Wheaton College has a long history of holding reunions and commencement on the same weekend, and this year was no exception. It was a great combination of events because it allowed alumni to come back and wish the graduates the best for the future and impart their words of advice, and the ceremonies and parties alike were structured for both the graduates and the alumni to have a great time. I was honored to be invited back to photograph the events surrounding both occasions.
First, I attended the senior week kickoff luncheon on Monday, May 12, where students met women from the class of 1964. The graduating students congregated for their class photo and then raced across the lawn (affectionately known as the Dimple) rolling hoops. Legend has it that the first person to reach the statue farthest from the library will also be the first to marry. Students placed their hoops over the head of the statue when they reached it. It’s always a blast.
Next, I attended reunion events on Friday, May 16, including the senior art exhibit, lab demonstrations in the new Mars Science Center, and various classes. Alumni used this opportunity to meet with current graduates, see their own classmates, and re-experience the campus.
After that, I attended commencement on Saturday morning. The weather was not cooperating, so the festivities were held inside. There were five honorary degree recipients, including Wheaton President Ronald Crutcher, who retired this year after 10 years, and keynote speaker Johnnetta Betsch Cole.
I found the speeches to be full of words of inspiration. My favorite quote was from Ms. Cole:
“Whatever is your situation, let it be your goal to not only make a good living but to live a good life.”
(You can read more of the speech here.)
The students were then awarded their degrees, after which much celebration and hugging ensued.
I loved this moment when the graduates were leaving and held their hands up. They were so happy and excited.The final stop of the day for me was the dance party. This was the culmination of reunion weekend. I love the crazy dancing photos from this part of the event because it was so obvious in the people’s faces that they were going right back to their college days in their heads.
I loved having the incredible opportunity to be included in Wheaton College’s commencement and reunion celebrations for the past 14 years! I have seen the college grow into an amazing institution that turns students into well-grounded, intelligent people who will have a positive impact on the world. I am always inspired by the ideas presented in the speeches, and I leave feeling that I have learned something and been made better by having attended the ceremonies. Thank you so much, Wheaton College, for including me in the celebrations!