On August 23, graduates of the Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies programs celebrated their commencement at the Centre Congregational Church, Brattleboro. Colleagues, friends, and family gathered to recognize the 66 new graduates at the event, which was followed by a reception at the graduate center. They were addressed by President Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, Associate Dean Sean Conley, and three of their own—Savitha Rajamani, Claire Wheeler, and Philip Kolling—who exemplified the graduate school experience at Marlboro. Commencement speaker Rha Goddess, a cultural innovator, social entrepreneur, and founder of Move the Crowd, brought the audience to its feet with an inspiring call to action.
From President Ellen McCulloch-Lovell’s remarks
One of the great rewards of my presidency at Marlboro College is to have observed, exhorted, guided, and confirmed these programs through their development, and to have followed your progress to this glorious day…. As we gather here in this beautiful sanctuary, I hope you can take in this moment of culmination and achievement. I hope that Marlboro College has been a kind of sanctuary for you, a place of intellectual refuge as well as stimulation, where you found a community of colleagues: a safe place to test yourself and your ideas, to become who you want to be.
From Associate Dean Sean Conley’s remarks
This was a hard thing to take on, on top of working and having lives, and these graduates did it because they thought it would make a difference—not just for themselves, but so that they would be able to go out and make a difference in their workplace, in their business, in their nonprofit. And they do, and we’re here to celebrate that right now…. We have three very special stories to share with you. These folks were selected because somehow their stories seemed to embody the approach we take to education, which is that it’s not just happening inside us, but that it’s a collective effort of the class, of your family. Also, their stories inspire some form of leadership that’s creative. You see your logo here [indicating program]? This tree is literally growing out of the box. These are folks who saw a box and grew out of it.
From the comments of student speaker Claire Wheeler, MBA in Managing for Sustainability
At Marlboro, we learn how to change the world by seeing two things that are seemingly opposed as two parts of the same whole. Building community through distance learning. Sustainability and business. Getting lost to find your way. This education is about becoming whole ourselves in order to create a world that is more whole…. And, I encourage us to be willing to go beyond what we know. To not simply follow the next logical step, to not over think. I ask us to step away from what makes the most sense in order to return to our senses— the sound of the snow, the dance of that leaf, the smell of winter. To follow our intuition and our curiosity into what we don’t know, to what is possible.
From the comments of student speaker Savitha Rajamani, MA in Teaching for Social Justice
My uncle Mr. Kotiganahalli Ramaiah used to ask me to break my coconut-shelled head and analyze the world critically. But he never understood that I did not have the right tools. My schools in India taught me how to be patriotic. They did not teach me how to connect with the rest of the world and treat everyone as fellow human beings, which always made me not want to go to school. After I graduated from my high school, I decided right then that I would never step into a school again. But here I am getting certified as a teacher. I am confident that I am getting the right tools to break not only my but also my students’ coconut-shelled heads in the future.
From the comments of student speaker Philip Kolling, MSM in Mission-Driven Organizations
Think about your team, the people who show you calm in moments of chaos and fear. Those who enable you to follow your dreams, pushing you toward them when necessary. Take your degree and give them a piece of it. It is theirs too. Don’t rip it up and give tiny pieces to each of those people, but make sure they know that they made that degree happen, and make you who you are. Thank those people profusely for being a part of your team. Give them a hug. Then go do some good in the world in their honor. It is the best recognition you could possibly give them, and we all know there is plenty of work to be done.
From Rha Goddess’ commencement address
When I received the invitation to come and speak, I knew that this was a special moment, and I knew that this was a really special community. I have the privilege every day of listening to the dreams and aspirations of young, budding, emerging entrepreneurs who are trying to figure out profit and social impact. And many of them are healing their academic experience—you know what I’m saying? So to come into a community and to feel the love, and the vibrancy, and the mission, and the commitment, and the dedication that is Marlboro is rare. And you should really celebrate and honor yourselves for creating such an outstanding educational community…. I do believe that Walter Hendricks was prophetic about what was needed to shape citizens then in this nation, and certainly what is needed to shape citizens now.