Commencement 2019

On a rainy, even snowy, May morning, the Marlboro College community was pleased to celebrate the college’s latest graduates with a ceremony in Persons Auditorium. Degrees were conferred upon a total of 49 graduates, including 26 undergraduates and 23 graduate students, who were applauded for their Plans of Concentration, Capstone projects, and many other accomplishments. Three honorary degrees were also conferred, two of them to local artists and longtime college supporters Emily Mason and Trustee Wolf Kahn. Their daughter Melany Kahn was present to accept the degrees for her parents, and share some of their words and their abiding interest in the college. The third honorary degree was for Sean Cole ‘93, radio producer and this year’s commencement speaker, who evoked The Karate Kid as a metaphor for the Marlboro experience. For full transcripts of addresses, citations, and academic prizes and scholarships, as well as photos and video, go to

From President Kevin Quigley’s remarks 
Avellana Ross '19 celebrates with mom, Carolyn (Stepanek) Ross '95One 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. Like a parent who is never supposed to make comparisons among children, at some risk I want to say: this graduating class is especially dear to me. We came to Marlboro at the same time and have learned so much together. Graduates, as you take this next step, the task of creating generative communities and lives of purpose lies before you. Given what you have learned here and how you have learned it, I believe that you are well prepared to become thoughtful and creatively engaged citizens, connected to community, who will play a critical role in helping our democracy experience a needed rebirth. 

From Emmett Wood’s student address 
Marlboro, along with all of its quirks, has an unsurprising tendency to attract equally interesting students. “Rugged intellectuals,” as we often call them, don’t actually have to be rugged, but are usually intellectual by nature. It’s important to know, however, that to truly be of Marlboro, all you must do is care. Care about the people up here and make an effort to know them, care about your work because your Plan becomes your life. I implore you to become passionate about what you do and the world you live in, and then ask yourself how you can make it better. Put in what you want to get out, both in the community and in your studies, and you will be successful here. 

From Judy Dow’s graduate student address 
Janelle Kesner '19 gets a hug.You see, an elder is someone that leads their people forward. An older is someone who just gets old. I don’t want to be an older. I want my people to learn how to braid knowledges together just as I have done. I want them to survive. I want to increase the rates of youth that successfully achieve their master’s and more. For this role modeling is what our youth need. Braiding knowledges will help them to survive and beat the statistics. Learning to embrace education will move them forward. This is what I’ve learned with my time at Marlboro College. Just like a drop of water that falls in the puddle and creates concentric circles, I hope you too will explore, experience, and observe life and then go out and fight for change. 

From the address of Sean Cole ’93 
But here’s the real way in which, all that time at Marlboro, I was actually learning karate—and you’ve been learning karate. Here’s the superpower this place has given you. You have learned how to obsess about something—to focus on one thing for an extended period of time, and labor for long, difficult hours over months and months to produce a hard-bound collection of orderly ideas about that thing. My dear, new siblings: that was hard what you did. You have already achieved something that initially seemed impossible. You went through the kind of strangling panic that can only be induced by work.... A karate master from someplace else entirely came to campus and threw a bunch of punches and kicks at you and you blocked them all. There are ways you don’t know about yet in which you are already prepared, more than a lot of people, for the big tournament at the end of the movie.