Beloit’s newest wide receiver discusses Greek life, Career Channels, and making Beloit home
Emilio Cespedes made the long trek to Beloit from South Dakota last fall, searching for a new home that was larger than his Oglala Lakota community, but not too big.
After a few months of practicing football, meeting new friends, and connecting with caring faculty about his planned future in the medical field, he says his decision to come to Beloit was just right.
Despite it being a “weird year,” Emilio Cespedes has risen to the occasion in his first few months at Beloit. The college is a long way from his home on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota—a 13-hour drive. Emilio wanted to live somewhere bigger than his small Oglala Lakota community, but not too big.
“I was thinking it was going to be a big campus, but everything is not too far,” Emilio says. “It is just perfect—the perfect choice. It felt like a big jump from home, but also like I’m comfortable—like I’m at home.”
Emilio was disappointed when he wasn’t able to complete his track season in the last few months of high school. “I was feeling really confident I was going to make it to state, but [the pandemic] canceled everything,” he says. “I was training so hard for it, and for them to call it off because of Covid—it broke my heart a bit.”
Luckily, Beloit allowed Emilio to practice for another sport he loves: football. “Everyone was really safe—we stayed six feet apart and did everything safely,” he says. “I made some teammates and friends. I’m glad we’ve made it this far, with the college keeping everyone safe and making sure everyone’s taking precautions.”
Another teammate introduced him to Sigma Chi, one of Beloit’s three fraternities. “I didn’t really know much about frats, so I asked him about it. I was really interested in it because, coming in as a freshman, I didn’t really have many friends yet. When I got the opportunity to rush, I did and I loved it. The guys are great. Everybody was so welcoming. We did a couple of events in person safely, but we usually meet over Zoom. I was so excited to be there.”
When he’s not practicing on the field or hanging out with his brothers, Emilio hits the books. While mods have been “fast-paced,” he’s already had exposure to literature, Spanish, and history classes, as well as Beloit’s new Career Channels program.
“I’m going into the medical field, so they’ve been connecting me with different professionals,” he says. “It’s been giving me a broader view of Beloit and all the connections we have. I heard [about the Health & Healing Channel] through my history teacher, Kate Johnston. She’s so helpful. She connected us with a public health official. The Sickness and Health in Early America class was a lot of reading and a lot of discussion, but I felt like I kept up with it and did a good job.”