Carrying the banner: Meet the 2024 student marshals

At the university-wide Commencement ceremony on May 13, three students will represent Arts & Sciences by carrying banners for the College and the Office of Graduate Studies. These student marshals have each demonstrated exemplary efforts in their respective fields. Ahead of the big day, we asked them to reflect on their favorite memories, proudest accomplishments, and lasting lessons from their time at WashU. 

Ashwin Srinivasan, AB ‘24

Majors: History and philosophy-neurosciences-psychology 

Ashwin Srinivasan

During my time here, Ive gained an appreciation for interdisciplinary connections. My coursework has ranged from cognitive neuroscience to legal linguistics to pre-modern Jewish history. More often than I would have expected, I could draw on my neuroscience coursework in my history classes and vice versa. The diversity of classes gave me a chance to meet and learn from classmates studying a wide variety of disciplines.

Through my time as a research assistant in a cognitive psychology lab, Ive contributed to fascinating research on how the brain dynamically processes and perceives everyday life. Im most proud of my senior thesis. I designed and implemented an experiment to test how our perception of events impacts long-term memory.

One of my favorite WashU memories is from the first night of orientation. I sat with a bunch of other first-year students in a big circle outside Eliot B. It was 2020, so we were all masked up and socially distanced. I was excited but nervous that I wouldnt be able to find my community. Ironically, the reason I look back on that memory so fondly is because, that night, I met so many of the people who are now my closest friends.


Gabby Hyman, AB ’24

Majors: Environmental policy and history 

Gabby Hyman

Working as a Bear Ambassador for three years was a highlight of my time at WashU. I enjoyed leading tours, learning about WashU history, and interacting with prospective students and their families. I spent weeks walking around campus backward while talking to myself to practice the tour route. The practice paid off. When I led tours, I could tell I was giving students a little clarity and guidance at an uncertain time in their lives. 

One of my greatest accomplishments was completing my senior honors thesis on trial records from the Spanish Inquisition. Being immersed in the Spanish language during an incredible semester abroad in Santiago, Chile, helped me gain the confidence to use primary and secondary sources in Spanish for my thesis. I am proud that my research brought new insight into the remarkable trial records of those accused.

At every turn, the WashU campus is full of people seeking opportunities for friendship and collaboration, facilitated by the warmth and openness of the Midwest. WashU has taught me to go the extra mile to be friendly and seek out unexpected connections. I know that wherever I go next, I’ll bring that attitude.


Benjamin Noble, PhD ’23

Benjamin Noble

Concentration: Political Science

My time at WashU taught me to appreciate the importance of getting to know your academic community and making genuine connections. Learning does not happen alone! Its not just sitting at your desk reading books and studying. Sometimes, talking with a faculty member, collaborating with a peer, or teaching something you just figured out is the best way to grow and develop as a scholar.

One of my favorite memories was the Dean's Award for Graduate Research Excellence. This was a fun and challenging opportunity to present a chapter of my dissertation in just three minutes and with only two slides. It was an honor to share my work with faculty, university leadership, and the Arts & Sciences National Council. I also had the opportunity to learn about the work of other accomplished PhD candidates across Arts & Sciences. 

I’m proud of my PhD. Earning that degree has been my goal since my first day as an undergraduate at WashU, and I am grateful to all the faculty, friends, and family who supported me along the way.