The Bold and Remarkable Class of 2024: You are Enough

On a picture-perfect spring day, an exuberant crowd of family, friends, and Beloit College community members cheered graduates as they walked across the stage in front of historic Middle College. 

Jose Elias Guillen II'24 walks past excited crowds after the ceremony.

Beneath a clear blue sky, with a breeze rustling banners and flags behind the stage, President Eric Boynton awarded diplomas to the Class of 2024 as Provost Donna Oliver read their names at the college’s 174th Commencement.

First graduation ceremony of the Boynton era.

President Eric Boynton speaks to the crowd.

President Boynton addressed the Class of 2024, acknowledging their work, resilience, and perseverance, encouraging them to “feel the warmth of the sun, relish the feeling of accomplishment and the satisfaction of a job done well…your futures are bright.”

The class missed out on high school graduations, and arrived at Beloit when social distancing and masks made making connections more difficult than usual. As things opened up, the class took advantage of it.

“You navigated the complexities of a worldwide pandemic, online instruction, new social and technological challenges — all while figuring out who you are and where you are going. To sum it up, you crushed college.”

An inspiration to her peers.

Farah Tolu-Honary'24 receiving the Martha Peterson Prize.

Farah Tolu-Honary’24, of Freeport, Illinois, received the Martha Peterson Prize, awarded to a senior who best exemplifies the college’s liberal arts traditions through academic achievements and as an active contributor to the campus community.

A double major in international relations and French, with a minor in African studies graduating summa cum laude, she gained cross-cultural and French language skills studying abroad in Morocco and Tunisia, proving herself an accomplished scholar and researcher. She received several grants, including one last summer for research in Senegal. She worked as a tutor at the Writing Center, for the French Program, and for study abroad, and was a teaching assistant in French.

“She is an inspiration to her peers,” one of her professors says, “generous in her collaborations and capaciously adept at navigating challenging situations.”

Farah will be doing an internship with Physicians for Human Rights before pursuing graduate school in France.

Blue Skies for genuine care and good cheer.

Franccesca Mamani'24 receiving the Warren Miller Blue Skies Award.

Students applauded as Franccesca Mamani’24 walked to the stage to receive the Warren Miller Blue Skies Award.

A high-achieving McNair Scholar and Student Excellence and Leadership (SEL) peer mentor, the first-generation Latinx student from Chicago, Illinois, brought good cheer and genuine care to everything she did at Beloit. Whether it was navigating academics and professors or friendships, she has been a pillar of support for first-year students as a peer mentor. Her uplifting presence has been an inspiration to be real, to be kind, and to strive for excellence.

A double major in studio art and psychology, she will attend Johns Hopkins University for graduate school in Psychology.

Embracing the unknown with courage and confidence.

Martu J. Kollie'24 gives the student Commencement speech.

Student Commencement speaker Martu J. Kollie’24 looked back on her path to Beloit after growing up in one of the poorest communities in Liberia, West Africa, where educational opportunities are scarce, especially for girls.

She described Beloit as a home away from home, and a place “where I could forge lifelong friendships, explore my passions, and find my footing.” A double major in international relations and environmental studies, she also looked to the future, encouraging her fellow graduates to “embrace the unknown with courage and confidence.”

She concluded, “It is time to put the liberal arts into practice as we navigate the twists and turns of life’s journey with grace and resilience.”

You are enough: social justice advocates inspire the graduates.

Tennessee State Rep. Justin J. Pearson and Oceana R. Gilliam'17 speak to the crowd.

Commencement speakers Tennessee State Rep. Justin J. Pearson and Oceana R. Gilliam’17 brought cheers from the crowd with a speech that was both moving and rousing. Pearson, who was expelled and later reinstated after protesting gun violence on the Tennessee House floor, is engaged to Gilliam, a Beloit College Trustee since 2021, and his chief of staff.

Gilliam began by acknowledging that people around the world are suffering from war and injustice, and that “in this moment of celebration we are holding this tension of joy and pain.” She told the graduates that their Beloit education has provided them with what it takes to compete with the best of them, while acknowledging that there will be difficult days ahead. She noted that Commencement coincided with Mother’s Day, and shared words of wisdom from her own mother, reassuring the graduates that “times of trouble and struggle will not last forever, and you are enough.”

Rep. Pearson continued the refrain, his voice resounding across campus, exhorting the graduates to help build a movement for justice rooted in love, to heal and transform the world. He reminded graduates that they are not on this journey alone, “because you are enough, we are enough.”

Afterwards.

After the ceremony, graduates congregated with their families, professors, and friends, happy to spend one last afternoon basking in the sun before leaving campus as Beloit College alumni.

Shakira Wilson receiving armfulls of flowers and bouquets from family and friends.

May 12, 2024

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