This year Rebecka Hoffman was honored with the "Major of the Year" award at the Kinesiology & Health Sciences department's graduation ceremony. She received a diploma cover, a certificate, a medal, and will receive a check for $1000.00 from the Borgenicht Endowment. Below is the introduction given by the Chair, Michael Deschenes, and Rebecka’s speech to the graduating class of 2013.
This year’s Kinesiology & Health Sciences Major of the Year is Ms. Rebecka Hoffman. I just recently learned that Rebecka comes to us from Canada, which I found interesting as my grandparents were also from Canada. But although this was new information for me, one thing that I have known for quite some time is that Rebecka is a truly outstanding student. Not only did she excel in my classes, but other members of the faculty tell me that she also excelled in their classes. Moreover, Rebecka is an exceptional young researcher in training. She has spent countless hours working in Dr Harris’ lab including at night and on weekends. As a result of all this hard work, just a couple of weeks ago Rebecka successfully defended her undergraduate Honors Thesis. To truly appreciate what an achievement this is, you must understand that an undergraduate Honors Thesis here at William & Mary is the equivalent of a Master’s Thesis at just about any other school, it is that demanding and rigorous in its expectations. But actually what impresses me most about Rebecka is that despite all the stress and fatigue in her life, she manages to keep a smile on her face. In fact, she is always smiling and in good spirits!! Please join me in congratulating this year’s Kinesiology & Health Sciences major of the year, Ms. Rebecka Hoffman.
There’s a reason we are all sitting here today; not only are we joined by our love for our Alma Mater but a William and Mary student is the kind of person who craves the uncomfortable. A person who has the humility to see beyond what they have already achieved and be in wonder of what they will do. We love to be challenged, be it on the field, in the research lab, or perhaps at the Delis to see who can finish their mug first.
From my first semester at the College, from my very first Kinesiology class I took, I was challenged. I was forced to face my fear: riding a bicycle. In Professor Harris’ freshman seminar “The Physiology of Lance Armstrong”, we went on class bike rides. Now not that many people know this about me, but I am terrified of bikes due to a terrible fall at the ripe age of sixteen. There I was, in a class of enthusiastic and fit athletes, struggling to keep up. It was a long slow climb to go from the back of the pack in freshman year to having the honor of standing before you today. So in addition to facing challenges, the class also prepared me for what my future as a Kinesiology major would bring, as I was one of two non-athletes in the class, or as the athletes here commonly refer to people like me as: a NARP. A non-athletic regular person.
Over the past four years, Adair hall has become my home: from my late nights well past midnight in the Molecular and Cardiovascular Physiology lab to my constant hounding of my advisor Professor Harris in his office. I am sure you won’t miss getting 5 emails, 6 texts, and a phone call a day from me. I know I am not alone in thinking of Adair as home as a certain Professor, who shall go unnamed, uses the Adair pool below us as his own personal swimming pool. The swimming pool is also enjoyed by students for the traditional skinny dip to be completed prior to graduation. But of course, I would never do something like that!
Now some of you may be questioning how I can call this magnificent monument of a building home, where the aromas of the musty hallways conjure memories of your grandparents basement and the quality of the facilities are surely meant to test our resourcefulness compared to those ISC Chemistry and Biology “primma donnas” but I believe it comes down to the people who fill it, dead or alive. We are one of the few undergraduate institutions to have access to cadavers, a teaching luxury usually saved for medical schools and the like. I am also graduating today with dear friends, alive ones, and I will never forget the times I’ve spent with my lomies, or lab homies. I am glad that in between all of the basement lab dance parties and the pool parties, we have been able to get some work done.
The faculty, too, have amazed me. I have not once felt intimidated knocking on a Kinesiology office door and talking to a Professor. The entire department is laid-back and supportive, further adding to my feeling of home. Thank you Professor Harris for letting me join your lab and providing me with opportunities I never thought I’d get, such as travelling to San Diego and Boston these past two years to present my research. Thank you to Professor McCoy to reaching out to me when you knew I was struggling. And I know I speak on behalf of the entire graduating class when I say thank you to the whole faculty for your passion, your undying support, and helping us leave the College more fulfilled, challenged, and humbled than when we started.
This past year I was awarded an honors fellowship to complete my honors thesis. My particular fellowship was funded by friends, family, but mostly William & Mary Kinesiology & Health Sciences alumni. Ten, twenty years later these alumni felt the tie to the department and helped support my research. I believe this speak volumes to the power the department has and its supportive nature.
I am proud to be a part of the William & Mary Kinesiology family. Congratulations everyone, go tribe, and hark upon the gale!
3 Decades of Kinesiology Majors
Prof. Brennan Harris '93, Prof. Scott Ickes '04, and Rebecka Hoffman '13