Potash Hill

2017 Commencement

A cold, drizzly day with two inches of fresh snow in Marlboro could not dampen the spirits of the 71 students marking their commencement on Sunday, May 14. Faculty, staff, friends, and family cheerily gathered in Persons Auditorium to celebrate the class of 2017, comprising 32 undergraduate and 39 graduate students. “One of the great joys of being at Marlboro is to witness our students live their passions, learn new skills, and grow into engaged citizens,” said President Kevin Quigley. Graduates were treated to moving comments by student speakers Solomon Botwick-Ries ’17 and Nicolás Cárdenas Tamburini MATESOL ’17, and by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina ’72, who was conferred an honorary degree. An honorary degree was also conferred upon U.S. Congressman Peter Welch, who delivered a commencement address urging students to continue the level of community engagement they honed at Marlboro. The proceedings concluded with a valediction by Janaki Natarajan, degree chair for the MA in Teaching for Social Justice program.

From President Kevin Quigley’s remarks

Erin Huang-Shaffer ’18 and former student Allison Power celebrate with Olivia Palermo ’17.  In these turbulent times, we again feel that our democracy is at risk. That feeling has been palpable here on campus since the fall. Everywhere we look, there is evidence that our democracy is unfinished, and that learning to be a good citizen is a neverending and essential task. In these times, we simply can’t take citizenship—and what it takes for democracy to succeed—for granted. In New York Times columnist Tom Friedman’s latest book, he provides an apt comment on these times by quoting two-time Nobel laureate Marie Curie: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we fear less.” Marlboro helps our students understand more.

From Solomon Botwick-Ries’ student address

Today, my friends, we put our Marlboro education to good use: we practice remembering. For today is the beginning of Marlboro as a memory. We are graduating alongside the place: it is now a companion, something we carry for the time being. Indeed, to appreciate the significance of commencement, we need a new language— a vocabulary beyond absence and presence, beyond loss. For we are not losing Marlboro. We have just arrived. In a sense, graduation is an alchemical ritual: we are transmuting Marlboro.… The alchemy is in our hearts: can we open ourselves to inhabit this tender space of memory, to accept the passing of time, to savor the lastingness of its beauty?

From Nicolás Cárdenas Tamburini’s graduate student address

Gordon Morse, Vincent Liu, and Nicolás Cárdenas Tamburini celebrate.Marlboro came along as the great opportunity to continue exploring the revelations that I had in my practice as a language teacher for almost four years. Yes, I needed theory to process what had happened to me in that period of time, but what I found was a community that opened its arms and embraced me with warmth and affection.… And curiosity—lots of it. And the courage to go back to the classroom, with a renewed understanding of why I do what I do—but above all, with a resolved heart that now wants to include and celebrate diversity more than ever.

From Congressman Peter Welch’s address

In times like this, where many share my dismay in what’s going on in Washington, people can get discouraged. There’s no guarantee that your efforts will be successful. It’s not a decision that you make because the outcome is certain. It’s a commitment that you make because it’s a way of life you want to embrace. None of us decides the times we live in, but every single one of us can decide how we live in those times. We can be builders or we can be destroyers. We can believe we’re in it together, or we can believe we’re on our own.

See full transcripts of addresses, citations, and academic prizes, as well as photos and video.