2018 Commencement

Families, friends, colleagues, and classmates were all present on the glorious spring morning of May 13 to celebrate the commencement of the Marlboro College Class of 2018. A total of 52 undergraduates and 44 graduates were recognized for their Plans of Concentration, Capstone Projects, and many other achievements. Heartening student addresses were delivered by senior Fiona Craig and MAT student and undergraduate alumnus Michael Auerbach ’97, and honorary degrees were conferred upon Vermont Performance Lab founder Sara Coffey ’90 and writer, poet, and tribal sovereignty advocate Shaunna Oteka McCovey. Longtime trustee Ted Wendell kept the valediction speech short and sweet. “Look back with appreciation and affection on your journey to this moment,” he said. “Look forward with optimism and anticipation for the opportunities that await you. Seize those opportunities.”

From President Kevin Quigley’s remarks
Helen Pinch '18 performs a solo violin interlude. Photos by Kelly FletcherOne of the great joys of living and working at Marlboro is to witness our students live their passions, learn new skills, and grow into engaged citizens. Today’s program eloquently catalogues the extraordinary breadth of their interests, exploring ideas about theater, leadership, technology, innovative teaching, identity, painting, the human gut micobiome, art and consumer culture, environmental science, political rhetoric, religious communication, and animal behavior, to name just a few of the Plan and Capstone topics. Graduates, as you take this next step in life, the task of making our democracy succeed lies before you. Given what you have learned here and how you learned it, I believe that you are well prepared to become engaged citizens, connected to community, who will play a critical role in helping our democracy experience a needed rebirth.

From Fiona Craig’s student address
The conscience is what tells us, even when the world would lead us elsewhere, how to follow our basic impulse toward happiness and harmony…. The individual conscience, when heeded above all else, drives us to do good…. Perhaps most importantly, it calls us to forgive each other for our trespasses, because when we understand the deep conflict between our consciences and our appetites and influences, we can understand how people do evil while still containing something kind, pure, and beautiful. So I urge everyone to both follow their own conscience, and extend love and forgiveness to those who fail to.

From Michael Auerbach’s graduate student address
Margaret Hilliard receives the Buck Turner Prize for excellence in the natural sciences.I have been to a number of college graduations, and every time I feel pity for those happy graduates—not out of meanness or pride—but I feel a small part of pity because I know that they have not done what you have done. They have not been forged by what you have been through in your Plans, your Capstones, your Orals. They have not experienced what you have, honestly, what you have survived. Among over 2 million graduates this year—I did the math—only 0.002 percent (and I rounded up) have done what you have done. And you’ll carry that with you wherever you decide to go.

From the comments of Sara Coffee ‘90
As an alumna of the college, I value the academic rigor, the dedication of the faculty, and the rich experiences gained through a Marlboro education. Being here I feel so at home. And today, three decades later, as I look at the list of projects and Plans in this year’s graduating class, I see that the Marlboro that I knew and loved lives on, and it gives me great hope for our future…. At Marlboro l found passionate students and faculty and staff committed to rigorous academic and community life—I found my tribe. My experiences at Marlboro shaped me and gave me the values, tools, and confidence to navigate the world beyond Potash Hill.

From the comments of Shaunna Oteka McCovey
Erin Huang-Shaffer ’18 celebrates with theater professor Jean O'Hara and friend Allison Power.We live in very interesting times. We live in a time of divisiveness, of environmental degradation in the name of greed and partisanship, a time where people with racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, bigoted inclinations have been given a green light to act in abhorrent ways, a time where it feels like we are going back in time. Which makes it all the more important for you to accept your shared responsibility and acknowledge our shared humanity—and act accordingly. Whatever, however that may be. I trust that you’ll figure it out because you are soon to be Marlboro alumni.

For full transcripts of addresses, citations, and academic prizes and scholarships, as well as photos, go to marlboro.edu/comm2018.