MARLBORO -- In this year's valediction, Abdelhadi Izem, who did a fellowship for the year and was from Morocco, had one final request before exiting the auditorium into the sunny afternoon.
"By this time tomorrow I'm going to be back home with a lot of memories to share with family and friends. But I really would like to thank all of the members of the Marlboro community for being such an inspiring group of people and making this year the best of my life," he said. "The last thing I'd like to do; I want to take a selfie."
Onstage, Izem took out his phone and snapped a picture with the graduating class. It was met with thunderous applause.
The 67th Marlboro College Commencement was held on May 18.
The keynote speakers, the Delbanco brothers, were given honorary degrees. Nicholas Delbanco was awarded a Doctorate of Letters and Andrew Delbanco was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters. Both men have various writing credits to their name.
Nicholas had written 28 books of both fiction and non-fiction. He began his career at Bennington College in the Department of Language and Literature. He wrote much of his work in Vermont.
"I've admired this school and its remarkable president (Ellen McCulloch-Lovell) for not merely years and decades but given our present calendar, centuries," he said. "Congratulations everyone."
Nicholas spoke of the school's curriculum and how it focused on clear writing. He said he fully approved of it.
"It's difficult to say a clear thing confusedly or a confused thing clearly, although I may have managed to do so," he added.
Andrew was recognized as a prominent cultural critic, who has taught for more than three decades. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and named "America's Best Social Critic" by Time.
He told graduates not to worry if they had no idea what the next stage would be.
"It's OK. It will work itself out," Andrew advised. "This is your day. You should savor it. Save it in your memory. Everyone here is immensely proud of you and you have every reason to be proud of yourself. I want to say, you should be proud of this college."
He said the distinctiveness of Marlboro College and the courage of it remaining small in an age where people tend to think bigger and better should be celebrated.
"An education of this sort is important not only for you but indispensable for our whole nation," added Andrew. "Education is a lifelong project. Learning transforms your life."
During her senior address, Emma Thacker brought some attendees to tears. Her college journey began when visiting the campus before submitting an application. It was a cold and snowy day, she said.
"I loved how small and humbled I felt standing on this hill, just one of many here in southern Vermont. I continue to feel overwhelmed by the beauty of Marlboro," said Thacker. "It is so unbelievably gorgeous. At times, I can't do anything but stand in awe."
Thacker reminisced about events and memories. She said she was sad to leave the beautiful hill behind and she felt a deep fondness for the professors, staff and students.
"I know this hill will continue to exist and hold the spaces I hold dear," she concluded.
Thacker received the Audrey Alley Gorton Award; Robert Magee received the Rebecca Willow Prize; Daniel Kalla received the Hilly van Loon Prize; David Amato received the William Davisson Prize; Sophia Romeri received the Ryan Larsen Memorial Prize; Patrick Lancaster received the Helen W. Clark Prize; Luc Rosenthal received the Sally and Valerio Montanari Theater Prize; Alanna Doyle received the Dr. Loren C. Bronsen Award for Excellence in Classics; the Roland W. Boyden Prize was given to Adam Halwitz, Michael Sirois and Marcos Wu; the Buck Turner Prize was given to Alison Wu and Daniel Zagal; the Robert H. MacArthur Prize was given to Aidan Keeva and Christopher Melaney; the Robert E. Engel Award was given to Ian Hitchcock and Ayla Mullen.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or email@example.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.