May is the month of commencements where students finish one chapter and begin a new chapter in their lives. And so it was at Howard University on May 13 in the nation’s capital.

Howard is the largest historically Black college in America and boasts 14 schools and colleges under its university umbrella. Sen. Raphael Warnock, Stacey Hightower and President Joe Biden were among the speakers at this year’s graduation. This prestigious list would ordinarily be the highlight of the event — but not so for those on the Vineyard.

We were excited to see our own Benaree Pratt Wiley receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters from her alma mater. The Wileys — Bennie and Flash — have been between Oak Bluffs and West Tisbury for decades.

A Howard University and Harvard Business School graduate, she was recognized for her distinguished career in nonprofit leadership and as a corporate director. She has worked to improve the hiring and retention of black professionals in corporate America in her role as the president of The Partnership, Inc. in Boston. She served with the late Earl Graves on the PepsiCo African American advisory board. Her management and analytical skills have led to leadership on the boards of BNY Mellon Mutual Funds, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts and more.

Equally as important: she served on the trustee board at Howard, giving back to an institution that was the foundation of her lens on civic and business engagement. Three cheers for Bennie and her extraordinary career.

Sheila Horton — Oak Bluffs resident and outgoing president of the Boston chapter of The Girl Friends, Inc. — led a number of Vineyard cottage owners at the Girl Friends’ national conclave in San Diego this past weekend. Cindy Carter of Oak Bluffs, Boston national conclave chair (2025) also attended with Vineyard cottage owners Monica Dean, Ingrid Ford, Karen Selsey, Lisa Cambridge Mitchell, Nola Lancaster Whiteman, Chrystie Boucree Price, Debra Lucas and Ginger McKnight Chavers.

More than 1,000 people attended this gathering of an organization that was founded in 1927 in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance. Friendship above all is a familiar mantra for this national organization.

Karen Holmes Ward, incoming president of the Boston chapter, could not join the confab on the West Coast because she was attending the wedding of her son Taylor Ward. It was held on sprawling hills of grass and flowers at the Crane Estate in Ipswich. Karen’s late husband Forrest (Chip) Ward was represented by his brother Sterling Ward and very close friends Ronald and Charlene Carroll of Oak Bluffs and their son Ronald the younger. Delicious food, young flower bearers and festive guests celebrated the bride and groom under a sun-filled sky.

Congratulations to Islander, author and my friend Tom Dresser on the release of his new book Martha’s Vineyard in the Roaring Twenties: Radicals and Rascals. You can catch him giving a talk on the book on June 6 at the Vineyard Haven Public Library at 6 p.m.

News from Union Chapel: president Rev. Aliya Browne and the ministerial committee have announced that Rev. Michael Eric Dyson will be preaching on Juneteenth Sunday, June 18 at 10 a.m.

Paradise on earth is living the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting. Randall Edward Taylor, rest in peace.