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Top Ranked Student in COAS Gives Commencement Speech

By Celia Villarreal and Raquel Urrutia
On December 17, 2012

  • COAS Commencement. Photo by Linda Bravo

During the last weeks before graduation, students prepared for the end of a stage in their lives. Chamois Summer Holschuh, a graduating Texas A&M International student, prepared herself in a different way. Holschuh is ranked number one in the College of Arts and Sciences. The English major has a very important job ahead of her: she must give the Student Correspondence Speech at Commencement.

Holschuh is originally from Halifax, Vermont. The 23 year old graduated high school from Grace Christian School in Bennington, Vermont. As a TAMIU Freshman, she began as a Special Education major. "It didn't take long for me to change that. In my second semester at TAMIU, I took a few courses which were far more interesting to me," stated Holschuh. Courses such as Intro to Creative Writing with Dr. Suzette Bishop and Late 19th Century American Literature with Dr. John Dean sparked her interest in literature and writing. She then changed her major to English with a minor in Creative Writing. "I have the utmost respect for each of my professors in the English department; their contribution to my education has been invaluable," Holschuh said.

Besides excelling academically, Holschuh is also an active student on campus. She is a writing consultant at the Writing Center as well as a supplemental instruction leader as part of the Sophomore Success program. In addition to this, she has been a member of the TAMIU Green Club and is currently an active member of Phi Kappa Phi, a national honors society, and Sigma Tau Delta, a national English honor society. "I have loved the time I have spent with this group...I hope to see their campus and community activities continue to expand," she stated.

Holschuh was given the honor of delivering the Student Correspondence Speech by Dr. Thomas Mitchell, Dean of the COAS and Regents Professor. She admitted that at first, she had been a little nervous to accept since she had never spoken to such a large crowd. After thinking it through, she knew she made the right decision in choosing to deliver the speech. Holschuh remarked that, "Really, I am excited to surprise my mother with the speech. She is coming from Vermont to see me graduate, but I've kept the Student Respondent aspect a secret."

She goes on to say that being the top ranked of her class came as sort of a surprise to her. "It's remarkably humbling. All this time, I've just been doing my own thing. I was never trying to be #1; I'm one of the least competitive people I know," she stated. She accredits her success to her study habits. Holschuh suggests that the best thing a student can do is to participate in class discussions.

After graduating this December, Holschuh plans to begin working on her MA in English here at TAMIU. "I'm just not ready to leave yet! I love working with my professors and look forward to continuing my studies after them," she remarked. After obtaining her MA, she is considering going for her Ph. D. and teaching on the university level. She accredits her parents for her successes. "My dad has always encouraged my creativity and taught me to pursue what I love. My mom's work ethic and compassion have taught me how to be a self-reliant and understanding individual. I would be nothing without their example," she remarked.

(Celia Villarreal and Raquel Urrutia can be reached at and at

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