Transgender activist and author Jennifer Boylan is the keynote speaker at this year's COA commencement on June 4. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

COA commencement set for June 4 

BAR HARBOR — Nearly 80 students from 20 states and 14 nations will be granted Bachelor of Arts degrees in human ecology, and two students will receive Master of Philosophy degrees in human ecology, during College of the Atlantic’s 49th commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 4. 

The in-person event features a keynote address from transgender activist and author Jennifer Boylan, and the granting of an honorary master’s degree in human ecology to queer Black “troublemaker” Alexis Gumbs.  

“The members of the class of 2022 are among the most resilient, resourceful and adaptable students that you’ll find anywhere. In many cases, for over half of their college careers, they’ve had to navigate the pandemic and all of the shifting protocols, anxieties and uncertainties that have come with it, and we know that hasn’t been easy,” said COA President Darron Collins. “In spite of what the pandemic has thrown at them, this class has produced a body of creative work that is a magnificent preamble to what they will accomplish throughout their lives. 

These human ecologists – and their work – give me great hope for our future.” 

Keynote speaker Boylan is the author of the memoir, “She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders,” one of the first bestselling works by a transgender American.  

Gumbs is a self-described queer Black troublemaker, Black feminist love evangelist and aspirational favorite cousin to all sentient beings.  

Gumbs’ coedited volume “Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines” has shifted the conversation on mothering, parenting and queer transformation. She has transformed the scope of intellectual, creative and oracular writing with her triptych of experimental works “Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity,” “M Archive: After the End of the World” and “Dub: Finding Ceremony.” 

COA’s transdisciplinary, non-departmental curriculum emphasizes individualized study, independent research and real-world application of knowledge. Every COA student designs their own major in human ecology, which integrates knowledge from across academic disciplines and seeks to understand and improve the relationships between humans and their natural, built and social environments, and sets their own path toward a degree. 


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