On a day that Kalamazoo College would normally welcome thousands of people to campus, the Quad will be quiet and still, as K’s in-person Commencement has been postponed in 2020. Yet that won’t stop the institution from honoring the achievements of its graduating class, or this class from celebrating and receiving a message of hope.
At 1 p.m. June 14, Provost Danette Ifert Johnson will read the names of the graduates, and Rosella LoChirco ’20, draped in a cap and gown, will address her peers as the class speaker in a virtual Conferral of Degrees ceremony at kzoo.edu/commencement.
LoChirco, a philosophy major from Rochester, Michigan, will tell graduates to prioritize social equity and solidarity as they move on to their next chapters.
“I want to encourage my class to double down on our commitments to each other and to our communities because that says more about our true identities than any job title can,” LoChirco said.
After all, as soon-to-be Kalamazoo College grads, they’ve spent the past four years building their identities on those ideals, and the challenges they’ve encountered this term make celebrating their accomplishments even more important.
“We all envisioned graduation to be one thing,” LoChirco said. “We find ourselves in multiple crises right now, and there is so much pain related not just to COVID-19 but to racial discrimination in our country. I want to use this opportunity to reflect on recent events and create space for the mix of celebration, sadness and frustration that many of my classmates and I are feeling.”
LoChirco will begin life as a K alumna with a fellowship from Venture for America, a prestigious honor that prepares recent college graduates for careers as entrepreneurs while they’re placed in ambitious start-up businesses across the U.S. She said she’s in the matching phase of that fellowship program and is excited despite her yet-unknown placement as the College has prepared her to embrace uncertainty.
“With the relationships I had with professors and the confidence I gained in the classroom and study abroad, I’m ready to take on new challenges because I’ve done it before,” she said. “And I’ve found people along the way who really supported me.”
K’s class of 2020 includes:
- 331 expected Commencement participants;
- 207 Michiganders;
- students from 23 states;
- students from 10 countries including the U.S.;
- biology, business and chemistry as the most represented majors; and
- 104 double majors and five triple majors.
“Our world is going through concurrent crises and to still have a moment where we can celebrate our achievement and be together virtually is really special to me,” LoChirco said.