| by Jason Warburg

News Stories

Graduate smiling at 2024 spring commencement
(Credit: Rob Ellis )

On Saturday, the Middlebury Institute community gathered to celebrate 192 graduates from 22 homelands at spring commencement.

“I’m so excited to put what I’ve learned into action in the workplace,” said Hina Hassan of Hong Kong, who received her MA in Translation and Localization Management. She said classes with Professor Max Troyer had been a particular highlight of her time in Monterey.

Daniel Bolton of Killeen, Texas celebrated earning his Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree with his wife and children cheering him on.

“This has been a great midpoint to my career,” he said. “I retired from the military and wanted to move into local government and the MPA program here was an amazing way to make that transition, helping me bring in the skills that I had from 22 years in the military and translate them into something that would work in a civilian government-type organization.”

Bolton’s next step is an internship at the Government Accountability Office in Seattle, where he hopes to land a permanent position.

Bolton stressed the practical aspects of the classes he took at the Institute. 

“A lot of the skills that I learned in the data classes and social change classes are skills that I think are going to be relevant in any local government or non-profit organization that is trying to work for the betterment of the entire citizenry.”

Ambassador Shorna-Kay Richards Encourages Graduates to “Transform the Status Quo”

Commencement Speaker Shorna-Kay Richards, veteran diplomat and current ambassador of Jamaica to Japan, opened her remarks by greeting the assembled crowd in both Japanese and a Jamaican dialect, before addressing the graduates directly.

“You possess the power to change, to disrupt the status quo for the betterment of humanity,” said Richards. “In pursuing your passions in the months ahead, fully embrace your role as global citizens with open hearts and minds, transforming the status quo into floodlights of change.”

Ambassador Shorna-Kay Richards
This year’s commencement speaker was Shorna-Kay Richards, Jamaica’s Ambassador to Japan. At the ceremony, she received an honorary doctorate degree in recognition of her work as a diplomat and disarmament advocate. (Credit: Rob Ellis )
You possess the power to change, to disrupt the status quo for the betterment of humanity.
— Ambassador Shorna-Kay Richards

Richards exhorted the graduates follow the advice of her countryman Bob Marley to “get up, stand up” for humanity. She suggested three guiding principles based on her own experience: take responsibility; use your agency; and embrace solidarity and intercultural collaboration. At the close of her remarks, she led the crowd in a chorus of Marley’s anthem “One Love.”

Following her remarks, Ambassador Richards received an honorary doctorate degree in recognition of her work as a diplomat and disarmament advocate.

Student carrying flag at procession
Commencement kicks off with a procession featuring the flags of students’ homelands. (Credit: Rob Ellis )

“The Privilege and the Responsibility of Being International”

“We are an incredible group of people who come from all walks of life to gather here, to speak beautiful languages and to learn,” said student speaker Dayna Brown, who graduated with a MA in Translation and Localization Management

Don’t get so caught up in work; cherish the people alongside you and keep dreaming.
— Dayna Brown MATLM ’24

Elected by her classmates as speaker, Brown is the product of a military family that moved around the United States and overseas, which instilled a love for languages and intercultural exchange. In 2017, she moved to Shanghai to learn Mandarin Chinese, ultimately earning her BA from New York University Shanghai with a degree in global China studies, along with a world history degree from East China Normal University.

“We are drawn together by our devotion to this interconnected world, languages, and learning,” she said, noting that she and her classmates share “the privilege and the responsibility of being international.” After thanking her classmates, professors, and family, she offered her fellow graduates one piece of advice: “Don’t get so caught up in work; cherish the people alongside you and keep dreaming.”

Student speaker Dayna Brown
Dayna Brown MATLM ‘24 was elected as student speaker by her peers. (Credit: Rob Ellis )

“Never Give Up the Fight”

Ambassador Richards was introduced by Middlebury Provost Michelle McCauley.

 “You are leaving here well prepared to address the world’s most challenging problems—we know you will go forth and do so much good in the world. We are so immensely proud of you,” Provost McCauley told the graduates.

In his welcoming remarks, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Steve Snyder acknowledged retiring Professor Chuanyun Bao, among the longest-serving faculty members at MIIS with 34 years. Snyder noted that Professor Bao was “instrumental in building our Chinese-English translation and interpretation program into the powerhouse that it is today.”

The 192 graduates celebrated on Saturday come from homelands including Afghanistan, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Republic of the Congo, Republic of Korea, Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine, and the United States. The ceremony, held in front of historic Colton Hall in downtown Monterey, was interpreted into Chinese and Spanish by students in the translation and interpretation programs for the families and friends of graduating students, and was followed by a reception on the Pierce Street promenade.

Closing out her remarks, Ambassador Richards told the graduates: “I am fully confident that you are well equipped to live up to the expectations of your generation. I implore you to be courageous, to get up, to stand up, and to never, never give up the fight.”