It was a day 50 years in the making, an event the Honors College Class of 2018 was destined to attend.
“This is the Golden Anniversary,” Provost Brian McGee told the 106 Honors College graduates during the Honors College Ceremony on Friday, May 11, 2018, at the Sottile Theatre.
The College of Charleston launched the Honors College as a new program in the fall of 1967 to “attract superior students irrespective of their departmental majors and to guide them toward a fuller, more substantial liberal arts education,” according to the College’s Bulletin for the Academic Year 1967-1968.
That tradition continues today, President Glenn F. McConnell ’69 told this year’s class of Honors College graduates.
“You are some of the most ambitious and academically gifted students the College has to offer,” McConnell said. “You will go forward in the world as the next generation of doers and thinkers.”
Honors College Dean Trisha Folds-Bennett praised the Honors College faculty for their mentorship and encouragement of this year’s graduating class. Folds-Bennett also recognized Honors College alumnus Michael S. Shemtov ’00 as the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.
Just six months after graduating from the College in 2000, Shemtov opened Mellow Mushroom on Charleston’s famed King Street. He has since opened other restaurants in the Holy City, including Butcher & Bee, The Daily, and a food court called Workshop, an exploratory food incubator on upper King Street.
Shemtov reminisced about his life right after graduation and the unlikely odds that he would open a restaurant at the age of 22, just months after crossing the Cistern with a degree in business administration.
“You are in that part of your life where your dogged determination can pretty much make anything happen,” he said. “You have the energy. You have the smarts. You have the skills. I would encourage you at this point in your life to be very reticent to hear ‘no’ and accept it.”
And, Shemtov offered a little sage advice to his fellow Honors College grads: “Don’t use [your parents’] criteria or anybody else’s to measure success. There’s nothing that says you need to open 10 restaurants. There’s nothing that says you need to be a CEO. What really is important is that you’re happy by your measure of happiness.”