Nearly 80 students, from 20 states and 14 nations, will be granted Bachelor of Arts degrees in hu... Nearly 80 students, from 20 states and 14 nations, will be granted Bachelor of Arts degrees in human ecology, and two students will receive Master of Philosophy degrees in human ecology, during College of the Atlantic's 49th commencement ceremony.

The in-person event features a keynote address from transgender activist and author Jennifer Boylan, and the granting of an honorary MPhil in human ecology to queer Black troublemaker Alexis Gumbs. It will be held in a tent on the North Lawn and is open to invited guests.

“The members of the class of 2022 are among the most resilient, resourceful, and adaptable students that you’ll find anywhere. In many cases, for over half of their college careers they’ve had to navigate the pandemic and all of the shifting protocols, anxieties, and uncertainties that have come with it, and we know that hasn’t been easy,” said COA President Darron Collins ’92. “In spite of what the pandemic has thrown at them, this class has produced a body of creative work that is a magnificent preamble to what they will accomplish throughout their lives. These human ecologists—and their work—give me great hope for our future.”

Students with self-designed educational paths in education, entrepreneurship, conservation, writing, art, science, film, and planning are among this year’s graduates. The class of 2022 includes a Watson fellow and several Projects for Peace winners. Despite the challenges COVID-19 has presented over the last two years, more than 26% of the class had an international academic experience during their tenure.

Several students will participate in the commencement ceremony. Sadie Cooley ’22 will provide welcoming remarks, while Molly Pifko ’22 introduces the keynote speaker. Offering student perspectives will be Isidora Munoz Segovia ’22, Camden Hunt ’22, and Taibatou Adamou Garba ’22.

Keynote speaker Jennifer Boylan is the author of the critically acclaimed breakthrough bestseller memoir, She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders, one of the first bestselling works by a transgender American. An activist for LGBTQ people, and transgender men and women in particular, Boylan is the author of 18 books, a trustee of PEN America, and the Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence at Barnard College of Columbia University. In 2022-23 she will be a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

For many years she was a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, where she has published hundreds of essays from 2007 to the present day. She served on the board of directors of GLAAD, the media advocacy group for LGBTQ people worldwide, from 2011 to 2018, where she was national cochair for four years. Boylan has also served as a member of the board of trustees of the Kinsey Institute for Research on Sex, Gender, and Reproduction.

A novelist, memoirist, and short story writer, Boylan is also a nationally known advocate for civil rights. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, TodayThe Barbara Walters Specials, NPR’s Marketplace and Talk of the Nation, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and Live with Larry King. She has also been the subject of documentaries on CBS News’ 48 Hours and The History Channel. On National Public Radio’’s news quiz program, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!, Boylan achieved a perfect score when tested about hot dogs.

Honorary MPhil candidate Alexis Gumbs is a self-described queer Black troublemaker, Black feminist love evangelist, and aspirational favorite cousin to all sentient beings.

Gumbs’ coedited volume Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines has shifted the conversation on mothering, parenting, and queer transformation. She has transformed the scope of intellectual, creative, and oracular writing with her triptych of experimental works published by Duke University Press, Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity, M Archive: After the End of the World, and Dub: Finding Ceremony.

Gumbs has been part of a number of collectives including UBUNTU, a women of color and survivor-led coalition to end gendered violence, Warrior Healers Organizing Trust, the Earthseed Land Collective, the visioning council of Kindred Southern Healing Justice Network, Southerners on New Ground, Allied Media Projects, Black Women’s Blueprint, Critical Resistance, and the International Black Youth Summit.

Her writings in key movement periodicals such as Make/Shift, Left Turn, The Abolitionist, Ms. Magazine, BITCH, and Truthout, and collections such as Abolition Now, The Revolution Starts at Home, Dear Sister, Transformative Justice Strategic Reader, Holding Change, Pleasure Activism, Beyond Survival, Feminisms in Motion, The Fire This Time, and more have offered clarity and inspiration to generations of activists.

College of the Atlantic is premised on the belief that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is to enabling students to actively shape the future. A leader in experiential learning and environmental stewardship, COA fosters a distinctive approach to higher education that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers necessary to address the compelling and growing needs of our world.

COA’s transdisciplinary, non-departmental curriculum emphasizes individualized study, independent research, and real-world application of knowledge. Every COA student designs their own major in human ecology—which integrates knowledge from across academic disciplines and seeks to understand and improve the relationships between humans and their natural, built, and social environments—and sets their own path toward a degree.