The third graduating class of Castleton University passed across the stage at its 231st Commencement ceremony on Saturday, bringing to close the 2017-18 academic year.
Co-keynote speakers #1 New York Times bestselling author Chris Bohjalian and critically acclaimed journalist and novelist Stephen P. Kiernan addressed the more than 3,500 guests in attendance and thousands more streaming the ceremony online.
Castleton President Karen M. Scolforo took the podium and welcomed everyone "home."
“The word home is often used as a descriptor of a place. But, to most of us "home" describes a feeling – a familiar embrace, a comforting smile, a feeling of belonging. At Castleton University, these tangible expressions are what we call the 'Castleton Way.' It’s why so many of our alumni, faculty, staff, and students when asked why they chose Castleton proudly declare 'it feels like home.'"
Scolforo told the graduates how proud she was to watch them achieve all that they have over her five months at the Castleton University helm and applauded them as the class that has "completed more research, more community service, and more internship hours than any others that came before." She also listed an impressive list of accomplishments, including Free Skiing & Riding at Killington/Pico and the growth of clubs and organizations while they were here. Dr. Scolfor concluded her remarks by saying
"Graduates, I look forward to admiring your accomplishments, to cheering you on from the sidelines, just as I have done since my arrival at Castleton. Today, you have much to be proud of. You are prepared, you are accomplished, you are Spartans. As you move on to your next grand adventure, never forget your way back home. See you at Homecoming!"
Kiernan and Bohjalian mixed strong advice with humor to provide the graduates with a memorable address. Kiernan focused on gratitude and practice as cornerstones of a life worth living, while Bohjalian implored the graduates to change the world for the better by focusing on who they are over what they do.
As has become tradition, Castleton Alumni Association President Ceil Hunt announced the recipients of several distinguished awards. Assistant Professor of Health, Human Movement, and Sport Marybeth Lennox was awarded the Alumni Association Outstanding Faculty Award, which is given annually to a faculty member whose excellence in teaching influences students well beyond graduation.
Communications graduate Olivia Maher was honored with the Leonard C. Goldman Distinguished Senior Award, an annual honor given to a graduating senior who has excelled in and out of the classroom, contributed to community service and served as an example to others.
Jean-Sebastien Gagnon, a part-time faculty member in Natural Sciences was awarded the Endowed Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Award, which honors one of Castleton’s many dedicated, highly competent part-time faculty.
Class of 2018 President Daniella Doolen, left her classmates with the following message "Our generation has an obligation to make a difference. We did our time, and now we need to use the knowledge we gained and make the most of it. We may not succeed the first time, or even the second time; as Winston Churchill said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Keep your head up, and you will all do amazing things."
Once all the degrees had been confirmed, Academic Dean Jonathan Spiro brought the day’s largest applause by exclaiming: “Class of 2018: We love you. We will miss you. But it is time to fly this beautiful nest. Thank you for making a difference on our campus and in our lives, now go out and make a difference in the world.”