LINCOLN – 22-year-old Sean Gray is making history.
Providence College bestowed a number of academic accolades on Gray at the graduation ceremony last week. He was recognized for having the highest GPA in history and is one of three to receive the highest award in the academic ranking.
The lifelong Lincoln resident graduated from Bishop Feehan High School in Attleboro, Massachusetts in 2017.
Providence College was a natural fit for its undergraduate studies. His two parents, Mark Gray and Julia Ann Crowley Gray are computer science graduates, as well as his brother Kevin Gray.
Gray, who majored in history and with a minor in Spanish and philosophy, said his interest in the humanities drew him to college as well.
“I have loved the story for as long as I can remember,” he said. “History is an important tool for understanding where we came from” and for learning from the past in order to pave the way for a better society.
“It’s an interesting academic discipline,” he said, especially given the transformative social movements of recent years. Much more than memorizing facts, he said the study is about putting those historical facts in a frame to solve a puzzle.
In the spring, he received a $ 4,000 Veritas Summer Undergraduate Fellowship from the college to support research on his main thesis, a 70-page article on John Jay, the first chief justice of the United States Supreme Court. .
Gray explored why Jay turned down incumbent President John Adams’ invitation to return for another term as chief justice in 1800, saying he would never go back to “such a flawed system.”
Gray researched what Jay said was missing in the system and was invited to present his dissertation at the annual undergraduate research workshop at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
He is also fascinated by the rich history of Rhode Island. He interned at the Rhode Island Historical Society in 2019, publishing two essays on the aftermath of the HMS Gaspee fire.
His love for history also morphed into a passion for law, philosophy and literature during his high school years. Although Gray said he graduated in the Top 30 in Feehan and immersed himself in the school community, he was not a perfect student.
“PC immediately pushed me academically,” he said. After getting a perfect 4.0 GPA in his first semester, “I put my head down” and worked to maintain his scores.
He survived the pandemic, which was a challenge for Gray, who said he was very engaged in class.
“I love to be involved in the discussions and debates in class, and some part of that is lost with Zoom,” he said. “At the same time, the PC community, especially professors and other students, have been very supportive during this difficult time.”
Gray received the Berlin Fellowship from Humanity in Action, an organization that brings together students and recent graduates to promote civic engagement, human rights and democratic values.
He is said to have spent last June at Goethe University, attending seminars and listening to lecturers discuss human rights in the context of German colonial history and the Holocaust. Due to the pandemic, the conference was held on Zoom.
“It was a really special moment,” he said. Although it seemed a little strange to him to be sitting in his childhood bedroom, he said that the virtual platform allowed him to talk to people from all walks of life, calling from various parts of the world. It allowed people to talk about the work they are involved in in their own communities, he said.
Gray, a summa cum laude graduate, is also a member of numerous honor societies, including Phi Sigma Tau (Honorary Philosophy Society), Sigma Delta Pi (Hispanic Honor Society), Phi Alpha Theta (Honorary Society of ‘history), as well as Dirigo Leadership Society (PC student leadership honor society).
When asked to sum up his time at the PC, he said “busy” would be a loophole.
“It was rewarding and fulfilling,” he said. “I have had the opportunity to do a lot of great things academically, and part of my proudest job has been working on the Student Congress as a vice president and as a senior tutor in writing at the Office of Academic Services.
“It’s good to do well in your studies,” he said, but more rewarding, “to have a tangible impact on the lives of students”.
Gray is heading to Georgetown University on a pre-law track for the next three years after being accepted into “a few big options,” including the University of Chicago and Boston University.
As a practicing lawyer, Gray said he hopes to continue to make tangible differences in people’s lives.
“Georgetown was the best solution for me. What better place to learn the law than where the laws were made? ” he said. “I really like the school’s ethics of law and public service.