Gold Key honor society recognizes outstanding teacher excellence and student achievement


Sami Ahmad

Gold stole presented to newly inducted Gold Key Honor Society members.

By Shannon Garrido, Editor-in-chief

Emerson celebrated students and faculty that displayed outstanding academic achievement and teaching excellence in the 2022-23 academic year by inducting selected community members into the college’s Gold Key Honor Society

The ceremony was held in the Semel Theater at the Tufte Performance and Production Center on April 5, and recognized three professors and 53 seniors in the top 10 percent and 55 juniors in the top five percent of their respective classes.

Among the students recognized were two senior members of the Student Government Association, communications director Daniel Luppino and communication sciences and disorders senator Laura Gonzalez. Beacon staff members Harrison Bates, Maeve Lawler, and Hadera McKay were also recognized.

Cari Hurley, a junior journalism major, said that when she heard she would be recognized, she was taken by surprise.

“I didn’t really know how to feel about it,” she said. “When I was in high school, I definitely used my grades as a measure of my academic success, and it was very important to me … But I started to move away from that in the past couple of years and focus more on what I felt I was learning, and the connections I was making.”

Because of this, Hurley said she was hesitant to go to the ceremony.

 “My mom convinced me that I could see it as a validation of the approach that I had taken—[my approach of] moving away from numerical standards of success,” she said.

Despite her own thoughts on the value of the grade system, Hurley acknowledged that there was some pride to take in being honored in such a way.

“I’m proud of everyone for putting in the work,” said Hurley. “Like I said, I don’t think, ‘Only people who have a high GPA are hard working.’ But at the same time, it is a cool recognition.”

Amer Latif, an associate professor at the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, was presented the Helaine and Stanley Miller Award for Outstanding Teaching. Latif, who began teaching at the former Marlboro College in Vermont in 2003, said the recognition of his work spoke to the success of the merge.

“This award immediately, for me, was a token of the success of that merger,” said Latif. “And the fact that those of us who have come here have been welcomed and valued.”

Alongside Latif, writing, literature and publishing and comedic arts senior affiliated faculty Member Michael Bent ’85 was awarded the Alan L. Stanzler Award for Excellence in Teaching; business of creative enterprises director, marketing communication graduate program director, and senior executive-in-residence Brenna McCormick, MA ‘06 was honored with the Emerson Alumni Award for Teaching Innovation.

Each faculty award was introduced by a collection of student testimonials that highlighted the positive experience each professor provided. Students shared how each professor encouraged them to apply themselves in and outside of the classroom, and applauded them for providing a safe space for students. 

“A friend of mine was joking and said, ‘Hey, it’s like somebody is writing an obituary, a living memorial.’ I’m alive, but I get to experience what people think about me,” Latif said in response to the testimonies. “None of that would be possible without all that goes into creating an academic institution. I recognize that hidden work that goes on, and to the beautiful, beautiful students, it is just an honor and a joy.” 

Professor Martie Cook and founding director of the Center for Comedic Arts introduced Bent’s award, first acknowledging his alum status, then recognizing his multiple decades of experience.

“If I could describe Mike Bent in one word, it would be ‘magic,’ she said. “Many people know Mike as a stand-up performer, but here’s a fun fact: what some of you may not know is that Mike is actually a skilled magician who has been practicing magic since he was six years old.”

Cook described Bent’s illustrious career as a magician, specifically noting his 10 invitations to the White House to perform at the Easter Egg Roll in front of 30,000 people. 

“Mike brings his magic in a little different form into the classroom, where he is highly respected by students, faculty and alumni alike,” said Cook.

Student testimonials described Bent as “awesome,” “supportive,” and “incredibly helpful.”

Bent made his way to the podium and embraced Cook in a hug as he accepted his award. 

“I want to thank Emerson for having a comedic arts program, and to Martie for assembling an amazing team and for having faith in me,” said Bent. “I especially want to thank all my students, both past and present, for being so funny, and so much fun to work with and for inspiring me everyday with their passion and their creativity.”

The final teaching award was presented to Brenna McCormick, a brand and marketing strategist who specializes in creative thinking, collaboration, marketing, and the creative economy. She received her master’s in integrated marketing communications at Emerson in 2006, and began teaching at the college in 2009 as an affiliated faculty member.

Teary-eyed, McCormick made her way towards the podium holding tissues and paper towels. 

“There’s a short little story that I like to tell, and many of my BCE students know that I love, by J.R.R. Tolkien: ‘not all those who wander are lost’,” says McCormick. “I’m very fortunate to have found myself in teaching and to be able to teach here at Emerson.”

After enthusiastic applause, Gold Key President Sunjin Chang welcomed graduating seniors and juniors to form a line towards the stage. As their names were called, students were handed sashes and diplomas, recognizing and encouraging their outstanding academic achievement at Emerson College. 

Adri Pray and Camilo Fonseca contributed reporting.