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Distributed May 10, 2004
Contact Dionne Montgomery

The 236th Commencement
Brown selects two seniors to deliver Commencement orations

Russell Baruffi of Vineland, N.J., and Marian Thorpe of Spokane, Wash., will deliver senior orations during Brown’s 236th Commencement, Monday, May 31, 2004, at 10:30 a.m. in the First Baptist Church in America. Texts of the orations by Baruffi and Thorpe are available online.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — In accord with a long-standing Commencement tradition, Brown University will recognize two members of the Class of 2004 with oration honors. Russell Baruffi, of Vineland, N.J., and Marian Thorpe, of Spokane, Wash., will deliver senior orations at the University’s undergraduate Commencement ceremony Monday, May 31, 2004.

Selection of the orators was done by committee of faculty and graduating seniors, who chose from among 66 applicants. Baruffi and Thorpe will address an audience of classmates, honorary degree recipients and their own parents Monday, May 31, 2004, at 10:30 a.m., in the First Baptist Church in America. The student orations are a highlight of Brown’s four-day Commencement Weekend.

Because the First Baptist Church in America is large enough to hold only the graduates and a few guests, the orations will be simulcast to The College Green where parents, friends and guests of the graduating class will gather to watch on a large video screen. Closed captioning will be provided. In the event of inclement weather, an audio feed of the ceremonies will be offered in Meehan Auditorium, Hope Street at Lloyd Avenue, and in Sayles Hall and the Salomon Center for Teaching.


Russell A. Baruffi Jr.  – “Speaking to the Past”
A public policy concentrator, Baruffi has been a writing and rhetoric fellow and BOLT leader. He will bike across the country this summer to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity, Providence chapter.
Text of oration

Baruffi, whose speech is titled “Speaking to the Past,” will discuss the responsibilities that come with the privilege of a higher education.

While at Brown, Baruffi served as a Brown Outdoor Leadership Training (BOLT) leader and worked as a research assistant at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, investigating faith-based substance abuse treatment systems. He has also been a writing and rhetoric fellow, serving as a writing coach for undergraduates and helping professors integrate writing education into their curriculums. He will graduate with a degree in public policy and American institutions.

Baruffi is interested primarily in environmental economics and outdoor education. Upon graduation, he plans to move to Washington, D.C., to do advocacy or research on environmental policy. He is also considering law school and graduate education in public policy.

This summer Baruffi will bike across the country to raise money for the Providence chapter of Habitat For Humanity through an organization called Bike and Build.

Baruffi is the son of Marie and Russell Baruffi Sr. of Vineland, N.J.


Marian Ahn Thorpe  – “Full of Heart”
A double concentrator in environmental studies and ethnic studies, Thorpe plans to remain in the Providence area, starting a grocery co-op called “Urban Greens,” among other projects.
Text of oration

In a speech titled “Full of Heart,” Thorpe will speak about the communication lessons and challenges she faced while studying and living in a culturally, scholarly and spiritually diverse community at Brown. She will graduate with a double concentration in environmental studies and ethnic studies.

She has been a member of the Brown University Band for four years, playing the cymbals and the bass drum. She was a teaching assistant in the Department of Environmental Studies for two years and taught in the introductory environmental studies class. In her junior year she traveled to Ecuador, where she studied that country’s progression to cultural and economic independence.

For two years, she has worked with English for Action, a five-year-old ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) organization started by a Brown graduate in the Olneyville section of Providence, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. Thorpe is part of a team of 10 who won second place in the 2004 Entrepreneurship Extravaganza. After graduation she plans to remain in the Providence area and, along with her partners, use the entrepreneurship award to start a grocery co-op called “Urban Greens” as well as work for English for Action. The project hopes to give poorer communities, such as the South Providence area, access to locally grown produce, while providing farmers with an untapped consumer base.

Thorpe is the daughter of Norman Thorpe and Hyunki Ahn of Spokane, Wash.


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