St. John’s Celebrates Class of 2024 in Annapolis and Santa Fe

May 23, 2024 | By Kirstin Fawcett

More than 200 graduates participated in ceremonies across both college campuses in May.

Johnnies often joke that the more they learn during their time in the Program, the less certain they are of their ability to truly know anything. This sentiment was echoed in outgoing collegewide president Mark Roosevelt’s commencement speech, which he delivered at ceremonies in Annapolis and Santa Fe this month in honor of the St. John’s Class of 2024.

Newly minted graduates receive their St. John’s College diplomas in Annapolis.

“After love, humility is the next most important thing in life,” Roosevelt reflected. “And embracing humility as a core value will help you greatly as you try to make sense of the world and your place in it. Embracing humility means that our first resolve when considering what to do should be — do no harm. Embracing humility means that the right default position is, ‘I am not sure. I do not know.’”

Humility, however, should not be confused with ambivalence or inaction. Navigating life’s uncertainty requires an internal compass— “a personal philosophy, a way of understanding the world, that helps you through,” Roosevelt clarifies. This allows one to recognize what’s truly important, and “to believe in things that matter and to take a stand when taking a stand is called for,” he said. And amid rampant injustice and strife, “It is important to see the world as it is,” Roosevelt concludes, “and play your part in making it better.

97 undergraduates and 24 Graduate Institute students participated in the college’s 232nd Commencement ceremony in Annapolis on Sunday, May 12, with 71 and 14 students, respectively, taking part in Santa Fe’s 57th ceremony on Saturday, May 18. Both events featured speaker Roosevelt, who will retire in June following eight years as collegewide president.

Annapolis president Nora Demleitner, who will assume the role of collegewide president in July, also briefly addressed the audience in Annapolis, and deans Suzy Paalman and Sarah Davis awarded prizes to distinguished graduates for having written the best senior essay—a capstone paper completed during their final semester—as well as for sustained academic excellence, among other formal recognitions granted throughout class years.

Not that the past four years made such accomplishments easy, Demleitner noted. “Your road was not always an easy one,” she said. “For many of you, you ended your time in high school and started your time in college online. For others including our Graduate Institute students, the pandemic may not have affected your academic studies, but it certainly created personal challenges to overcome.”

Now, she said, she hoped that the Class of 2024 would remember not just the big events from those years, but “those small moments” unique to their time at the college.

“Observing a magnolia leaf … sharing a triumph on the intramural field with your teammates, the pondering silence that follows an opening question in seminar,” Demleitner said. “Those moments are what I believe to be the true meaning of life. Those are the moments we remember, the ones that shape our lives.”

“And when you return here, years in the future… I hope you share with the next generation of students those small moments that made your time here special.”

Photos and Videos of Commencement 2024

Santa Fe Commencement photos / Ceremony video

Annapolis Commencement photos / Ceremony video