Skating Champion Michelle Kwan, with an Honorary Doctorate, Addresses Southern Vermont College's Class of 2010

May 10, 2010

Watch Michelle Kwan's speech on YouTube.

View Commencement article on USA Today.

Michelle Kwan, the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history, received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Southern Vermont College on Saturday, May 8, at the College’s 83rd commencement exercises. “In most pursuits, you can’t look up on the scoreboard and know precisely where you stand, “ Kwan said in her keynote address. “And so most of the time, in your lives and careers, you’ll be the one scoring yourself. Let the standard be high.” 

Kwan, a California native, was named the nation’s first Public Diplomacy Envoy for the U.S. State Department in 2006, a role which has brought her to Argentina, Korea, China and Russia to speak to youth about America, its culture and values, and the life lessons learned through sports. She is currently a graduate student at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of International Affairs.  

James L. Wainscott, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Office of AK Steel Corporation, also received the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the commencement exercises. 

Southern Vermont College conferred associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees to 93 students on Saturday afternoon, a class that has achieved “remarkable successes,” according to President Karen Gross. Prior to the keynote address, two SVC graduates, Danielle Hume of Sheffield, Vt., and Heather Broome of Cambridge, N.Y., offered their classmates parting remarks. 

Eight graduates earned valedictory and salutatory honors. The traditional baccalaureate degree Valedictorian was David Gage of Gloversville, N.Y. The nontraditional baccalaureate degree Valedictorian was Kiki Smith of Bennington, Vt. The traditional baccalaureate degree Salutatorian student was Bethany Stolz of Hubbardston, Mass.; nontraditional baccalaureate degree Salutatorian was Mary LaBombard of Adams, Mass. 

In the associate’s degree program, the traditional Valedictorian student was Melissa Millett of Lenox, Mass. The nontraditional Valedictorian associate’s degree program student was Melissa Rousseau of Windsor, Mass. The traditional Salutatorian was Rebecca Maynes of Pittsfield, Mass. The nontraditional associate’s degree Salutatorian was Courtney Chittenden of Pownal, Vt. 

Three traditional awards were presented to graduating students. The William A. Glasser Award, honoring a student for achieving outstanding personal and academic growth while at the College, was given to Laura Sullivan of New Fairfield, Conn. The Lynda Curry Memorial Award, honoring the graduate who best exemplifies the fulfillment of the College’s mission, was given to Patricia St. Hilaire of Bennington. The Edward H. Everett Award, acknowledging numerous contributions to the Southern Vermont College community, was presented to Bethany Stolz of Hubbardston, Mass.