Amherst College Commencement
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Two days from now, more than 450 students will be able to call themselves Amherst College graduates for the very first time. 

Amherst’s 195th Commencement for the class of 2016 will be held Sunday, May 22, at 10 a.m. on the Colleges Main Quadrangle. The days festivities include addresses by College President Biddy Martin and senior speaker Darienne Masishi Madlala, as well as the awarding of bachelor of arts degrees to 456 graduates and honorary doctorates to six distinguished guests. (The event will also be webcast for friends and family members unable to make it to campus.)

Here are some behind-the-scenes facts about this years event and the graduates who will be receiving degrees.

Facts about the Class of 2016

  • Total number of graduating seniors: 456
  • Diplomas personally signed by President Biddy Martin: all 456 of them
  • Nations and states represented by this years seniors: 25 countries (including Bermuda, Cameroon, Guatemala, Jamaica, Kenya, Korea, Russia, Serbia, Singapore and Zimbabwe) and 37 U.S. states and territories.
  • Members of the class of 2016 elected into the College’s chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the oldest undergraduate academic honors organization in the United States: 46
  • Top five most-declared majors: Economics, English, mathematics, political science and psychology
  • Senior theses completed by members of the class of 2016: 162
  • Seniors who are the first in their families to graduate from college: 62
  • Seniors with at least one parent who attended Amherst: 53. (Of these, nine have two parents who graduated from Amherst.)
  • Seniors who have grandparents who attended Amherst: 15
  • Seniors with siblings now attending Amherst: 18 
  • National award winners: 13 as of May 20. Two are Watson Fellows, one is a Schwarzman Scholar and 10 have been offered Fulbright scholarships. (In addition, students from the class of 2015 and the class of 2017 earned prestigious awards this year. Learn more about Amherst’s 2016 award recipients.)
  • Athletic championships won by the class of 2016 during their four years on campus: 20. These include New England Small College Athletics Conference championships for baseball (2013), men’s basketball (2013, 2014), football (2013, 2014, 2015), men’s ice hockey (2015), men’s soccer (2012, 2013), men’s tennis (2014), women’s basketball (2013, 2016), women’s swimming (2013) and women’s tennis (2014); National Collegiate Athletic Association championships for men’s basketball (2013), men’s tennis (2014) and men’s soccer (2015); and National Collegiate Athletic Association Individual Championships for women’s swimming, awarded to Emily Hyde (200-yard individual medley in 2014, 200-yard individual medley in 2016 and 200-yard breaststroke in 2016).
  • Sports victories during the seniors’ four years on campus: 1,203. (Amherst's four-year overall record as of May 19 was 1203-428-47.)
  • Sports victories in contests against Williams College, Amherst’s longtime rival, during the seniors’ four years on campus: 77. (Amherst’s overall athletics record against Williams since 2012 was an astounding 85-49-6.)
  • Amount raised for the seniors’ parting gift to the College, a donation to the Annual Fund: $4,197 as of May 19
  • Small sampling of job titles for the new graduates: AmeriCorps elementary school tutor; Bain and Co. associate consultant; Barclays investment banking analyst; Bloomberg analytics representative; ESPN assistant editor; Facebook software engineer; Google software engineer; K-Coe Isom sustainability intern; LinkedIn global sales associate; Mercy Volunteer Corps patient advocate/nursing assistant; National Economic Research Associates analyst; Reader to Reader mentor support coordinator; Teach For America elementary school teacher; Yelp account executive.

Facts about the 195th Commencement

  • Honorary degree recipients: Six. The recipients are best-selling author Chris Bohjalian 82, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace president William Burns, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Ebola response manager Inger Damon 84, astronomer and astrophysicist Sandra Faber, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History director Kirk Johnson 82 and renowned sociologist and educator Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. (Learn more about Amherst's 2016 honorary degree recipients.) 
  • Meals served on campus during Commencement weekend: An estimated 5,000. This year’s spread includes grilled chicken breasts, assorted sandwiches, local "Hadley" grown asparagus, potato and kale salad from the Book & Plow Farm, fresh strawberries, dinner rolls and nearly 12,000 assorted desserts.
  • Seats for graduation spectators: 5,000 on the Main Quad. Thats in addition to 18 tents across campus; 3,500 chairs in the Commencement rain location, LeFrak Gymnasium; and 1,500 chairs and 300 tables that Amhersts buildings and grounds crew arranges in front of Valentine Dining Hall for meals.
  • Conway Canes awarded during the weekend: 468. After being given his or her diploma, each graduate receives a cane. These canes are a 19th-century Amherst tradition that was revived and reshaped by the class of 2003 to celebrate class unity and spirit. The canes for graduating seniors are now known as the Conway Canes, in honor of a gift from Brian J. Conway 80 and Kevin J. Conway 80 to endow the Fund for College Canes. The Conway Canes are presented to all Amherst seniors to mark their graduation from Amherst and to serve as an enduring symbol of their connection to their class, to a unique tradition at Amherst and to their alma mater. The seniors aren’t the only ones walking away with canes: this years six honorary degree recipients, the winner of the Colleges Medal for Eminent Service, the honorary marshal and the Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Teaching Award recipients will also receive them.
  • Graduates, friends and family members spending the weekend in the Town of Amherst: Approximately 5,000