Class of 2023 Advised to ‘Keep Doing You’
Heavy rain, chilly temperatures, and ceremonies moving to the Flood Arena could not dampen the joy of hundreds of Beloiters and their families at Commencement on May 14. The degree-earning seniors had persevered through the Covid-19 pandemic, which began during their first year at Beloit, so they took the cloudy, rainy skies in stride.
A bittersweet final ceremony for Bierman
After a 14-year legacy, President Scott Bierman started his remarks by pulling out a flamingo-print cotton shirt, joking that, along with matching shorts, his retirement outfit was set. But he quickly turned reflective. “I look out at so many friends right in front of me whose futures are so bright and whose last four years have made a difference at this college, who have changed this college, changed the people to your left and right, changed the people to your front and back, changed me,” Bierman said. “It takes my breath away.”
For the greater good
Health and society major Nichole Espineli received the Martha Peterson Prize for her strong work ethic and commitment to the Beloit community. Sister Gephany was awed by Nichole, who hopes to pursue graduate studies in public health and focus on helping immigrants and refugees. “We are really proud of her, being the first in our family to graduate from college,” Gephany says.
Smiles and good cheer
A loud cheer went up as Devin Pittman received the Warren Miller Blue Skies Award. Pittman’s huge smile and contagious laugh brought joy across campus. A studio art major and theatre minor from Chicago, Pittman guided his classmates through the ceremony as a senior class officer and was a leader in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, Black Students United, and the Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA).
Advice to remember
Rock County Equity Manager Dr. Atiera Coleman’10 was slated to give the Commencement address but was forced to cancel at the last moment. Her mentor, assistant professor Dr. Sonya Maria Johnson, stepped in and summarized Coleman’s prepared remarks. “Embrace the challenges that come your way and never give up on being your true, unapologetic self. You, as you are right now, are the key to all of your future successes. Keep doing you.”
Leading the way
Student speaker Jada Daniel’s emotional words touched on her classmates’ roller coaster four years, reminding her of the changing of the seasons. “Wherever life plants us, whether it’s the season of harvest and abundance or a season of unforgiving storms of heartbreak and loss, Beloit has taught us that we are planted firmly and will always bloom with grace,” she said. “So, as we look to the future, may we continue to accept every storm with grace and let it water us and the seeds we plant for our futures.” Daniel, who triple majored in critical identity studies, political science, and sociology, graduated summa cum laude. After the ceremony, she led the class of 2023 back outside as the clouds began to lift.
Being in the moment
Some Beloit families travel thousands of miles to see their graduate cross the stage. A dozen of biology and health and society double major Madison Moser’s family members arrived from Alaska at 1:30 a.m. Sunday to see her receive her diploma. “It is hard to make the trip, so it’s great that they could make it for this big moment,” Moser said.