WATERVILLE — Resilience and perseverance were the two words used to describe the spirit of the Colby College Class of 2022 at Sunday’s graduation ceremony on Mayflower Hill in Waterville.

As is tradition, commencement exercises were held on the lawn in front of Miller Library, with about 540 students from 36 states and 23 countries receiving degrees.

Jordan McClintock, a science, technology and society major from Wading River, New York, served as class speaker, describing the tumultuous road her classmates have navigated over the past four years.

“As a class, we’ve seen the world change right before our eyes,” McClintock said. “We have seen the effects reach Mayflower Hill, which acts as a microcosm to the world around us.”

A new graduate reveals her excitement Sunday morning before receiving her diploma during commencement exercises at Colby College in Waterville Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

McClintock said as a class, the graduates have been witness to a nation and world devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and through this, “racism, sexism, ableism, classism and bigotry persist.”

In these four years, she said, students have watched a slew of historical events unfold, including the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis, the Black Lives Matter movement, the 2020 election, gun violence multiplying around the county, the Jan. 6 insurrection and the ongoing fight to protect women’s reproductive rights.


“During out last four years here,” McClintock said, “history has unfolded right before our very eyes.”

New Colby College graduates are congratulated Sunday during the recessional at the Waterville college. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Even her arrival at Colby College felt tumultuous, McClintock said, as she found herself failing classes and struggling to find a social balance. During her first semester, she felt like her acceptance into Colby was a mistake, an anomaly, describing the imposter syndrome she felt during that time, and how grueling it was, spending late nights working at Miller Library, working through academic warnings.

“Colby is a complex institution that has changed so much in the last few decades, thanks to students and faculty that continue to advocate for a more inclusive school,” McClintock said.

She thanked her mother, who has led McClintock by example

Following graduation, McClintock plans to travel to Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and Malta to undertake a project of compiling health care narratives of child refugees thru nonprofits, health care advocates and displaced families.

“We are inspired by these remarkable individuals,” said David A. Greene, president of Colby College. “Collectively, they have shaped policies that have bettered the lives of countless people and communities, illuminated issues that deserve our focused attention and action and brought beauty and art into our lives.”


Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson delivers the commencement address Sunday during the graduation ceremony at Colby College in Waterville. Colby President David A. Greene is seated next to Wilkerson. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Isabel Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, delivered the commencement address to the new graduates, their families and other guests.

Wilkerson, the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism, is the author of “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” and “The Warmth of Other Suns.”

“(With) what we have been through as a nation, as a planet and as a species, I am in awe of the graduating class of 2022 and of the entire generation that is now entering the world,” Wilkerson said. “You arrived on campus as freshmen in the before times. Little could any of us know what was to come when you were sent home during the spring of 2020.”

Colby College graduates walk Sunday morning through archways adorned with balloons or lights at the close of the graduation ceremony on Mayflower Hill in Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Wilkerson compared the country to an old house. She said wind, flood and human distemper have battered a structure “that is already fighting whatever flaws were left unattended in the original foundation.”

“Here we are, current occupants of a property with stress cracks and bowed walls and fissures build int he foundation, we are the heirs to whatever is right or wrong with it,” Wilkerson said. “They are ours to deal with now, any further deterioration is in our hands.”

Wilkerson joined five others receiving honorary degrees at the ceremony, including Maulian Dana, ambassador for the Penobscot Nation; Dr. Nirav Shah, director of Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention; Ana Rowena Mallari, cofounder, CEO and board chair of QuestBridge; Eric Rosengren, outgoing chair of the Colby College board of trustees; and artist Jamie Wyeth.

Honorary degrees are given to those who have made important contributions through their professional pursuits, commitment to community and generosity of spirit, according to Colby.

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