POULTNEY - Green Mountain College shook off the threat of rain
and awarded diplomas to 24 graduate students and 124 undergraduates
during its 176th commencement ceremony this past Saturday
Dianne Dillon-Ridgley, a national and international leader in
environmental sustainability, corporate responsibility and social
justice, addressed the graduates and received an honorary doctor of
laws degree from GMC.
"This stage is so crowded - my mother and my father are here in
spirit, and my grandparents are here," she said. She recounted
teachers, mentors and influential people including one of her
Howard College friends who died in a traffic accident.
"He might have been the brightest person I ever met in my life,"
she said. "So many of us were devastated when he passed. I felt
part of my responsibility was to live for, and to live up to, his
potential in the world - not as a burden but as a promise and a
commitment to his spirit and to his life."
Dillon-Ridgley is the chair and a trustee for CIEL (Center for
International Environmental Law) and has served as the U.N.
Headquarters representative for the Center for International
Environmental Law since 2005. She was appointed by the White House
to the U.S. delegation for the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, for the
United Nations General Assembly Special Session in New York in June
1997 (known as UNGASS-'97), and World Summit for Sustainable
Development in 2002 in South Africa, making her the only person to
serve on all three U.S. delegations.
In the private sector, Dillon-Ridgley has served as a director
at Interface, Inc., a global manufacturer of
environmentally-responsible modular carpet and an industry leader
in sustainable design since 1997. She also served as a director at
Green Mountain Energy, a leading retailer of renewably produced
Two students, Ernest Klepeis and Meiko Lunetta, also addressed
the crowd giving a join speech. In their spirited repartee, the duo
traded recollections of the class' activities in sustainability
over the past four years, including promotion of the "real food"
movement through the installation of a local food freezer, helping
with the opening of a community food co-operative in Poultney, and
construction of a new solar garage that will serve as a powering
station for an electric vehicle.
"Wherever you travel to, know that you impact the people you
meet. For years we have looked up to those who motivate and inspire
us. Know now that as you complete 16 or so years of schooling, you
are one of those role models who we watched crossing this stage in
years before us," said Lunetta of Francestown, N.H, a double major
in sustainable agriculture and environmental studies. "So stand out
- be someone who does yoga in airport."
"Or be the person who plays the devil's advocate," responded
Klepeis, of New Paltz, N.Y., a graduate of the college's
progressive program in visual/performing arts and philosophy.
"Aspire to become the person that others will draw inspiration
from," he concluded.
Photo by Tim Donaghy
Meiko Lunetta of Francestown, N.H. sung with the GMC choir
during Green Mountain College's commencement Saturday, May 11.
Lunetta was one of the student speakers at the event.