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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Knox College Commencement 2024

Knox College 2024 Commencement on the South Lawn of Old Main.

The Knox College community gathered on the South Lawn of Old Main on Sunday, June 9, 2024, to celebrate the College’s 179th Commencement ceremony. Family and friends from all corners of the world gathered to the sounds of the Cherry St. Combo to congratulate and celebrate the achievements of the 216 graduating students in the Class of 2024.

Throughout the ceremony, speakers acknowledged the significance of the day, the culmination of four years of hard work, and reflected on the class’s journey. Chair of the Knox College Board of Trustees Tony Etz '83 asked the graduates to remember the smaller, meaningful moments at Knox, as these moments, he emphasized, are the essence of the Knox experience and will be carried with them into the future.

Joining the Knox community in 2020, the class navigated virtual classes and experienced unique versions of campus traditions like Pumphandle and Flunk Day. Knox College President C. Andrew McGadney recognized the significant events that took place both nationally and within the Knox community during their time as a student and applauded their ability to persevere. 

“I am assured that the members of the Class of 2024 will continue to embrace change and make the world a better place,” he added.

Cherry Street Combo
The graduating class walking into the ceremony.The graduating class walking into the ceremony.
Harley Knosher receives his honorary degree.Shahid Naeem receives his honorary degree.

Three individuals received the College’s highest accolade, honorary degrees: Harlan "Harley" Knosher, Shahid Naeem, and Maria Hinojosa.

Knosher was presented with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, honoring his 40-year tenure at Knox. Knosher served as a coach, athletic director, faculty member, and mentor to generations of students and alumni. Knosher was inducted into the Knox-Lombard Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989 and the College’s football stadium was dedicated as the Knosher Bowl in 2008. 

Shahid Naeem was presented with an honorary Doctorate of Science for his work as a Professor of ecology at Columbia University and director of science at the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability. Naeem has received numerous accolades, including the Ecological Society of America’s Buell and Mercer Awards and Columbia's Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award. He currently serves as president of the Ecological Society of America.

Finally, Commencement Speaker Maria Hinojosa was presented with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Founder of Futuro Media, a nonprofit newsroom based in Harlem, NYC, Hinojosa has informed the public about the changing cultural and political landscape in America and abroad as the anchor and executive producer of the Peabody Award-winning show Latino USA, co-host of Futuro Media’s award-winning political podcast In the Thick, and, most recently, her Pulitzer Prize-winning podcast Suave.

Maria Hinojosa receiving her honorary degree.
A look at the back of student's graduation cap.Maria Hinojosa giving the Commencement speech.
A students standing in the crowd applauding.

Hinojosa opened her speech with a story about her deep connection to Knox, having known about the College since she was 13. She expressed her gratitude and honor to speak and praised the resilience and strength of the Class of 2024. 

“There are very few times in your life that are going to feel like this, and I’m asking you to bask in this moment,” Hinojosa said.

Hinojosa spoke about the significant societal moments the graduates have lived through and their potential to make a profound impact. She encouraged them to embrace their dreams, pursue justice, and believe in their ability to change the world. She also highlighted the importance of the arts and curiosity. “Believe in the arts. They will save us as much as our intellect,” she added. 

Hinojosa shared a powerful personal anecdote about her family's immigrant journey and the value of embracing change and self-belief. She left the graduates with advice to share their dreams with their families and to learn about their family’s journey to where they are today. 

Smith V. Brand Distinguished Professor of Theatre and Chair of Arts Administration Liz Metz presented the Faculty Excellence Award to Associate Professor of Mathematics Mary Armon, a faculty member at Knox since 1991. Metz shared praise for Armon's dedication to student success and community building while setting an example for those around her. 

A students walks across the stage.
The Knox Choir. Graduating seniors sitting in the crowd.
A family sitting together during the ceremony.A students standing in the crowd applauding.

Senior Class Speaker Filza Khan '24 followed, reflecting on the collective journey of the class in front of her. She recounted personal milestones, the support from faculty and staff, and the growth she witnessed in her peers. Khan emphasized the unique opportunities Knox provided for exploration and growth and expressed gratitude to her family and the campus community.

“Let us continue to question, to challenge, and to care,” Khan said. “Our paths may diverge, but the bonds we’ve created here and the lessons we have learned will be everlasting, guiding us back to our shared values.”

Finally, the time arrived for graduates to approach the stage and receive their hard-earned degrees. Provost and Dean of the College Michael Schneider took to the podium to announce each name, while a line of students in black gowns adorned with cords and customized mortarboards took their turn completing their journeys. 

Senior Class President Corgan Blaise Ball '24 addressed their classmates, acknowledging the journey they've all undertaken and the transformative power of their liberal arts education. Ball highlighted the importance of community and encouraged their peers to let Knox's values guide them in creating a more sustainable and just world.

“Each of us has the potential to make a difference. Whether it's in our chosen professions, our local community, or on a global scale, we have the power to effect change,” Ball said. 

The crowd stood for thunderous applause as the Class of 2024 cheered in celebration, flinging their mortarboards in the air as they marked the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.

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Maria Hinojosa giving the 2024 Commencement speech.

#“There are very few times in your life that are going to feel like this, and I’m asking you to bask in this moment.” —Maria Hinojosa

Knox College

Printed on Sunday, June 16, 2024