For most students who receive the Dr. Jaroslav M. Burian and Grayce Susan Burian Award in English, the award comes as a surprise. Dr. Burian endowed the award in 2001 to create a prize for the graduating English major with the highest grade point average for Rutgers College courses. “I felt that a little encouragement of academic achievement might not be out of order these days,” he says. English, theater arts, and competitive swimming were his favorite activites as a student, and he has endowed awards in all three.
After coming to Rutgers intending to study engineering in 1944, Dr. Burian eventually shifted to an English major, and pursued theater by taking drama courses and doing shows at N.J.C. (now Douglass). After serving in the army, Dr. Burian completed his studies at Rutgers in 1949, then went on to earn a Ph.D. in English with an emphasis on dramatic arts.
Kate Sell, who received the award in 2004, was thrilled to have an unexpected windfall. She used the award money to offset the costs of applying to graduate school, and will be starting at the University of Chicago in the fall.
The most recent winner, Ronah Sadan, was also surprised and pleased. Ms. Sadan was a double major in English and French. Like Dr. Burian, she is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She’s still considering exactly what to do now that she has graduated, but is planning to apply to graduate school.
No one sets out to win a Burian Award, which requires years of hard work. Instead, the award serves as a generous and unexpected reward, a way to congratulate students for an excellent performance at Rutgers.
Student Awards Bring Out the Best