Author: Elizabeth Logue Despite ongoing rain in the hours before Middlebury College Commencement 2002, 556 graduates were awarded diplomas on the lawn behind Forest Hall the morning of May 26. Dava Sobel, former New York Times science reporter and author of best-selling book “Longitude,” gave the commencement address. Katie Sampson ’02, who had been in a paralyzing sledding accident, was elected student speaker. During the ceremony, the College honored four distinguished scholars. Ngawang Choepel, a visiting scholar at Middlebury in 1993 and 1994, received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree. Choepel was released on medical parole from a Tibetan prison on Jan. 20, after serving six years of an 18-year sentence for espionage. Choepel, at the time of his arrest in 1995, was filming a documentary about the Tibet’s traditional music and dance.The College awarded Houghton Freeman, the chairman of Stowe, Vt.-based Freeman Foundation, with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Victor R. Swenson, founding executive director of the Vermont Council on the Humanities, and journalist and civil rights activist Roger Wilkins were both honored with a Doctor of Letters degree.