St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the state’s public honors college, graduated 414 students with Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees on Saturday, May 13, outdoors on the campus’ Townhouse Green.
The commencement address was delivered by Neil Irwin ’00, a senior economic correspondent at The New York Times and author of “The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers and a World on Fire” (Penguin Press, 2013). He is an alumnus of St. Mary’s College and served as a member of the College’s Board of Trustees from 2007 to 2013. Irwin told graduates, “St. Mary’s College of Maryland has left you with the intellectual tools to shape your decisions.” Irwin was presented with an honorary degree from St. Mary’s College’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees Sven Holmes.
Also receiving honorary degrees from St. Mary’s College were Elfreda Talbert Mathis and Janice Talbert Walthour. Mathis and Walthour are sisters who were born and raised locally during the turbulent time of segregation and the Civil Rights Movement. Both returned to St. Mary’s County after their education to continue to work in the St. Mary’s County public schools. Both are extremely active in the community, serving on numerous boards and committees. Walthour is also the current president of the St. Mary’s County Branch of the NAACP.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, President Tuajuanda C. Jordan charged the Class of 2017 with the following: “You have done well here at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where you have studied and learned in the finest liberal arts tradition. As you move beyond the banks of this river into the world, my expectation is that you will take your passions, your skills, and the knowledge you have gained in this place to create a more just and humane society for all.”
The valedictorian of the graduating class was Adeline Schlussel, of Doylestown, Pa. In her remarks, Schlussel spoke about St. Mary’s River as an estuary, “a place of convergence where fresh water mixes with salt water. Estuaries are a strange border between the land and the sea, and that makes them places of change.” Using this analogy, she told her fellow graduates, “These experiences, and more importantly these people, are the nutrients that will allow us not only to survive, but to thrive, in this strange and scary and thrilling time of transition that we now find ourselves in.” Schlussel is a Nitze Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Beta Beta Beta and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies. She is co-president of the St. Mary’s River Project and AVATAR. Schlussel will intern in the Coastal Conservation and Research Program at the Wetlands Institute in New Jersey as she pursues a career in coastal ecology research and education.
Click here for photos