Founders’ Day Convocation to celebrate tradition of senior orations

When Zahir Rahman addresses the Founders’ Day Convocation audience on Feb. 18 his topic will be, appropriately enough, “We are Wake Forest.” Rahman is one of three finalists in the 2010 Senior Colloquium who will read their essays at convocation. Provost Emeritus Ed Wilson (’43) will speak on the history of senior orations at the event, which begins at 4 p.m. in Wait Chapel.

“I am reflecting on the commonalities across peoples and the power of individual identity and community,” said Rahman, who is from Baltimore, Md. “This is an understanding I have discovered during my time at Wake Forest and abroad.”

Also presenting orations will be Monica R. Giannone, whose topic is “The Fear We Do Not Understand;” and Kate E. Miners, author of “The Road Less Traveled.” The program will also include presentation of the senior video.

Giannone, a political science and religion double major from Madison, N.J., said four years ago she would have thought this to be an unattainable path. “My oration tracks my progression from a freshman overwhelmed by even the most subtle differences to a senior immersed in a completely foreign area of the world,” she said. “Wake Forest has taught me that perhaps it is natural to fear the unknown but we must overcome this fear through learning and understanding.”

Miners, a theatre major, said she will talk about the difficult points in her life and how she used them to grow and learn. “As a child my mother always told me to never take the easy road. The hard road gives us strength, knowledge and perseverance. If we are to grow we have to take the hard road. The difficulties we encounter in life are what give us the heart to fight and enables us to realize our true strength. Everything worth having is worth fighting for.”

Wilson will speak on Wake Forest’s history of oratory. Wake Forest Institute, founded in 1834, was re-chartered as Wake Forest College in 1839. From the very beginning, students organized and expanded debating and literary societies and promoted “oratory” at special occasions of the College. This annual tradition has included senior orators with such familiar names as Poteat, Kitchin, Worrell, Hankins, Paschal, Royall, Wingate, Folk, Wilson, and Christman. In 1946, Nancy Hyde Easley became the first female senior orator.

Also during Convocation, several faculty awards will be presented, including Kulynych Family Omicron Delta Kappa Award for contributions to student life; the Reid-Doyle Prize for Excellence in Teaching; the Excellence in Research Award; and the Joseph Branch Excellence in Teaching Award.

The University’s highest honor, the Medallion of Merit, will be presented to Barbara Babcock Millhouse (LHD ’88), founding president of Reynolda House Museum of American Art and a past Wake Forest trustee.

Categories: Student, Wake Forest College