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Prior to his speech, Schlosser was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters by Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron.
During her remarks, Bergeron said the members of the Class of 2015 — who first arrived on campus in the midst of Hurricane Irene four years ago — will be prepared for the random and unpredictable, in part because of the resiliency they developed during the course of their education.
“Very soon, each of you will begin a new chapter in a new setting; some of you are already committed to companies, graduate schools, nonprofit organizations and start-ups. Along with the excitement of these new challenges, there will inevitably come the stress and uncertainty of the unknown. And, because of what you learned here, I truly believe you will be better equipped to deal with that uncertainty,” she told the graduates.
“Because of the personal resources you have developed, you know what it means to spring back from conflict — how important it is to push forward, rather than to quit, when life has taken an unexpected turn,” she continued. “You have actually practiced this, and have seen the benefits that come from it. And, so, for all the many reasons that I think you can go confidently into the world as a Connecticut College graduate, I would say that it is this quality that you bring with you — your resilience — that will stand you far above the rest.”
The graduates were also addressed by one of their own: Caroline Lazar, an English major with a concentration in creative writing from Greenwich, Conn., who was chosen from among an exceptional group of nominees as the senior class speaker. In a speech punctuated with witty humor, Lazar challenged her classmates to bring “a moral center” to whatever they do and whichever field they enter.
“We have arrived at a moment in our nation’s history, and our College’s history, when indifference will no longer do. We have faced and will continue to face issues of equity in our world,” she said. “We, as a new generation of thinkers, armed with the tools attained through our Connecticut College educations, should be prepared to take up the mantle of leadership in working toward those elusive answers to impossible questions.”
During the ceremony, the Oakes and Louise Ames Prize for most outstanding honors thesis was awarded to two graduating seniors, Lazar and Daniel J. Evanich. Lazar was honored for her thesis, a collection of stories titled “The Thrill of the Chafe and Other Tales of Stubborn North Americans.” Through short, satirical fiction pieces, Lazar amuses and horrifies her readers as she explores what she refers to as the new wave of the American dream: her generation’s belief in instant and everlasting fame for all.
Evanich, a botany and chemistry major from Milford, Conn., was honored for his thesis, “A whole-plant approach to identifying sites of auxin biosynthesis in Populus.” His work, based on six major experiments conducted over three years at the College, challenges thinking in the field of plant physiology and represents a major advance in the field.
The College awarded the Anna Lord Strauss Medal for outstanding public or community service, including service to the College, to Andrea Luna, a Hispanic studies and Latin American studies double major from Chicago, Ill. While a student at the College, Luna, a Posse Foundation Leadership Scholar who also earned Elementary and Secondary Teaching Certification, combined her scholarship with activism to help members of local and global communities realize the value of education and constructively confront systemic inequities. She worked with, and on behalf of, both child and adult learners through the Connecticut College Children’s Program; through the College’s Office of Volunteers for Community Service; during her study away experience in Chiapas, Mexico; and while interning with Centro Autónomo in Chicago.
Commencement events began Friday evening with a special gathering for Posse Scholars and continued Saturday with the induction of 46 graduating seniors into Phi Beta Kappa, the national academic honor society. Earlier this year, 13 of these seniors were named Winthrop Scholars, the College’s highest academic honor. Also on Saturday, the College honored senior scholars in its interdisciplinary academic centers and hosted special gatherings for student-athletes 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, “Facing the Storm: Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone,” by College Chaplain Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg.
For more on Commencement, visit www.conncoll.edu/commencement.