Steven A. Tatko from Willimantic to Speak at Colby Commencement, May 23

WATERVILLE, ME (05/19/2010)(readMedia)-- Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and former president of Discovery Communications Judith A. McHale will deliver the commencement address at Colby's 189th Commencement Sunday, May 23. Ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. on the lawn of Miller Library on Colby's campus in Waterville.

McHale will share the stage with senior class speaker Steven A. Tatko, a self-described fifth-generation slate miner from Piscataquis County, Maine. Tatko, elected by members of the graduating class to address the convocation, is a dean's list history major from Willimantic. He was captain of the school's woodsmen's team, won the Colby Chorale Prize, and will go to work on the North Woods Project for the Natural Resources Council of Maine after graduation.

Tatko said that, though he went to college just two hours from his home, he embraced the "tremendous island of opportunity" that exists on the campus, making friends with students from Bulgaria and the Netherlands, leading outdoor orientation "COOT" trips to do trail maintenance in Baxter State Park, and working for the mechanical and electrical services section of the physical plant department as a campus job.

In 2007, during his first year at Colby, Tatko starred in and narrated a short video, "Making a Difference," produced by Colby's Environmental Advisory Group for the National Wildlife Federation's "Chill Out" contest. He follows class speakers from Afghanistan, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Zimbabwe over the last four years. His family owns and operates the Sheldon Slate Products Co. in Monson.

Tatko says he is honored to have been chosen by a vote of his classmates to speak at commencement and that he's talking to as many classmates as possible as he frames his remarks.

Brian P. DiMento of Rowley, Mass., class marshal for having the highest grade-point average, will lead the class of 479 members of the Class of 2010 expected to march. DiMento majored in chemistry with a concentration in environmental science and will enroll at the University of Connecticut doctoral program in environmental chemistry in the fall.

In addition to McHale, four others will receive honorary Colby doctoral degrees: Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah of Princeton University; Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes; and Professor Josh Silver of Oxford University, director of the Centre for Vision in the Developing World.

The ceremony is open to the public. In the case of rain it will be moved to the Alfond Athletic Center, in which case tickets will be required for admission to the gymnasium. For those unable to attend, a live webcast will be available at

More information about commencement and about Undersecretary McHale are on Colby's commencement website. Representatives of the media who need information or wish to arrange an audio feed during the ceremony should contact Stephen Collins in the Office of Communications, or 207-859-4352.