The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies celebrated its 113th Commencement on Monday, awarding diplomas to the 136 members of the Class of 2014.
The class included 129 Master's graduates — 10 Master of Forestry graduates, 3 Master of Forest Science, 84 Master of Environmental Management, and 32 Master of Environmental Science — and seven Ph.Ds.
During the ceremony, Dean Peter Crane urged the graduates to stay hungry for new ideas as they move into the next phases of their lives, but to remain humble about the complexity of the problems they’ll face.
He reminded them of the rich legacy of earlier generations of F&ESers, from iconic naturalist Aldo Leopold to the thousands of alumni working today to make the world a better place. And he challenged them to contemplate their own legacies as they begin to tackle the planet’s most profound environmental challenges.
“Today we stand at a crossroads, a time of transition not just for you but also for the world we live in,” Crane said. “Transitions historically bring great leaders. And you will be among them.”
Throughout the ceremony, there were also bittersweet remembrances of Jonah Adels, a beloved member of the class who passed away last year after a tragic car accident. “His deep spiritual sense and fundamental drive to create a better world moved him throughout his life,” Crane said.
In his memory, Crane announced the creation of a permanently endowed scholarship in Jonah’s name, the Jonah Meadows Adels Memorial Scholarship Fund. The initial $100,000 in funding will come from the School’s annual fund.
Ben Friedman M.E.M. ‘14, one of two class speakers, reminded his classmates that it was a deep love of nature that inspired many of them to enter the environmental field, and to take on work that will have effects long beyond their lifetimes — as he called it, “the ultimate long game.”
“What is special about our crowd is that we have chosen a career based on love,” he said. “What an extraordinary concept that is. Our professional identities are rooted in a personal conviction that is intimately tied to our deepest joys.
“Remember that joy,” he said, “when the work is overwhelming.”