Spring Commencement Honors Largest Class in History of College
by Madeline Bergstrom
PUTNEY, Vt.--Rain was in the forecast, but it was beneath a cloudless blue sky that a record 66 graduates entered the Click Family Sports Center on May 17, 2014, for Landmark College’s Commencement.
Led by a bagpiper, the robed faculty, staff, and graduates processed into the packed athletic center. The Rev. Craig Breismeister, a Landmark College alumnus, delivered the invocation.
Dr. Peter Eden, Landmark College’s president, then took the stage. “We’re breaking new ground at this college,” he said, invoking not only the size of this year’s graduating class but also the literal groundbreaking that will occur on the quad in August, when construction will begin on the Nicole Goodner MacFarlane Science, Technology & Innovation Center.
In April, Dr. Eden noted, the College hosted a gala fundraising dinner in New York City, awarding the first Landmark College LD Luminary Award to Whoopi Goldberg. In her acceptance speech at the event, Goldberg said, “For many years, teachers and educators thought I was lazy, and put me in the slow class... But my mom said, ‘You're just different.’”
In his commencement address, Dr. Eden noted that Goldberg made it big “through perseverance and grit”—and through the tireless support of her mother. “We have a lot of moms and dads in the audience today,” Dr. Eden added, “who always believed in these graduates.”
Michael Luciani, Dean of Students, presented the 2014 Community Service Award to Jessica Brockway, praising her belief that “this is our community, and it’s our responsibility to work hard and make it the best we can."
Two students were honored with the Academic Dean’s Award. Presenter Jill Hinckley, Associate Academic Dean, described honoree Michaela Hearst’s “big desire to learn” and said that Denise Manning Higgins had described her as a “ubiquitous force on campus.” Hinckley noted that when she asked faculty for comments on the other honoree, David Gardner, “the word ‘amazing’ was used no less than a dozen times.”
Dr. Eden presented the Charles Drake Award to J. Patrick McKenna, who will be continuing his education in Ohio, where he will also play Division 2 baseball. The President’s Award went to two exemplary students, James Stockwell and Emily Carey (pictured at right).
One of the distinctive features of a Landmark College graduation is that each student is given the opportunity to speak. On this day, dozens of students chose to take the microphone—some giving prepared speeches, others noting that they had not planned to speak but felt inspired in the moment.
Nolan Brown said, “Landmark College saw the best in me and decided to take a chance by accepting me.” Anna Dalgleish thanked her teachers for “teaching me how to learn again, and how to write again, and how to find my passion.” Carol Ann Doherty said, “I surprised myself in just how well I can do when I believe in myself.”
Three students took selfies at the podium, including one who called President Eden up to join him, and another who said that he would share the photo with his family, who were not able to be there.
Patrick McKenna told the crowd that there had been a teacher in high school who had told him he would not go to college—but that he now plans to become an LD teacher so that he can work with students like himself. Emily Carey said, “I’m off to the University of Denver in the fall with a merit scholarship based on my accomplishments here.” Gurdev Khanduja shared that he has “gone from missing deadlines and dropping classes to ending this semester with all A’s.”
In Fall 2012, Landmark College began offering two new Associate of Science degrees in the fields of Life Sciences and Computer Science/Gaming. Among the graduates honored at this Commencement were the College's first seven Life Sciences graduates and the first five Computer Science/Gaming graduates. One of the Life Sciences graduates was Katherine Wright, who said, “I gave Landmark a chance, and I fell in love with science—and with the whole place.”
One of the first Computer Science degree recipients was Sean Halnon, who stated, “This is a tiny first step into what I’m capable of doing.”
The Class of 2014 presented a Class Gift of $2,910 to the College. The donation will be used toward scholarships and to purchase a colorful stained glass image of a brain, which will hang in the new Science, Technology & Innovation Center after the building is completed in 2015.
Tricia Stanley, Associate Director of Alumni Relations, spoke about her own journey as a person with a dyslexia, noting that when people told her “NO” in the past, she interpreted it as “ON,” going on to earn her master’s degree and land her dream job at Landmark. Robert Lewis, chair of the Landmark College Board of Trustees, congratulated the graduates and noted how moved the trustees were by their words and their achievements.
Graduate Jamie Putman summed up the tone of the morning in her speech:
“I was quiet, shy—Landmark has given me so much. What it’s given me is a voice. And here I am. Thank you.”
Spring 2014 Graduates
The asterisk indicates members of Phi Theta Kappa, the Honor Society for students earning two-year degrees.
Associate of Arts in General Studies
Nolan Brown *
Anna Dalgleish *
Carol Ann Doherty
Johnathan Ehritz *
David Gardner *
Anastasia Hubberts *
Zachary Labbadia *
Audra McGowan *
J. Patrick McKenna
Eleanor Hannah Miller
Jamie Putman *
Nicolas Shallcross *
Tristan van Deinse
Isabella Varriale *
Kate Weinstein *
Associate of Arts in Liberal Studies
Emily Carey *
Brian Clarke *
Michael Esposito *
Michaela Hearst *
Jonathan McCulley *
Omoefe Ogbeide *
Steven Vitt *
Associate of Arts in Business Studies
Associate of Arts in Life Sciences
Rachel Deng *
Daniel Gauvin *
Milan Patel *
James Stockwell *
Associate of Science in Computer Science/Gaming
Spencer Iuliano *
Kyle Vanderwiel *
Landmark College was the first institution of higher learning to pioneer college-level studies for students with dyslexia. Today, Landmark College offers two and four-year degree options, a graduate level certificate in universal design with technology integration, and summer programs for students who learn differently. The College 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.