Seniors pay tribute to greatest influencers during Honor Walk
By Cindy Long
May 19, 2013
The threat of rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the graduating seniors who took part in Centre’s annual Honor Walk on Saturday, May 18. Although the Walk had to move from Old Centre to Alumni Gymnasium, the ceremony lost none of its significance.
The tradition of Honor Walk began in 2002. In the early part of the academic year, President John Roush presents each member of the senior class with a small coin called a “talent,” along with a challenge to spend their final year at Centre thinking of those individuals who have had the greatest impact on their college success. Then on commencement weekend (if the weather’s fair), students walk through Old Centre to the Centre Seal and present their talents to the people they’ve selected, be it parents, coaches, professors, staff mentors or friends.
The accounts of just a few of these students convey a sense of the emotions involved in Honor Walk.
Kate Wintuska of Alvaton, Ky., chose Patrick Noltemeyer, associate dean of students and director of community service and the Bonner Program, as the recipient of her talent. Wintuska was a member of the Bonner program, Centre’s premier service organization, where she served Boyle County’s Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“When carefully considering the person who had most dramatically affected my education and my path at Centre, Patrick was the first person who came to mind,” Wintuska says. “He has been a phenomenal mentor and friend over the past four years. He has been an advocate, a sounding board, and he has been instrumental in connecting me with non-profits throughout Danville.
“Through Patrick’s leadership with the Bonner program, I have been blessed with the opportunity to act on my passion for serving others, learn about the Danville community, and explore service from an academic perspective,” Wintuska continues. “The Honor Walk provided a wonderful opportunity to publicly thank Patrick for the blessing he has been in my life over the past four years.”
Wintuska was also a John C. Young Scholar, a program at Centre designed to support high-achieving students conduct a year of independent scholarly endeavors. She earned a degree in elementary education and has accepted a 5th-grade teaching position at Woodlawn Elementary in Boyle County.
Patrick Cho of Walton, Ky., chose to give his talent to his father, David, in memory of his late mother, Fontane Atha-Cho.
“I was honoring Dad in memory of my mother, who more than anyone else had the largest impact on my Centre story,” Cho says. “She died two years ago, when I was a sophomore, and I know that both Dad and I were thinking of her this past weekend. At Honor Walk, when I handed my talent to Dad, she was with us too.
“Honor Walk gives us the chance to recognize the people who have helped write our Centre story; it’s a poignant and emotional ceremony that’s one of my favorite parts of commencement weekend,” Cho goes on. “The decision of whom to honor really makes you reflect on your years at the College, uniting everyone — student, honoree, and family — around an iconic Centre tradition. My decision to honor my father was easy, because he is the person who made my Centre experience possible. For me, Honor Walk was in a way a reunion."
Rachel Richards ’13 confers her talent to economics professor John Perry
David Cho accepts the talent of his son, Patrick Cho ’13, in memory of Patrick’s late mother, Fontane Atha-Cho
Rachel Richards of Goshen, Ky., gave her talent to Assistant Professor of Economics John Perry.
“I have had four classes with Dr. Perry. He helped me a lot during the job interview process last fall and is one of the best professors on campus, in my opinion. I really look up to him.”
Richards graduated with a degree in financial economics and will begin her career as a financial advisor for Hilliard-Lyons. Driven by her motivation to be financially independent, Richards set national sales records with Cutco cutlery, all while pursuing her degree and graduating in three years with a 3.99 GPA. Through her hard work, she graduated from Centre debt-free.
Emmy Robichaud of Lexington, Ky., also gave her talent to Noltemeyer.
“There are a countless number of individuals at Centre who have shaped me and changed my life for the better, but Patrick was the clearest choice,” Robichaud says. “For the last four years, I've known him as the Bonner Program Director, but also as a mentor and a friend. Patrick is the perfect example of an enormously talented professional who consistently places people and relationships as his top priority. He has taught me so much — from how to effectively plan a service trip to how to see the world through a more complex, aware, and compassionate perspective.
“Centre has truly become my home,” Robichaud continues. “But what makes it such a wonderful place are the personal relationships that students form — not only with other students, but with their professors and other staff members. At Centre, you are surrounded by people who have very high expectations for you, but will move mountains to help and support you along the way. The staff and faculty care immensely about students' lives — both inside and outside of the classroom — and are constant support systems. The Honor Walk is one special way in which seniors can reflect on the impacts that others have had on their lives at Centre and publicly thank them for it.
“My experience at Centre was completely shaped by my community service involvement, and I wouldn't have it any other way. From helping to direct the Centre After School Program to teaching English in Ghana, I could always turn to Patrick for advice and support. I was given several leadership opportunities — such as serving as a residence director and the chair of the Student Judiciary — that I know have prepared me for the years ahead.”
Robichaud will move to Baltimore to join Teach For America. Later, she will pursue a master’s degree in education from Johns Hopkins University, and hopes to eventually work in education policy and reform.
Click here for more Centre College Commencement information.
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Centre College, founded in 1819, is a nationally ranked liberal arts college in Danville, Ky. Centre hosted its second Vice Presidential Debate on 10.11.12, and remains the smallest college in the smallest town ever to host a general election debate. For more, click here.