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Class of 2013 honors its mentors through new torch medal tradition

By Mark Walden on May 8, 2013
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Becca Friedland ’13 and her torch medal recipient, Sodexo’s Patty VanVoorhis

I gave my torch medal to Patty because I became very close to her family through tutoring her son Colby, and they have always been very welcoming to me. I love seeing her and her family around campus, and I know that I will always have a connection to this region because of them. — Becca Friedland ’13 (Potomac, MD) speaking about her torch medal recipient, Sodexo’s Patty VanVoorhis

Olympic coaches might not earn medals, but Colgate’s world-class mentors do.

The Konosioni Honor Society, in partnership with the Office of Alumni Relations, started a new tradition in 2013, asking members of the senior class to award torch medals to individuals who had the single greatest impact on their Colgate experiences.

Medals were first distributed to the Class of 2013 last September, during Senior Night at Donovan’s Pub. To date, the office has received more than 90 notifications from recipients and students who have participated in the initiative.

The Class of 2013 chose awardees in a variety of offices across campus, from Sodexo dining services employees to career services staff and members of the faculty. Assistant biology professor Krista Ingram received two medals, one from Rebecca Silberman ’13 (Somers, NY) and one from Andrew Hoadley ’13 (Diego Martin, Trinidad and Tobago).

“I decided to give my torch medal to Krista because of the patience, support, and kindness that she has shown me unceasingly since the day I e-mailed her out of the blue to join her lab for summer research after my first year,” Hoadley said. “I imagine that I would be a very different person right now were it not for Krista’s support, and I thought it would be a very small way to show her my very significant appreciation.”

According to alumni director Tim Mansfield, the torch medal program was specifically designed to provide a tangible way for current and future generations to express that significant appreciation. “There are people who sometimes go unnoticed and unrecognized,” Mansfield said. “Here is an opportunity to recognize those people.”

Like Olympic medals, the icons have turned into conversation-starters, points of pride, and a reminder of why Colgate’s mentors do what they do. “As professors, we teach because we want to touch someone’s life, to make a difference, and the medal symbolizes this in a tangible way,” Ingram said. “The irony is that the students who have passed on the torch medal have actually inspired me to become a better teacher.”

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