CC Bids Farewell to Class of 2024

“You advocated for causes that meant the most to you. You have shown you are resilient and compassionate and that you can experience joy and hope in the darkest of moments.”—L. Song Richardson, President of CC

“Congratulations, Class of 2024, you did it!” exclaimed L. Song Richardson at her final Commencement address as President of Colorado College. “You excelled in the classroom, guided by your dynamic professors and teachers. You did this while living through some of the most challenging times in recent history.”

CC’s 558 graduates began their college career in the fall of 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when social distancing, masks, and hand sanitizer ruled the day; when so much uncertainty from a deadly virus sent classes – and life – to a virtual world; and students faced all those stressors on top of a rigorous academic schedule. They also endured an increasingly polarized political landscape, war, a growing mental health crisis, and climate change.

“Your time here has not been easy. No one would have blamed you for wanting to give up,” Richardson added. “But you didn’t. You persevered. That is remarkable and that says so much about your strength of character.”

Among many things, Richardson lauded the class for their part in expanding mental health services for students, faculty, and staff on campus.

“You advocated for causes that meant the most to you. You have shown you are resilient and compassionate and that you can experience joy and hope in the darkest moments. This is why you are a truly remarkable group of graduates, and this is why we celebrate you today,” she said.

“You were the first class to have your toilet water chemically analyzed for SARS-CoV2,” Board of Trustees President Jeff Keller ’91 reminded them. “You took more Covid tests than classroom tests.” Keller invited the graduates to think of the rest of their life as “so many more blocks.” He encouraged them to continue being curious, adding, “you will be amazed at what you can achieve.”

International achievement during the height of the pandemic is what led CC to bestow an honorary degree on alum Jim Rosenthal '70 at the ceremony. Rosenthal, with Dr. Richard Corsi, developed the Corsi-Rosenthal Box, an air filter that has been shown to be more effective than commercial HEPA air cleaners. Endorsed by the EPA, CDC, and other independent laboratories, a quarter of a million Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes have been built in the last four years to help protect people from airborne viruses and contaminants like wildfire smoke.

Commencement speaker Frieda Ekotto '86 inspired the class with a call to action, asking them to pause and reflect on the "Poetics of this Moment."

“As you leave Colorado College, what is going to be your contribution, the poetic moment for you?” Ekotto asked. “I want to send you off with a message of hope – to tell you the world belongs to you. I am inspired by the world you show us you want to create, and are already creating by displaying grit, determination, and revolutionary imagination.”

Professor of Afro-American and African Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan, Ekotto is also the first African woman to graduate from CC. She implored the graduates to embrace respectful discourse as they navigate often complex and contentious global issues.

“Therefore, I urge you to embrace the diversity of perspectives, engage in constructive dialogue, and strive to cultivate a culture of empathy, mutual respect, and inclusivity. Perhaps now more than ever, it is essential that we harness our differences and treat them as opportunities for growth, learning, and use them to foster a deeper understanding of the world around us.”

The ceremony took place without disruption, although a handful of graduates wore a keffiyeh, the traditional Palestinian scarf, over their gown in support of the pro-Palestinian movement. As the graduates walked up to receive their diploma, about 41 of them handed President Richardson a small Palestinian flag, which she set aside. Several graduates also wore a stole in support of Israel, demonstrating strong feelings about the current war.

“Like you, I’m leaving a place I love,” Richardson told the graduates. “A place I call home. Just as you are, I am eager and excited to follow my passions. I’ve become more creative, thoughtful, and courageous because of you. As we prepare to leave this remarkable place, hope is very much on my mind. Hope is what you have shown.”

“Remember that your role now is to pass the baton onto others as well as to continue to preserve what is so special about our alma mater: Colorado College,” said Ekotto.

Also at the ceremony, nineteen graduate students received a Master of Arts in Teaching.

Watch the entire ceremony here.


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