Adrien Salazar ’16 M.E.M. felt some trepidation when he arrived at Yale a couple of years ago. A first-generation immigrant whose family lived in the remote countryside on an island in the Philippines just two generations ago, he admits that he wondered “what force of the universe” brought him to Yale.
But then while walking the hallways of Sage Hall, where there hang the group photos of every graduating class in the history of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES), he was shocked to see familiar-looking faces, including alums from his native home, smiling back at him. On difficult nights during these past two years those faces brought comfort to Salazar, he told his own graduating class during commencement on Monday.
They assured him that he wasn’t alone. And they offered a reminder that the School is part of a tradition of leaders who have shaped and re-shaped entire movements across the world, from Rachel Carson to Wangari Maathai to Berta Cáceres, a Honduran activist killed this spring after years battling environmental destruction in her country.
Some of those leaders walked through the same Sage hallways, he said, but many didn’t.