Beloit College Magazine

Beloit College Magazine

Summer 2015 (July 21, 2015 at 6:00 am)

Class of 2015 has Already Left its Mark


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July 13, 2015 at 10:31 am

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Senior class officer Miranda James’15 gives a joyous shout at the end of the Commencement ceremony. Photo by Dan Lassiter

At a blustery outdoor ceremony in May, 308 graduates received their Beloit College degrees in front of Middle College before turning their attention to graduate school, jobs, volunteer stints, Fulbright and National Science Foundation fellowships, and—in several cases—coveted honors terms they will complete at Beloit this fall.

Under menacing clouds that eventually gave way to the sun, the speakers and the class reflected on the past four years, including, most notably, this past one, when Beloit was powerfully engaged in social justice issues, especially through a campus-based Black Lives Matter program. These issues were brought home when racist incidences occurred on campus this spring. The experiences of the spring semester were often difficult, especially for students of color, but they seem to have galvanized the class to push for Beloit to be a better, more inclusive residential community.

 “The history of this college will point proudly to a pivot point and that pivot point will be the class of 2015,” President Bierman said at the ceremony. “Thank you for your courage and your activism. Thank you for your generosity and your integrity. Thank you for making so vivid what the liberal arts in practice really means—reflection, connection, application—around essential things.”

Commencement speaker Favianna Rodriguez, a California-based artist and activist, discussed the central role of art in envisioning change. “Many of us are reacting to a narrative that’s already been created,” she said. “We find ourselves fighting against something, but what does the ‘yes’ look like?”

Rodriguez, who received an honorary doctorate, was among those honored at the ceremony as were Professor of Economics Jeff Adams, Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures Jack Street, and Professor of Chemistry and Computer Education Rama Viswanathan, who officially joined the ranks of emeriti faculty. See page 4 for more on the faculty who retired in 2015.

Literary studies major Kavya Parsa’15, from Des Moines, Iowa, delivered the class address, noting that the terror and excitement she felt about graduating was somewhat familiar. She and her classmates had experienced something similar when they pushed themselves to try new things as students. “For me, at least, that feeling preceded some of the best moments of my life,” she said.

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Sociology major Derell Carter’15, of Houston, Texas, received the 2015 Warren Miller Blue Skies Award. The RA, athlete, and student leader was noted for bringing a smile and approachable attitude to everything he did on campus.
Photo by Dan Lassiter

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Namoonga Mantina’15, of Lusaka, Zambia, received the Martha Peterson Prize. The health and society major graduated summa cum laude with departmental honors and completed minors in biology and chemistry.
Photo by Dan Lassiter

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California-based printmaker and digital artist Favianna Rodriguez believes in leveraging the power of art to address issues such as the environment, immigration, racism, and gender equality. Students invited her to address them at Commencement. Photo by Dan Lassiter

As Quoted

“Let’s unpack this.”

—2015 Senior Class Officers 

“I hope we take the lessons we learned inside and outside the classroom to grow into humble, gracious, and active members of society—that we take all the laughs, the tears, and the painful experiences we had into our bright futures to create change in ourselves and in our communities.”

—Roxanna Sanchez-Avila’15,
from her introduction to Commencement speaker Favianna Rodriguez 

“I can’t imagine students anywhere else who so enthusiastically sign up for courses like Classical Justice and who are not only willing to read a book like Aristotle’s Politics, but who dive into it, and wrestle with it, and critique it, and enjoy it.”

—Visiting Assistant Professor
of Political Science Jill Budny upon receiving the 2015 Underkofler Award

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