Institutional News

Class of 2024 Graduates Hit the Ground Running

On May 31 and June 1, Bennington College will celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2024 at the 89th Commencement. Learn more about graduate outcomes across the years.

2024 Commencement Speakers

Poet and memoirist Safiya Sinclair ’10 will be the Commencement Speaker. Sinclair was born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica. She is the author of the memoir How to Say Babylon, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Kirkus Prize, and was longlisted for the Women’s Prize in Nonfiction. Dana Reitz will be the faculty speaker, and Gaurav Aung ’24 will be the student speaker.

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

We couldn’t say goodbye without sharing some of the remarkable accomplishments and valuable impact students have made on campus and beyond throughout their years at Bennington. 

In and Beyond the Classroom: Projects from the Past Four Years

Julia Henck ’24 participated in Anina Major’s Kilns and Firing Techniques course in Fall 2023, in which students crafted four mugs for their final projects, which were donated to Roz’s cafe on campus at the end of the term.

For their Advanced Work, seniors studying music produced an end-of-term concert. Surabhee Arjunwadkar ’24, Izzy Gibson ’24, Blair Jasper ’24, Greta Jensen ’24, and Milo Lis ’24 spoke about their experiences collaborating with other musicians on campus to create their work. Beyond campus, Bennington music students often post their music online, play gigs regularly, and produce albums. Blair Jasper writes for their solo songwriting and recording project Bark Dog and released a new album called i’ll eat you, i love you that is available on Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp. Izzy Gibson ’24, known musically as Enzo Alto, has nearly 2,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. 

Shlesha Pradhan ’24 combined her love for music and interest in biology to develop a Plan around how music can enhance physical therapy experience. She was the recipient of the Newman and Cox Public Action Fellowship, for which she worked with the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Center (SIRC) in Nepal to conduct surveys about ongoing training programs for family members as health care providers. She also worked as the digital integrity intern at the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy at New York University. 

Harper McDowell ’24 created a blog as a final project for Caitlin McDonough MacKenzie’s How to Build a Forest course in Fall 2023, wherein students worked as field ecologists to study plots of land and creatively presented their findings and observations at the end of the term.

From populist "rousings" in South Asia to resurgent civil society in Venezuela, from digital hate to photographic violence, from the question of first person authority to Hannah Arendt’s vision of democracy, thirteen seniors studying Society, Culture, and Thought offered thesis presentations showcasing the breadth and depth of Advanced Work in SCT

Alma Reiss Navarre ’24 served as the president of the Student Educational Policies Committee, which supports and connects students, faculty, and academic administration to handle academic issues and student-supported initiatives. 

Finbar La Belle ’24 played the title role in the Spring 2023 production of Unibeauty and Her Wicked Daughters, a dark comedy about the corporate hijacking of the U.S. Constitution by visiting faculty member Frances Cowhig. Julie Winger ’24 designed costumes for the show.

Cadence Rose ’24 and Muhammad Ammar ’24 directed a fully staged production of an original play by M. Ammar, The Harmony, as the department-supported student production in Fall 2023. An adaptation of Shirley Jackson's short story, The Lottery, The Harmony was set in a not-so-distant dystopian society where digital surveillance and censorship have created an atmosphere of violence. In a world where the internet is policed either by the government through mandated lynching rituals or by the military through targeted mob assassinations, audience members followed the lives of two families through the eyes of two six-year old children whose normalcy and childhood innocence was uprooted by the violence of their reality crashing down upon them.

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 2024 explored passions, made professional connections, and gained work experience at institutions ranging from the League of Women Voters to New York Communities for Change and Lucille Lortel Theatre Foundation: Women’s Project Theater to the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy at New York University.

The Frankenthaler Fellowship, also known as Museum Fellows Term, is an extension of Bennington College’s Field Work Term that gives a small group of students who are interested in the art world the opportunity to live, work, and study in New York City for 20 weeks. Members of the Class of 2024—including Ahmed Amar ’24, Gaurav Aung ’24, Julia Henck ’24, Daisy Billington ’24, and Sophia Paez ’24—took advantage of this opportunity, working at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, Skowhegan, Dia Art Foundation, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Queens Museum, respectively. 

Gaurav Aung ’24 worked as a Student Reporter for Bennington College’s Office of Marketing and Communications. Aung covered a variety of student, faculty, and alumni work, including interviews with recent graduates, Florence Gill ’22 and Ryan Chigogo ’23.

Faith Embler ’24’s advanced work in Drama was a fully staged production of a play she wrote, Unrooted. “From the start of my junior year, I have been working on writing this play and then collaborating with the drama faculty and other students to see the show come to life. Seeing my work produced was one of the most meaningful parts of my education at Bennington, and I am excited to see where these skills I gained from this experience take me!”

Will Greer ’24 worked doing field organizing and legislative affairs for Flavors Hook Kids Vermont, part of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The campaign’s aim was to pass legislation to prevent the sale of flavored tobacco and vapes in the state. 

Sawyer London ’24 was involved in the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, which helped to collect feedback and contribute to composing the College’s first mission statement and most current strategic plan. He deepened his work in ceramics  through a Field Work Term internship at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City during his junior year. He will continue to consult and research for the Museum on an upcoming exhibition.

Sophia Paez ’24 interned with the late Tigre Mashaal-Lively ’08, a multidisciplinary artist whose Facing the Fearbeast was an interactive sculpture assembled at Burning Man in 2022. 

Cadence Rose ’24 was awarded the Lucille Lortel Fellowship to work as a Marketing Fellow for La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York City during the summer of 2022. During this time, she was granted the opportunity to call cues for an off-off-Broadway performance held at La MaMa by the Boxcutter Collective, a Brooklyn-based puppet theater troupe with connections to Bread and Puppet. Cadence was invited to continue in her position at La MaMa, the following winter.

Bella Wells-Fried '24 traveled to Cusco-Peru over the Winter FWT 2024 and did an Independent Study with Lena Retamoso Urbano as her Faculty Sponsor on Creative Writing in Spanish and in English. She shared her work from the FWT experience in a CSL event at the beginning of this most recent term. 

Campus Collaborations

Bennington students make an impact in the local community, during their Field Work Term experiences and beyond. 

Ahmed Amar ’24 hosted a fashion show on May 28 at CAPA as a part of his advanced work in public action; society, culture, and thought; and French. Amar made clothes of the fabrics the women of his mother’s tribe use to wrap their newborns. As a first-year student, Amar modeled in a fashion show by senior Louisa Parker. “That was my first time helping a senior for their senior work, and I just remember how unique the experience was. I wanted to reproduce the same experience [for others].”

Adrian Vidal ’24 made Bennington the Southern Vermont chapter of Migrant Justice/Justicia Migrante.

Muhammad Ammar ’24 served as a founder of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) on campus, Bennington’s first affinity group for Muslim students. The MSA lobbied for and facilitated a shift to Halal food in the Dining Hall for every meal, formalized the designation of the Lens as a multi-faith prayer building and an Iftar area, and paved the way for Muslims in town to access the Lens as the only mosque space in southern Vermont. 

Ammar was also part of the Shared Governance Task Force, which worked across campus constituencies to design a model of shared governance for Bennington College. As part of his work, he co-led a tutorial on Reimagining 21st Century Campus Governance with Dr. Eileen Scully and Samuel Henriquez ’23, to design a charter for the new Student Council and implemented a multi-winner ranked choice election system for the Student Council. The inaugural Student Council included Samuel de Sousa ’24, Cadence Rose ’24, and Ahmed Amar ’24. 

Kayetan McEnerney ’24, Joe Scott ’24, and Alexey Tarasov ’24 played in the co-ed soccer club’s game against Landmark College.

Uyen Huynh ’24 helped organize a Datathon in 2023, sponsored by Bennington College’s chapter of Women in Data Science. 

Emily Gutierrez ’24 and Alexandra Brkic ’24 cofounded the Latine Student Association of Bennington College, which was responsible for the creation of the on-campus BIPOC pantry. 

Awards and Honors

Many students were awarded prestigious fellowships to expand their experience in their areas of study. 

With the support of a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant, Ahmed Amar '24 established Peace Through Leadership Training, an empowerment program for unemployed youth in Senegal. 

Surabhee Arjunwadkar ’24 was awarded the Woolley Fund for Musical Activities to bring together the campus community and the North Bennington community. She will use the funds to organize a Welling Townhouse Porch Show in September. In addition, Arjunwadkar was part of a dance project with Karen Nelson, mayfield brooks, and Karen Schaffman on Vashon Island, Washington, which got awarded the Emergency Grant from the Foundation of Contemporary Art in 2022. She also did a senior voice recital as part of the Senior Music Week, where she sang works by Mozart, Handel, Ravel, and Meredith Monk, among others.

Alexandra Brkic '24 was selected as a 2024 Victory Congressional Intern, a program committed to developing the next generation of LGBTQ+ public leaders. Brkic participated in a fully funded 10-week legislative internship in the U.S. House of Representatives with the Office of Congressman Greg Casar (TX-35).

Outsized Impact

Bennington students don’t wait to begin making an impact. The work they do, even as undergraduates, changes the world right now. 

Maia Ashley ’24 designed and managed the pilot year of a conservation biology internship at a nonprofit land preserve. The internship is available to underserved high schoolers of Newport County, Rhode Island. 

Ade Bryon ’24 traveled to COP28 in Dubai to participate in a protest for DeltasUNite, to meet young climate activists from around the world, to learn about the climate crisis from top scientists and national leaders, and to gain a world-class education on the state of climate negotiations. 

Maren Sage ’24 revamped the Brown Bag Program, which improves students’ access to free reproductive and sexual health resources; led Generation Action for two years, where she helped to organize workshops and events like Sex Fair in conjunction with her position as a Student Health Promotion Assistant; and interned for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, where she worked on the Reproductive Liberty Amendment (Prop 5) campaign, which passed in November 2022 and enshrined reproductive liberty into the Vermont constitution. In her final FWT, Sage conducted research as a part of an independent study. She interviewed sex educators from around the country, which developed into her joint SCT/CAPA senior work.

Adrian Vidal ’24 testified to the Town of Bennington Select Board about the scourge of oil trails parked in the community. 

Alexandra Brkic ’24 was selected as a 2023 Giffords Courage Fellow, a prestigious honor, for her commitment to gun violence prevention advocacy. Giving her the opportunity to learn from senior organizational leadership in Washington D.C. Brkic also worked with March For Our Lives and Not My Generation, Inc., on local and national projects focusing on highlighting Latine experiences within political advocacy and organizing with survivors and activists towards alleviating the effects of gun violence. 

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. Their futures are bright! 

Ahmed Amar ’24 accepted a business analyst job in the Miami office of Amazon. “In my interview they told me that they loved that I was part of Museum Fellows Term and how [impressed they were that] I was able to manage both working for a big museum and attending classes for a whole semester.”

Muhammad Ammar ’24 is headed to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, this fall to pursue a PhD in Political Science over the next six years. His research, which concentrates on Comparative Politics, will focus on performative populism in South Asia, a topic that was also the subject of his Senior Thesis in Society, Culture, and Thought.

Surabhee Arjunwadkar ’24 was accepted into a summer Baroque music intensive for voice at the Victoria Conservatory of Music in British Columbia this July. 

Daisy Billington ’24 worked her final Field Work Term as a program assistant at Williams College Museum of Art. There, she prepared a collection of 125 artworks, which are loaned out to students each term. The program is called WALLS (Williams Art Loan for Living Spaces). Billington will return to the program this summer to help with an exhibition for the 10th anniversary of WALLS. 

Gaurav Aung ’24 was accepted into the Media Studies PhD programs at University of Southern California and University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

Alexa N. Curran ’24 will pursue an MFA in Photography at The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) this fall (2024-2026). She received a graduate fellowship and assistantship from RISD. “The tremendous support and transformative teaching of Vanessa Lyon is, I know, in large part, what shaped me into a choice candidate for graduate study. I am forever grateful for my time with her and at Bennington as a returning-to-college student!” 

William Greer ’24, a former county high bailiff candidate and an elected justice of the peace in Bennington, is running for a House seat in the Bennington-2 legislative district.

Nicole Migneault ’24 will pursue a master of fine arts in poetry at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. 

Andrea Morantes ’24 is a fellow for the Consortium on Forced Migration Displacement and Education Summer Program in Bern, Switzerland. She received a grant from the Consortium to conduct thesis research on Mexican-American First-Generation College Students' Perceptions of Counseling and Therapy. 

Maren Sage ’24 will be attending Widener University to pursue a master's in human sexuality with a focus on sex education.

Seniors, do you want your work at Bennington or future plans included in this article? Share them here.