I call Amherst my second home—my second family.”

Ramy noted that he was not alone in his experiences and asked seniors to recall their own version of “this extended kindness.”

“We are all interconnected by our humanness. We have lived in this home together,” he said. “Amherst brought us diverse students together, but we chose to integrate and support each other to form this community.”

Nathaniel Werner speaking at a podium

Nathaniel Werner ’19E offered a lighter take for the occasion, noting he had rejected the idea of adding gravitas to his speech and that a “five-minute speech given by a person who isn’t even graduating until next semester probably won’t contain any useful advice.”

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to say absolutely nothing of value at your very important event,” he said. “I genuinely do appreciate it.”

The prizes, listed below with their recipients, were then awarded by President Biddy Martin to members of the Class of 2018. 

An awards ceremony for undergraduates, known as College Meeting, was held May 1 in Cole Assembly Room.

Three student Class Marshals and the Faculty Marshall in regalia

Senior Assembly 2018

Held the evening of the last day of classes, Senior Assembly is a traditional ceremony in which the Amherst College faculty honors the graduating students.

Prizes and Awards


The Addison Brown Scholarship from a fund established by Addison Brown of the Class of 1852, is awarded to that senior who, being already on the scholarship list, has attained the highest standing in the studies of the freshman, sophomore and junior years.

Jonathan Tso Che

The Charles Hamilton Houston Fellowship is an annual gift awarded to a graduating senior who best personifies a commitment to realizing his or her humane ideals, much in the way Charles Houston ’15 devoted his life to the struggle for equal protection under the law for African-Americans in the United States.

Jalencia Janiece Wade

The Howard Hill Mossman Trophy, awarded annually to the member of the senior class who has brought, during his/her four years at Amherst, the greatest honor in athletics to the Alma Mater--the word “honor” to be interpreted as relating both to achievement and to sportsmanship.

Mohamed Hussein

The Psi Upsilon Prize was established by the Gamma Chapter of Psi Upsilon in l941 on the occasion of the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Chapter.  The prize is awarded to that member of the graduating class who is considered preeminent in scholarship, leadership, athletics and character.

Dakota Foster

The Stonewall Prize, established by David L. Kirp ’65 and other alumni, is awarded annually to that student who produces a work of exceptional intellectual or artistic merit pertaining to the gay, lesbian or bisexual experience.

Shantanu S. Havaldar

The Thomas H. Wyman 1951 Medal, established in 2003 by his classmates, is awarded to that member of the senior class who best represents the highest standards in scholarship, athletics, and/or extracurricular activities, community service, integrity, character and humanism. 

Mohamed Ahmed Ramy


 The George Rogers Taylor Prize is awarded to the student who, in the opinion of the department, shows the most promise for creative and scholarly work in American studies.

Zoe Rose Kayton


The Donald S. Pitkin Prize in Anthropology-Sociology, established in honor of the founder of that department on the occasion of his retirement, is given to that student whose honors thesis best exemplifies the humane values to which Professor Pitkin committed his research and teaching.

Divided between: Alelí Andrés and Yeon Joon (Ricky) Choi


The Architectural Studies Prize is awarded to the honors thesis judged best by the Program for its qualities of clarity and originality in affirming the interdisciplinary richness of architecture.

 Divided between: Megan Do and Norah Awori Oteri


The Hasse Prize, established in memory of Adrian H. Hasse ’43, is awarded for the best submitted work having a human figure as a theme.

Young-Ji Cho

The Athanasios Demetrios Skouras Prize is given in the memory of Mr. Skouras, Class of 1936, who died in 1943 in Athens as a result of Nazi reprisal killings. The prize is awarded to a student who, in the opinion of the Department, has created an outstanding work of art.

Hoàng Thu An


The Doshisha Asian Studies Prize from the income of a gift from Amherst House, Doshisha University, is awarded for the best undergraduate honors thesis pertaining to Asia.

Michael Anthony Bessey


The Manstein Family Award, given by Carl ’72, Mark ’74 and Joanne Manstein ’83, is presented to the outstanding senior varsity athlete who has been accepted to medical school and plans a career in medicine.  The prize is awarded by the Department of Physical Education.

Samuel Louis Malnik


The Biochemistry And Biophysics Prize is awarded to the student who, in the opinion of the faculty, has prepared the best thesis in the Biochemistry and Biophysics program.

Itai Muzhingi


The Harvey Blodgett Scholarship was established by Frederick H. Blodgett in memory of his grandfather, Harvey Blodgett of the Class of 1829. The scholarship is awarded to aid student work in biology and geology in their educational phases, as distinct from their more technical and strictly scientific phases.

Combined with

The Phi Delta Theta Scholarship was established by the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and is awarded as a scholarship at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory to a student with a proficiency in biology.

Natalie Wei-Tze Sun

The Oscar E. Schotté Award is given to that member of the graduating class who, in the opinion of the department, has done the best independent work in biology.

Anri Chomentowska

The Oscar E. Schotté Scholarship Prize is awarded to a member of the junior or senior class majoring in science to enable completion of a special project during the summer.

Divided among: Ben Birkenfeld, Sydney Michele Mollard Weil and Jingwen Zhang


The Edward Jones Prize is given in honor of the College’s first black alumnus.  It is awarded by the Black Studies Department to a graduating senior for the best honors thesis which addresses a present or future issue of concern to black people in Africa and the Diaspora.

Divided between:  Jalencia Janiece Wade and Stefan J. Yong


The Howard Waters Doughty Prize is awarded to that member of the senior class who, in the opinion of the Chemistry Department, has prepared the best honors thesis.

Craig James Nelson

The Frank Fowler Dow Prizes, established by Fayette B. Dow in memory of his father, are awarded to a senior preparing to enter medical school and whose undergraduate work indicates a career of distinction in medicine. 

Jingwen Zhang

The Everett H. Pryde Research Award is presented annually to a senior who has been an outstanding teaching assistant in chemistry and who shows great promise for carrying out research in science or medicine.

Divided between: Bailey Alice Plaman and Leonard Heekyu Yoon


The Computer Science Prize is awarded to a senior who has completed an honors thesis and who, in the opinion of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, has achieved the best performance in the study of computer science.  The award is based on the thesis and overall achievement in computer science.

Jeffrey James Ewing


The Bernstein Prize, funded by a gift from the Bernstein family in honor of the work their son, Jeffrey ’91, did at Amherst College, is awarded to the senior who has done particularly outstanding honors work in economics.

Divided between: Pei Gong and Tobias Schwed

The James R. Nelson Memorial Award and The James R. Nelson Prize were established from the income of a fund established by former students, colleagues and friends to encourage and recognize the scholarly and humane qualities that Professor Nelson exemplified and sought to foster in his students.                   

The James R. Nelson Memorial Award is presented to that senior who, in the opinion of the Economics Department, has achieved excellence in the study of economics while pursuing a broad liberal education.

Tobias Schwed   

The James R. Nelson Prize is awarded to the senior who, in the opinion of the Economics Department, has written a distinguished honors thesis that applies economic analysis to an important question of public policy.

Divided between: Jerry Chen and Julia Konso Mbakire 

The Jeanne E. Reinle Prize is named after Jeanne Reinle, the Academic Department Coordinator of the Economics Department for 30 years, whose inviting and engaging presence welcomed and supported generations of Amherst economics students and faculty. The prize is awarded to the senior who, in the opinion of the Department, exemplifies a commitment to building community in the Department and a passion for economics.                

Divided between: Jennifer Alison Mackinnon Krems  and Julia Konso Mbakire                   


The Academy of American Poetry Prize is awarded annually for the best poem or group of poems, preferably on nature, submitted by an undergraduate.

Irisdelia Marie Garcia

The Elizabeth Bruss Prize is presented to that senior English major who in the judgment of the English Department best represents those qualities of breadth and imagination exemplified by Elizabeth Bruss.

Spencer James Quong

The Corbin Prize, established by the estate of William Lee Corbin of the Class of 1896, is awarded for an outstanding original composition in the form of poetry or an informal essay.

Divided between: Carolina Yasky Carriazo and Nayereh Doosti

The Peter Burnett Howe Prize for excellence in prose fiction, was established by a gift of Robert B. Howe of the class of 1930 in memory of his son Peter Burnett Howe, 1960. Submissions for the Howe Prize must be limited to a maximum of 25 pages, comprised of any combination of prose fiction pieces, including excerpts from novels.

Spencer James Quong

The Rolfe Humphries Poetry Prize is presented to that senior who has achieved the greatest sense of poetic form in his or her undergraduate writing.  The award is made on the basis of three submissions to the English Department in the applicant’s senior year and may include writing produced during the undergraduate years.

Julia Margaret Roch

The Ralph Waldo Rice Prize, established by Mrs. Mary Rice Jenkins in memory of her brother of the Class of 1910, is awarded for the best essay on “The Liberal College and Christian Citizenship” or any subject named by the faculty.

Divided between: Jacob Aaron Pagano and Katherine Dell Stanton

The Stephen E. Whicher Prize, established in memory of Stephen E. Whicher ’36 for the best essay by a senior in the interpretation of American literature in the Department of English or American  Studies.

Phuong-Nghi T. Pham    


The Jan E. Dizard Prize in Environmental Studies, established on the occasion of his retirement, honors Prof. Dizard for his role in founding the department.  It is awarded to a member(s) of the graduating class, who in the opinion of the Environmental Studies Department, exemplifies the field of environmental studies in academic work.

Nicole Grace Roberts


The European Studies Prize is awarded to the student who has written a thesis with great distinction that is dedicated to the analysis and exploration of cultures of Europe throughout history or in the present.

Conor James Bronsdon


The Film and Media Studies Award is awarded to an honors student in the Film and Media Studies Program for outstanding poetics in filmmaking.

Skylhur Kamille Tranqille


The Frederick King Turgeon Prize in French Literature was established by former students of Professor Turgeon upon the occasion of his retirement.  It is used for the award of a book to the student who has done particularly distinguished work in French during the year.

Divided between: Joshua Lee Harmon and Sunna Juhn


The Walter F. Pond Prize, established in honor of Walter Pond ’07, is awarded to the senior who has submitted the best honors thesis in geology.

Charles Matthew Inabinett

The David F. Quinn Memorial Award is awarded in memory of David Quinn ’80 to an outstanding senior who, during his or her undergraduate career, has made a positive contribution to geology at Amherst through character, leadership, enthusiasm, and participation in departmental activities.

Divided between: Charles Matthew Inabinett and Marie K. Maxwell


The Consulate General Prize for Academic Achievement in German Literature, made available by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Boston, is awarded to that student who, in the judgment of the Department of German, has written the best paper as part of a German course.

Patrick Aidan Williams


The Hutchins Prize, established by Waldo Hutchins of the Class of l842, is awarded to a senior for excellence in Greek.

Samuel Jeremy Alpert


The Asa J. Davis Prize is awarded to a student who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in the study of the History of Africa and the Black Diaspora and whose work best reflects the comprehensive interest of Asa Davis in historical and cultural contacts between Africa, the Old World and the Americas.

Divided between: Adele Krey Loomis and Max George Steinhorn

The Alfred F. Havighurst Prize, intended for the purchase of books, is awarded to that major in the Department of History who has in four years at Amherst best fulfilled the standards of excellence and humane scholarship exemplified by Professor Havighurst during his teaching career at Amherst College.

Divided between: Michael Anthony Bessey, Shantanu Havaldar and Nolan Scholz Lindquist


The Smith Prizes, established as part of the Nihon Ryuugaku Fellowship Fund, the Smith Prizes recognize two high-achieving graduating seniors who have majored in Japanese within the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations.


Divided between: Emily Eriko Ratté and Mashiyat Mohammed Zaman


Divided between: Fawzi Kamal Itani and Mei Bao Zhou


The Samuel Bowles Prize, established by Samuel Bowles King ’02, to stimulate interest in journalism as a career, is awarded to a student who has demonstrated proficiency in journalism.

Jingwen Zhang


The Bertram Prizes, established by John Bertram of Salem, are two prizes awarded to students who, together with attaining a high average in the Latin courses of the senior year, present the best essays connected with these courses. 

First and second combined and divided between: Josephine Carroll and Ryan Nicholas Hardin


The Nasser Hussain Prize honors the memory of Nassar Hussain, a distinguished scholar and beloved teacher, who taught in Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought from 1996 until his death in 2015. It is given annually to a graduating senior for distinguished achievement in that major.

Divided between: Lily Katherine Johnson and Samantha Kathryn O'Brien


The Frederick S. Lane '36 Fellowship for Creative Artists is awarded to students using historical and rate source materials from Amherst College Archives and Special Collections toward projects in the arts. 

Divided among: Rebecca Akosua Asantewah Ford,  Katherine Grace Hague and Jenna Peng


The Robert H. Breusch Prize is awarded to the senior who, in the opinion of the faculty in mathematics, has presented the best honors thesis in mathematics.

Divided among: Jonathan Tso Che, William John Wesley and Hui Xu 

The Walker Award for Leadership is awarded for outstanding leadership and for contributions to the mathematics and statistics community at Amherst.

Divided among: Jennifer Lynn Halbleib, Obinna Adrian Ukogu and Bowen Yang


The Wise Award for Collection Research is presented annually in the spring to a student in any academic department whose senior thesis, in the judgment of the Mead Art Museum’s curators and director, most effectively analyzes, interprets, or responds to an object in the museum’s collection.

Camila M. Dominguez


The Sylvia and Irving Lerner Piano Prize is awarded to that student who has demonstrated the greatest skill and musicianship as a pianist.

Divided among: Joshua Lee Harmon, Phuong-Nghi T. Pham and Leonard Heekyu Yoon

The Mishkin Prize was established by the Friends of Music to be awarded in memory of Professor Henry G. Mishkin to that senior selected by the Department of Music who produces the best senior thesis on a critical or musical topic.

Keziah Hyunji Kim

The Lincoln Lowell Russell Prize, established by J. W. Russell Jr. of the Class of l899 in memory of his son, is awarded to the seniors who have done most to foster the singing spirit at Amherst.

Divided between: Ellen Lucinda Mutter and Emily Rebecca Schneider Willick

The Eric Edward Sundquist Prize, established in memory of Mr. Sundquist of the Class of l936, is awarded to that senior who has demonstrated excellence in musical composition and performance.

Divided between: Daniel Jeffery Langa and Minato Sakamoto


The James Olds Memorial Neuroscience Award, established by the Swerdlow Family Foundation in recognition of the contributions made to the neurosciences by Dr. Olds of the Class of l947, is presented to the student whose research in the neurosciences is judged, by the faculty of the Neuroscience Program, to be of highest quality.

Scott Thomas Nelson


The Gail Kennedy Memorial Prize is awarded to a senior major in Philosophy in recognition of a distinguished honors essay.

Youngeun Ahn


The William Warren Stifler Prize, established by Professor Stifler, is awarded to a senior who has majored in physics and especially excelled in the course on electricity and magnetism.

Divided between: Alexander John Eftin Frenett and Trevor Henry Wright


The Densmore Berry Collins Prize in Political Science is given annually in memory of Mr. Collins, of the Class of l940, for the best honors thesis in political science.

Divided among: Joshua Micah Ferrer, Dakota Foster and Elias Banks Schultz


The Haskell R. Coplin Memorial Award, established in memory of Mr. Coplin, Professor of Psychology, recognizes that member of the graduating class who, in the opinion of the Psychology Department, displays the scholarly and humane qualities that best exemplify Professor Coplin.  The prize is to a senior who has shown distinguished work in psychology classes and in an honors thesis, and who has contributed to the life of the department.

Rosalyn Jules Langhinrichse Rohling


The Moseley Prizes, established by Thomas Moseley of Hyde Park, are awarded to seniors for the best essays on a subject approved by the Department of Religion.

Divided among: Michael Anthony Bessey, Mohamed Ahmed Ramy and Zoe Wong


The Mikhail Schweitzer Memorial Book Award, established by students, parents and friends in fond memory of Mikhail Schweitzer, survivor of the Soviet Gulag, author, and custodian at Amherst College, for the award of books to the student who, in the judgment of the Russian Department, most shares Misha Schweitzer’s love of Russian literature and culture.

Alexander Schorr Gurvets

The Carol Prize in Russian, given by David James Carol, class of 1977, in honor of his parents, Joseph and Roberta Carol, is awarded to the student who has demonstrated the greatest dedication and commitment to Russian.

Karen Waserstein Engelman


The Rose Olver Prize is given each year to a senior who has demonstrated excellence in scholarly or creative work in Women’s and Gender Studies.

Alisa Bajramovic


The Pedro Grases Prizes for Excellence in Spanish is given by a member of the Class of l939 to honor a great teacher and cordial scholar.  It is awarded each year to that senior who has shown the greatest progress in the ability to read Hispanic literature with insight and to write and speak Spanish with intelligence and humane sensitivity.

Bailey Alice Plaman


The Five College Statistics Prize is awarded to a student for making an outstanding contribution to statistics and/or the statistics community in the Five Colleges. Contributions considered include an independent research, thesis or capstone course project; service to statistics on their campus (or across campuses); use of Five College statistics resources; and outstanding coursework and exploration of the statistics curriculum. 

Sarah Virginia Teichman


The Raymond Keith Bryant Prize, an annual gift from Robert E. and Ethel M. Bryant in memory of their son of the Class of l936, is awarded to that student who, in the opinion of the judges, gives the best performance of the year in a Masquers’ play.

 Justin Walter Henriksen


The class of 2018 elected five Amherst College staff members to be honorary classmates. 

Eric Baldwin, Custodian
Alyssa Pawlowski, Health Services
Doralinda Puente, Schwemm's Coffee House
Will Roberts, Amherst College Police
Valena Rutkowski, Frost Cafe
Christopher Wardlaw, Grab-N-Go