Rising Stars

Jahmel Martin and Jessica Klimoff listen as Joyce Bylander introduces them during the Convocation ceremony.

Jahmel Martin and Jessica Klimoff listen as Joyce Bylander introduces them during the Convocation ceremony.

Students share what they value, what they've learned and why they chose Dickinson

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

In addition to the induction of 16 seniors to Phi Beta Kappa during Convocation this year, four students reaped honors for academic and leadership excellence. Sophomores Jahmel Martin and Jessica Klimoff received the George and Mary Louise D’Olier Shuman Prize, bestowed annually on the sophomore man and woman who demonstrate superior academic performance and outstanding contributions to the extracurricular life of the college. Kirsten Dedrickson and Rizwan Saffie earned junior and senior sophister honors, respectively, for holding the highest cumulative grade-point averages in their classes.

Rizwan Saffie on his favorite class: In spring 2011 I took American Studies 101: Race, Gender, Sexuality and Power in the U.S. For the first time I got to talk and learn about things in class that one never would dare talk about in a classroom back home [in Guyana]. That introduction to the topic fueled my interest in social justice and politics.

Kirsten Dedrickson on why she chose Dickinson: It is the only school I know of where every person involved with the school — whether current students, alumni or faculty — absolutely loves it. I toured many of the Ivy Leagues, and I didn’t meet a single person at any of them who showed the same excitement about their school as Dickinsonians showed for Dickinson. I came to Dickinson so I could have the same experience.

Jahmel Martin on his favorite professor: I distinctly remember my first paper for Professor [Jerry] Philogene’s Workshop for Cultural Analysis. I did it the night before it was due. I received an e-mail the next day: “Hey Jahmel, would you come to my office during my office hours?” I had a bad feeling about that e-mail, but instead of criticizing me, she told me that she had a vested interest in my success. For a whole hour, she helped me outline a new draft for a paper that was due to her the next day. She believed in my writing more than I did at the time, and I thank her for that from the bottom of my heart.

Jessica Klimoff’s most ­important lesson so far: I think it might be the idea of deconstructionism, which we covered in my English 220 class as well as in my Consumer Culture class. It’s the idea that every word is defined by its differences from other words. To really understand a word, we have to break down its relation-ship to other words so that it can’t be defined only by its opposite. We multiply the meanings of the word. What I took from that idea is that the closer we look into a problem, the more solutions we can find, just like the close examination of one word gives it more meanings. It’s empowering to know that you don’t have to restrict yourself to searching for one answer. Instead, you can find the path to many more answers.

Published October 28, 2013