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The Places They’ll Go

Defying the weather forecast, nature was kind to the 391 seniors attending Swarthmore’s Commencement May 31. Despite a long, harsh winter, triggering doubts as to whether buds would open on time, the Rose Garden had never looked lovelier, as if the blossoms’ magnificence had been enhanced by their extended hibernation. 

Parrish Walk was a sea of black-robed seniors, hugging, posing for photos, seeking their places in line, multitasking as they pulled on their gowns while still eating breakfast sandwiches. 

Led by Parade Marshall Paul Rablen, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, the procession came to order, filing into the amphitheater to former Associate Professor of Music John Alston’s arrangement of Lennon-McCartney’s “Let It Be” accompanied by proud, loud parental cheering. The tulip poplars stood at attention, silent witnesses to this awe-inspiring occasion for the 143rd time.

Chair of the Board of Managers Gil Kemp ’72 welcomed the crowd, followed by senior speaker Patrick Ross, who compared the Swarthmore sojourn to a retirement home and to Clothier Tower and quoted from Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go.

Interim President Constance Cain Hungerford encouraged the graduates-in-waiting to use their memories of Swarthmore as “a source of strength, compassion, and support” as they moved into the alumni community.

John Alston, founder of the Chester Children’s Chorus and the Chester Charter School of the Arts; Randy Holland ’69, Delaware Supreme Court Justice; and Molly Miller Jahn ’80, educator and world-renowned authority on plant genetics, received honorary degrees. 

Ben Goloff and Rebecca Senft received, respectively, the Oak and Ivy Leaf awards for leadership, scholarship, and contribution to the College community. Nathan Norem Cheek received the Lang Award, given by the faculty in recognition of outstanding academic accomplishment, and Hayden Dahmm and Allison King won the McCabe Engineering Award for outstanding achievement in engineering.