December commencement honors 33 new Landmark College graduates
Several graduates will return to Landmark to pursue bachelor’s degree
by Solvegi Shmulsky
Hundreds of family members, friends and faculty honored 33 new Landmark College graduates on Saturday, December 14th, as the graduates crossed the stage at Landmark’s Greenhoe Theater. Mid-year graduation is a tradition at Landmark, which holds two ceremonies—in December and in May—to honor graduates and confer degrees.
Dr. Peter Eden, Landmark College President, welcomed community members and guests, many of whom traveled significant distances amid chilling temperatures and an impending snowstorm to watch their loved ones graduate. “We are an agile, ambitious, progressive and student-centered college,” said Dr. Eden. “Today we celebrate the achievements of our college graduates, as they now head off for their next challenge. Fortunately, several won’t go far as they will return to Landmark for their bachelor’s degree.”
Dr. Eden also addressed the graduates, asking them to savor their successes and commit to making a difference in the world for later generations of learners. “Remember that line in the mission, ‘we will transform the way the public thinks about education’? There are many ways Landmark does that directly, but none is more potent and effective than when our graduates prove to the world that having an LD does not limit what one can achieve.”
While it is difficult to select students to earn awards among so many deserving individuals, Michael Luciani, dean of students, and Dr. Adrienne Major, academic dean, recognized three students for their achievements. Luciani presented the Community Service Award to Aaron Kahn-Bork for his tireless involvement in many aspects of college life and beyond. Dr. Major presented the Academic Dean’s Award to Dominic Keyes and Colette Millard, sharing quotes from professors detailing their spirit and accomplishments.
The Words of the Graduates
Distinctive for its moving, funny, and sometimes tearful speeches, Landmark College graduation is a one-of-a-kind event. Traditionally, graduates have the opportunity to address the audience, and many remark on the challenges they have faced as learners with differences, including dyslexia, ADHD, and ASD, and the freedom and accomplishment they enjoy as a result of their hard work.
Saturday’s commencement ceremony, graduates talked about the transformations they made in the last two years. In the words of David Gold, “I went from a confused young man to a grounded, mature adult who is ready to conquer what the world has in store.”
Dominic Keyes said, “I wondered if I’d ever stand on a stage and earn a degree. The incredible people at Landmark College took my hand and raised me off my knees. Now I plan to go into education and use the methods of my professors.”
“I used to be the girl in the back of the classroom,” said Alicia Sheehan, whose moving speech about empowerment echoed that of many of her peers. “I was so scared - scared because I didn’t know who I was. At first I wanted to hide at Landmark, but then I found a new confidence in myself. I tried and I succeeded. I believe in myself and in the College.”
Graduates also expressed gratitude to families, friends, and the college faculty and staff who touched their lives. Nearly every student thanked a parent, and graduate Nicole Smith elaborated on the significant role of her mother. She said, “Thanks to my mother who supported me, advocated for me, and fought for me when I could not fight for myself.”
Graduates in the December 2013 class presented the College with a $1,250 gift to be used for a scholarship in the name of Dr. Robert Sargent Fay, professor emeritus, who passed away in May 2013. Rebecca Nash said that Fay “pushed us to dream big and do well… He will be with many of us for as long as we live.”
Closing the ceremony, Dr. Maryellen Rancourt, parent of an alumna and chair of the Friends of the College Advisory Council, congratulated families and graduates. She said, “All children are a gift, and children who learn differently are the best gift for the unique perspective they bring.” Addressing the graduates, Dr. Rancourt said, “You came to Landmark as gifts yet to be opened…and here, everyone can find the talents that live inside them. You have been given a magical gift—discovery of yourself as talented.”
Following the ceremony, a reception was held to honor the graduates in the Strauch Family Student Center. Landmark College congratulates the December 2013 graduates on their achievements.
Facts about the graduating class
- December 2013 graduates hailed from 13 states across the U.S. and one student came from Brussels.
- 25 students earned an associate degree in general studies and nine earned an associate degree in liberal studies; both of these well-balanced liberal arts degrees prepare students for further study at the bachelor’s level.
- Nearly one-fourth of the graduating class were members of the honor society Phi Theta Kappa, a distinction for students who demonstrate academic excellence with a starting grade point average of 3.5 or higher.
- 88 percent of Landmark College graduates continue their education by enrolling in a 4-year program, and the majority of those students eventually graduate with bachelor’s degrees
Landmark College was the first institution of higher learning to pioneer college-level studies for students with dyslexia. Today Landmark College, offering two and four-year degree options, a graduate-level certificate in universal design with technology integration, and summer programs for students who learn differently, is a global leader in integrated teaching methods for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, ADHD, and ASD. Students, faculty, and other professionals from all over the world are drawn to Landmark College for its innovative educational model—designed through research and practice to help all students who learn differently become confident, self-empowered, and independently successful learners.
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