The Public Honors College

SMCM Newsroom

Before the Valedictory

May 9, 2014
Press Release #14-030


Get to know the Class of 2014 valedictorians, Andrew Gear and Nick Brown.  

Name: Nick Brown

Major/minor: English and philosophy, double major

Hometown city, state: Millersville, Maryland

Most challenging class: Tough choice. Staging Shakespeare with Prof. Charlebois required spending a lot of quality time with the Bard, but the results were glorious. Classes with Prof. Richardson always required a bit of struggle, but that was just a sign that you were learning. Prof. Park would pick apart a three-page philosophy paper more thoroughly than you thought possible. But I think I might have to go with a history course on Russian Civilization taught by Prof. Barrett, since it was a bit outside of my comfort zone and required the most adapting. Also, it was at 9:20 a.m., and I’m notoriously not much of a morning person.

Favorite class:  Another tough choice. I have to pick amongst fantastic classes on the English Romantic poets, the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, Shakespeare, British fantasy literature, theories of happiness and meaning, modern literature, American education, meditation… I could just keep going. I think I’m going to have to leave this question unresolved.

Favorite professor: I sincerely have loved every professor that I have had at St. Mary’s, and I’m not just saying that. Really, I think I must have just gotten lucky or something. If I have to pick one, however, then I must pick Prof. Robin Bates of the English Department. I first met him when I was a prospective student and liked what he said, so I signed up for his core seminar class despite the fact that it was on Jane Austen—not exactly my biggest interest, but I never regretted the choice. Since then, Robin has become my academic adviser, convinced me to call him by his first name, and then agreed to mentor my St. Mary’s Project. He’s stuck with me through a far too ambitious topic and he’s even grasped what it is I’m trying to say—no mean feat, I assure you. He is one of the kindest people I have met, and his passion for literature is so unrelentingly genuine that it is contagious.

Strangest talent: I can snap my fingers pretty quickly, and I can sort of beatbox. But these things aren’t that strange. For how strange a guy I am, I really thought I would be able to come up with stranger talents. If I snap, beatbox, and hum all at once, then I guess it starts getting a bit strange. I’ll work on it.

If you could go back or forward in time, where would you go? If I could go forward to the time where the human race finally gets everything figured out, that would be pretty nice. But then I wouldn’t be able to help with the task of getting there, which is a bit selfish of me. For now I guess I’ll stick around.

Fun: Music is probably at the top of my list, both playing and listening. I also do a fair share of watching shows and playing video games. I should probably get more sun. I also don’t read enough for fun, despite my bookish majors. Hopefully I’ll start picking up books again in my free time.

After graduation: Honestly, I’d like to take a break. Once I figure out exactly what it is that I want to do, I’ll likely end up in graduate school. I’ve already gotten the “one of us” speech from members of academia, so that could be a potential future. For now, I’ll most likely stumble my way into the working world and see what happens. No matter what, I’ll make sure that I do something I love.

Inspiration: Plenty of things inspire me. Hayao Miyazaki movies inspire me. Shakespeare inspires me. Catch-22 inspires me. My favorite songwriters inspire me, but I won’t go on about them here. Writers, directors, cartoonists… even the popular manga One Piece—yes, the one about the pirates—inspires me, and I would defend its merit against anyone that would assume its simplicity reflects a lack of depth. I am passionate about all kinds of art. But my friends, my family, my professors—they all inspire me as well, more than I can write about. Through trial and error, I’ve been learning to be inspired by even the smallest of things. It’s a habit I would recommend developing.

I'll always fondly remember ___________ about St. Mary's: The campus, the classes, the close relationships, the feeling that I’m doing something worthwhile, the freedom, the sounds, the busy day breaks, the late night laughs, and all the nonsense in between; you’re making me tear up a little.

Advice for future Seahawks: Study what you love. SMCM is a great place to do that. You will discover that other people, including some professors, love it too, and great things will happen. Don’t take classes simply to get that piece of paper that lands you a career. It is when you learn things for the sake of your own interests that your education will change you. Work hard for yourself, and the rest will fall into place.


Name: Andrew Gear

Major/minor: English, political science, and public policy

Hometown city, state: Westminster, Maryland

Most challenging class: Methods of Literary Study with Professor Click. This course represented the deepest foray into language and literature during my academic career, and, frankly, I was in over my head. Luckily Professor Click helped me throughout the course, and his unique style of teaching made complex topics much more accessible.

Favorite class: For me it is a tie between Writing Arguments and International Politics. Writing Arguments allowed me the opportunity to write about nearly anything I wanted, ranging from commentaries on patriotism to opinion pieces on how Roger Federer is the best tennis player in history. International Politics, on the other hand, was a fun and interesting adventure into the political science discipline, and even gave me the chance to play the role of French President for       a week.

Favorite professor:  Since I have experienced two very different disciplines at the College, I’m going to yet again say it is a tie between Professor Click in the English Department and Professor Fehrs from Political Science. Both professors are not only knowledgeable and engaging, but they are simply great people. Their lighthearted attitude translated into their teaching and into life outside of the classroom, where they have both been great mentors during my four years.

Strangest talent: I know it’s gross, but I can burp essentially whenever I want, kinda nonstop. Sorry mom.

If you could go back or forward in time, where would you go?  I would go back to 1983, the last time the O’s won the World Series. We’re getting back to our winning ways, but I’m still missing October baseball in Baltimore.

Fun: As my friends know, I love sports. Whether it is playing tennis, participating in intramurals, or Frisbee golfing around campus, I spend most of my free time with athletics.

After graduation: Next fall I will be attending the University of Virginia School of Law. Following law school, I hope          to pursue a career in politics.

Inspiration: A sense of responsibility to myself and to my peers has inspired me these past four years. Luckily, St. Mary’s is a community filled with driven and successful individuals. A desire to live up to the expectations of this institution and a belief that I should always give my all has gotten me to where I am today.

I'll always fondly remember ________at St. Mary's: The path.

Advice for future Seahawks: Don’t hide. Whether in the classroom or socially, St. Mary’s is a place where active involvement is necessary to thrive. St. Mary’s has more than a wonderful faculty dedicated to student success; we benefit from a community where everyone truly cares about their peers. In order to fully take advantage of all the College has to offer, you must not only be willing to put the extra effort into your studies, but must also take your place in the community that makes this school special.


Category: Student Body