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34th graduating class at Burlington College Masati Mohamed recieves her diploma at the Burlington College commencement ceremony on Saturday.(Photo: Zach Despart/Free Press)Fifty three students earned a host of degrees at a ceremony that was marked by acknowledgements of the college's recent financial struggles and bold pronouncements for the institution's future. President Carol A. Moore, who assumed office in February, said the future of Burlington College is bright. "Although it has seen challenging days over the past few years I can assure you that Burlington College's doors will be open to welcome many future generations of potential graduates." Commencement speaker Jay Craven, an Emmy award winning Vermont filmmaker who has taught courses at Burlington College, commended the graduating class for choosing to finish their studies when many wondered if the school would close. "Congratulations, not just for the completion of your college studies, but for the sacrifices involved to make that happen, and for the loyalty and courage to stick with your school even when it was openly struggling to regain its footing," Craven said. "That is extraordinary." Buy Photo listen to commencement speaker Jay Craven at the ceremony Saturday morning. (Photo: Zach Despart/Free Press) Burlington College, founded in 1972, has weathered financial straits and internal tumult in recent years. In 2011, the board of trustees effectively forced President Jane O'Meara Sanders from office over differing visions for the school. Sanders' successor, Christine Plunkett, quit in 2014 amid allegations of financial mismanagement, including that the college had used scholarship funds to pay for operating expenses. An interim management team guided the cash strapped school through the final months of 2014, and sold some of its North Avenue campus to a developer for $7.5 million. Moore, a former Lyndon State College president, came to Burlington College to help the institution get back on solid financial footing. This year, the college raised $10 million in its first major capital campaign. College administrators said Saturday that the school's dark days are in the past, and the mood at the commencement ceremony, held outside under a tent, was upbeat. Buy PhotoVermont filmmaker Jay Craven gives the commencement address at the Burlington College graduation. (Photo: Zach Despart/Free Press) Craven also spoke about the recent financial tumult at Burlington College, but framed the issue as one that affects colleges and universities of every size. "American higher education as a whole stands at a crossroads where all colleges must now show innovative ways to illustrate their relevance," Craven said. He noted how the cost of attending college has skyrocketed since he was an undergraduate, and even large private universities face budget shortfalls. receive compared to many European nations, and added that Vermont ranks second to last among states for per capita funding for public universities. "Will President Bernie Sanders change all this?" Craven said wryly, eliciting a mixture of laughter and applause from the crowd. Craven encouraged Burlington College to celebrate its strengths, such as its moderate cost, small class sizes and strong sense of community. He also encouraged the school to experiment with new curricula. Craven cited the example of how he, as a professor at Marlboro College, teaches an intensive class through which students produce a feature film for international release. In her brief remarks, Mohamed spoke of the struggles she faced first as a child in a Kenyan refugee camp, and then while attending college full time while also raising her five children. She encouraged her fellow graduates to look forward to their futures, but to never neglect the past. "We should appreciate all the work we have done so far, and be ready for all that is waiting for us," Mohamed said. "We must always remember that success is not a destination, but a continuous journey."