Family and friends gathered at the historic Colton Hall lawn in downtown Monterey on Saturday to celebrate the achievements of 286 Middlebury Institute graduates from 31 countries. It was a celebration filled with hope for the future as the network of Middlebury Institute alumni continues to grow and make its mark on the world.
“You are here today because you idealistically decided that you wanted a career of meaning,” Middlebury President Laurie L. Patton told the graduates before introducing spring Commencement Speaker Elayne Whyte Gómez MAIPS ’93. President Patton said that Whyte Gómez came to the Institute a quarter century ago to, in her own words, “change the world,” and then proceeded to do just that. The youngest person to ever serve as vice minister of foreign affairs for Costa Rica, she went on to lead diplomats in brokering a new legally binding treaty, the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Whyte Gómez spoke of the importance of embracing the unknown and the different, and to constantly challenging your beliefs and pursuing meaningful goals. “There is no individual life without society,” she said. “And society needs you. Choose one purpose and engage.”
Each year the graduating class chooses a class speaker and this year it was Orestes Betancourt Ponce de Leon MPA ’18, who shared his challenges simply applying to the Institute from his native Cuba. He told the audience that he grew up in a country where having a disagreement over an economic or political point of view could easily end your professional career. “This is why my best memories at MIIS are those moments of friendly disagreements with professors and classmates.” Orestes completed his speech by echoing the sentiment other speakers had brought forth: “We came here because we believe that we can make a difference; that we can push forward and step by step help others help themselves.”
Also recognized during the ceremony were the winners of the Institute’s 2018 Alumni Achievement Awards.