A RECAP: The 37th Annual Senior Honors Luncheon

Honors College Celebrates Graduating Seniors and Award Recipients
Honors College Dean Alison J. Smith stands with Denise Harrison, 2023 award recipient of the Distinguished Honors Faculty award

On Saturday, April 22, 2023, the Kent State University Honors College recognized graduating seniors at its annual Senior Honors Luncheon. This event congratulated Honors College members for their upcoming graduations in the spring, summer, and fall of 2023. Seniors were able to unwind as they met with staff and alumni to applaud their accomplishments. Attendees of the luncheon also heard from Denise Harrison, recipient of the 2023 Distinguished Honors Faculty Award and Gary F. Bengier, recipient of the 2023 Distinguished Honors Alumni Award.  

The luncheon was held at the Kent State Student Center Ballroom and honored 335 graduating seniors for the entire year of 2023. Senior Vice President and Provost for the Division of Academic Affairs, Melody Tankersley, Ph.D., gave the opening remarks to begin the luncheon. Addressing the seniors and their graduation, Provost Tankersley stated, “You will leave with your imprint and your influence on Kent State, and as you go on, you will achieve even more. You leave Kent State better because of your time here.”  

Lunch was served following the openning remarks and students socialized and reflected upon their time at Kent State. Margaret Selva, a senior actuarial mathematics major and member of Phi Beta Kappa, will be beginning her job at Medical Mutual as an actuarial analyst after graduation. When asked about her favorite memories at Kent State, she referred to the Kent State Honors Leadership Academy, sharing, “I have such good memories of traveling to Washington D.C. and meeting so many good people. It was an integral part of my experience here.”  

Biology pre-med major, Bri Bish, agreed that the Honors Leadership Academy played a major role in her time at Kent State, saying, “It has been one of my favorite experiences in the Honors College.” The year 2023 marks the fifth anniversary of the Honors Leadership Academy becoming established and the second year that members of the academy will be attending graduation ceremonies.  

Kent State Honors College alum Gary Bengier was awarded the 2023 Distinguished Honors Alumni Award, which was recognized during the luncheon. While Bengier couldn’t attend the event in-person, a pre-recorded acceptance speech was played for the audience. Bengier expressed his hope for the graduating seniors, remarking that, “We need you to take the lead to solve these challenges,” and reminded them, “Don’t be afraid to have your voice heard.”  

Retiring Professor Denise Harrison, from the Kent State University Department of Africana Studies and English, was also honored at the luncheon. Professor Harrison was the recipient of the 2023 Distinguished Honors Faculty Award, which was presented to her by Honors College Dean Alison J. Smith, Ph.D. During her speech, Professor Harrison gave a bittersweet thank you to her Honors College students, stating, “It has been a joy to have some of the best minds and students on this campus to teach.”  

Following the acceptance speeches, the 2023 Honors College graduates were named and recognized by their Honors advisors while standing with their colorful carnations and awarded Honors medallions. Assistant Dean of the Honors College, Frank Congin, then led the seniors in the official Senior Honors Oath. Congin expressed his enthusiasm for the graduating seniors, sharing, “I am very excited to see such a large and academically diverse class graduate and am particularly excited to see what they’ll accomplish after their time at Kent State.”  

The luncheon concluded with all the seniors gathering together for a final class photo and farewell. Spring graduates will attend commencement May 11-13, 2023. For more information on spring commencement, please visit the Commencement webpage.  

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

For more information regarding the Distinguished Honors Alumni award, please visit the the Distinguished Honors Alumni webpage.  

For more information regarding the Distinguished Honors Faculty award, please visit the Distinguished Honors Faculty webpage.    





PHOTO CAPTION 1: Provost Melody Tankersley, Ph.D. addresses the crowd from the Kent State University Student Center ballroom stage during the 37th Annual Senior Honors Luncheon.

PHOTO CAPTION 2: Honors College Dean Alison J. Smith, Ph.D. (left) awards Professor Denise Harrison (right) with the 2023 Distinguished Honors Faculty Award.

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephanie Moskal, smoskal@kent.edu, 330-672-2312 





POSTED: Tuesday, May 9, 2023 10:40 AM
UPDATED: Saturday, July 13, 2024 03:51 AM
Honors College Writing Intern, Chloe Gortz