Students recognize influential figures during Honor Walk
Centre’s 12th annual Honor Walk took place on May 24, when students gathered to pay tribute to the people most influential on their path to graduation.
The tradition of Honor Walk was begun in 2002 by Centre President John Roush. At the beginning of the academic year, Roush presented graduates with “talents,” gold coins bearing the Centre seal on one side and a representation of the Old Centre Quad on the other.
Fast forward nine months, and after remarks by the president, the seniors filed one by one through Old Centre to the Centre Seal, where they presented their talents to parents, friends, mentors, and faculty and staff members.
Cody Cook, president of the Student Government Association, chose to honor Jami Powell, evening circulation clerk at Centre’s Grace Doherty Library. “Jami is an amazing college staff member who always puts students first and really cares about their well-being,” says Cook. “She always has a smile on her face and an open ear to talk to.”
The two became close over the course of Cook’s senior year. “I often stop by her desk to have life chats, ask for advice about a concern or issue or just to say hello,” says Cook. “I’m glad that I have had the opportunity to meet her.”
The Spanish major and first-generation college student from Louisville, Ky., was also influenced by his experiences with the Student Life Office. “Being on the Residence Life staff and the executive team of the Student Government Association have most definitely shaped my interests,” says Cook. “Through these involvements I have developed my leadership skills and have found my passions.”
Cook remains at Centre after graduation, working in the Student Life Office as area and shuttle coordinator.
Kendra Montejos presented her talent to her parents, Iván and Juanita Montejos. In doing so, she also honored her grandparents, Agustina and Sabino Guizado and Olga and Fausto Montejos.
The anthropology and sociology major is originally from Lima, Peru, but she has lived in Hopkinsville, Ky., since immigrating to the United States 16 years ago.
She remembers having to share one bed with her brother and parents when they first arrived. “Those are my happiest memories,” says Montejos. “My dad had to work many hours to support our family, and my mother made sure we never fell behind in school. My parents have taught me to value life and never give up on my dreams.”
Montejos’ paternal grandparents were the first members of her family to move to the U.S. “Without their bravery to leave home for a country of opportunity, I would never have been a student at Centre,” says Montejos.
Her mother’s parents supported their seven children by coffee farming in Peru. “My mom remembers walking miles with sacks of crops to trade for corn and potatoes,” she says. “My mother and grandparents have always reinforced the importance and privilege of my education since my grandfather only went to school until the third grade, and my grandmother never went to school.”
While at Centre, Montejos helped found the After School Program, an initiative to help the children of migrant families in Danville. She goes on to pursue a master’s degree in educational policy and evaluations at the University of Kentucky.
Jamari Jones, a double major in government and anthropology, honored J.H. Atkins, assistant vice president for diversity and associate professor of education at Centre.
“Professor Atkins is always willing to help students no matter what they need,” says Jones. “He has made an incredible impact on my life by being a great role model.
“He has guided me personally and academically,” he adds.
The senior from Boston is one of nine Posse Scholars to graduate this year. The New York-based Posse Foundation recruits outstanding leaders from urban public school systems across the U.S., placing them in selective colleges where they receive full scholarships.
Study abroad in Ghana and attending the college’s first-ever Black Alumni Conference were shaping aspects of Jones’ Centre experience. “These two events changed the way I looked at the world and at Centre,” he says.
Jones is returning to Boston to take on an internship at CVS Pharmacy, where he will help train managers at the corporate level. “However, I have a passion to do diversity-inclusion work,” says Jones, who hopes to pursue graduate studies in the future.
Erica Moore, a behavioral neuroscience major from Pleasureville, Ky., paid tribute to her parents and J. David Grissom, a Life Trustee of Centre College who served as chairman of the board of trustees for more than two decades.
“Not only has Mr. Grissom contributed immensely to the success of Centre but he has also been kind enough to serve as my mentor and role model,” says Moore. “He has given me the opportunity to study abroad twice, allowed me the privilege of accompanying him to the Vice Presidential Debate and most importantly provided me with a friendship that I know I can always count on.”
Moore will attend the University of Cincinnati Medical School, and she plans to become a pediatric neurosurgeon specializing in epilepsy. This choice is rooted in her experience as an 8th grader, when her younger sister, who has epilepsy, underwent a left hemispherectomy (removal of the left half of the brain).
“From that point on, McKenzie became my inspiration,” says Moore. “I knew what I was meant to do in life. No child should ever have to suffer as my sister did. My ultimate goal is to develop a cure for epilepsy.”
Despite having to withdraw for a time due to illness, Moore is positive about her college experience. “Although at times I felt as if Centre pushed me to my breaking point, I never once regretted my decision to reside here,” she says. “At Centre, you learn what it means to be a part of not only an academic community but also a close, reliable family.”
by Laurie Pierce