The College of the Atlantic Class of 2024 comprises 81 graduates from 26 states and 17 nations. The College of the Atlantic Class of 2024 comprises 81 graduates from 26 states and 17 nations.

The Anah Highlander bagpipers led the opening procession, followed closely by 2024 Grand Marshal Dru Colbert, who retires this month after teaching arts and design at COA for 21 years. Remarks by keynote speaker Dr. Yuria Celidwen, COA President Dr. Darron Collins ’92, and several members of the graduating class, along with a welcome from COA Board of Trustees Chair Beth Gardiner, highlighted the ceremony, which was held under a large tent on the school’s North Lawn.

Celidwen, an Indigenous scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, emphasized the importance of listening to Indigenous voices and the natural world, while highlighting the urgency of the environmental crisis, the need for collective action, and the value of self-empowerment.

Indigenous scholar Dr. Yuria Celidwen is the 2024 College of the Atlantic Commencement keynote speaker. Indigenous scholar Dr. Yuria Celidwen is the 2024 College of the Atlantic Commencement keynote speaker.Celiwen urged graduates to “welcome the possibility of opening, to engage in very deep observation and reflection. To find those insights that we need for belonging, and transcending the narrow idea — the narrow story — of humans alone, and become real ecologists of a larger Mother Earth system, a way of relationality that awakens all to reverence, love and sacredness. Don’t be afraid of bringing these words into your life,” she said. “Stay with that love and stay with the complexity. Embrace both.”

A total of five members of the senior class spoke as part of the ceremony. Antoine Croquelois ’24 offered welcoming remarks and Sophie Chivers ’24 introduced Celidwen. Sharing student perspectives were Wilson Boyle ’24, Ananya Singh ’24, and Juliana Trujillo Mesa ’24.

“What makes this place unique isn’t really TAB [the dining hall] or Gates or even the ocean. It’s what happens inside of those places. It’s the people. All of us collectively are the special sauce,” Boyle said. “Everyone here today, whether you’ve been at COA for years or just a couple of hours, can take a little part of COA home with you. And I implore you to do just that. Share a meal with someone. Ask to borrow something. Make conversation with a stranger. Dance in the rain. Give something to the people around you that you might never get back. And I promise you — you will.”

Antoine Croquelois '24 shares a student perspective at the College of the Atlantic 51st Commencement Ceremony. Also sharing stu... Antoine Croquelois ’24 shares a student perspective at the College of the Atlantic 51st Commencement Ceremony. Also sharing student perspectives were Wilson Boyle ’24, Ananya Singh ’24, and Juliana Trujillo Mesa ’24. Sophia Chivers ’24 introduced keynote speaker Dr. Yuria Celidwen.Collins encouraged seniors to transcend over-classification and binary thinking about the issues we are all facing in the world in order to embrace a holistic approach to problem-solving. He urged listeners to avoid oversimplifying the dynamics between opposing groups of people and instead recognize their unique qualities and motivations.

“When as human ecologists we attempt to make change in the world, we are, I hope, confronting problems and projects with doing and thinking forever united with inseparable body and mind,” Collins said. “We human ecologists must always remember and practice our trickster qualities, transcending the divide between art and science, between thinking and acting, between oppressor and oppressed, between good and evil, and between underdog and top dog.”

A grand feast at the center of campus followed the ceremony.

View photos from the weekend here and visit coa.edu/commencement for a video of the ceremony.

College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning — human ecology — that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more information, visit coa.edu.

College of the Atlantic Board of Trustees Chair Beth Gardiner addresses the crowd at the College of the Atlantic 51st Commencement Ceremony. College of the Atlantic Board of Trustees Chair Beth Gardiner addresses the crowd at the College of the Atlantic 51st Commencement Ceremony.