Class of 2016 told 'Let no one stand in the way of your ambition'

Rukmini Callimachi delivers the keynote address to the Class of 2016 at Connecticut College's 98th Commencement.

Prior to her speech, Callimachi was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters by Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron.

During her remarks, Bergeron said it has been an honor to watch the evolution of "the beautiful and unconventional" Class of 2016.

"Since your arrival in the summer of 2012, your class has witnessed the beginnings of a slow evolution at this College," Bergeron said, referencing the physical renewal of the campus during one of the more active periods of rebuilding in recent history. This period of rebuilding marks an effort to renovate the College's approach to liberal arts education and has resulted in a pioneering new curriculum that members of the Class of 2016 helped inspire, among other things.

"But just as you have watched the evolution of this College, so have we watched you evolve," she said. "Seeing that transformation is the whole reason why we are here. It’s one of the truly great rewards of the academic life, and it is what we are celebrating today."

President Katherine Bergeron delivers her address to the Class of 2016 at the College's 98th Commencement.

The graduates were also addressed by one of their own: Mia Haas-Goldberg, an international relations and history double major from Manhattan Beach, California, who was chosen from among an exceptional group of nominees as the senior class speaker. Likening graduating from college to cliff jumping, Haas-Goldberg told her classmates that their four years at the College have prepared them to take the plunge into uncertainty.

We have learned to take risks in decision-making and engage in meaningful dialogue. So whether the future appears clear and exciting or jumbled and frightening, we know how to bring meaning to our lives and inspire change for those around us," she said.

Mia Haas-Goldberg '16 delivers her senior class speech at the College's 98th Commencement.

During the ceremony, the Oakes and Louise Ames Prize for most outstanding honors thesis was awarded to Lauren Marazzi, a self-designed bioinformatics major from Wayne, New Jersey, for her thesis, "Computational Methods for Developmental Gene Expression Analysis in Axolotls." Marazzi's interdisciplinary work focuses on computational approaches to studying developmental gene regulation in axolotls, or Mexican salamanders, and contributes to the larger fields of bioinformatics, computational biology, developmental biology and genomics.

The College awarded the Anna Lord Strauss Medal for outstanding public or community service, including service to the College, to Taryn Kitchen, a Latin American studies major from Norton, Massachusetts. Throughout her years at the College, Kitchen has been a student leader in the Office of Volunteers for Community Service and has worked in partnership programs in multiple classrooms in New London, advancing the achievement of children and youth. She also works with students, staff and faculty to advance equity on campus and has served as a peer tutor in the Human Development Department and a senior fellow for community collaborations with the College’s Office of Sustainability. 

At the conclusion of the ceremony, graduates Louise Brownsberger and Katherine McDonald sang the traditional Alma Mater before being joined by Bergeron to surprise the audience with a lively R&B version that included musical accompaniment by Drew Andre '16, Joseph Donohue '16, Kolton Harris '14 and Samuel McKeown '16, along with Bergeron's husband, Butch Rovan, on the saxophone.

Commencement events began Saturday with the induction of 45 graduating seniors into Phi Beta Kappa, the national academic honor society; certificate ceremonies for senior scholars in the College's centers for interdisciplinary scholarship; and special gatherings for student-athletes, Posse scholars and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows. Baccalaureate, the annual celebration of the spiritual diversity of the graduating class, was Saturday afternoon and featured a keynote address, "Dramatic Departures," by Associate Professor of History Jen Manion, with a special appearance by Professor of Dance David Dorfman MFA'81.

Class of 2016 By the Numbers

  • Graduates represent 28 states and 17 countries
  • 201 members of the class studied abroad
  • 57 are the first in their families to graduate from college
  • 153 graduates earned Latin honors (33 earned Summa Cum Laude; 66 earned Magna Cum Laude; 54 earned Cum Laude)
  • 199 members of the class earned departmental honors
  • 45 graduates were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the national academic honor society
429 Bachelor of Arts degrees awarded
4 Master of Arts degrees awarded
122 Double Majors
4 Triple Majors

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May 22, 2016