Perseverance Prepares Class of 2022 for Bright Futures

Saturday, May 28, 2022
Students smiling at Rose-Hulman's 2022 Commencement.

Commencement returned to its traditional pre-pandemic ceremonies, with the sentimental campus processional and an indoor event in the Sports and Recreation Center being attended by family, friends and other guests.

Perseverance was the theme of the day as members of the Class of 2022 culminated their challenging Rose-Hulman careers with degrees from Commencement on May 28 that will put them on pathways toward rewarding careers in science, engineering, and mathematics.

After all, the 385 bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates are preparing for employment at companies throughout the world, attending leading graduate, doctorate and medical school programs, and serving the country as commissioned military officers. Another 57 students are participating joining their classmates after completing degree requirements this summer or fall.

Along the way, Rose-Hulman’s new alumni group overcame the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted the final two years of their college careers, and a variety of social, political, and economic turmoil throughout the world. 

Rose-Hulman President Robert A. Coons told the Class of 2022, “The challenging, winding path that has led to today has strengthened your character in ways none of us could have foreseen four years ago … That is why I believe this class is one of the strongest graduating classes Rose has ever produced – a class of scholars prepared more powerfully than ever to change the world.”

Later, he added, “Perseverance is your superpower, and it will carry you far … You have a bright future and your expertise and the brightness of your character will help light the way for the world around you.”

In his Commencement Address, Northeastern University Chief Inclusion Officer Karl Reid, PhD, remarked that Rose-Hulman’s Class of 2022 will “be stronger than the rest of us, because of what you’ve preserved through.” He went on to symbolize the graduates as being like properties of metals that have been hardened by deliberately applying pressure to introduce dislocation in the crystalline structure of the material.

“Although the first few deformations weaken the metal, eventually the metal becomes stronger because of the pressure,” said Reid, who specialized in material science while earning bachelor’s and master’s engineering degrees. “Like these metals, you too have been work-hardened, your structures have been dislocated, you initially bent under the uncertainty as the pandemic spread. However, I’m told that this senior class has excelled academically, despite the challenges of the pandemic, and that you’ll graduate today with a higher grade point average than your first-year, sophomore and junior classmates. And now, you’re about to turn a page and start a new chapter in your life as a Rose-Hulman graduate.” 

Reid has been a leading national advocate for diversity and inclusion, and increasing college access, opportunity, and success for low-income and minority youth. As director of the Engineering PLUS Alliance, he leads a National Science Foundation-funded national effort to achieve transformative, systemic, and sustainable change in representation in engineering. Reid is also a founding member of the 50K Coalition, a national effort to produce 50,000 diverse engineering graduates annually by 2025, and formerly was executive director for the National Society of Black Engineers. 

He told Rose-Hulman’s Class of 2022 to use their skills, problem-solving skills, and resources to bring diversity to science, engineering and mathematics.

“We are better because we are diverse,” Reid said, adding, “As STEM and STEM-minded professionals, we’ve been trained to solve complex problems and discover novel solutions. That’s what we do. Our disciplined, creative approaches to problem definition and problem-solving must be given to new and grander technical challenges, like producing clean water and energy, producing more food, and securing cyberspace.

“But we can also apply our unique lens to other even more complex problems, like social and environmental injustice, much like many of you have done. And thus, the world can’t afford for you not to fully realize your capabilities, now work-hardened by unprecedented challenges, and benefitting from the diversity of your newly acquired knowledge, lived experiences and unique identities … Run into complexity. Take on the biggest challenges we face. And please keep people at the center of your work.”

Reid joined 1981 mechanical engineering alumnus and trustee David Hannum in receiving honorary engineering doctorates during the Institute’s 144th Commencement, conducted with family, friends and guests filling the fieldhouse of the Sports and Recreation Center. 

Student Government Association Past-President Addison White, a mechanical engineering graduate from Fort Wayne, Indiana, told his fellow classmates, “Let’s think of these degrees as our tickets to shape the world – to thrive and to make a difference. We’ve all come here to celebrate the road ahead. Now, it’s time to build it.”

And, Senior Class President Haiden Smith, an electrical engineering graduate from Manhattan, Illinois, added, “Four years of Rose-Hulman classes and challenges … taught us that Rose-Hulman makes the best people, the best engineers, and the brightest futures.”

Watch a replay of this year’s ceremony on Rose-Hulman’s Commencement 2022 webpage. The event’s webpage also has other Commencement details.