Families and friends gathered on Colton Hall lawn in Monterey on Saturday to celebrate the achievements of 255 accomplished students graduating from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. As the graduates hailed from 27 countries, many of their loved ones had traveled long distances to participate in the celebration, and the mood was sunny and festive even if the sun itself made only occasional appearances.
“You came here seeking advanced professional skills that will help you make a living,” said Jeff Dayton-Johnson, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the Institute, “but also, to lead a meaningful life.” He went on to note that one of the most lasting lessons many of them would leave with, is the ability to communicate and collaborate across groups, disciplines, cultures, and borders, a skill set honed through countless hours of team work and class projects at MIIS, and one that is sure to “be the key to creating lasting positive change in the world.”
Student speaker Rohan Thomas John MANPTS ’15 elaborated on that same point when he said “We have Russians and we have Americans, we have Israelis and Palestinians, and in my own personal case, we have Indians and Pakistanis, and to the eternal credit of MIIS I got hands-on experience on how to share, I repeat share, a space with a Pakistani and actually co-habit under one roof.” He went on to describe an enriching and exhilarating student experience and a deep belief that he and his fellow graduates are ready and prepared to take on difficult challenges and make a difference in their chosen fields.
Ms. Angela Kane, high representative for the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs, gave the Commencement Address and was awarded an honorary degree. She had valuable advice for the graduates as she urged them to persist in the pursuit of causes and principles that they truly believe in. “Never stop learning. Hone your oral and written communication skills. Be humble but also proud of what you are doing and stand for. Believe in yourself!” She had some special words of wisdom for the female graduates, from a long career at the top echelon of power in international organizations: “Use your voices and your brains to help the world finally to overcome the dark ages of gender inequality.” Most importantly, she urged the first class to graduate from the newly renamed Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey to “be a role model for service in the public interest.”