On Saturday, May 7, 2016, 30 Sterling College students were awarded Bachelor of Arts degrees. It was one of the largest graduating classes since the College was accredited to award BA degrees. The graduates had diverse majors and interests, but all will bring environmental stewardship to their lives and careers.
The commencement address was by the Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr., the President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, a national non-profit, non-partisan organization that empowers young people to participate in elections, policymaking, and service projects.
Rev. Yearwood praised Sterling’s leadership in divestment and how it was the first college in Vermont, and the third in the nation, to divest its endowment from fossil fuels. “Climate leadership is needed at this moment,” he stressed. “We must break free from fossil fuels. We are at that moment.”
Yearwood called climate change a human issue for the graduates’ generation and existence in the 21st century.
“You are graduating at this point of time in a world that doesn’t know if it will continue to exist,” he told the students. “If there is a Class of 2116 that can still breathe the air, it will be because the Class of 2016 and others stood up at this critical moment to the fossil fuel industry. We must break free from fossil fuel energy to clean energy, and we must do it right now.”
Honorary doctorates of humane letters were presented by President Matthew Derr to emeritus board chairs Marvin Brown, Lewis Cohen, and Virginia de Ganahl Russell. Receiving their diplomas were: Paxton Lewis Anderson, Renée Barry, Gabriel Burford, Jordan Charbonneau, Michael Spencer Craig Jr., Ivan Davydov, Klaus Jacob DeBoer, Ariel Drouault, Brandon Erny, Leonard Sam Mitchell Hatch Evans Jr., Geoffrey Fehrs, Seth Ira Fineman, Ezra Lappen Fradkin, Madeline R. Gould, Rebecca Hansen, Katelyn Jeanine Jacob, Jesse Cole Keck, Timothy L. Maddalena-Lucey, Oona M. Montalvo Azcona, Lance Michael Parker, Sophie May Peirce, Sean Charles Poynter, David John Przepioski, Tessa Scheele Morelli, Savanna Dickinson Sklar, Ethan C. Smith, Storey Ann Slone, Brian J. Tingley, Nicholas P. Trapeni, and Zachary Whitaker. •