About 150 students graduated in the Midyear Completion Celebration held Saturday, an event Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron called “the most rowdy and raucous yet.”
Students, parents and alums gathered in Salomon Center to honor those who will graduate at the end of the semester, a 23-year-old tradition that sets Brown apart from most universities.
The ceremony opened with a performance by John Brakatselos ’15, who sang an operatic version of the national anthem. The musicality of the ceremony’s introductions continued when Bergeron compared the “.5” label to syncopation in rock and roll – before breaking into an unexpected but well-received beatbox jam session that engaged the audience.
Midyear graduates have some of the most interesting and diverse stories at Brown, said Besenia Rodriguez ’00, associate dean of the College for research and upperclass studies.
Emily Hurt ‘12.5 and Michael Mount ‘12.5 delivered senior reflection speeches that drew great applause from the audience.
Hurt took time off from Brown after her first semester. “I left Brown … doubtful I would ever return back to school,” she said. Though she grew up minutes from campus, Hurt said she had difficulty coping with college life and ended up taking multiple leaves. Hurt joked that even though she found the instant financial gratification of working as a waitress seductive, she knew there were greater opportunities available with a college education.
Mount followed Hurt, describing the journey he embarked on during his time away from Brown. During what should have been his fourth semester, Mount backpacked the Pacific Crest Trail with a man named Furniture, he said. He lived in tents for several months at a time, sustaining himself on a diet of Almond Joys and Starbucks VIA. Taking time off from school for this journey allowed Mount to develop emotionally, teaching him to focus on living in the moment, he said.
“The four-year system does not accommodate all the obstacles we encounter,” he said, but “to go through college without struggling is to not have profited at all.”
The reasons for graduating during the middle of the academic year vary from student to student.”Some students take internships, work on political campaigns. Some want to spend six months volunteering anywhere in the world. Some do it for personal reasons – medical leave to work on physical or mental health issues,” Rodriguez said.
Students who take time off benefit from the opportunity to reflect and explore their passions, Rodriguez said. “They have come back to Brown with a renewed energy for their academic work and thinking about how their life after Brown will take shape,” she said.
Transfer students often graduate mid-year, Rodriguez said.
Alexa Trearchis ‘12.5 transferred to Brown in January 2011 after two years at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. She said she knew she wanted to be at Brown the day she began her first year at Trinity. “I worked hard for two years at Trinity to make myself a good candidate and then applied to Brown when I felt I was ready for the challenge,” she said.
Trearchis commented on the rapidity with which college flies by for transfer students. “No matter what sort of experience you’ve had at your past school, there’s a feeling that when it’s time to leave, it’s much earlier than you want it to be,” she said, adding that she wished she had spent all four years at Brown.
Ipsita Krishnan ‘12.5, who started out in the class of 2011, had to take a year-long medical leave after sustaining a head injury in a car accident and continued to struggle with balancing her health and academics following her return. She is thinking about pursuing a medical degree or working in therapy, she said.
Like Trearchis, Krishnan said she is really going to miss Brown. “I love this place. Brown is home,” she said. “It feels like where I’m supposed to be.”