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Speech at the School of Graduate Studies Convocation

Editor’s note: As the recipient of the Harvey Waterman Medal of Excellence, Nick was invited to serve as the student speaker at Rutgers’ School of Graduate Studies Convocation on Friday, May 13, 2022. Proud of our founding member, the entire Books We Read staff would like to congratulate to Dr. Allred on his lifetime achievement at Rutgers by sharing the moments of joy as we publish his speech here. –Judit H. Ward

I have to confess, it’s humbling to stand before a group of accomplished scholars in so many different areas. As graduate students––at least in my own experience––we tend to spend our days burrowing into our particular fields and familiar haunts, practicing the kind of single-minded dedication it takes to become an expert in a discipline. My mental map of Rutgers campus is like a tunnel network: here’s my home department, here’s the library, here’s where I teach, here’s where I eat lunch. And so at moments like these when we get a glimpse of the wider university, and realize there are so many others around us, becoming experts in their own fields with that same focus and dedication and rigor, it’s like coming up into full sunlight: it’s thrilling and awe-inspiring and even a little disorienting, as we recognize just how much extraordinary work has been going on all around us.

I had a moment like that a couple weeks ago, when I went to a poster session for the Center of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Studies. I had just defended my dissertation in English, and as I looked around at all the groundbreaking research that my high-school-level science education couldn’t even begin to understand, I was humbled by the realization that after years spent becoming an expert in my own little corner, there were whole worlds that I didn’t know the first thing about––worlds that were all present here, at Rutgers, overlaid on my own little tunnel network.

Dressed up for the event, Nicholas Allred was the speaker at the Convocation of the School of Graduate Studies, as the recipient of the Harvey Waterman Medal of Excellence.

I have that same humbling feeling as I imagine the poster-session version of this ceremony, all the theses and projects and dissertations of the people in front of me today. But at the same time I feel proud.

I’m proud to be at a university where graduate students are doing rigorous and groundbreaking work across so many disciplines.

I’m proud to be at a university where graduate students’ work is recognized as work, as graduate students at peer institutions are struggling for that same recognition.

I’m proud to be at a public university, with a dual mission to educate the people of this state and to produce research that resonates across the globe.

And I’m especially proud to be here with all of you, who have done impressive things just to be here, and are setting out to make a difference in ways that the world can hardly imagine today and nonetheless desperately needs.

So congratulations, fellow graduates, and I can’t wait to see what you all will do next!


The Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies (CAS) Awarded Doctoral Students for Their Commitments to Preserving the History of CAS. On Thursday, April 21, the 2022 Joseph M. Russell Memorial Award was presented by Dr. Denise Hien, CAS Director, to two doctoral students for their commitment to preserving the history of CAS: Nicholas Allred (PhD, 2022, Rutgers English Department) and William Bejarano (PhD Candidate,  Rutgers School of Communication & Information). More…