Warren Wilson College celebrated the Class of 2022 at its commencement on Saturday, May 7. More than 150 undergraduate students received their degrees.
As they walked across the stage, the students received white pine tree saplings. A Warren Wilson tradition, the sapling represents the part of Warren Wilson that each graduate will take with them. Just as each graduate leaves the college to go, lay down roots, and grow, the graduate is encouraged to plant the tree away from campus to represent their mark as a Warren Wilson graduate in the greater world.
The commencement ceremony included class remarks from student speaker Pratima Menyangbo and a keynote address by commencement speaker Elizabeth Colton.
Menyangbo spoke to friendships and the changes the class experienced due to the pandemic.
“I think through thick and thin we have emerged as more flexible, resilient and curious individuals. We all hold unique stories of our time that started here, and that has informed our person today,” Menyangbo said. “Personally my Warren Wilson stories revolve around having long conversations while on hiking trails at Jones Mountain, the Swannanoa River, or while sharing meals in our mostly vegetarian, vegan cafe Cowpie, and small classrooms where we built close relationships with our professors and peers, the Outdoor Leadership trips to Shortoff Mountain and Catawba Falls, and the kayaking trips to the French Broad River.”
Colton’s address touched on the importance of diplomacy and of serving as citizen diplomats to promote peace.
“Each of you, with your ideals, and your own ways, can become a citizen diplomat promoting peace in the world,” Colton said. “You graduating seniors have shown that you are idealists who contend with the world you and we all live in, and that you try to reconcile values with actions. You care a lot about integrating with a holistic approach to life, integrating mind, body and spirit. You have been through great triumphs, you have survived.”
Colton is an Emmy award-winning journalist and diplomat who grew up in Asheville and went on to live in 13 countries and work in 120 countries throughout her career. She serves as diplomat and journalist-in-residence at Warren Wilson College.
Graduating music major Evan Woody performed an original song, called “The Road,” with Instructor of Music Jason DeCristofaro and Chair of the Music Department Kevin Kehrberg accompanying.
“Don’t know what’s next, but this I do know / I won’t forget this place called home,” Woody sang.
Towards the end of the commencement ceremony, everyone joined together to sing the college’s Alma Mater. The lyrics to the Alma Mater were officially changed in June of 2021 to take out colonizing language and make the song more representative of the inclusive community Warren Wilson aspires to be.
An awards ceremony took place on Friday, May 6. It included recognition of Warren Wilson’s top seniors, faculty and staff honors and awards.
Madison Sings received the Alton F. Pfaff Award, the college’s highest honor given to a graduating senior. Reid Carpenter received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, which is presented each year in recognition of a graduating senior’s personal character, integrity, and service to others and their communities.
Chair of the Environmental Studies Department Liesl Erb and Associate Director of Work Shannon McNair received teaching excellence awards.