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Under sunny skies on Colton Hall lawn, 278 students from 40 countries received their degrees from the Monterey Institute of International Studies on Saturday afternoon. Friends and family members gathered from near and far to celebrate their achievements, providing cheers and laughter in competition with the barks of sea lions and calls of seabirds, the daily soundtrack of downtown Monterey.

Commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient David A. Jones, co-founder of Humana, Inc. and a longtime MIIS board member, called language acquisition “the essential gateway to cultural understanding,” and urged the graduates to “be adventurous, be willing to take some risks.”

Former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who serves on the advisory board of the Institute’s James Martin for Nonproliferation Studies at MIIS, received an honorary degree as well. Also honored at the ceremony were Middlebury trustee emerita and alumna Betty Jones, and longtime MIIS board members Beverly Hamilton and Stephen McDonald.

Student speaker Charles Ruegger, who received his Master’s in Business Administration, highlighted the diversity of the relatively small student body. “It helps you to see what life is like on the other side of the fence,” said Ruegger adding, “It can really open your eyes.” Prefacing Jones and Ruegger’s comments, the processional featured flag-bearers representing each of the 40 home countries of students in the graduating class, led by bagpiper (and Russian professor) Mike Gillen in full Scottish regalia.

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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir