Students Honored at President's Award Luncheon

By Tom Porter. Photography by Michele Stapleton.

The annual President's Award Luncheon is a chance for the College president and others to applaud a few standout students, mostly seniors, for their exemplary leadership, service, and narrative skills.

The event, held in Main Lounge, Moulton Union, on Friday, May 4, 2024, recognized seven students for their leadership and service to Bowdoin, as well as for good writing. Four of the awardees submitted essays that have won them the honor of being asked to present speeches for the upcoming Commencement and Baccalaureate ceremonies. After a welcome address from President Safa Zaki, a total of seven awards were presented at the luncheon:

The Goodwin Commencement Prize and the Class of 1868 Prize are both awarded for written addresses that the students will present at Commencement, to be held this year on May 25. 

Colleen Doucette ’24 won the Goodwin Commencement Prize for her speech “The Skeleton Architecture of Our Bowdoin,” which is about the Class of 2024’s experience through the beginnings of the pandemic. She also describes how the upperclass student vacuum presented that first-year class with what she calls a blank slate to create their own Bowdoin. The economics and English double major (with a concentration in creative writing) will speak about questioning and renewing traditions and how she and her classmates can take the lessons they learned from COVID-19 out into the world beyond Bowdoin. She says her talk takes inspiration from, among other things, “every person [she] has ever interacted with or spoken to in [her] time at Bowdoin.”

Dylan Richmond ’24 was awarded the Class of 1868 Prize for his presentation “White Pines,” which is inspired by a place’s ability to make you fall in love with it. This doesn’t just happen over time, says the dance and English double major. The love of place he describes embraces the active participants—those of us who are mindful of the little things in our days and who appreciate the relationships we have forged in our time here. In “White Pines,” Richmond also acknowledges the challenges that we know can feel impossible at times but, through his lens, we see how much those obstacles have to teach us, how in the process we learn and grow, and how we might just fall in love with ourselves too.

Two other students were recognized for their writing:

The DeAlva Stanwood Alexander First Prize went to Katharine Kurtz ’24, who will present the student address at the Baccalaureate ceremony on May 24. Her talk, “One Last Tour,” looks back at how the Class of 2024 navigated life at Bowdoin without upperclassmen, their metaphorical tour guides, to show them around their first year. Kurtz, who also won the Michael F. Micciche III Award (see below), notes that as she and her classmates moved through their time here, they became the leaders and guides and grew into the strong and compassionate class they are. The environmental studies and Italian coordinate major also draws inspiration from her work as an admissions tour guide, a job which she says gave her opportunities for reflection every time she led a new group of prospective students around campus.

The DeAlva Stanwood Alexander Second Prize was awarded to Mei Bock ‘24, who will serve as the alternate Baccalaureate speaker should any of the other award recipients be unable to deliver their speeches as planned. Bock, an English major with a concentration in creative writing, restarted the Quill literary magazine, where she was editor-in-chief. Quill had ceased publishing during the pandemic after having begun here at Bowdoin in 1897. She also worked as a curatorial intern at the Museum of Art. Bock’s speech is called “Lessons on Driving,” and she says it’s about what she has learned during her time at Bowdoin through the metaphor of driving, having arrived here unable to drive. 

Leadership Awards were presented to four students for their exemplary conduct on campus:

The Andrew Allison Haldane Cup went to Gabrielle Phillips ’24

Originally given by fellow officers in the Pacific in memory of Captain Andrew Haldane, United States Marine Corps Reserves and a member of the Class of 1941, the cup is awarded to a member of the senior class who displays outstanding qualities of leadership and character.

Phillips w Haldane cup '24
Gabrielle Phillips '24

Phillips is a sociology and education coordinate major from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. When asked, none of her friends, teammates, colleagues, or supervisors could figure out just how she manages to do it all.

As a head staff member of Residential Life, Phillips has volunteered over consecutive years for some of the most challenging assignments on campus, helping to build an inclusive culture across the College House system.

She is a talented dancer in the hip-hop group Bowdoin Cowboys, and credits both the Cowboys and her formal dance instruction at Bowdoin with teaching her how her body moves through different emotional states, through pain and recovery, with resilience, and toward joy. 

Phillips is also captain of the track and field team, where she has demonstrated her capacity for leadership, patience, accountability, empathy, and trust. (And on the 4x400 relay: she has also demonstrated incredible speed.) She has also interned with Bowdoin’s office of gender violence prevention and education, as well as in the student aid office.

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Cup was awarded to Moana Gregori ’26

Furnished by the Bowdoin chapter of Alpha Delta Phi Society, the cup is awarded to the member of the three lower classes whose vision, humanity, and courage most contribute to making Bowdoin a better college. 

Gregori '26 at PAL
Moana Gregori '26 is presented with the FDR Cup by Kevin Cassidy '85.

An anthropology and economics major, Gregori is from Klagenfurt, Austria. In just two years at Bowdoin, she has contributed to the campus in many ways, working at the Conduct Review Board, the McKeen Center’s New Mainer Initiative, Residential Life, and the Outing Club. This semester she is also an interfaith fellow.

One of the biggest impacts she’s had on campus has been to coalesce a community of changemakers. She says she has great faith in the power of people coming together to solve social problems through innovation and creativity. 

Her first step in creating this kind of community at Bowdoin was to organize a new experience for the College—the “Solutions Exhibition and Social Innovation Week,” which took place last fall. The program provided a platform for students to explore and engage with community challenges on a practical level. The exhibition, which was set up in Smith Union, showcased ingenious and simple ways to address common challenges around the world, like mental health support and housing affordability. 

The Michael F. Micciche III Award went to Katharine Kurtz ’24 and Sara Morcos ’24.

The award is given annually to that individual who embodies the entire Bowdoin experience, who engages the College community, achieves academic excellence, and earns the respect of their peers and professors. This individual must plan on broadening their education following graduation, either through enrollment at a graduate school or through a structured travel or volunteer program.

Kurtz, who, as noted above, also earned the DeAlva Stanwood Alexander Prize, has been involved in a wide range of activities at Bowdoin. She is a head tour guide, a Residential Assistant (RA), a member of the varsity sailing team, and currently serves on the search committee for a new senior vice president for development and alumni relations.

Kurtz has also taken full advantage of opportunities academically at Bowdoin. In one of them she spent a summer doing research in Perugia, Italy, on a Cooke Fellowship, working in community gardens and interviewing community members about their relationships to nature and to green spaces in the city. When she returned to campus, she decided to continue that research and work to publish an article about it in a scholarly journal—an unusual and notable accomplishment for an undergraduate.

After graduation, Kurtz will spend the summer leading eight fifteen-year-old girls on an eight-week backpacking trip along a section of the Appalachian Trail here in Maine. After that, she will return to Italy, this time to the University of Palermo in Sicily, where she will continue her research in green spaces on a study research Fulbright grant.

morcos24 at PAL
Sara Morcos '24 (left) with Sarah Seames.

Sharing the Micciche award with Kurtz is Sara Morcos. A neuroscience major from Rochester, New York, Morcos came to the US from Egypt at a young age. At Bowdoin, she made it her mission to fully embrace the Offer of the College, becoming actively engaged with the McKeen Center from her first year, when everything had tight COVID restrictions. McKeen center director Sarah Seames says Morcos found ways to get involved whenever she could. “She worked in her home community through the Winter Break Community Engagement Program, she participated in the Common Good Grant Program to learn about philanthropy and development,” and in her sophomore year she became a leader of the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program volunteer group.

In addition to her work with the McKeen center, Morcos has been involved at Bowdoin in many other ways. She has worked as an RA, served as president of the Christian Student Association for three years and, seeing a need for a way for Middle Eastern and North African students of different faiths to connect, she helped create the Middle Eastern and North African Student Association.

The President’s Award went to Dylan Richmond ’24:

The President's Award was inaugurated in 1997 by President Robert H. Edwards to recognize a student’s exceptional personal achievements and uncommon contributions to the College.

haldane cup CU
The Haldane Cup is named in honor of Capt. Andrew Haldane '41 USMCR, who was killed in action in 1944—one of seven awards given to students at the annual President's Awards Luncheon.

This year, President Safa Zaki gave the award to Richmond, also this year’s Class of 1868 Prize winner. The English and dance double major drew high praise for his dance performances. “If you’ve had a chance to witness his performances this academic year,” said Zaki as she presented the award, “you might agree with Professor of Theater and Dance Davis Robinson’s observation that Dylan’s artistry ‘stands out for the beauty and specificity’ of his work and for ‘his creative use of visual imagery.’”

These performances were part of his honors project titled, “I Am Bearing Myself in the Mouth of the Sun,” for which he researched Black performance, performance literature, and choreography. Research for the project emerged from the two years he spent as a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, a period Richmond describes as his most surprising and enriching Bowdoin experience.

Richmond—who also helped form Bowdoin’s hip-hop dance group, The Cowboys, and is a leader in the Nightingale Society, Bowdoin’s poetry club—will be on campus with the Mellon Mays Fellowship program this summer as a mentor. His long-term goal is to pursue a PhD in critical dance or performance studies, become a public scholar, and perhaps create a dance company.