Hiram College

Debra DeLoustal-Miller will receive her Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (M.A.I.S.) degree.

Swanton resident to earn master’s degree at age 65, ready to walk to beat of different drummers … in French Guiana
Along with the 285 students who will walk across the commencement stage at Hiram College’s Martin Field House on Saturday, May 14, 65-year-old Debra DeLoustal-Miller will receive her Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (M.A.I.S.) degree.

DeLoustal-Miller describes the degree as avant-garde and apropos for a globalized world. It appears to be the perfect fit for this French and music teacher headed to French Guiana in September. There, she will work as an English language and vocal music coach and as an archivist at the National School of Music.

A Hiram alumna who graduated cum laude in 1973 with an undergraduate degree in French, DeLoustal-Miller jumped aboard Hiram’s M.A.I.S. program when she first learned about it at her 2008 college reunion. By fall, DeLoustal-Miller was accepted to and enrolled in the M.A.I.S. program. She commuted from Swanton to Hiram — sometimes for 8 a.m. classes — and stayed in residence hall rooms on weekends. Over the course of eight years, DeLoustal-Miller embraced Hiram’s rigorous academic program through which she focused her research on the drumming culture in French Guiana, where she lived and worked for 10 years.

“Hiram gave me the avenue with which I could write my life story in an academic way. It’s how we define interdisciplinary. We are not robots. We are free, reflective thinkers who can build our own topics with faculty support,” DeLoustal-Miller says.

DeLoustal-Miller’s passion for lifelong learning and her examination of an unconventional research topic underscore Hiram’s eclectic underpinnings. They represent a mingling of both forward-thinking and tradition.

Steeped in that tradition, Hiram’s 166th commencement exercises will unite DeLoustal-Miller with five fellow Hiram graduate students, each of whom will receive M.A.I.S. degrees. Meanwhile, undergraduate degrees will be awarded to 279 students, 103 of whom will graduate with honors.

Here’s a snapshot of Hiram’s class of 2016 undergraduates:

  • 17 Summa Cum Laude (3.9 or greater GPA)
  • 42 Magna Cum Laude (3.7-3.89 GPA)
  • 44 Cum Laude (3.5-3.69 GPA)
  • 37 percent – Latin honors recipients
  • 30 percent – departmental honors in their major field

Jan Hopkins ’69, a former CNN News anchor and multimedia journalist, will deliver Saturday’s commencement address. Hopkins is the immediate past president of the Economic Club of New York and made history as the first woman to fill this post. The Economic Club of New York is one of the oldest and preeminent speakers’  platforms for major global business, financial and political figures.

Hopkins graduated cum laude from Hiram College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology. She also earned a Master of Arts degree in American studies from Case Western Reserve University and was a Bagehot Fellow at Columbia Business School.