As the skies cleared Sunday afternoon, UVM families, friends, faculty and nearly 400 graduates gathered at the UVM Athletic Complex for the UVM College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) graduation ceremony.
Six CALS graduates are recipients of University senior awards, selected from top scholars across UVM. They include: Ashley Archangelo, recipient of the Mary Jean Simpson Award; Caitlin Beaudet, recipient of the Class of ’67 Award; Valeria Pinzon-Mendez and Frankie Jacob Lyon, both recipients of the Keith M. Misler Leadership Award; and William Sudbay and Ivonne Headly, both awarded the Elmer Nicholson Achievement Prize.
In addition, CALS student athletes Taylor Willard (Women’s Hockey) and Paul Moore (Cross Country/Track & Field) were awarded the Russell O. Sunderland Memorial Trophy and the Wasson Athletic Prize, respectively, in recognition of their athletic achievement and academic scholarship. CALS graduate and Second Lieutenant Grace Eleanor Harrison was recognized by the Department of Military Studies for her service as a member of the Medical Service Corps, Army Reserves and U.S. Army.
Returning to her alma mater, the Honorable Mitzi Johnson, UVM CALS class of 1993, delivered inspiring and poignant remarks encouraging graduates to remain thoughtful and perceptive as they work to make change in their communities and the world.
“When you’re out there trying to make a difference, it’s not often the brand new idea that generates opposition. Resistance is born from the loss or perceived loss of what you’re asking someone to leave behind in that change,” said Johnson.
Johnson, who has served as a Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives since January 2017, spoke from her personal experience as a graduate with high aspirations and hopeful optimism toward engendering positive change, but discovered road blocks along the way. Her advice to CALS graduates is to listen carefully without defensiveness, to be culturally aware and be genuinely curious about someone else’s concerns. Only then, she said, “You may find a path to move forward, together.”
“You are stepping out into the world with newly minted degrees, cutting edge information and a combination of curiosity and problem-solving skills that will have a wonderful impact. However, you will hit a point someday when your ideas and efforts are not gaining traction…Changing the world requires figuring out which cultural DNA – which practices and systems – are necessary to retain and build upon, and which of those things no longer serve us. You are the scientists, agronomists, future dieticians and doctors and change agents whose work will pave the way for a stronger, healthier future.”
The CALS Class of 2018 has excelled both in and out of the classroom. This year’s graduating class has the highest number of seniors who have participated in distinguished research and 25 graduates were members of the UVM Honors College. This year alone, CALS students have contributed 48,000 total hours in collaborative, community practicums and service – from volunteering at animal rescue centers, homeless shelters to supporting refugee resettlement projects.
CALS 2018 graduates join an estimated 12,000 alumni of the College who are energetic, engaged, compassionate and changing their communities for the better, remarked CALS Dean Thomas Vogelmann as he welcomed the new graduates to the CALS alumni family.
Congratulations to all graduates. See scenes from this weekend’s graduation ceremony here: CALS Commencement in Pictures