Tag Archives: graduation

Four Super Senior Febs You Should Have Gotten to Know (But You’ll Have to Off-Campus Because They Graduated Yesterday)

They entered Middlebury in February 2011. Now they leave us. But, hopefully (definitely) we’ll see them again.

middbeat presents four amusing interviews with members of the class of 2014.5.

  1. Katherine Elizabeth “Betsy” Neal
Betsy Neal '14.5

Betsy Neal ‘14.5

Hometown: Jackson, Wyoming

Age: 21

Major: Economics

Do you have any eccentric passions, hobbies, or skills?

I really like fly-fishing. Not that many people do it here. My dad taught me. You go out into a river on a dory, which is like a little rectangular boat made of wood or fiberglass. Or you can wade out into the river using waders. Then you cast out a line for fish. Last fall we went to Florida to fish on salt flats in very shallow water.

What do you remember about Feb orientation?

I remember being confused as to whether everything was mandatory or not, like all those small group meetings of six or so people.

 Tell us about a meaningful project or effort you were involved in.

One of my big efforts completely failed. When I first got here I was very into the environment. I tried to get the administration to put hand-dryers in the bathrooms instead of paper towels. They rejected the proposal saying it was a sanitation issue, which is false, because the new Dyson Airblade dryers don’t use hot air, and all the excess water sits at the bottom of the machine.

But another cool effort I’m involved in now is a class called “programming for novices.” So I’m making basic computer games.

 Tell us about a unique or memorable learning or classroom experience you had.

 The best class I took was “Environmental Negotiations and Dispute Resolutions.” It was an environmental studies class taught by a visiting professor. Each week the students were assigned different ‘roles,’ like an oil company or an environmental interest group, and after studying up on our roles we would represent our specific interests in a debate. For example, the topic might be hydroelectric dams in a Middle Eastern country: one or two groups would represent countries that would lose out on water if the dams were built and another group would be the Middle Eastern country who’d benefit from developing the dams. You’d be going into a negotiation room and different parties would fight for their interests. The class allowed you to understand different perspectives on these issues; and I realized that it was all about money, that’s what fueled these negotiations and decisions. So that influenced me to become an economics major.

 A teacher that you really liked and why.

I really like Professor Carpenter, who is on sabbatical right now. He’s an economics professor who taught me a seminar on behavioral economics. He also teaches Game Theory.

 What is Game Theory?

 The prisoner’s dilemma, getting the maximum economic output based on two people’s decision-making.

 How has Middlebury changed over the past four years? Positives + negatives…

I think it’s changed in negative ways. Obviously the social scene has suffered. Many social spaces (superblocks, social houses) have been reassigned, so the groups who live there are less likely to host parties. For example, it seems like the school no longer allow athletic teammates to live together. In the past, more natural friend groups occupied these social houses. Now, they are occupied by more forced groups convening around brochure-friendly themes, like “connectedness.”

Also, so many more people live off-campus. When I arrived to Midd in 2011, there were only one or two places off-campus that would have parties. Now you have perhaps six houses on Weybridge St. alone in which students live and throw parties.

What do you think about romantic relationships on campus?

I’ve never really wanted to be in a relationship at college, so I never analyzed the presence of, or lack of, a dating scene. So advice: don’t feel pressured to be in a relationship. 

Favorite Middlebury tradition or event? Why?

 Homecoming tailgate used to be my favorite tradition. R.I.P.

I do still enjoy Winter Carnival. I used to ski race on that weekend.

How do you hope your liberal arts degree will effect your life after college? 

It allows versatility in what you can do afterwards. For example, I got an internship in fashion at Oscar De La Renta the summer of 2013, and I took a Fall semester off to continue that internship. I scraped together my credits to graduate with my Feb Class this year. At Oscar de la Renta I focused on marketing which used my economics skills and all of the other classes I’ve taken at this liberal arts college.

Did you make any cool discoveries about Middlebury’s campus or system over the past four years?

I was really excited when I learned there is a path behind Dana auditorium that leads to E-Lot.

 What do you think about BannerWeb?

 It’s definitely annoying. I’ve gotten into most of the classes I’ve wanted by e-mailing teachers.

 Tell us about your favorite pair of shoes.

 I have this pair of Frye brown leather slip-ons that I’ve broken in so perfectly. Frye has warranty for two years. They were really dirty so I sent them in and Frye cleaned them.

How do you stay warm?

I have many jackets. Also, my mom discovered these Japanese pants that are lined with this incredibly soft fake-fur material that is used to make blankets.

  1. Benjamin Reuven Chaim Miller
Benjy Miller, '14.5

Benjy Miller, ‘14.5

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama

Age: 23

Major: Environmental Studies and Conservation Biology

Do you have any eccentric passions, hobbies, or skills?

Masseuse. Beat-boxer. Freestyle rapper.

I am passionate about everyone getting the opportunity to explore his or her passions, so equality.

What do you remember about Feb orientation?

 Public Safety busting people drinking in a room that I was in.

Tell us about a meaningful project or effort you were involved in.

Music in general. Midd has provided opportunities to explore music in a deeper way. I’m surrounded by talent here. I feed off of it, build upon it.

Tell us about a unique or memorable learning or classroom experience you had.

 This past semester I had the pleasure of teaching myself Adobe Illustrator in order to create OUTREACH MATERIALS that say things like “seeing with new eyes.”

A teacher that you really liked and why. 

I liked David Allen for being approachable and friendly, which makes the learning environment more casual and enjoyable. He made learning very enjoyable.

How has Middlebury changed over the past four years?

Public Safety has gotten way more focused on shutting down or inhibiting parties. Before, one would have a party every weekend that everyone on campus had the choice to attend – if they wanted – and one could drink there (if one wanted to) – and Public Safety wouldn’t shut it down. Now parties are shut down, creating more exclusive social environments. This makes it hard for freshman to interact with upperclassman; and everyone’s pissed at how quickly parties get shut down. Things felt more carefree four years ago.

Any love advice?

I’ve seen two things, either “thrive or dive.” Some of my friends have thrived in relationships; they became livelier, more vibrant people than before. I’ve seen others dive when they entered relationships, as they’ve become totally absorbed in their partners and less social, less fun.

Favorite Middlebury tradition or event?

The Middlebury College Hunger Games. Teams of five compete in various challenges in and around Middlebury and the winners of these “tasks” get to eat less during the eating competition. The team that finishes the eating competition fastest wins the Hunger games. The eating competition is very pickle-heavy.

How do you hope your liberal arts degree will effect your life after college?

My Middlebury education has taught me to think critically and be even more open-minded.

How do you stay warm?

Natural body heat.

(Two more awesome graduates beyond the jump)

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Commencement Speakers Kick Ass

Update: Jonathan Safran Foer published an adapted version of his Middlebury commencement address in the Sunday New York Times’ opinion pages (Midd gets cred at the bottom). It will be out in print tomorrow.

When we heard Jonathan Safran Foer was going to be the commencement speaker for the class of 2013 we rejoiced, predicting a great address. And, in our opinion, high expectations were met. He  made fun of Ron Liebowitz (the first four minutes are priceless–be sure to check out Liebowitz’s facial expressions), eloquently tackled perhaps the issue of our generation–technology and social networking–and how it affects experience and memory, confronted human mortality, and highlighted what is most important and meaningful about being human. It’s a speech that stands on its own, whose wisdom hopefully will be spread beyond Middlebury’s campus. Here is the end of his speech, our favorite part:

Most of the time most people aren’t crying in public but everyone is always in need of something another person can give, be it undivided attention, a kind word, or deep empathy. There is no better use of one’s life than to respond to those needs. There are as many ways to this as there are kinds of loneliness but all of them require presence. All of them require the will to do the necessary hard work of human computing, of making the choice to engage, of struggling with language, of risking getting it wrong, of discarding shell and making the empathic leap. This is the work of being human. It can be messy and painful and almost impossibly difficult, but it is not something that we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. And it is beautiful.


Preceding him was Bronwyn Oatley ’13 who did a beautiful job riffing on George Bernard Shaw’s quote, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” She highlighted ‘unreasonable’ achievements of Midd students like the Solar Decathlon house and  ‘unreasonable’ struggles overcome during the past four years like dealing with a mental illness while at Middlebury. She also praised the Middlebury community as a space for personal exploration and growth, using her own story of coming out as an example. Finally, she worked in some jokes about neti pots at Parton and the Campus being the only source for compelling news on campus (HAHAHA). Here it is in case you missed it:

We’ve heard that a certain film and media prof thought Safron Foer’s speech was “shallow technophobia” so clearly not everyone was as pumped about it as we were. Comment with your thoughts, agree with us, bring us down to earth, let us know your favorite quote from either speech.

(UPDATED) Commencement Moved Inside to Nelson Arena–People Are Pissed

We are guessing they are trying to avoid something like this.

We are guessing they are trying to avoid something like this.

UPDATE: It was announced at the Senior Class Photo earlier this afternoon that commencement would be limited seating because of capacity constraints. We now know from President Liebowitz’s all-school email (click below for the full email) that it will be in Nelson (not Kenyon as we previously reported) and limited to three ticked per person. It will also be simulcasted in Mead Chapel, McCullough Social Space, Dana Auditorium, and McCardell Bicentennial Hall. He cites safety as the main reason:

“…the weather forecast for Sunday morning is calling for 42-45 degrees, winds from the northwest at 20 mph, a wind chill of 39 degrees, and an 80% chance of rain.  In addition, the quad will be saturated following three days of significant rain and therefore dangerous for the 5,000 anticipated participants and guests. The size and scope of this event required us to make this decision this morning with the best information available.  Our primary concern is the safety of all our guests.”

People are pissed. Facebook Newsfeeds have blown up with variations of “WTF, MIDDLEBURY” and “this is UNJUST!!! #gradoutdoors” and pleas for everyone to send emails to Ron and Dean Collado begging them to keep graduation outside. A “We the Middkids” petition already has almost 300 votes, prompting Charlie to make this impassioned video:

It’s not surprising that people are angry and emotional about this, but we doubt any of the backlash from the graduates will amount to much. The institution can’t really budge when it comes to safety, and with 5,000 expected guests in attendance, the lawn would become a dangerous mud pit real quick. College kids can dance in the rain, but not the same can be said for grandmas in wheelchairs and uncles with walkers. Safety is the admin’s primary concern, but money is certainly of concern as well — it would cost thousands of dollars to replace the lawn after a muddy grad stampede. That said…we will let you if we hear more updates. Continue reading

Why Jonathan Safran Foer is Going to Give an Awesome Commencement Address

Jonathan Safran Foer will give the commencement address for the Class of 2013

Jonathan Safran Foer will give the commencement address for the class of 2013

If you haven’t heard yet, the Campus released who will give the commencement address for the Class of 2013 earlier this afternoon: author Jonathan Safran Foer, probably best known for his book Everything is Illuminated. This a really exciting choice for a number of reasons:

First of all, his books are really good so he’s probably really cool.

Second, the class of 2013 read Everything is Illuminated  for their first year orientation and there is nothing like coming full circle to make an experience significant–returning home on the hero’s journey if you will.

The third, and most exciting, reason is writers always make for WAY more interesting speeches then politicians, entrepreneurs and the like (only maybe actors come close). And Midd hasn’t had an interesting commencement address in a LONG time.

To prove our point and to get you excited for commencement, we made a list of our favorite commencement addresses by writers. They do everything they should do: inspire, entertain, challenge, and move:

1. David Foster Wallace “This is Water” (duh)–Kenyon College, 2005

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Super Senior Febs graduate, new Febs arrive

While you were out shreddin’ Vail, doing service in Central America, or chillin’ with the folks at home, around a 100 febs left and around 100 brand new febs came to replace them. Middbeat breaks it down for you.

First the Super Senior Feb’s graduated and it was sad. Ben Orbison’s speech was endearing and funny. Ron’s was nice too–you’d recognize it if you’ve ever been to a graduation because he uses the same one.


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