MARLBORO -- Over 70 new students were welcomed to Marlboro College on Tuesday morning during its convocation ceremony.
"In a sense, we are all new in that every year, we recreate this intellectual and creative community together even as we recognize our sustained values," Marlboro College President Ellen McCulloch-Lovell said. "We are all students. We are all teachers."
Thirty percent of the new students transferred from other colleges.
The entire Class of 2018 came from all over the United States and four other countries.
"I see a little southern boomlet from Virginia, Tennessee and Texas," said McCulloch-Lovell, adding that the largest amount of students had come from Massachusetts. And the same amount came from within Vermont.
Among the new students were all types of individuals, including an environmentalist, a composer, a ski jumper, an animal rights advocate, an ultimate Frisbee player and several artists. Some of them had already gone through summer programming at the college.
Math fellow Julie Rana, a 2006 Marlboro graduate, earned a doctorate from UMass Amherst in 2013, where she won a distinguished thesis award. Last year, she came back to Marlboro for a two-year assignment with her husband, also an alumnus, and two twins in tow.
"If you want to work with amazing teachers and mentors, who will never stop being your teachers and mentors, then you know you've come to the right place," Rana said. "There are some constants. You will work hard.
She encouraged students to challenge themselves academically and to create a community they want to live in.
On a day when most new students would be going to introductory classes, Rana suggested they take advantage of the entire faculty and not only the teachers with whom they'd be working.
While she was a student, Rana said she made a pact with herself. Every semester, she would take a course that scared her.
"For me, those courses were dance and sculpture," she continued. "I was really afraid of dance and sculpture. At first I was really nervous but I quickly overcame my fear. I just had a lot of fun doing things I never thought I'd be able to do. So, I highly recommend you try it out."
Rana's last tip was to initiate new events, movements or clubs at the college. That might mean speaking to an advisor, RA or staff about potential interests.
"We all know that (Marlboro) doesn't have everything. That's where you guys come in," she said. "The great thing about Marlboro is if there's something you want that's not here, you can make it happen."
Dean of Faculty and Graduate Education Richard Glejzer reflected on a trip he took over the summer along with Martha Henzy, currently a senior at the school. They traveled to Poland and Germany, visiting Holocaust memorials. It was part of research projects in which they decided to combine their efforts.
For the trip, which spanned about 2,000 miles, there was a specific focus on death camps.
"It certainly wasn't pleasure-filled nor did we take time off. But we had some very special, wonderful moments singing the Beatles and Beyonce," he said. "Mostly, though, we shared a lot of silence."
Glejzer could not describe the depths of those moments spent in silence. But, he said, it was an opportunity to share something profound and go beyond the restraints of a text book or lecture.
Together, they faced discomfort. And that was similar to what he said happens at Marlboro College.
"What makes our teaching different is none of us face that alone. Because we are small, we can share our silences as much as we share our words," Glejzer added.
When McCulloch-Lovell asked faculty members to introduce themselves, she also asked that they mention what they've been thinking a lot about lately or what they are currently interested in. Their responses included beginnings, choices, collaboration, self-motivation, informed skepticism, vivid inspiration, moleskin journals, change, crossroads, energy, forgiveness, field work, intelligence of objects, climate change, transition, the world, what is real and re-thinking what it means to be in a community.
McCulloch-Lovell asked returning students to be peer advisers, shapers, au pairs, tutors, RAs, Selectboard members and friends.
"Today we issue another invitation to a life of participation, reflection and action," she said.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.