Kent State University Senior Honors College Luncheon Applauds Graduating Seniors, Alumni and Faculty Award Recipients

The 38th Annual Senior Honors Luncheon, which recognized graduating Honors College seniors, was a celebration for the books.

Held on Saturday, April 20, 2024, in the Kent State University Student Center Ballroom, the 38th Annual Senior Honors Luncheon was an event to remember. This fabulous celebration was an acknowledgment of the hard work and dedication that Kent State Honors College graduating seniors for the spring, summer and fall of 2024 upheld throughout their college careers. The event gave seniors a final hoorah before their commencement ceremony send-offs into life beyond graduation. Attendees of the luncheon were welcomed by the words of both Honors College Dean Alison J. Smith, Ph.D., and Senior Vice President and Provost for the Division of Academic Affairs, Melody Tankersley, Ph.D.

College Dean Alison J. Smith, Ph.D. speaking at the podium

“It's very important that the seniors, their families, and the Honors College take a moment to acknowledge the accomplishments of those graduating. We all need to step back and see how far our students have come in their college years, and congratulate them as they move forward.  We are very proud of them,” Dean Smith said.

Senior Vice President and Provost for the Division of Academic Affairs, Melody Tankersley, Ph.D. speaking at the podium

After the inspiring and congratulatory opening remarks by both the Honors College Dean and the Senior Vice President and Provost for the Division of Academic Affairs, lunch was served to the students, staff and faculty in attendance. Graduating seniors and staff/faculty members were given time to mingle, network and celebrate the monumental accomplishments of the graduating class. “Our seniors have already accomplished so much, and as they all work towards their goals, they will draw on the strengths they have built in the last few years. We all wish them well, and hope they will stay in touch with us!”  remarked Dean Smith.

After the plates were cleared, the awards portion of the ceremony began, and Anne Johnson, owner and founder of Anne Cate, was awarded the 2024 Distinguished Honors Alumni Award. Johnson is a 2018 Honors College graduate of Kent State University, with a Bachelor of Science in fashion merchandising and a minor in entrepreneurship. Anne Cate founded her accessories and pillow business from her Honors College residence hall room while obtaining her undergraduate degree and is now selling products in over 150 stores across the U.S., and also has an online retail site at Johnson serves as the perfect example of what great possibilities await the honors seniors after graduation.

Anne Johnson holding her 2024 Distinguished Honors Alumni Award.

“Remember that you have your whole life ahead of you. When you make mistakes, look at them as good things and learn from them, and most

 importantly remember sometimes not following your plan, turns out to be the best play,” Johnson advised the graduating seniors.

Rachel LoMonaco-Benzing, Ph.D., was announced as the 2024 Distinguished Honors Faculty Award recipient. LoMonaco-Benzing, a professor at Kent State University’s School of Fashion, was recognized for her immense impact on students within her honors courses. This award was determined through student nominations and is intended to recognize an educator who has been an inspiration in the classroom and beyond.

“Be flexible, change is inevitable and you have no idea what opportunities will present themselves, as long as you are open to them, they have the potential to change your life for the absolute best,” LoMonaco-Benzing said.

Rachel LoMonaco-Benzing, Ph.D. holding her 2024 Distinguished Honors Faculty Award.

After the alumni and faculty awards were presented, each respective Honors College advisor stood at the podium and announced the names of their Honors College graduating student advisees. Each senior stood as their name and major were announced and those seniors who were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest academic honors society, were also mentioned. Then, the seniors who completed a Senior Honors Thesis/Project were also announced, along with the title of each student’s final project. Each of the graduating honors seniors wore their honorary medallion while holding a beautifully bright-colored carnation, both presented by the college, and the medallion will be worn by students at graduation..

Frank Congin, Honors College Assistant Dean, concluded the ceremony with the Senior Honors Oath, an Honors College alumni pledge that had all

 the makings of hilarious standup comedy,  as he left the room booming with laughter. The graduating seniors then headed downstairs for a class photo and were sent on their way to accomplish great things beyond graduation.

live stream of the entire 38th Annual Senior Honors luncheon, including the award ceremony and heartwarming speeches from all of the event's honorary speakers, can be found in the link above.

For more information about the Honors College, please visit the Honors College website.


Media Contact: Stephanie Moskal,, 330-672-2312

PHOTO CAPTION 1: Class photo of graduating Honors College seniors

PHOTO CAPTION 2: College Dean Alison J. Smith, Ph.D. speaking at the podium

PHOTO CAPTION 3: Senior Vice President and Provost for the Division of Academic Affairs, Melody Tankersley, Ph.D. speaking at the podium

PHOTO CAPTION 4: Anne Johnson holding her 2024 Distinguished Honors Alumni Award.

PHOTO CAPTION 5: Rachel LoMonaco-Benzing, Ph.D. holding her 2024 Distinguished Honors Faculty Award.



POSTED: Monday, April 22, 2024 03:11 PM
Updated: Wednesday, May 1, 2024 02:57 PM