GSSM alum at convocation: I expect great things from all of you

Carl Garris speaks during the 2017 GSSM Convocation.Photo by Melissa Rollins

By Melissa Rollins, Editor,

Carl Garris, a 2013 graduate of the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics encouraged seniors to expand their horizons during his speech at the school’s annual convocation, held Sept. 7 at the Center Theater in Hartsville.
Garris shared some advise but also a few inside jokes.

“Six years ago, I was sitting where you are,” Garris said. “There are many things I wish I’d known then. If only I’d known that early was on time at the Governor’s School, on time is late and late is simply unacceptable. So juniors, be early for Dr. Jones-Cooper’s class.”

Reflecting on the special day, Garris admitted that the Governor’s School offers opportunities as well as challenges.
“When I attended my own convocation, I had scarcely an inkling of what was in store for me,” Garris said. “I was excited, intimidated and I felt like an imposter surrounded suddenly by such brilliant peers.”

Pointing out the regalia he donned, along with all GSSM faculty, Garris said he had to come to terms with his major after graduating from a STEM school.

“You’ll notice that I’m wearing two tassels: one gold and one silver; one for the sciences and one for the humanities, or more properly the arts,” Garris said. “I’m a bit of a black sheep, historian spawn from the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics. That’s how I viewed myself anyway on graduating and heading to the University of South Carolina as a fresh history major. But that’s not how I view myself now. The more I studied and learned about, well, learning, the more I realized how artificial and, in many ways, flawed the barriers we’ve erected between disciplines actually is.”

Garris said that he realized interdisciplinary projects find great success because they take the best from both fields of study.

“The knowledge that we seek is often inaccessible to one discipline alone, increasingly so,” Garris said. “Only through working together through interdisciplinary projects and research can we roll the ball of progress forward in the 21st Century.”

As he found a love for the sciences and the humanities, Garris encouraged students to seek not only what they love but also the unexplored.

“As you embark on your GSSM journey, I want each and every one of you to keep your eyes open and your horizons broad,” Garris said. “Both juniors and seniors, don’t feel limited to your favorite subject. Branch out from Physics to Chemistry, from English to Computer Science, Mathematics to History. You’ll find the fruits that grow there rare and delectable.”
Garris, a Richard Hofstadter Fellow, currently pursuing his PhD in medieval history at Columbia University ended his speech with a Latin phrase know to many.

“Remember always what makes you unique, what you are contributing to the university and the world, because you’re you,” Garris said. “I’ll end with a Latin imperative, a command for you: Carpe Diem. Seize this day and make it your own. I expect great things from all of you.”

Author: Duane Childers

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