December Champlain Graduates Honored at Intimate Reception

Family and friends gather in Champlain's Hauke Conference Room for the December Graduation

BURLINGTON, Vt., (Dec. 8, 2014) -- A reception was held Saturday for 49 undergraduate students and three graduate students completing their degree programs after the Fall 2014 semester. Along with remarks from President Donald Laackman and Provost Dr. Laurie Quinn, three graduating students spoke to family and friends gathered in Hauke Conference Center. Speaking on behalf of traditional undergraduates was Caitlin Douglas of Farmington, ME, and representing Champlain College Online adult students, Mary Wilson. Katrina Bennett of Colchester, Vt., was the graduate student representative speaker.

President Laackman welcomed students and families with a speech of thankfulness for the support of friends and family and pride for being a Champlain graduate. "For the rest of your life, every time you apply for a job, offer yourself up for nomination to a board or run for office, you will have a resume that includes your degree from Champlain College. It is a mark of distinction and achievement. Be proud," he said.

He invited students and their families to join him at the spring commencement ceremony in May, but spoke of the true value of this intimate mid-year reception. "Today, we come together to honor graduates of Champlain College. We also have a graduation ceremony in the spring, and some of you may choose to participate in that ceremony, too. That ceremony is full of pomp and circumstance. The ceremony today, however, is more intimate. It gives us the opportunity for more personal interaction. And in that way, it is a gathering in keeping with the value of Champlain's human touch."

Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Laurie Quinn then announced each student speaker before calling names to confer the degrees.

Graduate degree recipient Katrina Bennett and President Donald LaackmanKatrina Bennett received her Masters of Science in Mediation and Applied Conflict Studies. She currently works as the Associate Director of Financial Aid at Champlain College and was recently elected as the Vice President of Staff Council. She noted that she has been able to utilize the skills learned in the program every day at work and volunteering at the Burlington Community Justice Center, including how to be an active listener, deescalate heated situations and how to help others in conflict. "I have gained so much more than just a masters degree through this program," she noted. "All the skills I have learned through this program are invaluable to me, and I cherish the journey of personal growth this program took me on."

Caitlin Douglas '14 speaks about personal growthBefore setting off to study abroad in Dubrovnik, Croatia last fall, graphic design and digital media graduate Caitlin Douglas shared the story of how she re-invented herself during college. "It's so easy to worry what others think of you whether that be by starting a conversation, not having a cool story of your own, not being beautiful enough and by asking too many questions. But when you can see how much freedom all of those things give you, you can discover what an advantage you have. You are more confident, people enjoy talking with you, you are happy, you know what you want and you can still have fun.

"So in summary, open your mouth, listen to learn not to respond, own who you are, be upfront, ask for clarification and don't stop imagining, because Neal Walsch said, ‘life begins where your comfort zone ends,'" Douglas said.

Mary Wilson, CPSMary Wilson, a Champlain College Online student, was presented with a bachelor's degree in Accounting on Saturday. She plans to continue her career in Human Resources and use her accounting degree in her retirement from HR to achieve her dream. She spoke very highly of her advisor Travis Perry and caring, passionate instructors online and in-person.

Upon the completion of student speakers, Quinn invited President Laackman and Dylan Cullen '17, President of the Student Government Association (SGA), to gather at the podium to confer 51 degrees. Since 2013, the SGA has funded the College's tradition to present a Vermont handcrafted wooden Champlain Spyglass to graduating students in hopes that they will be placed at their place of employment to remind them of their time at Champlain.

Photos from the reception and ceremony can be found and downloaded for personal use at

Graduate students presented with a Champlain spyglass and master's degree on Saturday are:

Katrina Bennett, MS, Mediation and Applied Conflict Studies
Richard Parks, Masters of Business Administration
Christopher Weaver, Managing Innovation and Information Technology

Undergraduate and Champlain College Online students presented with a Champlain spyglass and bachelor's degree on Saturday are:

Tia Aiello, Early Childhood/Elementary Education
Alison Barnes, Public Relations
Jeffrey Blair, Graphic Design & Digital Media
Anna Charland, Psychology
Patrick Coggins, Communication
Matthew Considine, Computer and Digital Forensics
Stephanie Dale, Graphic Design & Digital Media
Ann Del Moro, Environmental Policy
Kristi Dickinson, Health Care Administration
Lawuo Dolo, Accounting
Caitlin Douglass, Graphic Design & Digital Media
Taylor Downs, Marketing
Alexander Dragos, Business
Hunter Emery, Criminal Justice
Kevin Frank, Criminal Justice
Daniele Graziani, Business Administration
Alexander Greenberg, Marketing
Kimberly Gregg, Communication
Benjamin Heitmann, Broadcast & Streaming Media
Paige Humphrey, Business Administration
Alexander Joch, Broadcast & Streaming Media
Lawrence King, Professional Studies
Andrew Kunkel, Communication
Jack Lang, International Business
Max Lazebnik, Graphic Design and Digital Media
Brittany LeClair, Early Childhood/Elementary Education
Anthony Lefemine, Communication
Andrew Maiarino, Communication
Daniel McKeown, Computer Networking and Information Security
Eric Mekelburg, Business Administration
Kristy Miller, Paralegal
Sandra Murphy, Public Relations
Ann Murray, Accounting
Christian Ntsiba Gassuet, Network Security and Administration
Dillon Palmer, Criminal Justice
Colin Powers, Public Relations
Amy Quaglietta, Business Management
Rita Richardson, Business Management
Danielle Ring, Integrated Studies
William Risley, Business Administration
Robert Rosit, Graphic Design & Digital Media
Katelyn Sawyer, Criminal Justice
Karly Terrio, Communication
Mary Trepanier, Health Care Management
Tyler Uhlendorff, Graphic Design & Digital Media
Veronica Weaver, Graphic Design & Digital Media
Mary Wilson, Accounting
Hongxia Zhao, Accounting

More information about the Spring 2015 Commencement can be found at

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit