Clark, Vaught Awarded Top Honors
by Steve Charles
May 14, 2016
A Crawfordsville native whose studies led him across the globe and a student from Arizona who made himself at home on this small town campus were awarded the highest honors for seniors at Saturday’s Deans’ Senior Breakfast.
AJ Clark, a theater major, filmmaker, and Little Giant linebacker from Higley, AZ, earned the Frank H. Sparks Award for All-Around Student Achievement, given to a senior who has done the most "to promote the true spirit and purpose of Wabash College.”
Crawfordsville’s Samuel Vaught, who majored in religion, minored in classics, was president of the Glee Club, and coordinated morning prayer services for students and faculty the past two years, received the John Maurice Butler Prize for "having the best standing in scholarship and character."
Clark plans on pursuing a career in acting and directing. Vaught will join the Episcopal Service Corps in New Haven, CT, next year.
Dean of Students Mike Raters ’85 congratulated the entire senior class this day before Commencement, and Dean of the College Scott Feller singled out Raters’ service to the students.
“I feel lucky to have a colleague so committed to students,” Feller said. “I know that a few of you have been lucky enough to pass through Wabash without facing a personal or crisis, making a bad decision, or just needing to talk with someone who understand how you are feeling. But I also know many of you here have been in those situations, and you are preparing to graduate because of Dean Raters’ careful guidance and incredible dedication to your well-being.”
Feller asked students to “push back against society’s misconceptions concerning the liberal arts,” especially the fallacy that a liberal arts is not a good preparation for careers.
“A college like Wabash emphasizes analytical thinking, oral and written communication skills, collaboration, and the ability to embrace diversity and change—exactly the skill employers say they value in employees,” Feller said. “You will be in an excellent position to educate others about this, because you will be able to tell the stories of your fellow graduates who took their liberal arts education from this small college and went on to great success.”
“As part of your responsibility for the future of this school, you need to take responsibility for recruiting the next generation of Wabash men,” Feller said. He asked all the seniors to stand. Then he asked only those for whom an alumnus played a part in their recruitment to remain standing. Nearly all the seniors stayed on their feet.
“Alumni referrals account for more than 40% of the entering class each year,” Feller said. “And alumni referral is one factor associated with a student’s success at Wabash. The fact is that our greatest tool for recruiting students to Wabash is also an effective way to identify those who will be successful in our distinctive environment.”
Feller urged seniors to become a part of this process and gave them the chance to participate immediately. He asked them to take out their phones and send him an email with the name of a high school junior or sophomore “who will benefit from Wabash and who will contribute in some of the ways that you and your classmates have made this a better place over the past four years.”