The College of the Atlantic class of 2018.The College of the Atlantic class of 2018.

The excitement was palpable as the COA community gathered on a warm, picture-perfect, spring Saturday to celebrate the class of 2018. Comprising nearly 80 students from 27 states and 13 nations, this class of performers, linguists, historians, farmers, wellness practitioners, and others were joined by family and friends from near and far for inspiring speeches from students and honorary degree recipients, and a keynote address by His Excellency Anote Tong.

His Excellency Anote Tong, fourth president of the Republic of Kiribati (Kiri-bas) shares a hopeful message of perseverance with his keynote address.His Excellency Anote Tong, fourth president of the Republic of Kiribati (Kiri-bas) shares a hopeful message of perseverance with his keynote address.

Ivy Enoch ’18 shares a student perspective at College of the Atlantic's 45th Commencement.Ivy Enoch ’18 shares a student perspective at College of the Atlantic's 45th Commencement.

Students sharing their perspectives included Kiera O’Brien ’18, Gaia Lucia Lopez Barrera ’18, and Ivy Enoch ’18. 

College of the Atlantic co-founder Les Brewer was Grand Marshal for the event, leading the Anah Highlanders bagpipers, followed by college trustees, faculty, and graduating students, on a processional march into a tent on the North Lawn. 

President Darron Collins ’92, Board Chair Philip Moriarty, and Matthew Kennedy ’18 provided welcoming remarks.

“In life, we may find it is simpler to stick to the abstract, to the generalizable, to guidelines of what is expected … But I want to challenge you to throw away the abstract, the general, the rules, and simply immerse yourself in something that gives you joy, that fills you with wonder and humility, even if you could never fully communicate that joy or understanding to any other person” - Ivy Enoch ’18.

Following a long-standing tradition at College of the Atlantic, graduating students present each other with flowers to symbolize their shared experience and affection for one another. Carolyn Snell '06 provided the Ranunculus from her family farm in Buxton.Following a long-standing tradition at College of the Atlantic, graduating students present each other with flowers to symbolize their shared experience and affection for one another. Carolyn Snell '06 provided the Ranunculus from her family farm in Buxton.

College of the Atlantic President Darron Collins ’92 addresses the crowd at the beginning of COA's 45th commencement.College of the Atlantic President Darron Collins ’92 addresses the crowd at the beginning of COA's 45th commencement.

The commencement crowd of over 1,000 enjoyed a smorgasbord of savory finger foods, delicious deserts, and high camaraderie in COA’s Newlin Gardens following the event.

Guests at College of the Atlantic Commencement enjoy a bounty of delicious, sweet, and savory treats following the ceremony.Guests at College of the Atlantic Commencement enjoy a bounty of delicious, sweet, and savory treats following the ceremony.“At the beginning of each and every school year, during the ritual marathon known as first year orientation, faculty members Karen Waldron and Dave Feldman welcome the new class of human ecologists to campus by sharing their own perspectives on human ecology.

“Year after year, the new group of nervous, idealistic freshman pile into Gates Auditorium to listen to Dave and Karen’s courageous, thoughtful articulations of what it is we strive to accomplish here.

“In the four years that I have spent at COA, there is one particular line from Dave’s speech that I’ve never been able to shake.

“On that morning he described the ‘task of COA, ‘our task,’ as ‘engineering the world so that it is one in which people can and do fall in love.’ They were the only words I managed to scribble in my notebook. And they’ve stuck with me ever since.” - Kiera O’Brien ’18, speaking at Commencement 2018.

Honorary Master of Philosophy in Human Ecology degrees were presented to Mr. Tong, Honorary Consul to the Republic of Kiribati and Special Advisor to His Excellency Anote Tong Christine Zinnemann, and grassroots feminist, internationalist, and movement strategist Cindy Stella Wiesner. A surprise Honorary Degree with presented to recent chairman of the COA Board of Trustees Will Thorndike.

Over 1,000 students, family members, friends, faculty, staff, and alumni fill College of the Atlantic's Newlin Gardens for a Commencement celebration.Over 1,000 students, family members, friends, faculty, staff, and alumni fill College of the Atlantic's Newlin Gardens for a Commencement celebration.