F&M Stories

Morgan Anna Kincade: Williamson Medalist Citation

Presented at the 2016 Commencement of Franklin & Marshall College:

When a student's soaring intellectual capacity is matched not only by her academic achievement but also by the most profound modesty, you have encountered a jewel. Such a faceted and brilliant young woman is Morgan Kincade. Her professors from across the curriculum have noted her range and depth of inquiry. Professor of Creative Writing, Erik Anderson, remarks, "Her abilities and interests are as stunning as they are broad." Professor Annette Aronowicz, of the Religious Studies Department, writes, "In her quiet, subtle way, Morgan marches to her own drum, opening paths of inquiry, rather than merely following those already drawn for her." Similarly, Professor Misty Bastian of Anthropology notes Morgan's "steadiness" of purpose—evidence of this young student's aptitude for "true scholarship." No surprise, then, that, in her independent study under Professor Aronowicz, focused on the multifaceted conversation about Islam in France, she chose to write on a controversial European Muslim public intellectual, Tariq Ramadan. Increasingly, Morgan became aware of the importance of Ramadan's media presence and what this means for the shifting nature of religious authority in our world. The result is an elegantly written thesis, for which she earned department honors, emphasizing Ramadan's challenge to multiple constituencies at once, both Muslim and non-Muslim. In the process, she reflects on the shifting boundaries of the sacred in our world. Her quiet independence bodes well for her future contributions as a public intellectual herself. In our complicated world, we need voices like hers, with the capacity to articulate in beautifully clear prose the many dimensions of an issue, refusing the simple answers, but also helping us to see the whole.

Morgan has consistently shown a great thirst to explore the world. She has studied both Arabic and French, seeking through those languages a deeper engagement with the people of other communities. She has also lived, studied and worked in several countries, including France, Jordan, and Turkey. Through those experiences and others, Morgan has found ways to connect her religious studies major and French minor with a breadth of interests including politics, education, and social service in whatever community she has found herself—local or global. She is always seeking ways to develop her own skills, not only as a thinker, but also in service to others, which she has accomplished with grace, courtesy, gratitude, and intelligence.

In our immediate community—F&M—Morgan served as a Writing Tutor from 2013 through 2016; Writing Center Director Dan Frick remarks on Morgan's "exceptional willingness to be self-reflective about her tutoring style, finding ways to adapt her approach to serve students with different learning styles and skill levels—always with the goal of helping students discover their own meanings." Morgan was co-president of the Interfaith Student Council, co-president of the Interdisciplinary Advancement Club, an outstanding Social Programming Chair for Brooks College House, a volunteer intern at the Office of the Chaplain, and a tax preparer for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Chaplain Susan Minasian remarks that, "When there have been moments of tension around 'difference' on campus, Morgan has been a steady, non-threatening presence at the table. Her hospitality has provided a safe space for difficult conversations." Reaching beyond F&M, to the Lancaster community, Morgan assisted in the development of the Community School to serve the city's refugee population, supporting the school's infrastructure and outreach, as well as teaching in the Refugee Youth Summer School. When Morgan moved abroad to study in France, she undertook two internships: one with l'Institut d'études de l'islam et des sociétés du monde musulman (Institute for the study of Islam and world Muslim societies) and the other with Amatullah, for which she prepared and distributed meals to homeless populations all over Paris. As Chaplain Minasian remarks, Morgan's generosity of spirit and service, wherever she sets foot, has "certified her as a citizen of the world."

Morgan's recognitions during her years at F&M include Honors List, the John Marshall Fellowship, the Religious Studies Department's Kahn Grant, and a Nissley Grant for research on secularism in Turkish politics. A member of the Black Pyramid Honor Society and Phi Beta Kappa, Morgan also organized F&M's TEDx Talks. She received a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State for intensive study of Arabic at the Qasid Institute in Jordan.

Morgan has been selected as recipient of a 2016–17 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Turkey, where she will teach at a Turkish University. If we at liberal arts colleges are supposed to prepare students for the world, no one exemplifies our mission better than Morgan Anna Kincade.

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