Sophie Chivers '24 is one of five students speaking at College of the Atlantic commencement. Sophie Chivers ’24 is one of five students speaking at College of the Atlantic commencement.

Five graduating seniors with a diverse array of interests, including sustainable fisheries management, fiber arts, environmental politics, and group dynamics, will take part in this year’s commencement ceremony. They will speak before 81 graduates, along with faculty, staff, students, and countless alumni, family, and friends.

Antoine Croquelois ’24, who focused his senior project on intersection of colonialism and climate change, will provide welcoming remarks, while Sophie Chivers ’24 will introduce the keynote speaker, UC Berkeley professor and Indigenous scholar Dr. Yuria Celidwen.

Student perspective speeches will be given by Wilson Boyle ’24, who developed an art exhibition featuring fiber art that addresses sexuality and identity; Ananya Singh ’24, who has blended philosophy, writing, and facilitation in a final zine; and Juliana Trujillo Mesa ’24.

Antoine Croquelois Antoine Croquelois '24 will provide welcoming remarks at this year's commencement... Antoine Croquelois '24 will provide welcoming remarks at this year's commencement ceremony.

Antoine Croquelois ’24 grew up going to protests and engaging in environmental activism, and when he started looking into higher education, he knew he wanted something different. It was COA’s sense of community that first made Croquelois feel like he belonged. And it was the opportunity to pursue an interdisciplinary approach to climate justice that made him stay.

The interdisciplinary journey that Croquelois wound his way through was really what made his time at COA meaningful, he says. From his beginnings in the marine sciences, he made his way through classes in climate change, politics, and justice, eventually sparking an interest in international politics and the intersections between capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, and climate change. It was in professor Doreen Stabinsky’s Readings in Political Ecologies course that Croquelois first made this connection.

“We read this book by Malcom Ferdinand,” Croquelois remembers, “who talks about how we talk about the concept of colonialism and climate change in two different spheres, even though they’re created by the same characters.”

Ferdinand, who seeks to heal this colonial and environmental “double fracture,” inspired Croquelois to write a series of essays and poems that he combined with art and writing by others and turned into a 250-page long book for his senior project. He hopes someday to translate the entire work into French so his family can read it as well.

Looking back on his time at COA, Croquelois recalls the ways in which his horizons were expanded, figuratively through his academic work, and literally through his work on Osprey, COA’s research vessel.

“I learned so many skills I never thought I would be able to,” Croquelois recalls. “It has allowed me to develop as a person and as a leader.”

Sophie Chivers: Sophie Chivers '24 will introduce the keynote speaker for this year's commencement ceremony, Dr. Yuria Celidwen. Sophie Chivers ’24 will introduce the keynote speaker for this year's commencement ceremony, Dr. Yuria Celidwen.

Sophie Chivers ’24, who grew up with an interest in environmental activism and a love for the ocean, came to COA thinking she would continue on to pursue her interest in marine biology and become a scientist and researcher. With a gentle push from her advisor she started taking classes in policy and environmental law, and found her calling. Chivers spent her time working with fishermen and developed an interest in natural resource extraction and management, the passion that eventually fueled her senior project.

After a class on Maine fishery systems called Fishermen, Fisheries, and Fishery Communities, taught by professor Chris Petersen, Chivers began working with a classmate to look at the river fishery management system.

“We began asking some of the same questions I’d been asking more informally about shellfish for a long time. And that sparked this interest in really understanding why those [alewife/herring and shellfish] systems were so different,” Chivers remembers. “I began digging into the statutory background of them and found that the structures are really different. And so once I figured that out, it influenced other lines of inquiry.”

Her senior project, which is a legal, historical, cultural, and ecological analysis of differing co-management systems within the Maine shellfish and river herring fisheries, builds upon her years of experience with legal work and marine ecosystems.

It was this openness to inquiry that made the COA experience valuable to Chivers, she says. Looking back, she is most grateful for the time when she was able to pursue her passions and follow her curiosities.

Chivers will be introducing this year’s commencement speaker, Dr Yuria Celidwen, whom she met at the Society for Human Ecology Conference in Tucson in October.

“I was really excited that the other seniors were just as excited about her as I was, because I think she’ll be a summative speaker for a lot of the work that many folks have been thinking about at COA around environmental justice, resource use, and Indigenous cultures,” Chivers says.

Wilson Boyle: Wilson Boyle '24 will provide a student perspective speech at this year's commence... Wilson Boyle '24 will provide a student perspective speech at this year's commencement. ceremony.

Wilson Boyle ’24’s journey at COA started with a pet lizard. When she was still in high school, Boyle started looking for pet-friendly colleges she could attend with her lizard. What began with a simple internet search ended with a tour and an application. Boyle was sold.

She began her time at COA looking into agricultural studies and food systems, but was continuously drawn back into the visual arts over the years. But not to be constrained, Boyle tried everything. She started with graphic design and digital art, and then tried printmaking. Eventually, she was able to do a quilting independent study that culminated in the creation of a self-portrait. The fiber arts were calling, and Boyle answered.

“I feel very lucky in just how many times I’ve had the opportunity to do exactly what I wanted,” Boyle says.

What began with curiosity has now blossomed into an entire gallery of fiber arts pieces, the product of Boyle’s senior project. The exhibition, which is an exploration of sexuality and lesbian identity, consists of a collection of quilted costume pieces, as well as embroidery and other assorted art pieces from throughout her time at COA.

“The first thing I made was this dog mask, which would traditionally be made out of leather, but I made it out of a quilt that I had done. And I just remember showing it to Dru [professor Dru Colbert] and she got such a kick out of it,” Boyle recalls. “And so I just continued along with that.”

Despite being a bit nervous, Boyle looks forward to the opportunity to represent her peers at commencement, and the chance say goodbye to the community that she has come to love during her time at COA.

“I know we talk a lot about community but there is really a wonderful, wonderful sense of community at COA,” Boyle says.

Ananya Singh: Ananya Singh '24 will provide a student perspective speech at this year's commence... Ananya Singh '24 will provide a student perspective speech at this year's commencement.

Ananya Singh ’24 was drawn to COA for many reasons, but the most important one was the governance system. Wait, governance?? Yes! It was COA’s democratic and participatory form of governance that really got Singh curious. Because COA students can join committees, vote on issues facing the college, and bring proposals before All College Meeting, the school is designed around the mutual interests of students, faculty, and staff.

In her first winter in Bar Harbor, Singh took A History of God with professor Gray Cox, where she explored her passions and developed the confidence she needed to stop apologizing and start speaking up, she says. In her second year, Singh took Group Dynamics with professor Bonnie Tai. It was this combination of philosophy and practical dynamics that led Singh to develop a further interest in the governance structure, an interest that eventually led her to complete an independent study on governance at COA and a senior project on the art of facilitation.

“I do think that my work does speak for itself,” Singh remarks. “Every committee that I’ve been part of, every group that I’ve been a part of, I feel like I’ve contributed to in a way that has allowed be to support others and facilitate challenging, high-pressure group dynamics.”

Singh put her all into everything she did at COA. Not only was she rewarded by the products of her hard work, but by the relationships and connections she created with her friends and peers while executing that work.

“The relationships and bonds that I have with those peers are super strong, even in times of crisis,” Singh says. “I have so much solace knowing that knowing this is the community that has seen me through my highs and lows.”

For Singh and others, the opportunity to participate in commencement is also an opportunity to reflect on their journeys and commune with their peers one last time.

“Excited,” Singh admits. “But more than a little nervous.”