234 Students Inducted into GS Honor Society
On Thursday, November 10, faculty, staff, friends, and family gathered at the Rotunda of Columbia University's Low Library to celebrate the induction of a record 234 students into the School of General Studies Honor Society. The ceremony was followed by a reception in the Faculty Room for inductees to mingle with their fellow GS Honor Society members, as well GS administrators and staff members.
The GS Honor Society was created in 1997 to recognize the exceptional academic achievements of GS students who have earned a cumulative GPA of at least 3.8 in more than 30 points of academic coursework at Columbia.
Dean Lisa Rosen-Metsch welcomed the attendees with opening remarks, reflecting on the exceptional academic achievements of the inductees. “You, among all of the very talented students we have at the School of General Studies, are the community that makes clear the fact that GS truly is a beacon for the future of highly selective higher education,” she said.
She spoke about the founding of the Honor Society as a way to bring together intellectually curious students outside of the classroom: “The Honor Society is an opportunity to celebrate you and your pursuit of intellectual life, a life that is concerned about issues that go beyond oneself, that seek to tackle our most daunting issues.”
“We know, as Martin Luther King Jr. stated, an individual has not started living until they can rise above the narrow confines of his or her, or their, individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity,” she said.
Dean Rosen-Metsch then introduced the keynote speaker, Robert LeDesma ‘14GS. LeDesma came to GS from Mesa Community College in Arizona and was dedicated to helping other GS students make the transition from community college. He was a co-founder of the Peer Advising Program and also served on the General Studies Student Council in various positions. After graduating in 2014 with a degree in neuroscience and behavior with a premedical concentration, he attended the Molecular Biology Doctoral Program at Princeton University. Currently, LeDesma works as a scientist in the Infectious Diseases Department at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. As part of the Rapid Response Team, he addresses threats to human health in real time, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
LeDesma spoke about “doorknob” moments in his career so far, when he knew he was making a decision that would change his life forever and open doors to future opportunities—such as attending an admissions information session for GS.
“I discovered my passion for science here. I discovered my knack for being a tour guide here, and I discovered my passion for making the transition easier for people who follow in my footsteps here,” he said. “You never know what you’re going to learn from other people, what lessons they are going to impart on you, and how you might end up touching their lives in return,” he continued.
LeDesma concluded his remarks with a piece of advice he received from a GS admissions officer: “Don’t forget; whatever it is that you want, or whatever it is that will make you feel fulfilled, you can, even if you don’t think that you can.”
LeDesma’s remarks were followed by the presentation of the new members by Caroline Marvin, the recently appointed Dean of Academic Affairs.
Dean Marvin remarked, “There's really nothing like the GS student body. You are dancers, artists, veterans, parents, career changers, entrepreneurs, journalists, engineers, world travelers, community organizers, and so so so much more,” she said. “The beauty of GS, really, is that there is no prototypical GS student. You defy categorization, you blur boundaries, and you forge your own unique paths.”
“While your experiences are diverse, and the paths you’ve taken at GS are certainly unique, I noticed a common thread in your stories. Many of you spoke of a deep and abiding desire to learn, a restless curiosity,” she added.
“So while we rightly celebrate this extraordinary academic achievement, I want to celebrate as well this vital outlook on life and learning, and I hope that wherever your unique paths lead you next, that you keep finding that spark of curiosity and wonder.”
You never know what you’re going to learn from other people, what lessons they are going to impart on you, and how you might end up touching their lives in return
Among those inducted this spring are 140 students enrolled in the School’s dual-degree programs with List College of Jewish Theological Seminary, Sciences Po in France, City University of Hong Kong, and Trinity College Dublin, and 103 international students from countries all around the world, including Brazil, Canada, Lebanon, Morocco, Norway, and Taiwan. 8 US veterans and 18 students who served in the armed forces of other nations, 34 first-generation college students, and 6 students with children were also among those inducted.
The chief aim of the GS Honor Society is to cultivate interaction among those committed to intellectual discovery and academic excellence. The only group of its kind at the University, the Society offers opportunities throughout the year for its student and alumni members to interact with one another, as well as with the faculty who enjoy working with such outstanding scholars.
Ines Abi Mourad
Lisa Anneys Cardoso Gomes Luci
Ching Tung Chan
Ian Kang Choo
Guglielmo De Rigo Piter
Allegra Della Ragione
Tomas Dias Piva Imparato
Mustafa Eren Isiktas
Angie Maldonado Rodriguez
Marc Orriols Gimenez
Alisa Shodiyev Kaff
Dylan Michael Shubert
Jonah Sheen Tan
Robbert van Batenburg