Student News

Class of 2021 Hits the Ground Running

On May 28-29, Bennington College will celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2021 at the 86th Commencement—this year with Ford Foundation President Darren Walker. Learn more about graduate outcomes across the years. 

2021 Commencement Speakers

The 2021 Commencement Speaker will be Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, a $14 billion international social justice philanthropy. He is widely recognized as one of the leading thinkers about philanthropy’s role in catalyzing change, refocusing the Ford Foundation’s work to focus squarely on reducing inequality of all kinds. He chaired the philanthropy committee that brought a resolution to the city of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy. Under his leadership, the Ford Foundation became the first non-profit in US history to issue a $1 billion designated social bond in US capital markets for proceeds to strengthen and stabilize non-profit organizations in the wake of COVID-19.

Soumya Rachel Shailendra '21 will be this year's student speaker at Commencement. Soumya, who studied Drama and Literature during her time at Bennington, has not only focused on social movements and politics while in the classroom, but also helped create inclusive communities outside of the classroom. She was a founding student of the Consortium of Forced Migration, Displacement, and Education, and she encouraged meaningful conversations by starting an interfaith club for her peers. Soumya’s passion and fierce dedication to equity and freedom—particularly in today’s challenging climate—will continue to shape the College and community for years to come.

Music faculty member Michael Wimberly will be this year’s faculty speaker at Commencement. He will address Bennington’s class of 2021 during the Conferring of Degrees on Saturday, May 29, at 10:00 am. Wimberly is a celebrated and prolific composer/sound designer, and percussionist who has scored films such as As An Act of Protest and Atlantic City Lights for HBO. Wimberly has performed with funk legends Parliament Funkadelic, Brit songstress Joss Stone, and Steve Coleman's 5 Elements. He received his MA in Percussion from the Manhattan School of Music in New York, NY, and his BA in Percussion from Baldwin Wallace University/Conservatory in Berea, Ohio. Music of the African Diaspora and improvisation has become key components of Wimberly’s musical excavations and explorations. He released his latest album, “Afrofuturism,” on the Temple Mountain Record (TMR) in 2021.

Friday's Commencement speeches and Saturday’s Conferring of Degrees ceremony will be available to watch on the College’s Commencement webpage

In and Beyond the Classroom

Alongside community members and peers, Biborka Beres ’21 and Sbobo Ndlangamandla ’21 examined the unfolding COVID-19 crisis from an interdisciplinary perspective as part of the remote summer pop-up course, Understanding and Responding to COVID-19, Crisis and Quarantine.

William Shepard ’21’s senior project in Ecology focused on the impact of spatial factors and seasonal change on the temperature structures of forest edges. Student reporter Soumya Shailendra ’21 interviewed Shepard about his work.

For her senior work, Amy Anders ’21 recorded and arranged a full-length LP of her original songs, entitled Flea at the Opera, which was broadcast on Bennington College Radio (B-rad) and has been released on Bandcamp and Spotify.

For Zen Beattie ’21, his senior project in Architecture included exploring a more ecologically sustainable architectural practice, through the process of redesigning and recreating a gardening shed on campus. Student reporter Soumya Shailendra ’21 interviewed Beattie about his work.

Delaney Circe ’21 starred in and directed a socially distanced, outdoor production of The Amish Project, which tells the story of the fictionalized aftermath of the 2006 Nickel Mines, PA, Amish schoolhouse shooting.

Joshua Goldberg ’21 directed a socially distanced, outdoor production of Salt Off a Bird’s Tail by Ruby Lee Lowenstein ’21, with set and prop design by Alicia Katz ’21 and costume design by Isabel Sheehan ’21.

Martha Bennett ’21 and Larry Dembski ’21 wrote and performed an outdoor and socially distanced production of their solo performances for Kirk Jackson’s Solo Performance: Telling My Story course. Bennett’s piece was entitled “With a Side of Tabasco;” Dembski’s piece was “For the Young Ones.”

Students in Kirk Jackson’s Directing II class—including Martha Bennett ’21, Biborka Beres ’21, Louis Celt ’21, Delaney Circe ’21, Lydia Duff ’21, Lane Hill ’21, Brooks Hope ’21, Alicia Katz ’21, Sonise Lumbaca ’21, and Benjamin Tersigni ’21—produced and directed socially distanced and virtual theatre pieces. 

EuropeNow Journal spotlighted writing and projects conducted by Elbunit Kqiku '21, Jann Moreno '21, Sitashma Parajuli '21, Suzie Rejali '21, Valeria Sibrian Quijada '21, and Soumya Shailendra ’21 in partnership with the Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement, and Education.

Duncan Allen ’21 contributed to research for CAPA at Bennington College’s second commission from the U.S. State Department's Office of Art in Embassies, which will be for the art collection at the new U.S. Consulate in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

In Nick Brooke’s course The Five Obstructions, Izzy Ioffreda ’21, Casey Loehr ’20, Annabelle McLennan ’21, Jann Moreno ’21, Henry Munson ’20 wrote, rewrote, and performed original songs in varying genres and styles.

As an assignment for Sherry Kramer's Adaptation course, Sonise Lumbaca '21 wrote Can't Weed All Just Get a Bong?, a modern-day adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Bennington Drama students, including David Guzman ’21, Brooks Hope ’21, and Alicia Katz ’21, presented a Zoom reading of the script.

Students in Jean Randich's Directing I: The Director’s Vision—including Timothy Atkinson '21, Martha Bennett '21, Louis Celt '21, Delaney Circe '21, Lane Hill '21, Brooks Hope '21, Alicia Katz '21, Sonise Lumbaca '21, Isabel Sheehan '21, and Benjamin Tersigni '21staged, recorded, and edited short video responses to Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 

In the culmination of the Bennington Plays Drama course, Martha Bennett ’21, Delaney Circe ’21, Larry Dembski ’21, Olivia Fassenella ’21, Joshua Goldberg ’21, Brooks Hope ’21, Sonise Lumbaca ’21, Jelena Mijatovic ’21, and Isabel Sheehan ’21 presented their original works of theater, online and on air. 

Students in Kerry Ryer-Parke's Sing course, including Martha Bennett ’21, Elmina David ’21, Alli von Hirschberg ’21, Lydia Duff ’21, and Akanchya Maskay ’21, participated in a virtual arrangement of Love Is Love Is Love Is Love by Abbie Betinis. Sylvia Minehan ’21 assistant edited the resulting video. 

Awards and Honors

Dabin Jeong ’21 is among the recipients of the Bennington Undergraduate Writing Fellowships for 2021, which allows a select group of undergraduate writers working in poetry, fiction, or literary nonfiction the opportunity to further their study of craft with a remote residency at Bennington’s MFA in Writing program. Daisy Clennon ’21 and Delilah Silberman ’21 were selected as alternates for the fellowship.

Jeong also published her translation of "Chumui dokbang" in a Korean online magazine that publishes multiple translations of a single Korean poem, with commentary from the Editor. Read more about Jeong’s Plan at Bennington, as told by student reporter Ashley Escobar ’22.

Ara Aman ’21 and Sbobo Ndlangamandla ’21 were featured as panelists at the Williams College Museum event Carrie Mae Weems: In Conversation. Learn more about Bennington College’s Usdan Gallery’s regional participation in Carrie Mae Weems’s Resist COVID/TAKE 6!

Works by Ara Aman ’21, Sbobo Ndlangamandla ’21, and Collette O’Brien ’21 were featured as part of the Bennington-Williams Student Exhibition, held at the Cynthia-Reeves Gallery on the campus of MASS MoCA.

Cassandra Taylor '21 published her short story "A Division of Six" in an anthology of Epic Fantasy Short Stories.

During summer 2021, Sbobo Ndlangamandla ’21 will complete her Davis Project for Peace, a remotely run project that educates teens in Swaziland about menstrual health. This work is an extension of Ndlangamandla’s advanced work in Public Action.  

Lydia Duff ’21 published a collection of her translations of Classical Chinese poetry excerpted from the Chu Ci in the virtual publication (M)othertongues.

Annabelle McClennan '21Jann Moreno '21Daniel O'Connor '21, and Ako Shergazy '21 were the recipients of the John Hendrick '86 Memorial Music Award, which is given annually to gifted Bennington student composers chosen by the music faculty. 

Graduate Studies and Future Plans

Bennington graduates bring innovation, creativity, and drive to their work. With an average of ten progressive work experiences woven into their self-driven educational Plan, Bennington graduates are uniquely prepared for the world of work, earning rave reviews from the College’s network of employer partners.

Aislinn O'Leary ’21 will be attending the University of Michigan for their Masters of Urban and Regional Planning Program. 

Soumya Rachel Shailendra ’21 will be starting a PhD in Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University, Illinois. Shailendra's research will focus on the production of memory and the literary representations of mourning in Dalit and African American literature of the twentieth century. Soumya has also been awarded a Mellon Cluster fellowship in Comparative Race and Diaspora studies to complete her graduate research. 

Delilah Silberman ’21 will be attending The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop for an MFA in Poetry. In June, Silberman’s poem "The Conversation" will be published in the literary magazine Hobart.

As a capstone to her studies in Sociolinguistics and Social Psychology, Malhy Méndez ’20 completed a thesis entitled Ni de Aquí, Ni de Allá: The Impact of Bilingualism and Identity on the Social Development of Children of Latinx Immigrants in Austin, TX and Surrounding Regions, based on her own linguistic field interviews. Since graduating in December 2020, Méndez has taken her skills to work as a Spanish language annotation analyst for Apple. 

Lane Hill ’21 is a finalist for the Professional Apprentice Program with the Drama Division at The Juilliard School. At Bennington, Hill focused on Drama and Dance and looks forward to diving into Arts Administration upon graduation.

Emma Boehme ’21 will be beginning a Master’s program at the Sposato School of Education in the Fall. She will be teaching Math and Biology to High School students as she pursues her Masters of Effective Teaching.

Huma Javeed ’21 has applied for the Policy & Research Coordinator position at Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives. Javeed's studies at Bennington centered around Political Science and Environmental Science.

Ludmilla Puchulú Mocchiutti ’21 will start a position as Legal Intake Specialist at Volunteer Lawyers Project. Puchulu seeks to enter the field of immigration law and refugee resettlement.

For three years during her time at Bennington, Cassandra Taylor ’21 worked as a classroom assistant with the Head Start program in North Bennington. Building upon this work, Taylor intends to join Family Access in West Newton, MA, after graduation. 

Tamar Giligashvili ’21 will be attending California Institute of the Arts to pursue an MFA in Film and Video. Giligashvili’s film FORTUNETELLER was featured in five different film festivals throughout the United States: DAS NYC Experimental Microshorts, BraveMaker Film Fest, Boston Student Film Festival, NewFilmmakers NY and SPLICE Film Festival.

For summer 2021, David Guzman ’21 has been offered a dance residency called another audience, in which he will be performing for the lichen communities of the Abenaki Land.

Kemly Derby ’21 has applied for a position as the Litigation Assistant for the Toxics Exposure and Health Program at Earth Justice. Derby seeks to enter the field of Environmental Law.

Melih Meric ’21 has been awarded the Director’s Fellowship at Cranbrook Academy of Art, where Meric will be pursuing an MFA in Print Media. 

After graduation, Bailey Fox ’21 will be staying in Bennington to continue a Vermont state research bid with faculty members Alisa Del Tufo and Emily Waterman. The team will be researching the effectiveness of restorative interventions for 16-26 year olds who are engaging in intimate partner violence. This project will last another year and ultimately will include restorative program suggestions for this demographic.

Do you, your employer, or others in your network have entry-level job openings? Submit opportunities for graduating seniors. To learn more about hiring Bennington talent, visit Recruit Bennington or contact Sarah Clader, Associate Director of Career Development.

We Work Here 

Work-integrated learning has been integral to a Bennington education since its founding. Through their four Field Work Term experiences, the class of 2021 explored passions, made professional connections, and gained work experience at institutions ranging from the Henry Luce Foundation, Highlands Biological Station, International Rescue Committee, New American Cinema Group, the Vermont State Senate, and more.  

Members of the class of 2021 participated in The Lucille Lortel Theatre Foundation Fellowships in Theatre, a grant program offering internships during Field Work Term in off-Broadway non-profit theater companies for exceptional Bennington drama students.

Timothy Atkinson ’21, Martha Bennett ’21, Delaney Circe ’21, Larry Dembski ’21, Joshua Goldberg ’21, Lane Hill ’21, Brooks Hope ’21, Alicia Katz ’21, Jelena Mijatovic '21, and Benjamin Tersigni '21 worked at The Flea Theater, La MaMa, MCC Theater, Mint Theater Company, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Soho Rep, Spanish Theatre Repertory/Repertorio Español, Vineyard Theater, and WP Theater.

Museum Fellows Term is an immersive educational opportunity in which students gain professional work experience at a major cultural institution, visit exhibitions, and study multiple aspects of the art world with Bennington faculty, and meet artists, curators, and other arts and culture leaders. Members of the class of 2021, including Ara Aman ’21, Roua Atamaz Sibai ’21, Emma Boehme ’21, Dabin Jeong ’21, and Jailynne Estevez Nolasco ’21 worked at the Cooper Hewitt Museum, the Museum of the Moving Image, the Rubin Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the New Museum as part of Museum Fellows Term.

As part of the 2021 Food Insecurity & Population Health Fellowship, DaEun Jung ’21 worked at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center as a Food Security and Wellness Trailblazer. Jung worked with SVMC staff to create, sustain, and evaluate collaborative programs to educate, feed, and support the Bennington community. Jung also participated in the inaugural Population Health Fellowship offered in 2020. 

Louis Celt ’21, Elmina David ’21, Kemly Derby ’21, Huma Javeed ’21, and Hanna Karnei ’21 participated in the inaugural cohort of the The Endeavor Foundation Environmental Changemaker Fellowship Program, which includes funded internships for Bennington students to work in nonprofits with a focus on environmental justice. Students worked remotely at organizations including Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Food & Water Watch, Grassroots Alliance Against Incineration, Conservation Law Foundation, and Toxic Free Future. 

During her Field Work Term internship with Artists & Climate Change, Biborka Beres ’21 wrote a series of interviews with choreographers and theatre-makers on their work and the climate crisis. 

Through the Bennington Regenerative Food Network—which seeks to revitalize the economic, social, and ecological health of areas in and around Bennington, VT— Ludmilla Puchulú Mocchiutti ’21 and Ariel Mora ’21 interned with partner organizations working to connect local producers with markets, develop sustainable farming practices, and create a progressive curriculum and training in regenerative food and agriculture. 

Kemly Derby ’21 researched for the Beyond Plastics project, a nationwide effort that empowers college students and community members to build a vibrant and effective anti-plastics movement.

Cassandra Taylor '21 interned for Project Against Violent Encounters (PAVE), an organization that works to help victims of domestic abuse and which works with first responders and the greater Bennington community to provide education and information about domestic violence. As a research assistant, Taylor learned from experts in the field to help expand and develop PAVE's work.

At MASS MoCA, Gabriela Yadegari ’21 developed a curriculum for public school visits, MoCA summer camps, and gallery tours.

Through their work at University of California-Riverside's Brain Game Center, Savannah Hernandez ’21 and Alyssa Trevino ’21 designed games and tests to better train people who have difficulty with memory skills.

Phoenix Stoddard ’21 studied behavioral planning, management, and tracking for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities at Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services. 

During his Field Work Term at Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education in Cambridge, NY, Louis Celt ’21 played Dev in Aaron Posner's Stupid F**king Bird, a re-adaptation of Anton Chekov's The Seagull

Huma Javeed ’21 interned at Safe Passage/Camino Seguro, a not-for-profit organization in Guatemala that helps children and families living in the community surrounding the Guatemala City garbage dump break out of poverty through education.

As part of his position with Friends of Acadia at Acadia National Park, Ben Watson ’21 educated visitors on the Park’s unique ecosystem and the impacts it sustains from visitation. 

Roua Sibai ’21 explored how artistic and cultural displays in public places can contribute to a community’s overall health during her internship at The Trust for Public Land.

During his Field Work Term as a video production editor for Art Spark Texas, Malach Dorell Campell '21 reflected on his drive to create.

The Bennington Banner interviewed Ellery Schiller ’21, who directed the comedic murder mystery You Have the Right to Remain Dead at the Bennington Community Theater as part of their Field Work Term.

During her Field Work Term at Wave Hill, curatorial intern Phoebe van Essche ’21 interviewed artist Elana Herzog about her work, process, and experience during the residency program.

In 2019, David Guzman '21 was one of five dancers selected to perform with Japanese dancer and actor Min Tanaka in his NY debut work, I Am In a Body at the Japan Society.

Campus Collaborations

Akanchya Maskay ’21 brought community, nutrition, and local farms together by co-organizing the Slow Cooked Movement, which hosted weekly community dinners for students remaining on campus Field Work Term.

Over summer 2020, Sbobo Ndlangamandla ’21 helped create a free weekly farmstand, featuring seasonal offerings from Wildstone Farm, for Bennington students who were staying in Paran Creek.

Santiago Torres Olmos ’21 was a co-organizer for Bennington’s virtual Reflect, Rebuild, Rise: Social Practices of Inclusion Conference. Along with Torres, Hannah Gray ’21, Suzie Rejali ’21, and Phoenix Stoddard ’21 also served as Bennington College Community Builders, contributing video content to the conference as the College strives to build a more diverse and inclusive community. 

While the Bennington community socially distanced during the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual Wellbeing Assistant Soumya Shailendra '21 compiled a community cookbook to foster healthy eating habits during quarantine. Other members of the Class of 2021, including Nirmohee Belvalkar ’21, C.G. Holden ’21, Sitashma Parajuli ’21, Valeria Sibrian Quijada ’21, and Uma Shannon ’21 contributed recipes to the project. 

International Student Services intern Tamar Giligashvili ’21 helped coordinate a thank you video for Bennington essential staff for their work supporting students who remained on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sbobo Ndlangamandla ’21 and Ben Watson ’21 contributed their art and music to the FLoW (first-generation, low-income, and working class) student pop-up gallery, which highlighted and celebrated work that FLoW students create on campus. 

Kemly Derby ’21, Isabel Sheehan ’21, Nick Yohe ’21, and Lane Hill ’21 participated in Jeepers!, a short film in which an intrepid group of Bennington students fall into supernatural hijinks. 

Joshua Goldberg ’21 directed, co-designed, and wrote additional material for ALICE, a musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Miles Burns. Olivia Fassanella ’21 co-designed costumes and props, and actors included Timothy Atkinson ’21, Martha Bennett ’21, Marilyn Blakewood ’21, Delaney Circe ’21, Olivia Fassanella ’21, Alli von Hirschberg ’21, Brooks Hope ’21, and Emma Ogden-Wolgemuth ’21. Photos by Ellery Schiller ’21.

Outsized Impact

Hannah Fisher Gray ’21 joined the team of the Antiracist Book Exchange, organized by two Bennington alumni. The group’s mission is to widely share antiracist and Black liberation literature while supporting Black-owned bookstores.

Through Sarah Lawrence College, Sitashma Parajuli ’21 participated in a research program in Malaysia, writing ethnographies of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia.

For two years, Lydia Duff ’21 taught Chinese to the Pre-K class at the Village School of North Bennington. Duff also worked as a Chinese Leader and Tutor while at Bennington. 

Cassandra Taylor ’21 and Ruby Dix ’21 published letters to the editor in the Newton TAB and The Martha’s Vineyard Times about the need to protect the environment and marine life from the growing problem of plastic pollution.

Louis Celt ’21, Jelena Mijatovic ’21, Isabel Sheehan ’21, and Natalie Thomas ’21 served as mentors for Vermont students participating in the Dorset Theatre Festival’s Young Playwrights Competition.

Maria Salim ’21 co-organized an Asian Cultural Festival to fundraise for the city of Palu in Sulawesi, Indonesia, after it was rocked by an earthquake and tsunami. 

Phoenix Adler ’21 assisted students at the Village School of North Bennington as they sculpted and welded entries for the North Bennington Outdoor Sculpture Show.

Daisy Clennon ’21 helped to lead a voter registration drive on campus ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

Louis Celt ’21 testified at the Vermont House of Representatives in support of S. 113, the nation’s strongest anti-plastic legislation to date, which addresses single-use plastic bags, drinking straws, and polystyrene.

Matt Collyer ’21 assisted faculty member Andrew Cencini with developing a computer lab setup for Bennington College’s Prison Education Initiative students at Great Meadow. 

Gabriela Yadegari ’21 served as the founding Culture Editor at Polychrome Mag, which showcases creative people of color, reshaping how mainstream media and audiences view them and their work.  

Soumya Shailendra '21 presented at a Mellon Consortium Conference on "Translation in Crisis/ Crisis in Translation."

Alex Luttery '21 spoke to her alma mater Holy Innocents' Episcopal School, which highlighted Luttery's experience at Bennington and offered advice to high school students.  

Bailey Fox ’21 and Hannah Wolfield ’21 collaborated with teachers at Mount Anthony Union High School to create a new alternative pathway to graduation that’s restorative. Together, Fox and Wolfield created a website for their senior work in Public Action that explains all of the restorative projects they worked on during their time at Bennington, with the hopes that college students at Bennington and beyond can use their website as a resource to continue or start restorative work. 

In April 2021, Fox and Wolfield also participated as panelists for the Consortium of Innovative Environments in Learning.

Recent Graduate Trustee

After a campus-wide nomination and application process and a final vote at the May Board of Trustees meeting, it was announced that Gabriela Yadegari ’21 will be serving a two-year term on the College’s Board of Trustees. 

Text Bennington Class of 2021