Castleton University celebrated the accomplishments of the Class of 2023 at its 236th Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 13.
Phillip Modesti ‘90, Global Vice President for Medical Education at Establishment Labs, addressed the more than 3,000 guests in attendance and those watching the ceremony live from home. He shared reflections on his own experiences as a transfer student to Castleton, and encouraged them to establish a guiding phrase or words to help them stay true to themselves as they move through each phase of life, and shared his own current guiding words: integrity, trust, and grateful.
“Nobody will ever care what job you had, how big your house was or how much money you made, they will only remember what kind of person you were. When you create your own vision statement or words to live by, it will set the tone for what you represent and how you manage through life - both good and bad ... nobody needs to know how you live through these statements or words, but make the most of each journey or phase of your life and live true to them!”
Castleton Interim President Mike Smith spoke to students about the transition from being mentored and shaped by others, to becoming leaders and mentors themselves, and the legacy they will forge for future generations.
“Ultimately, graduates, the overarching goal of your legacy should be to make this world a better place for future generations. As you embark on your careers and pursue your passions, never lose sight of the greater good. Look out for those who may be less fortunate, lend a helping hand, and advocate for justice and equality. Use your education and privilege to uplift others and positively change your communities and beyond.”
Larry Courcelle, vice president of the Castleton Alumni Association, presented two distinguished awards to members of the Castleton University community. Professor and program Director of Athletic Training Reese Boucher was recognized with the Outstanding Faculty Award, which is given annually to a faculty member whose excellence in teaching influences students well beyond graduation.
Mathematics graduate Shayla Lawrence 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.
Gary Marmer, a part-time faculty member in Business Administration, was presented with the Jennifer and Fred Bagley Endowed Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Award, which honors one of Castleton’s many dedicated, highly-competent part-time instructors.
Class of 2023 President Emily Benz addressed her classmates, speaking about the resilience of the class in the face of major challenges, and encouraging them to not lose themselves in the feeling that they are running out of time.
“If you feel overwhelmed with what comes next, focus on what lies ahead for just next hour. Use your resources, stay curious, eager and motivated, just don’t let it overpower you,” she said.
“You have proven that you are capable of achieving great things. But, the world outside of these walls will present you with challenges and obstacles that may seem insurmountable at times. Our first year of college was marked by a global pandemic; we faced and overcame the challenge of packing up dorm rooms in mere hours and finishing out our second semester through the computer screen. Today we all sit here, our immune systems a little bit stronger, and knowing that we have the ability to adapt and persevere through the tough times”.