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Congratulations to the Class of 2024

Mitchell College Class of 2024

In a year the college is celebrating its 85th anniversary, Mitchell College held its 80th Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 11, on the college green with the Thames River as a backdrop. Under sunny skies and surrounded by cheering friends and family, graduates received their diplomas from President Tracy Y. Espy, Ph.D., who conferred 10 associate degrees and 102 bachelor degrees. More than half of 2024 graduates were Honor Society Members and almost two-thirds earned the distinction of cum laude or higher.

President Espy noted in her remarks that she felt a special connection to the Class of 2024, having started at Mitchell College around the same time as the students in 2020. She also noted that many in this class did not enjoy a high school graduation celebration due to the pandemic, making this ceremony even more special and memorable.

Keynote Speaker

Dan Holdridge, M.S., a 9/11 survivor who was working and injured at the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 hit, delivered the keynote address and implored the class to live in gratitude and kindness. “There is not a September 12 for everyone,” he said, “so live with no regrets.”

Holdridge told the class that the two most important days of our lives are “the day we were born and the day we figured out why,” and he shared the acronym “H.E.R.O.” (Help Everyone Regardless of Outcome). “We all have a hero within us to act when people need us, to provide hope when everything seems hopeless. The world needs heroes now more than ever—it’s radically possible, powerfully you,” he said.

Student Address

Class speaker Anthony Marini thanked the Mitchell College community of faculty, staff, and coaches, along with his family, for helping him reach graduation day. He reminded the Class of 2024 that life is never perfect, but adversities are “our most valuable teachers.” Quoting Rocky Balboa from the movie “Rocky” he said, “If you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits and not point fingers, saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or nobody. Cowards to that, and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!”

Marini reminded the class that life’s ups and downs have “fashioned you into the people you are now: resilient, eager, and ready to leave your mark on the world,” and urged the class to “accept diversity in all its forms and look for opportunities to learn from others whose experiences differ from yours.”

Success is not only measured by accomplishments, he said, but by the lives you touch. He shared a Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King quote: “The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy.”

Academic Achievement

The 2024 Board of Trustees Award for Academic Achievement was presented to valedictorian William “Will” Marshall Dreier for achieving the highest GPA. The award was presented by Richard “Rick” D’Avino, J.D., chair of the Board of Trustees.

The 2024 Faculty Award for Academic Achievement was presented to salutatorian Jenna Marie Bennett for achieving the second highest GPA. The award was presented by Christine Ramsay, Ph.D., chair of the Faculty Committee of the Whole.

Alumni Charge

Johnathan Atkinson ’16, M.Ed., president of the Mitchell College Alumni Association, gave the alumni charge to the Class of 2024, welcoming them to the ranks of Mitchell College alumni. As the first class to enroll in the newly re-established Alumni Association, he urged the class to commit to helping the alumni community grow stronger. “You are part of a legacy now—a legacy of excellence, of reliance, of making a difference,” he said.

The Rev. Carolyn Patierno, M.Div., senior minister of All Souls New London, gave the invocation and benediction. The Mitchell College Select Chorus performed several choral pieces led by Prof. Jonathan “Jono” Babbitt, M.M.

Mitchell College graduates 112 students, Mitchell College

Keynote Speaker Dan Holdridge, M.S.
9/11 Survivor