Keaton Daniel '18 is one of several students sharing reflections at the Laurel Ceremony gifts and awards event.Keaton Daniel '18 is one of several students sharing reflections at the Laurel Ceremony gifts and awards event. Credit: Junesoo Shin ’21

Maxim Lowe ’18, who has undertaken creative explorations of a profusion of visual, literary and performing arts, will provide welcoming remarks. His words will be followed by speeches by Jenna Farineau ’18, who has developed a course of study at COA focused on issues of social and environmental justice work around agriculture, and Keaton Daniel ’18, who has nurtured passions in literature and writing.

Faculty presenting awards or speaking at the ceremony include W.H. Drury Professor of Ecology/Natural History Dr. John Anderson, economics professor Dr. Davis Taylor, educational studies director Dr. Bonnie Tai, David Rockefeller Family Chair in Ecosystem Management and Protection Ken Cline, J.D., and creative writing professor Dr. William Carpenter.

Maxime Lowe '18Maxime Lowe '18 Credit: Junesoo Shin ’21

Maxime Lowe ’18

Maxime Lowe came to COA from Ohio and Florida with a background in homeschooling and other innovative pedagogies. He spent a high school semester at Conserve School and studied abroad in France. Arriving at COA, Lowe was attracted by the students, professors, and staff that make up the school’s tight-knit community. 

“I don’t think I realized I was a people person until I came here. I now think a lot about communication in friendships and relationships,” he said. “A big thing for me at COA, both academically and extracurricularly, has been spending time with people as much as I can.”

Lowe has explored a variety of arts subjects at COA, from illustration to painting, writing, drawing, and performance art classes. He completed an internship at The Cannery at South Penobscot and joined COA’s Yucatan and Taiwan immersion programs. He has worked at the writing center as a tutor.

For his senior project, Lowe applied creative communication skills picked up in classes and internships and created a short animated film about two aliens on a date who communicate entirely in an alien language. 

“With my senior project I wanted to dedicate time to something that I have always hoped to do, but never really had the space for. For me this meant creating a world with characters and a narrative and doing it in an artistic way, especially in the medium of animation,” he said. “My passion for communication has become an underlying theme in my senior project. After all, it’s about these two aliens communicating in a language that doesn’t exist for us!”

After graduation, Lowe plans to further his exploration of creative communications. 

“I would like to continue working with both writing and visual arts, maybe exploring graphic design or publishing,” he said. “I hope to do this for an organization that is practicing social or environmental justice work.”

Jenna Farineau ’18

Jenna Farineau '18Jenna Farineau '18 Credit: Junesoo Shin ’21Jenna Farineau has been involved with environmental and social justice activism from a young age. Born in Atlanta, Georgia and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, she was attracted to COA because of the school’s focus on improving humans’ relationships to the environment. 

“In high school, along with several friends, I started an organisation called OurEarthNow that encouraged and gave a space for young folks in the metro Louisville area to engage in environmental justice issues and action,” she said. “This gave me the platform to relate even more to the vision of COA.”

While at COA Farineau pursued this work, getting engaged with [Earth], an environmental justice organization which attends international climate negotiations, and running Share the Harvest, Beech Hill Farm’s food access program, through the Hatchery. She has focused her academic path on an exploration of global environmental politics, national and international food and agricultural politics, French, and graphic design.

Farineau completed her first COA internship with Greener Impact International in Accra, Ghana, doing communications work around climate change and agriculture as well as environmental education for primary and secondary school students. Her second internship, with ActionAid Senegal in Dakar and Tambacounda, Senegal, was built around communications work related to climate-resilient agriculture projects and women’s rights. 

“I believe strongly in the need to switch the discourse of business-as-usual to radically change our human system as it relates to itself and the environment so that all people can contribute and enjoy life in an equitable way,” she said.  

Farineau is a 2018 recipient of a competitive, $10,000 Projects for Peace award, which she will use to establish a community managed seed bank in The Gambia this summer.

“I have a one-way ticket to The Gambia for my Projects for Peace, so I will be putting 100% into that project for the foreseeable future, or for as long as other funds can support this work and myself,” she said.

Farineau said that she is likely to attend graduate school after a year of professional experience, where she hopes to to continue to focus on how people connect to their food and to the land.

Keaton Daniel '18Keaton Daniel '18 Credit: Junesoo Shin ’21

Keaton Daniel ’18

Keaton Daniel grew up in Fort Worth, Texas and lived there until the start of his college career. After graduating high school, Daniel took a gap year, followed by two years studying philosophy and linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. 

“I think one of the most valuable parts of a college experience is collaborating, workshopping, and learning from others, and even just having conversations on a daily basis. I believe COA’s interdisciplinary education fosters such sharing, and challenges students to work collaboratively,” he said.

Daniel has explored interests in a number of subjects at COA but said that writing has been at the center of his education here.

For his senior project, Daniel composed a collection of memoir stories that explore the relationship between queer and southern identities. The project developed out of two independent studies, Southern literature and Texas History, and work done in the Life Stories class with Martha Donovan. 

“Topically, I don’t talk about college, but all the themes and ideas presented are ones that I have been working through since day one, that I had never really realized,” he said. “Retrospectively, this project has been important in giving me the space to pause, reflect, and say, ‘This is what has been important to me for years now!’” he said.

At graduation Daniel plans to take the audience on an exploration of their physical surroundings and bodies.

“I don’t want to just remember the speeches and all I have learned through classes, I want to remember what it smells like here at low tide, and what the sun feels like on your skin, and if it was windy on graduation day. I hope to take a moment to remind everyone to breath and look around. To take a minute just for our bodies,” he said.