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Beloit College grads go forth into the crucible to change and be changed

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Monday, May 18, 2015

BELOIT—It was a year of heat, difference and change.

Those were the three elements that formed the class of 2015.

On Sunday, 308 students graduated from Beloit College, prepared to enter the world and add their talents to the mix.

In their speeches, both Beloit College President Scott Bierman and commencement speaker Favianna Rodriguez encouraged students to work for—and embrace—change.

Scott Bierman told students and family members gathered on the lawn in front of the administration building he had come to “embrace the metaphor of the power of the crucible.”

By mixing copper and tin together, applying heat, bronze was created.

“Out of this comes a stronger, more productive, more inclusive metal,” Bierman said. “…Surely this metaphor applies to America at this very moment. From Trayvon Martin's death in 2012 to Freddie Gray's last month, this country has become a crucible.”

At Beloit College, the quality of the students' experiences depended on the degree to which they had opportunities to be changed by conversations with people different from themselves.

“To listen, so deeply, so intently, so openly, that you allowed yourself to be changed, to have empathy with another perspective other than your own” is the skill this generation of students will need to make a difference, Bierman said. .

“If there is anything the last six months have taught this country is that the aspirations of America require a far greater capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy and inclusion,” Bierrman said.

Rodriguez, an artist, activist and teacher, encouraged students to embrace the “yes” that can come with social change.

“So often when we're fighting against something…we just get stuck in the 'no,'” Rodriguez said. “This means we will ultimately be reactionary. I invite you instead to be visionary.”

She asked students to consider, instead, “What kind of society is it that we want to build?”

Both speeches can be found at https://www.youtube.com/user/BeloitCollege/videos

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