Class of 2022 graduates celebrate Commencement
After the upheavals of the past few years, Beloit College graduates have earned the right to list resilience as a skill on their resumes.
Developing and maintaining resilience was a key message delivered at the college’s 172nd Commencement ceremonies, held Sunday, May 15, on the Middle College lawn for over 200 graduates and approximately 1,000 friends and family.
“Future changes may not be as dramatic as a global pandemic, but even micro-level changes can throw you off balance if you don’t have the necessary resilience,” Commencement speaker Tori Key’03 told the graduates. Key, a Beloit Memorial High School graduate, is a financial analyst and advisor in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington D.C.
Key called out several seniors by name, forecasting their accomplishments and challenging all the graduates to flex the skills they’ve learned to achieve change.
“My first challenge to you, Class of 2022, is to buck the status quo and make the future brighter for yourselves and all of us,” Key said. “We have too much at stake for anything less.”
The ceremonies were the first time in two years that all the seniors, their families, and friends came together as a whole.
Beloit College President Scott Bierman said he would never again take for granted the ability “to be all together in all three dimensions” and celebrated how students took responsibility for maintaining a healthy and safe environment that allowed the campus community to come back in person safely.
Bierman told graduates that self-care is community care and they could use that credo to combat racial injustice, climate change, and other challenges in the world.
Sunday’s Commencement ceremonies capped a week’s worth of events featuring dancing, music, and celebrations that honored the Class of 2022.
Black Students United speaker Mezekerta Tesfay’22 said the past four years have been incredibly hard for Black students, citing both Covid-19 and the racial reckoning that has occurred. But students persevered in times of strife and blew all expectations out of the water, Tesfay said.
“College is a time to perform, push yourself to great lengths, work hard, and see what you’re made of, and capable of, but we’re done,” Tesfay said. “And now we can acknowledge the emotional scars we have from being resilient and excellent in such unfortunate times.”
Yolanda Odufuwa’22 thanked the college’s Black professors for their grace and guidance in giving them the keys to success in life. “As we continue our journey, let us remember that there is success in supporting one another,” Odufuwa said.
Karen Nelson, director of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at Rogers Behavioral Health, was the event’s main speaker.
At Sunday’s ceremony, the Warren Miller Blue Skies award — for being the class’s “joy bringer” — was awarded to Silas Say’22, whose positive attitude and big smile drew support. Anna Downing’22 received the Martha Peterson Prize, which acknowledges her high academic achievement and contributions to campus life.
Martina Pulido’22 gave the students’ opening remarks, greeting the audience in Spanish. Pulido is this year’s recipient of the Sarah Wallbank Memorial Prize in Geology and co-recipient of the Richard C. Stenstrom Prize in Environment Geology.
Deepakshi Bhardwaj’22 gave the closing Commencement speech. “We cannot anticipate what challenges we will face or what failures we will see,” she said. “But I am sure of one thing. As long as we keep this one little piece of Beloit inside us alive, we will always figure a way out.”