Castleton University celebrated the accomplishments of members of the Class of 2022 at its 235th Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 14. This year marks the first in-person, university-wide commencement in three years.
Mia Schultz, president of the Rutland Area Branch of the NAACP, addressed the more than 3,500 guests in attendance and those watching the ceremony live from home. She shared her journey to community activism and her lived experience with racism. She encouraged students to become leaders in their communities and push for positive change whenever they can.
“Community service made me realize that great social transformations begin with the individual, spreads to the village, to the town, the city, the state, to the entire nation, and ultimately, to the world … I want you to live up to your potential, follow your heart, and do good unto the world. That starts by using that power inside of you and remember that the only thing that perpetuates evil is for good people to do nothing.”
Castleton Interim President Tom Mauhs-Pugh reflected on the contributions of the class, including growth in experiential learning opportunities, clubs and activities, and more. He also encouraged students to look ahead and get excited about what’s to come.
“While today is certainly a chance to reflect on the difference you have made here and all you have accomplished, it is also a time to look ahead to the difference you will make in the future,” he said. “Your Castleton education has prepared – and hopefully inspired you – to find something you are passionate about and do that every day. That is how you make a difference in the world.”
Larry Courcelle, vice president of the Castleton Alumni Association, presented two distinguished awards to members of the Castleton University community. Assistant Professor and School of Nursing Chair Helen Papeika was recognized with the Outstanding Faculty Award, which is given annually to a faculty member whose excellence in teaching influences students well beyond graduation.
Sport Management graduate Jahwara Rennalls was honored with the Leonard C. Goldman Distinguished Senior Award, given to a student who has excelled in and out of the classroom, contributed to community service, and served as an example to others.
Heather Porter, a part-time faculty member in Psychological Sciences was awarded the Endowed Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Award, which honors one of Castleton’s many dedicated, highly-competent part-time instructors.
Andrew Vermilyea, associate professor and chair of the Natural Sciences Department, was awarded the Endowed Richardson Faculty Award, given once every three years to a deserving full-time faculty member.
Class of 2022 President Adam Mitchell addressed his classmates, encouraging them to find the balance between refining their skills and self-care as they begin their careers. He referenced a quote from Abraham Lincoln: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
“I don’t think ‘ole Abe meant this literally – I hope not for the sake of his back – but rather in the application of knowledge. He thought so highly of learning that he would dedicate over half of his available time to sharpening his mind before he utilized his intellect … Yes, you do need to refine your skills, that’s a given. But you also need to have the mental and physical capacity to use those skills efficiently. Your body and mind must be well-rested in order to apply yourself, to do things well, and to achieve.”