Commencement 2017: the 180th launch

By Keely Savoie

Mount Holyoke College will confer approximately 540 bachelor’s degrees at its 180th Commencement ceremony, which begins at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 21, in Gettell Amphitheater.

The College also will confer 32 master’s degrees and recognize 11 students for completing a post-baccalaureate program or a semester as a foreign exchange student or international guest.

Internationally renowned labor rights activist Dolores Huerta will give the keynote address.

Honorary degrees will be presented to Huerta as well as to ground-breaking photographer and documentarian Joan Biren ’66 and visionary entrepreneur and advocate for women Kathryn Finney.

The senior class has selected Anqa Khan ’17 as the student speaker. Khan will deliver a speech about activism and celebrating the resilience and revolutionary nature of Mount Holyoke students. A double major in biology and film studies, Khan plans to return to the New York City after graduating to work in the health sector before applying to medical school and public health programs.

Board member Debra Martin Chase ’77 will open the ceremony and acting president Sonya Stephens also will offer remarks. Graduates’ names will be read by James Hartley, professor of economics.

Admission to Commencement is by ticket only. The ceremony will be streamed live and available online, as well as on large screens in three locations: outside Porter Hall, in Blanchard Campus Center, and in Clapp Hall’s Hooker Auditorium.


At the Baccalaureate ceremony on Saturday, May 20, seniors will hear from classmates and faculty members selected by the graduating class. Jocelyn Mosman ’17 will read an original poem and Nanjiba Nawaz ’17 will deliver the student speech. James Hartley, professor of economics, and Amy Martin, professor of English, will also give speeches.

Acting President Stephens and Marcela Runell Hall, vice president of student life and dean of students, will also address the seniors at Baccalaureate. Musical selections will include the Commencement Choir’s performance of “Look To This Day!” by Bob Chilcott.

Baccalaureate will be held at 9:00 p.m. in Abbey Memorial Chapel and is open only to seniors due to limited space. Family and friends may view a live telecast online, or in Gamble Auditorium in the Art Building or Clapp Hall’s Hooker Auditorium.

Other Commencement weekend activities

Commencement is steeped in Mount Holyoke’s venerable traditions, from the graduating class’s last M&Cs to the Laurel Chain ceremony. Highlights include:

  • Blessing and Sending of seniors by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 17)

  • Welcome Ceremony for New Alumnae, during which the Alumnae Association gives seniors scarves in their class color, which is green this year. (3:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, for seniors only).

  • The Stoling Ceremony, during which students of color recognize the mentors who supported them during their time at Mount Holyoke (6 p.m. on Friday, May 19)

  • Senior Slideshow and Final M&Cs, one last chance to participate in Mount Holyoke’s popular milk-and-cookies tradition as students (9:30 p.m. on Friday, May 19, for seniors only).

  • Alumnae Parade and Laurel Chain ceremony (9 a.m. on Saturday, May 20).

  • The Canoe Sing on Lower Lake (10:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 20)

Complete information about Mount Holyoke’s Commencement weekend activities is available.