She’s a graduate. With highest honors, summa cum laude with honors in English. That means she maintained a 3.9 grade average or better and wrote and defended a thesis. Her topic is Gender Parity in the Film Industry. She tells me when we chat about the process, that her paper is accepted on the first presentation (one student in the department needs four attempts). The committee is very impressed with Hilarey’s writing, her supporting visuals and the work she put into all of it.
Donny & I want to go to graduation. Hilarey and Lewis want us there but they know all too well that it is a five hour drive. They keep saying not to feel obligated. And we don’t. But we really want to be there. It’s the getting up at 3:30AM that stalls us. We vacillate back and forth for days. Finally Donny decides. We’re going. There are the ceremonies plus the moving. One more car will be a help. We end up with all four vehicles packed full.
As I am taking a picture of Hilarey’s surprise departmental award, she tells me that when her parents drop her off four years ago she decides that if she has to be there for four long years she will make her mark. She will do her best and make it count. And she does.
Not only does she graduate summa cum laude with English honors she receives the departmental Outstanding Graduating English Major award. This award is voted on by the entire department faculty. After nominations from faculty members and much discussion, votes are taken and the student with the most wins. It’s not an award sought after because few, if any, even know about it. Hilarey has no clue. She is there to simply make her mark.
Hilarey’s mentor, Hannah Abrams, is determined that Hilarey will receive this prestigious award. She speaks on Hilarey’s behalf. Eloquently, she reports when she meets us as we finish our lunch at Blue Surf. In telling the story, through occasional tears as she is still so passionate about it all, Hannah explains that while set on Hilarey winning , she didn’t want to over sell her nominee so keeps things brief. The professor that follows reads a poem and more for that nominee. “Do over,” she cries. “I need to tell you more.” She is granted more time. She explains how Hilarey is the exemplary student for the award. This bubbly professor has a winning personality and I can just picture her sincere enthusiasm. “We get it,” her colleagues finally say. Hannah wants to be absolutely sure.
She continues her praise. Not only is Hilarey a scholar, she competes (and wins) in SUP races. She has a long time supportive boyfriend (now fiancé). She has a life. Yes, Hannah’s fellow professors really get it. She thanks them and leaves. The committee is seriously considering another candidate but because of Hannah’s empassioned delivery, both students receive the award. That’s our Hilarey. Anyone will go to bat for her because she is just that good. And she deserves every single accolade that comes her way.
And soon she will be our daughter-in-law joining our three other amazing daughters-in-law (and one not to be left our awesome son-in-law) that complete our family. Welcome to the family Hilarey! And congratulations!!