Downing Graduates from Bates College

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LEWISTON, MAINR – Kevin Downing, of Natick, graduated after majoring in economics and minoring in philosophy at Bates College. Downing, the son of Leo J. Downing and Rosemary C.

Downing, is a 2017 graduate of Catholic Memorial High School.

Bates College graduated 469 students from 38 states and 43 countries on May 27, 2021.

The 2021 commencement was a doubleheader, with students split by where they fell in the alphabet between morning (A-K) and afternoon (L-Z) ceremonies in order to allow for social distancing among the graduates and their guests. It featured introductory remarks by President Clayton Spencer, who lauded the students for their response to the pandemic and its restrictions. “Your perseverance allowed us to keep the college operating safely, and your lives moving forward, in the face of some pretty high hurdles,” Spencer said.


There were four recipients of honorary degrees: Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, who was born in Lewiston; Pittsburgh-based artist Vanessa German; Americana musician and ethnomusicologist Rhiannon Giddens; and ACLU lawyer and trans-rights activist Chase Strangio. Each delivered remarks via recorded videos.

In keeping with the doubleheader aspect of this unusual commencement, two seniors were selected by their peers to give speeches, Nicole Kumbula ’21 of Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe in the morning, and Munashe Machoko ’21 of Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe in the afternoon. In her speech, Kumbula invoked the Bates custom of holding the door for a fellow Bates person, a gesture both practical and symbolic, of “someone willing to wait a bit, just to make sure the door is open wide enough so that I can enter into the space with them – or at times even before they do.”


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Located in Lewiston, Maine, Bates is internationally recognized as a leading liberal arts college, attracting 2,000 students from across the U.S. and around the world. Since 1855, Bates has been dedicated to educating the whole person through creative and rigorous scholarship in a collaborative residential community. Committed to opportunity and excellence, Bates has always admitted students without regard to gender, race, religion, or national origin. Cultivating intellectual discovery and informed civic action, Bates prepares leaders sustained by a love of learning and zeal for responsible stewardship of the wider world.


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