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Economist Jeffrey Sachs, a leading expert on globalism, poverty and sustainability, challenged the 445 graduates at the College's 92nd Commencement to use their knowledge to make the world a better place.
"Your liberal arts education has empowered you to be effective citizens of the world. You're part of a community that is founded on the deepest faith that knowledge is power to be deployed for the common good," Sachs said to the graduates. "With the skills that you have learned, you are not only empowered to find your own personal way around the dangerous twists and turns we now call the U.S. economy, but also around the challenges that your generation will face and that will define the future of the planet."
Sachs, director of the Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, professor of health policy and management at Columbia University, helped open the economies of several countries, including Poland and Bolivia, and advocates combining economic development with environmental sustainability.
During the ceremony, President Leo I. Higdon Jr. conferred upon Sachs an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Mitchell College President Mary Ellen Jukoski also received an honorary doctorate of humane letters.
During his remarks, Higdon spoke about his bond with the Class of 2010, his first freshman class at the college.
"There is always a bond with a class that comes in with a new president - we may have had some different experiences over the last four years, but we share many common memories," Higdon said. "It will always make your class special in my mind."
Higdon also encouraged the new graduates to build new relationships with alumni across the globe and to stay connected to Connecticut College.
"You are graduating at an important point in Connecticut College's history," Higdon said. "We have a Centennial Celebration ahead of us, a celebration that will involve you and all of our community."
Senior class president Alexandra Felfle, of Barranquilla, Colombia, challenged her classmates to live life to the fullest.
"I want all of you to live the 'now,'" Felfle said. "I want you to be committed. Committed to your life. Committed to your family. Committed to change the world ... No one can know what a life whittles down to in the end, but if you live it with conviction and awareness, you know you have done well."
Senior class speaker Riordan Frost, of Lake Elmo, Minn., also addressed the class. He spoke about how he and his fellow graduates have been prepared for life after college with a strong liberal arts education. Frost also advised his classmates, "know who you are, and don't be afraid to take time to figure that out."
During the ceremony, the Oakes and Louise Ames Prize was awarded to Thomas Blake McDonald, an architectural studies major from Free Union, Va., for his honors thesis, "The Architecture of Connecticut College," which examines the history of Connecticut College's buildings. The prize, named for a previous president of the College and his wife, is given to a graduating senior who has completed this year's most outstanding honors study.
The Anna Lord Strauss Medal was awarded to Stefanie Jane Hinman, a human development major from Norfolk, Conn., for her outstanding record of community and public service work. Hinman created a tutor-mentor program for some of New London's most vulnerable children and helped with hurricane clean-up in Biloxi, Miss. In the spring of 2008 and 2010, she also traveled to Kaberamaido, Uganda, on medical missions. Working with Asayo's Wish Foundation, she helped to provide medical services at an orphanage, establish a medical clinic and raise funds for services. The clinic was recently named in honor of her friend and project partner, Elizabeth Durante, who died tragically en route to the medical mission in 2009.
Class of 2010 'By the Numbers'
- 445 Bachelors of Arts degrees
- 2 Masters of Arts degrees
Students with double majors: 131
States represented: 33
International graduates: 19 from 14 different countries
- Summa cum laude: 57
- Magna cum laude: 50
- Cum laude: 111
Percentage of students who studied abroad: 60
Certificates earned from the College's interdisciplinary academic centers:
- Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology: 3
- Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment: 10
- Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy: 14
- Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts: 25
Percentage of class that engaged in community learning and service: 63
Graduates received national awards including: a Davis Projects for Peace Grant, a Fulbright Grant, a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
Graduating seniors have found employment with a number of well known companies and organizations, including: Teach for America, U.S. Department of Justice, Paralegal, Royal Bank of Scotland, the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, the Boston Consulting Group, Conde Nast and the Robin Straus Agency.
Dozens of students have already been admitted to prestigious graduate schools, including: Columbia University School of Social Work, Columbia Teacher College, London School of Economics and Political Science, University of Pennsylvania Law School, University of Virginia School of Medicine, University of Connecticut, the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and Northeastern University School of Law.
-Caroline Gransee '09