Knox College conducted its 169th Commencement exercises Saturday, June 7, on the South Lawn of Old Main, as more than 300 graduating seniors received their bachelor's degrees.
Commencement speaker Natasha Trethewey, 19th Poet Laureate of the United States, and graduating senior Ángeles Garduño addressed the Class of 2014 before President Teresa Amott welcomed the graduates to the alumni community.
Trethewey wished the graduating seniors "a smooth and lucky passage." She described her own undergraduate liberal arts education, saying it provided her with opportunities to explore different academic subjects and gave her the tools to think critically.
"I was not studying to become a writer, but everything I studied has helped me become one, to answer my calling," said Trethewey, who has won a Pulitzer Prize for her work.
Honorary degrees were awarded to Trethewey, anthropologist Alan Harn of Dickson Mounds Museum in Illinois, and legendary musician Ramsey Lewis.
As the graduates' names were read during the distribution of diplomas, there was a moment of silence -- and then several moments of cheering -- in tribute to Tundun Lawani, a student who was killed in 2012 and who would have been graduating with the rest of the Class of 2014.
In her remarks to the graduating seniors, Garduño said that the loss of their friend and classmate showed "that Knox students are resilient" and won't let adversity stand in their way.
"After today, we're finally going to embrace the true meaning of 'freedom to flourish,'" she said.
President Amott congratulated Knox's newest alumni. "You have changed Knox by your commitment to sustainability, and you have changed Knox with your reminder that the promise of access is not yet fulfilled, that we have work to do to build a culture of respect on this campus," she said.
"You are the shape of things to come," she added, citing the work of Galesburg native and poet Carl Sandburg. "Go now with our blessings into the future."
A total of 115 graduating seniors earned Latin Honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude, or cum laude.) Nineteen members of the Class of 2014 were awarded College Honors for advanced independent study projects that were evaluated by a select committee and produced a major piece of research or creative work.
During the Commencement exercises, Jeremy Edison and Christopher Poore were announced as co-winners of the John C. Weigel Prize, which is awarded to the member of the graduating class with the highest scholastic achievement. In addition, Marcus McGee was announced as winner of the E. Inman Fox Prize, which is awarded to a senior whose scholarly achievement and pursuit of a truly liberal education are exceptional among peers.
Many of the graduates wore green ribbons, signifying that they have signed the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility. The pledge states they will "explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work."