Colby-Sawyer College celebrated its 183rd Commencement on Saturday, May 8, with an in-person ceremony for its 148 graduates and faculty and staff. Participants were masked and socially distant, in accordance with the college’s COVID-19 protocols, and family and friends joined the celebration remotely via livestream. Despite the modifications, the opportunity to celebrate in person marked a joyful milestone for graduates and the college community.
The Commencement ceremony, which was held on the quad, included cherished Colby-Sawyer traditions like a bagpiper-led processional and a recessional honor corridor in which faculty and staff cheered Colby-Sawyer’s newest alumni as they exited the tent.
Graduates heard from speakers who acknowledged the challenges their class faced due to the pandemic, the perseverance they showed and the skills they developed to navigate the realities of a changing world beyond Colby-Sawyer.
“In a world that confronts us with information and data often used to make arguments that support freighted points of view, we need you to add your voices to the conversation — we need you to question, to seek answers, to have the courage to speak up and share your perspectives and knowledge, just as you have done throughout your time here,” Colby-Sawyer President Susan D. Stuebner told graduates.
Senior Commencement speaker Kayia Alleyne ‘21, a public health major from Dorchester, Mass., reflected on the challenges her class faced, from their junior year cut short by the growing pandemic to their senior year lived under COVID-19 restrictions, all with the backdrop of the nation’s ongoing fight for racial justice and equality.
“While helping educate others on their implicit biases and explaining what it means to be a Black woman in America, I was impressed by this community’s willingness to learn and do better,” said Alleyne, a member of the college’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.
As recipient of the Jack Jensen Award for Excellence in Teaching, the college’s highest teaching award, Professor of Arts & Sciences Chery A. Whipple delivered the college’s Commencement Address, titled “Breathe. Believe. And Persevere.” During her remarks, Whipple urged graduates to learn from the experiences of the past years.
“Don’t be afraid of failure. Be afraid of not trying,” Whipple said. “Failure should be celebrated, as it takes courage and strength to try, to ask for help, to not know the end result or even the path to get there…What you learn along the way will guide you.”
The ceremony also recognized several students and members of the greater community for outstanding contributions to the college. Chief Executive Officer and President of Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health Joanne M. Conroy, MD, received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for the leadership and commitment she has offered through her dedication to health care and her partnership with Colby-Sawyer College. Former Chair of the Colby-Sawyer Board of Trustees Peter F. “Pete” Volanakis was awarded the Susan Colgate Cleveland Medal for Distinguished Service, the college’s highest honor, for the exceptional contributions he has made to the college.
Anette Helin ‘21, a self-designed major in international business from Espoo, Finland, received the David H. Winton Baccalaureate Award for ranking highest in scholarship in the graduating class. Quinn Stuebner ‘21, a double major in sport management and business administration from Boise, Idaho, received the Colby-Sawyer Award, given to the senior who exemplifies the college’s ideals of personal dignity, intellectual growth and contributions to campus life.