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May 23 Colby Commencement Blends Local and International Themes
Students from 33 states and 21 foreign countries received degrees at Colby College's 183rd commencement on Sunday, May 23, but there was no shortage of Central Maine content. Richard Russo, whose award-winning novel Empire Falls is closely associated with the area, was the commencement speaker. The Class of 2004's valedictorian and class marshal was Justin Juskewitch of Mercer, Maine, a few miles to the west. And the class speaker, elected by members of the Class of 2004, was Catherine Chuprevich from Monmouth, Maine.
Graduation ceremonies began at 10 a.m. on the lawn of Miller Library. Russo, who holds the rank of professor at Colby and taught a fiction class this year, accepted an honorary doctor of letters degree and was onstage when his daughter Kate Russo received her bachelor of arts degree from President William D. Adams.
The Class of 2004 numbered 485 and included the first group of Davis-United World College Scholars, who came to Colby for four years from countries all over the world*. In 2000 Shelby M.C. Davis and his family offered to pay the full financial need of any student who completed one of the 10 international secondary schools known as United World College (UWC) and gained admission to Colby or to four other American colleges. The Davises now spend approximately $15 million a year on scholarships that send UWC graduates to those colleges and on partial scholarships to 45 other schools. This year they paid the full financial aid for 96 Davis-UWC scholars attending Colby.
Davis, the founder of the investment company Davis Selected Advisers, L.P., received an honorary doctor of laws degree and was on hand to congratulate the 13 inaugural Davis-UWC scholars. Others receiving honorary doctoral degrees from Colby were Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the first African-American to serve as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Barry Mazur, university professor at Harvard and a mathematician who specializes in number theory and algebraic geometry; and Bernice Johnson Reagon, founder of the Grammy Award-winning a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock.
Receiving her degree as a member of the Class of 2004 was Ellen M. Corey of China, Maine. The 59-year-old assistant director of donor relations began working in Colby's development office as a temporary secretary 22 years ago. She took classes for credit in 16 of those years and graduates this month with a major in Russian studies and membership in the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa national academic honor society.
* Class of 2004 Davis-UWC Scholars are from Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Jordan, Sudan, Macedonia, Zimbabwe, Serbia, Argentina, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand.
Information about Colby's commencement, including biographical material on honorary degree recipients, is online at www.colby.edu/commencement.
A high-resolution image of Richard Russo is available for publication.
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