At the annual Class & Charter Day convocation on May 7, 152 students were honored with academic prizes and scholarships, and faculty teaching award recipients were recognized. Associate Professor of Sociology Jaime Kucinskas served as the keynote speaker. 

Among top prizes, Quinn Brown ’24 received the James Soper Merrill Prize, awarded to the member of the graduating class “who, in character and influence, has typified the highest ideals of the College.” The winner is selected by the faculty and speaks at Commencement.

Josef Kubofcik ’25 received the Fillius Drown Prize Scholarship, awarded to a student completing the junior year who has been very successful academically, who has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities while at Hamilton, and who is likely to make a significant contribution to society in the future.

View Award Recipients Watch Ceremony

Quinn Brown ’24
The James Soper Merrill Prize recipient

A history major from Rockport, Maine, Brown is a Dean’s List student, an Adirondack Adventure leader also involved with Glen House outdoors programming, played varsity soccer, and was responsible this year for Hamilton Historical, an undergraduate history journal. One faculty nominator who has taught at Hamilton for 25 years wrote, “I’ve had the pleasure to teach dozens of talented and dedicated Hamilton students. None, however, in character and influence has best typified the highest ideals of the College [more] than Quinn Brown.” The nominator said Brown is an outstanding student of history, earning honors, but what distinguishes him is “his generosity as a member of this community whether in the classroom, on the field, as an Adirondack [Adventure] leader, or active member of the Glen House. Put more concisely, Quinn Brown is, in my estimation, the finest human I have had the privilege to teach.”

The faculty member admires Brown’s character: “He was taking Arabic to learn more about the Muslim world … He is Jewish and wanted to spend a term in Israel to gain a better understanding of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. He was intentional about his education. He selected courses not because he expected to receive A’s, but because it was important to him to continue to challenge himself. … Quinn was truly using his opportunities at Hamilton to ‘Know Thyself.’

“...his generosity as a member of this community whether in the classroom, on the field, as an Adirondack [Adventure] leader, or active member of the Glen House. Put more concisely, Quinn Brown is, in my estimation, the finest human I have had the privilege to teach.”

Quinn Brown ’24

Major: history
Activities: Adirondack Adventure leader, outdoor leadership program, varsity soccer, undergraduate history journal Hamilton Historical
Hometown: Rockport, Maine
High school: Camden Hills Regional High School

“Quinn has offered this community leadership of an unusual, and sometimes an overlooked, kind,” the faculty member continued. “It is quiet and often aimed at generously attending to those around him in class or in conversations outside of class. Quinn has led his peers by being an exemplary community member who is generous to those around him, tenacious in pursuit of his goals, and always puts in the hard work for which there is no substitute.”

Another faculty nominator cited Brown’s “extraordinary” history honors thesis, “Deir Yassin 1948: Memory and Forgetting in Construction of Nationalism.” “Quinn’s writing and his public talk about his project showed tremendous compassion as well as insight into how the history of violence shapes national identities,” she wrote.

A history professor said Brown “has impressed me in ways that reflect Hamilton’s ideals. Amongst these are students who challenge their existing worldview, are willing to grow intellectually, and can collaborate with other students in the classroom.”

He continued: “[Brown] has demonstrated his ability to not only embrace the perspective and worldviews of a different world and time period, but also to persuasively communicate orally and in writing — all the while engaging in questions of ethics and aesthetics.”

A staff nominator said of Brown, “Our student leaders look to him as a model of how to lead a trip, he shows a great understanding of the balance between being a friend to all and a decisionmaker able to do the right thing for the whole group,” and called him “one of the most outstanding student leaders I have had the privilege of working with in my 28 years at Hamilton.”

Josef Kubofcik ’25
The Fillius Drown Prize Scholarship recipient

Kubofcik, a biochemistry and molecular biology major and Dean’s List student, has been accepted to the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry through its Early Assurance Program. He is a researcher with Associate Professor of Chemistry Max Majireck and Dr. Khanh Ha of the Masonic Medical Research Institute on their project focused on drug delivery systems in patients with atherosclerosis.

A faculty member wrote, “Joe immediately stood out for his ability to ask insightful questions. … [He] had a knack for thinking well ahead of the class by asking questions that related to both past and future topics. This is exactly the kind of thinking that I try to instill in my students. Joe would consistently synthesize the many different concepts that were covered, and the whole class benefited by his sharing of these insights.”

The faculty member noted that Kubofcik made “immediate contributions to a very important project funded by the American Heart Association, which required him to learn a range of new organic synthesis and chemical biology techniques. In a short two months, Joe went from beginner to expert on a project that aims to synthesize cardioactive peptides using a new technique developed in our lab.

“In my observations and in the classroom, it’s clear he leads by example, and his peers look up to him for guidance both on the field and in the classroom,” the faculty member continued. “In the lab, he has been a pleasure to work with. He is respectful, trustworthy, and friendly to everyone. I expect his strong character and honorable nature will suit him particularly well in the medical profession.”

Josef Kubofcik ’25

Majors: biochemistry / molecular biology
Activities: EMT, peer counselor, varsity football, student-athelete advisory committee
After Hamilton: University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Hometown: Wayne, NJ
High school: Wayne Hills High School

On campus, Kubofcik has been an EMT since 2022, and serves as a peer counselor and on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He participates in RADical Hope, the Athletes of Color Initiative, and Student Assembly.

A member of the football team, he has been elected multiple times as a representative to the Player’s Council, a leadership position that advocates for members of his class on team issues.

A nominator wrote, “As one of his football coaches, I work closely with Josef and know him to be an outstanding person with a great work ethic. He has served the Hamilton community with distinction in his time on campus. I know that he will continue to be a leader of the Hamilton community and our football program. As he already has been accepted to medical school, he will make a significant contribution to society in the future.”

Jaime Kucinskas, associate professor of sociology
Class & Charter Day keynote speaker

Kucinskas told those gathered in the Chapel that lately she has been “sounding the alarm that our democracy is crumbling and in imminent danger,” citing such factors as rising populism and a turn toward authoritarianism and militarism; the takedown of academic freedom across a growing number of universities and the targeting of professors, administrators, and students, especially women and people of color; effective misinformation campaigns on social media; and the increasing results of climate change.

She told the audience, “The answer lies not in what you can do alone, but in what we can do together with like-minded others, committed to shared values and goals. This is the time that relationships matter more than your grades. You need to use them to work together to imagine new futures, and to work on addressing the daunting collective problems we face,” she urged.

“A life of liberal arts is a commitment to perpetual inquiry: a commitment to a life of learning. [It’s] a commitment to digging deep, and over and over again trying to align our behavior with our values — a Herculean and never-ending task to be sure,” she added. “Surrounding ourselves with similarly committed others helps keep us honest and accountable, and committed to the perpetual quest to better understand, and as we do, to do better in our actions for the good of more people. It’s not our own individual happiness that actually matters the most for a good life. It’s actually the purpose and the meaning that matter most — and the gratitude and joy that come out of such experiences, sometimes in the most unexpected of ways, and sometimes in quite subtle ways that you just might miss if you aren’t paying close enough attention.”

At the end of the ceremony, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Ngonidzashe Munemo offered a brief tribute to outgoing President David Wippman, who will retire from the College in June.

“I’ve only overlapped with David for two years, […] but I’ve witnessed time and time again his fidelity to the best learning environment for students; his unfailing support for the work of faculty in our classrooms, labs, and studios, and for their scholarship; and his genuine care and concern for all members of this community,” Munemo said.

“He has been especially interested in making certain that Hamilton is a welcoming and an inclusive community, including to those who express ideas and opinions that may be different from others," a commitment that led to the creation of Common Ground.”

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