Video by Joe O'Neill.
by Matt Getty
Dickinson College celebrated 530 new graduates of the college on Sunday, May 20, as Commencement speaker and L.L.Bean President and CEO Stephen M. Smith '92 urged them to make the most of their journeys by constantly looking in their "backpacks."
"Your packs are already loaded," he said, noting that Dickinson's interdisciplinary, useful liberal-arts education has prepared the class of 2018 for success. "So pick a destination, start moving towards it and start filling your pack with more. And when you hit a crossroads, don’t freak out—just take off your pack, look at what’s inside and decide how you want to navigate from there."
Stephen M. Smith '92, president and CEO of L.L.Bean, urges student to make the most of life's journey during his Commencement speech. Photo by Carl Socolow '77.
Smith's advice followed his own "backpack story," during which he described how he metaphorically looked in his backpack throughout his career to see which experiences or skills were missing and then decide his next professional move accordingly. Then, to drive the analogy home, he announced that L.L. Bean would be sending each of the graduates one of its new Allagash Pack Basket in the coming weeks.
"Think about your life as a journey, and actively think about adding experiences as you move through the next exciting chapters of your lives as Dickinson graduates," he said. "Don’t be afraid to move forward, backward or sideways to add new skills, experiences and fulfillment."
Jillian Paffenbarger '18 (left) and Natalie Ferris '18 earned the John Patton Prize for High Scholastic Standing and The James Fowler Rusling Prize respectively. Photo by Carl Socolow '77.
Throughout the ceremony, several faculty members and students were recognized with awards, which are given out each year at Commencement.
Hufstader Senior Prize winners Edward Brown '18 (left) and Nastia Khlopina '18 (right) pose with President Margee Ensign (center). Photo by Carl Socolow '77.
In addition to Smith, who received a Doctor of Business Management honorary degree, Dickinson awarded three other honorary degrees during the ceremony:
The Sam Rose ’58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Global Environmental Activism was presented to Our Children’s Trust, which has gained national attention for supporting 21 young people who have brought a landmark lawsuit against the president and multiple federal agencies. Julia Olson, Our Children’s Trust’s founder, executive director and chief legal counsel, accepted the award on behalf of the organization.
The ceremonies ended with each graduate making the traditional walk down Old West’s "old stone steps" to complete the symbolic journey they began four years ago by walking up those steps to sign in to the college. Among the graduates:
Members of the class of 2018 descend the "old stone steps" as they officially become graduates of the college. Photo by Carl Socolow '77.
As the graduates prepared to leave campus to begin their futures, President Margee Ensign, who was participating in her first Commencement as college president, challenged them to make the most of their educations. "As you leave your college years behind, you are taking Dickinson with you—you are taking our values, our revolutionary education with you," she said, before sharing a conversation she had a year ago with one of the Nigerian women who had been kidnapped by Boko Haram militants before being able to study at American University of Nigeria, where Ensign was president before joining Dickinson. "I asked her, 'What does education mean to you,' and she said, 'Education gives me the wings to fly, the power to fight and the voice to speak.' May the class of 2018 spread its wings, feel its power, and raise its voice."
Published May 20, 2018