Tag Archive for reunion and commencement

Jiménez Moreta Makes Remarks at Commencement

Reunion and Commencement Wesleyan University May 28, 2017 photo by Will BarrCristina Jiménez Moreta, executive director and co-founder of United We Dream (UWD), the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country, received an honorary doctorate during Wesleyan’s 2017 commencement ceremony on May 28. United We Dream played a leadership role in persuading the Obama administration to protect more than one million young immigrants from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Reunion and Commencement Wesleyan University May 28, 2017 photo by Will BarrOriginally from Ecuador, Jiménez Moreta came to the United States with her family at the age of 13. She is one of Forbes’s 2014 “30 under 30 in Law and Policy;” was named one of “40 under 40 Young Leaders Who are Solving Problems of Today and Tomorrow” by the Chronicle of Philanthropy; one of “50 Fearless Women” by Cosmopolitan; and named one of 25 disruptive leaders who are working to close the racial opportunity gap by Living Cities.

Her speech is below:

Thank you to President Roth, faculty, and students for this recognition.

I’m humbled by such distinguished honor and consider this to be a recognition for all immigrant youth and families that are part United We Dream and for one of our co-founders, Jose Luis Marantes, who is an alumnus of Wesleyan, class of 2006.

To the graduates and to your the parents and loved ones- congratulations!

As the daughter of immigrant parents who supported me didn’t let me quit despite the odds – I know that today is your day too!

And honestly this is a big day for me too. As the daughter of a father who grew up homeless, a mother who was told that girls don’t belong in school, and as someone who grew up undocumented, I could have never imagined to be with all of you today receiving an honorary degree from Wesleyan.

To my parents: I’m thankful for your courage, your sacrifice, and your love. Para todos los padres aquí, gracias por sus sacrificios y por su amor. 

As a kid growing up in Ecuador I remember getting letters from my school saying that I wouldn’t be allowed into school unless we pay our tuition. My parents did everything they could to support our family, but they just couldn’t find jobs. They could no longer afford to pay for school and some weeks we even struggled to have food at home.

They dreamed of a better life and for my brother and I to be the first ones in our family to go to college. So seeking those dreams, they risked everything and left Ecuador and our community and our families behind to come here to this country.

I was 13 and my brother was six when we settled in Queens, NY. A big shout out to all the New Yorkers here.

I attended high school with a constant fear that my parents could be deported or that I could be deported. Very early on, I learned that I was vulnerable not only for my lack of immigration status but because of the color of my skin. At 11 years old, I had to deal with the experience of my brother being a stop and frisk by New York City police in our neighborhood.

When I was ready to apply for college my college advisor told me that I couldn’t go to college because I didn’t have immigration status.
I was devastated.

But that same year I graduated, undocumented youth in New York pushed and pressured the State of New York to pass a law that allowed undocumented students like me to go to college. And Connecticut has done the same, and young people in Connecticut have done the same here, so big shout out to all the undocumented people and allies that have fought for students here.

I completed my bachelor’s and my master’s degrees with the support of my parents but also the support of institutions like the City University of New York, faculty and students that encouraged me, regardless of being undocumented. And Wesleyan is that kind of place.

Thank you President Roth and Wesleyan community for being an example of bold leadership in higher education by welcoming students regardless of immigration status in an era where racism and hate against immigrants and people of color has been normalized. Thank you.

And thank you for the great partnership that you have with the United We Dream affiliate here, Connecticut Students for a Dream, and we look forward to continuing that partnership.

As a person who lived too many years desperately afraid to reveal myself, and I go across the country and I see many immigrants and people of color that live in fear, I know how critical is for institutions and the people that work in them to create safe spaces for everyone and to treat everyone with dignity.

So graduates, it is a great privilege to be in an institution like Wesleyan and for you all to have had that experience. And with this great privilege also comes responsibility.

So today as you’re graduating, I invite you to own this responsibility with graciousness and ensure that wherever you go after today you create safe spaces for everyone. Spaces where people can be their true authentic selves without fears, without prejudice, and without any institution or any person holding them back.

Because as we speak there are some powerful leaders telling people like me and my family that we are criminals and that we don’t belong here. They are doing everything to target immigrants, refugees, women, Muslims, and LGBTQ and black people. And thousands are being detained, incarcerated, and separated from their families because of deportation.

So to be honest, immigrants like my family and other communities are going to need fellow humans who are committed to standing in the way of injustice and racism.

And you know what, looking at all of you here out here today and knowing you came from this place, I am very hopeful.

I am hopeful that you will lead with boldness and idealism, just like the mission of Wesleyan, and stand for inclusion and dignity for all people.

So thank you for this honor. Thank you for affirming to me and undocumented families that we belong here. That this is our country too. I am grateful, and I look forward to building the next chapter of this country together. Congratulations.

Handelsman Makes Remarks on Superpowers

Reunion and Commencement Wesleyan University May 28, 2017 photo by Will BarrJo Handelsman, the director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, a research institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, received an honorary degree during Wesleyan’s 185th commencement ceremony on May 28.

Handelsman recently concluded service as the associate director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Obama, where she advised the President on policies to address current and future challenges in science, engineering and mathematics. A distinguished scientist who helped create the field of metagenomics, Handelsman’s current research focuses on the way bacteria communicate among themselves to create robust communities. In addition to her internationally recognized research, Handelsman is also an international authority on evidence-based science education, which she terms “scientific teaching.”

Her speech is below:

On Superpowers

Thank you for inviting me here to share this very special day with you today. It is indeed an honor to receive a degree from an institution as venerable as Wesleyan University. Congratulations to all of you. To us!

You may not know it yet, our graduates, but you will know a few years from now that today is actually  a celebration of the superpowers you have acquired in college. Powers that will enable you to live lives of action, goodness, and wisdom. No, sorry to disappoint you—you won’t be able to fly or shoot lasers from your eyes—but you have superpowers that are just as transformative and much more useful in the modern world.

Today, the last four years of toil and struggle, doldrums, self-doubts, fun, epiphanies, and awakenings coalesce into four superpowers that few people on Earth possess, and you must therefore treasure them and use them wisely.

The first is the power to think. To engage in rigorous evaluation and separate fact from fiction, science from belief. The power of thought will enable you to use logic and be persuasive. Thought will empower you to live a rational and meaningful life.

Your second superpower is knowledge. Your knowledge of yourself will form the platform upon which you will build your values through thoughtful consideration, not inheritance. Your knowledge of the world will remind you that everyone is not like you—that you are just a tiny and privileged bit of life on a large and complex planet.

Your third superpower is independence. This power will ensure that you can rely on yourself, that you won’t be afraid to be alone, and that you will stand for unpopular causes and be the exception. Your independence will provide you the courage to speak truth to power and give voice to those whose voices can’t be heard.

Your fourth superpower is community. You sit here today in a community that will never assemble in this form again but will nonetheless fortify you throughout your lives. No one can take from you the great Wesleyan community to which you have belonged for four years. It has taught you the importance of being part of something larger than yourself and the power of balancing your independence with relying upon and supporting others. And caring about members of a community has given you the gifts of compassion and generosity.

So, 2017 Wesleyan graduates, thank you again

for allowing me to join you at this moment when you will launch into the rest of your lives. Now go forth and use your superpowers to make sure your lives are well lived.

Alumni Honored for Professional, Creative Achievements, Service


At the Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Alumni Association on May 27, seven alumni received Distinguished Alumni Awards, and one Outstanding Service Award was presented, along with the James L. McConaughy Jr. Memorial Award. Robert G. McKelvey ’59 (front row, far left) received special recognition for his many years of service, leadership, and generosity: Wesleyan’s historic College Row lawn was dedicated as McKelvey Green. Also pictured are (front row, l. to r., following McKelvey): Donna S. Morea ’76, P’06, chair of the Board of Trustees; Distinguished Alumni Nicholas J. Rasmussen ’87, Amy Schulman ’82, P’11, Isaac O. Shongwe ’87, and McConaughy Memorial Award recipient Matthew H. Weiner ’87 P’18. Back Row, Distinguished Alumni Santi “Santigold” White ’97 and Michele A. Roberts ’77; President Michael S. Roth ’78; Distinguished Alumnus Robert L. Allbritton ’92; Outstanding Service award-winner Rick Nicita ’67, Distinguished Alumnus Tos Chirathivat ’85, P’14, ’17, and Chair of the Alumni Association Tracey K. Gardner ’96.

Finn, Rubenstein, Roberts Honored with Binswanger Prizes

John Finn, Mary-Jane Rubenstein and Andrea Roberts and are the recipients of the 2017 Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

From left, John E. Finn, Mary-Jane Rubenstein and Andrea Roberts are the recipients of the 2017 Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Wesleyan President Michael Roth is pictured at right. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

During Wesleyan’s 185th commencement ceremony on May 28, Wesleyan presented three outstanding teachers with the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching. These prizes, made possible by gifts from the family of the late Frank G. Binswanger Sr., Hon. ’85, underscore Wesleyan’s commitment to its scholar-teachers, who are responsible for the university’s distinctive approach to liberal arts education.

Recommendations are solicited from alumni of the last 10 graduating classes, as well as current juniors, seniors and graduate students. Recipients are chosen by a selection committee of faculty and members of the Alumni Association Executive Committee.

This year, Wesleyan honored the following faculty members for their excellence in teaching:

John E. Finn, professor of government, has been a member of Wesleyan’s faculty since 1986, serving as chair of the Government Department in 2007 and from 2009–11. He has a BA in political science from Nasson College, a JD from Georgetown University, a PhD in political science from Princeton University, and a degree in culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute. Finn is the author of three books on constitutional law, including Peopling the Constitution (2014), and numerous articles and book chapters. Finn’s scholarship also encompasses the study of food, recipes and politics, and includes his most recent book, The Perfect Omelet: Essential Recipes for the Home Cook (2017). At Wesleyan, Professor Finn’s courses have included American Constitutional Interpretation, The First Amendment, The Judicial Process, and Culture and Cuisine. He is the recipient of five distinguished teaching awards at Wesleyan, including two Binswanger Prizes, two Caleb T. Winchester Awards for Excellence in Teaching, and the Carol A. Baker ’81 Memorial Prize. He is retiring from Wesleyan this year.

Andrea Roberts, associate professor of the practice, chemistry, began teaching in Wesleyan’s Chemistry Department in 2004 as a visiting instructor while pursuing her graduate research at Wesleyan. She earned a BA in chemistry from Cornell University, an MS in polymer chemistry from Polytechnic University, and a PhD in organometallic chemistry from Wesleyan, where she studied under the direction of Professor Emeritus Joseph Bruno. She has written two theses, is the author of several publications, and holds more than 30 U.S. and international patents. In July 2010, as a graduate student, Roberts rewrote the entire organic chemistry lab curriculum, making it safer and more relevant for students and greener for the environment. Using her 15 years of experience in the industry, she has developed curricula for the general, organic, and the advanced integrated laboratory courses. She also teaches science outreach classes that introduce STEM lab activities to Middletown-area school children. In 2016, Roberts was awarded a teaching and pedagogical grant from the Andersen/Rosenbaum Teaching Endowment, which she used to create a tutorial for graduate and undergraduate students interested in teaching and curriculum design. The result was the development of a new introductory chemistry lab manual, which was piloted this spring.

Mary-Jane Rubenstein, professor of religion, joined Wesleyan’s faculty in 2006. She also is a core faculty member in the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, and an affiliated faculty member in the Science in Society Program. She holds a BA in religion and English from Williams College, an MPhil in philosophical theology from Cambridge University, and a PhD in philosophy of religion from Columbia University, where she also received a certificate in comparative literature and society. Rubenstein’s courses at Wesleyan include Christianity and Sexuality, and Worlding the World: Creation Myths from Ancient Greece to the Multiverse. Her research interests include continental philosophy, theology, gender and sexuality studies, and the history and philosophy of cosmology. She is the author of Strange Wonder: The Closure of Metaphysics and the Opening of Awe and Worlds without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse, as well as numerous book chapters, magazine articles and online essays. She serves as cochair of the Philosophy of Religion Section of the American Academy of Religion and on the Smithsonian Institute’s advisory board for the study of science and religion.

Previous Binswanger recipients are online here.

Shackney ’17 Delivers Senior Class Welcome

Elizabeth Shackney ’17 delivered the following remarks during Wesleyan’s 185th commencement ceremony on May 28.

Good morning. My name is Lizzie Shackney, and today I will graduate with the Class of 2017.

I realized what Wesleyan meant to me as I packed up my room yesterday and noticed three similar titles on my single shelf of books: How Should a Person Be?, On Becoming a Person, and How to Be a Person in the World, all acquired in the past four years. My time at Wesleyan, it seems, has been about learning how to be and become a person. Of course, I’ve always been a person. But it was just me, alone. Being here meant understanding, adjusting, and navigating my personhood in a sea of other identities. Like molecules in a heated state, we bounced around and sometimes crashed into one another, creating energy and pressure that could be both productive and exhausting.

A lot can change, a lot can happen, when it’s no longer just you. Wesleyan is a place where, after an hours-long conversation with an unexpected friend, a cloudy part of your world becomes clearer. It is where you can accomplish that thing that you didn’t think was for people like you, where you find a home with others telling stories or flying drones or opening up about grief. Despite the abundance of closeness and connection, sometimes Wesleyan can be paradoxically lonely. Sometimes it is a breeding ground for frustration or uncertainty. Sometimes, we worry that we are too much for the people around us.

In the messiness of our time here, we are forced to ask ourselves: What does it mean to exist as a human being among others? How do I do it? And how do I do it well?

Those books I mentioned haven’t given me comprehensive answers. Wesleyan hasn’t either. but it has helped to move me forward. What I do know now is this: The key to being a person within a community lies at the intersection of accountability and belonging. Accountability means taking responsibility for the fact that what you do and what you say has an impact. I felt this most as a student government leader, as I realized that my work wasn’t just about doing what I believed was best; instead, I engaged with members of my community and learned through trial and error to speak with, and not for or over, my peers.

At the same time, becoming a person is facilitated by feeling that you belong somewhere, by believing that you will be loved even if you make a mistake. When you drove ten hours to my dad’s funeral in the middle of the summer; when you watched me dance, play tennis, or tell a joke and still let me hang around—many big and tiny memories remind me that here, I have been loved. Those moments when I felt most that I belonged were also when I felt most committed to the betterment of this community. A sense of belonging is sustained by accountability, and accountability relies upon a foundation of care.

Today, we celebrate where we have been, where we will go next, and the lives that we will lead there. But I hope that beyond all of our accomplishments, we find new places where we can belong, and where we can create a sense of belonging for others, too.

Today, I am grateful for the many ways in which you have taught me to live well within a community. It’s been a pleasure to be, belong, and become alongside all of you.

Thank you.

Driscolls Honored with 2017 Baldwin Medal

John and Gina Driscoll.

During the commencement ceremony, John ’62 and Gina Driscoll, at left, received the Baldwin Medal. The Baldwin Medal is the highest award of the Alumni Association.(Photo by Olivia Drake)

During the 185th commencement ceremony on May 28, John ’62 and Gina Driscoll were honored with the Raymond E. Baldwin Medal, the highest award of the Alumni Association. John and Gina have each provided exemplary service to Wesleyan for more than three decades, during which they have been truly remarkable ambassadors of goodwill. Among Freeman Asian Scholars, their names are synonymous with devoted friendship and unstinting support. For many years the Driscolls traveled extensively throughout Asia with the late Houghton “Buck” ’43 and Doreen Hon. ’03 Freeman P’77 to interview prospective Freeman scholars. The Freeman Driscoll Endowed International Scholarship was named in their honor.

Kadets, Kwon, Williams, Reyes Deliver Senior Voices, Hatch Gives Faculty Reflection

Lili Kadets ’17, Haneah Kwon ’17, Arnelle Williams ’17, and Mika Reyes ’17 delivered “Senior Voices” addresses on May 27 in Memorial Chapel. Anthony Hatch, assistant professor of science in society, assistant professor of sociology, assistant professor of African American studies, delivered the faculty reflection. Below are the text of their speeches:

Wesleyan Awards 731 BA Degrees at 184th Commencement

Wesleyan celebrated the graduates of the Class of 2016 at its 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22. (Photo by Jonas Powell '18)

Wesleyan celebrated the graduates of the Class of 2016 at its 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22. (Photo by Jonas Powell ’18)

Graduates, their families, and other members of the Wesleyan community who gathered for the 184th Commencement ceremony on May 22 were offered advice on how to change the world by Bryan Stevenson, this year’s Commencement speaker, a human rights lawyer and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative.

(Photo by John Van Vlack)

(Photo by John Van Vlack)

Weaving in stories from his decades of work fighting racial injustice and discrimination in the criminal justice system, Stevenson told the Class of 2016 that changing the world requires four things: Getting proximate to the places “where there’s suffering and abuse and neglect”; “changing the narrative” about race in this country; staying hopeful; and being willing to do uncomfortable things.

“I wish I didn’t have to say that because it’s so nice if you can only do the things that are comfortable,” he said. “But the truth is we can’t change the world by doing just what’s convenient and comfortable. I’ve looked for examples where things changed, where oppression was ended, where inequality was overcome, when people did only what was convenient and comfortable, and I can’t find any examples of that. To change the world, you’re going to sometimes have to make uncomfortable choices, to be in uncomfortable places, and be proximate and be hopeful and change narratives. But know that if you do it, there is some great reward, all of that knowledge that you have accumulated will resonate. You will have ideas in your mind that match the conviction in your heart.”

Stevenson concluded, “There is a different metric system for those of you who want to change the world.” Success won’t be measured by grades or by income. He recalled an older black man he met after giving a talk. The man showed him cuts, bruises and scars he got while working to register people of color to vote in the south in the 1960s.

“There aren’t my cuts, these aren’t my bruises, these aren’t my scars,” the man told Stevenson. “These are my medals.”

Wesleyan conferred an honorary doctor of humane letters degree upon Stevenson. Also recognized with honorary degrees were Kwame Anthony Appiah (doctor of letters)—a professor of philosophy and law at New York University who is renowned for his insights into moral theory and practice, racism and identity, cultural differences, and political development; and Patti Smith (doctor of fine arts)—a writer, performer, and visual artist whose recordings include her seminal album, Horses (1975), and whose books include Just Kids, winner of the 2010 National Book Award. Read more about the honorary degree recipients here.

(Photo by John Van Vlack)

(Photo by John Van Vlack)

This year, Wesleyan conferred 731 bachelor of arts degrees; 33 master of arts degrees, including 4 in the new master of arts in performance curation; 28 master of arts in liberal studies degrees; 2 master of philosophy in liberal arts; and 15 doctor of philosophy degrees.

Three faculty members were honored with the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching: Sally Bachner, associate professor of English; Demetrius Eudell, professor of history; and James Lipton, professor of computer science. These prizes, made possible by gifts from the family of the late Frank G. Binswanger Sr. Hon. ’85, underscore Wesleyan’s commitment to its scholar-teachers, who are responsible for the university’s distinctive approach to liberal arts education.

In addition, John Lemberg Usdan ’80, P’15, P’18, P’18, was awarded the Raymond E. Baldwin Medal, the highest honor presented by Wesleyan’s alumni body for extraordinary service to Wesleyan or for careers or other activity which have contributed significantly to the public good. Usdan is president of Midwood, a New York-based real estate investment and development firm. His remarkable record of service to Wesleyan over more than three decades has included 12 years as a trustee as well as serving as chair of the THIS IS WHY campaign—the most successful fundraising effort in Wesleyan’s history. Read more about Usdan here.

Also recognized were four retiring faculty members who were given emiriti status. They are: Abraham K. Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music; Philip H. Bolton, professor of chemistry; Alex Dupuy, John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology; and Mark Slobin, Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth. (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth. (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

In his remarks to the graduating class, President Michael Roth spoke about Wesleyan’s core values of justice, generosity, and care.

“Justice, generosity, and care—these are the core values at Wesleyan. Students at this university demand that their school stand for justice—in words and in actions—and over the past four years your demands have included making our academic core more diverse and our residential life free from sexual violence that has become a scourge on college campuses across America,” he said.

Roth added, “Just as the aspiration for justice has been a powerful feature of campus culture, so too has recognizing that not everyone has the same view as to what constitutes justice, which means that part of the work of political engagement includes discussions in which we can build on our commonalities and explore our differences without fear. A university is a place to have one’s opinions tested—not protected.”

Roth also acknowledged, “As loud as calls for justice sometimes are, the soft but persistent voice of generosity has also been a feature of the student culture that you have created. Many of you work in the community . . . . And a number of you gave your time and labor to ease the plight of refugees—helping those in camps in the Middle East and smoothing the way for refugee families settling here in the United States. I am inspired by all your efforts.

“Linked to these acts of generosity—and to the calls for justice—is, I think, a deep ethics of care. . . . I very much admire the ways in which you have looked after one another, inspired one another, or simply cheered each other on. It may well be that the quest for justice and the impulse for generosity depend on this ethics of care, this commitment to seeing those around you fulfill their potential, flourish. . . . It builds our community and makes the work we do relevant beyond the university.”

Wesleyan celebrated the graduates of the Class of 2016 at its 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Tahreem Khalied ’16. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Roth challenged the graduates of the Class of 2016 to put what they’ve learned at Wesleyan to promote positive changes in the world. “We Wesleyans have used our education to mold the course of culture ourselves lest the future be shaped by those for whom justice and change, generosity and equality, diversity and tolerance, are much too threatening. Now we alumni are counting on you, Class of 2016, to join us in helping to shape this culture, so that it will not be shaped by the forces of violence, conformity, and elitism.”

In her Senior Class Welcome, Tahreem Khalied ’16, who came to the U.S. from Pakistan four and a half years ago, shared some of the many firsts she experienced at Wesleyan.  She also spoke about how her experience at Wesleyan taught her about the beauty and power of diversity. “As a student studying race and ethnicity as part of my American studies major, I was introduced to the possibility that there can be more truths than the one I believe in. . . . I learned about colonialism, indigenous politics, queer politics, anarchy, racial and ethnic politics, latinidad, South-Asian diasporic writing, all as part of this one, very inclusive major. I was learning that diversity, whether in thought, or in person, is indeed beautiful.”

The full Reunion & Commencement Weekend photo gallery is here.

The Commencement gallery is here.

The text and video of Bryan A. Stevenson’s address is here.

The text of Kwame Anthony Appiah’s address is here.

The text and video of Patti Smith’s address is here.

The text and video of President Michael S. Roth’s address to the Class of 2016 is here.

The text and video of the senior class welcome by Tahreem Khalied ’16 is here.

Information on the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching recipients is here.

Information on alumni receiving Distinguished Alumni, Outstanding Service, and McConaughy awards is here.


Register for Reunion & Commencement Weekend May 19-22

All alumni are welcome to walk in the annual parade of classes during Reunion & Commencement Weekend.

All alumni and members of the Class of 2016 are welcome to walk in the annual parade of classes during Reunion & Commencement Weekend.

Registration for Wesleyan’s Reunion & Commencement Weekend is open! (Register online here prior to May 6.)

Reunite with old classmates during R&C Weekend.

Reunite with former classmates during R&C Weekend.

From May 19-22, alumni, parents, students and families can participate in reunion gatherings, a festival on Foss Hill, WesSeminars, THIS IS WHY campaign dedications and celebrations, stargazing, a conversation with President Michael Roth ’78, a parade of classes, an all-campus college sing and campus party, the 184th Commencement Ceremony and much more. View the entire schedule of events online here.

Classes celebrating their reunions are those ending in a “1” or “6,” and the weekend celebrates the graduating class of 2016. All alumni planning to attend are requested to register.

The Class of 2016 will graduate during the Commencement Ceremony May 22.

The Class of 2016 will graduate during the Commencement Ceremony May 22.

Wesleyan Awards 799 BA Degrees at 183rd Commencement

New graduates toss hats following the 183rd Commencement Ceremony May 24. 

New graduates toss hats following the 183rd Commencement Ceremony May 24. (Photo by Rick Ciaburri)

Graduates, their families, and other members of the Wesleyan community who gathered for the 183rd Commencement ceremony on May 24 were treated to some life advice in the form of rap, courtesy of Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, this year’s Commencement speaker and the composer, lyricist and star of the hip-hop musical Hamilton.

Lin-Manuel Miranda '02 delivering the Commencement address on May 24. (Photo by Rick Ciaburri)

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 delivering the Commencement address on May 24. (Photo by Rick Ciaburri)

“I’m going to sing a little bit, so if you made a bet that I’d be rapping during the Commencement address, your friend owes you money,” Miranda joked.

He drew upon the stories of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr to discuss two different approaches to life: charging forward in the spirit of Hamilton—”I’m not throwing away my shot”—versus holding out for just the right moment to take action–“Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it.”

Miranda spoke of falling in love with the “instant gratification” of theater at Wesleyan.

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 Delivers Commencement Address

The 183rd Commencement Ceremony took place on Andrus Field, with Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters recipient Lin-Manuel Miranda '02 delivering the Commencement address on May 24. (Photo by Rick Ciaburri)

The 183rd Commencement Ceremony took place on Andrus Field, with Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters recipient Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 delivering the Commencement address on May 24. (Photo by Rick Ciaburri)

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 made the following remarks at the 183rd Commencement ceremony May 24:

Thank you, President Roth, Provost, Board of Trustees, faculty, students, families. Wes Wings, Thai Gardens and Neon Deli.

As I look across the sea of proud, sleepy graduates, who just hours ago were turnt all the way up in the tent where your families now sit—seriously, your grandmother is sitting where YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID—I can’t help but wish I had been asked to be your freshman orientation speaker instead. Over the course of your time here, you have learned innumerable lessons, large and small, but I could have saved you a few of them. So, future graduates on Foss Hill, are you here? Consider this your post-frosh orientation advice.

Remarks for Honorary Degree Recipient Beverly Daniel Tatum ’75

Beverly Daniel Tatum '75, P'04 received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters this year on May 24. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Beverly Daniel Tatum ’75, P’04 received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters this year on May 24. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Beverly Daniel Tatum ’75, president of Spelman College, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on May 24. She delivered the following remarks:

eve_ruc_2015-0524115145Thank you, President Roth and the Board of Trustees, the faculty, for this wonderful honor. I can’t tell you how delighted I am to be here – especially on the occasion of the 40th reunion of the Class of 1975! The years I spent at Wesleyan were transformative for me, and when I left Wesleyan, I was a confident young woman with a clear career plan.

I planned to go off to graduate school, earn my Ph.D.