Castleton University recognized the class of 2021 at its 234th Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 15.
The Castleton community came together from across the country and around the world to celebrate this year’s graduates virtually. The ceremony featured video remarks from student speakers, Castleton’s president, chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges System, the Castleton Alumni Association, and several others. It also included heartfelt messages from faculty and staff, and conferring of degrees, with the graduating students’ names being read.
The ceremony began with a performance of the national anthem by senior Music Education majors Kristin Harris and Ariel Wade. A welcome by Interim President Dr. Jonathan Spiro followed, who spoke from an empty Casella Theater with flowers and flags representing the home countries of the graduates behind him.
“Indeed, this country, and this planet, face unprecedented crises. And so, we look to you, our new college graduates – our new leaders – for solutions and for action. We are confident that you possess the skills and the passion to change the world. And we look forward to seeing all the great things you are going to accomplish in the years to come.”
Senior Class President Paul Rechberger of Wilhering, Austria, addressed his classmates, reflecting on their time at Castleton and looking forward to the future.
“Exciting times are now ahead of us. We left our mark on Castleton University, but now it’s time to leave our mark out in the world. Let us take everything we’ve learned here and have a positive impact on one another. Castleton prepared us well. We are ready. Now let’s go and conquer this world,” Rechberger said.
Guest speaker Chidinma Ezugwu ’19 joined the virtual ceremony as the guest speaker. Ezugwu, tuned in from Southern Illinois University, where she’s earning her master’s degree in Mathematics with a specialization in Statistics and Operations Research as the Matthew Samsel Graduate Assistant Fellow.
“I know I speak on behalf of every member of the Castleton community when I say that I am truly proud of you. Alongside the feeling of overwhelming joy and a sense of accomplishment, the feeling of anxiety and fear is something that might be present. Transitioning from the nest of an institution into the fast-paced world of careers can be indeed daunting. However, I am certain that you are more than ready for the task ahead,” she said.
Larry Courcelle ’72 presented two distinguished awards to members of the Castleton University community on behalf of the Alumni Association.
Rechberger, a Business major, was honored with the Leonard C. Goldman ‘59 Distinguished Senior Award, given to a senior who has excelled in and out of the classroom, contributed to community service, and served as an example for others.
Associate Professor and Biology Program Coordinator Dr. Preston Garcia 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.
David Mook, a part-time faculty member in the English Department, was awarded the Endowed Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Award, which honors one of Castleton’s many dedicated, highly-competent part-time faculty.
The ceremony closed with a performance of the Castleton Anthem by the University Chorale.