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Commencement focuses on importance of mentorship, activism, and community learning

May 15, 2017

Media Contact: Whitney Helm,, Sunday, May 14, 2017

Beloit College’s 268 graduates in the class of 2017 are three times more likely to receive effective mentorship during their four years at Beloit than at another school Beloit College President Scott Bierman declared at the college’s 167th Commencement.

Beloit College Commencement 2017 

Bierman referenced data from an on-campus survey that concluded 98 percent of students agreed that they had a faculty or staff member who made them excited about learning, 97 percent agreed they had a professor or staff person who challenges them, while 90 percent agreed they had a professor or staff person who cares about them.

During a special moment of the ceremony, Bierman encouraged graduates to use their best “outside voice” and yell the name of their mentor loudly.

Beloit College Commencement 2017 

Commencement speaker Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano, an alumnus of the class of 1986 and the president of Gallaudet University, the world’s only comprehensive bilingual university for deaf and hard of hearing students, emphasized the importance of mentorship during her speech. She also encouraged graduates to be “active citizens,” for it is the only way to make real change.

“Learning is a community activity,” said Cordano.

She continued to push graduates to commit to listening to others, particularly those harboring a different point-of-view and using the totality of those arguments to form a strong opinion.

Beloit College Commencement 2017 

More key moments from Beloit’s 2017 Commencement

  • The graduates with the highest academic standings among the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degree recipients were: Jamison Q. Rush, of Snohomish, Wash. and Marci Barker McClenon, of Austin, Texas, respectively.
  • April Apfelbaum, of Lake Villa, Ill., received the Warren Miller Blue Skies Award, named for a Beloit alumnus who is famous for his many New Yorker Magazine cartoons., The award pays tribute to a member of the senior class who helped “foster good cheer, a good-humored perspective, and saving grace in the conduct of our daily lives together on campus.”
  • Emily "Emmy" Newman of Seattle, Wash., was voted senior class speaker and advised graduates to remember to take a moment for themselves. “Be kind to yourselves and after a while we can all hope it will become second nature, and we can keep being kind to others the way we now know how,” Newman told her fellow graduates.
  • Jian Zhi "Alex" Cheong, won the Martha Peterson Prize, named after Beloit College's seventh president and awarded to a student who best exemplifies the college's liberal arts traditions as a student and active contributor to the campus community.
  • Commencement speaker Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano’86 was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa from the college.
  • After 37 years of service, Bill Flanagan retired from Beloit this year and was awarded staff emeritus status at commencement. Kathy Greene, professor of education and chemistry, was also awarded faculty emerita status and Shin Yong Robson, adjunct associate professor of Chinese, was awarded faculty emerita status.