Kathryn G. Breisch '12
Remarks of Class President
Kathryn G. Breisch '12
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Four years ago, we stepped onto the Illinois Wesleyan campus as fledgling first years.
Although we had no idea what to do, we knew what to do: set alarm, don’t hit snooze
a third time, attend classes, pass classes, make friends, realize that biology wasn’t
our forte, drop biology and change majors, pass different classes, get involved, and take advantage of every opportunity.
Throughout our college careers, we learned about forming our own social groups—remaining
wary of friending mysterious people like Amber Brown. We played sports and excelled
enough to win a handful of championships. It turns out that this athletic training
came in handy when we had to learn how to juggle four plates at a time when the cafeteria
went trayless. We learned about love and equality from Zach Wahls, about the power
of the sympathetic imagination from Jorie Graham, about social justice from Sister
Helen Prejean. And, of course, we learned how to bust a move from President Wilson.
During our time here, we have been challenged: challenged to discover greener chemical
compounds, to run competitive businesses using simulations, to compose the perfect
piece of literature, to analyze Alexis de Tocqueville’s political theory…and even
to learn how to spell Alexis de Tocqueville. We have even created challenges for ourselves,
pursuing research honors, presenting at the John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference.
We became tutors and lab assistants, mentors and team captains, leaders in Greek life
and student senators.
And it’s a good thing we did all of this. As a result, we are better for it: we are
smarter, wiser, more fit. In short, we are now exceedingly well-prepared for…the Zombie
Apocalypse. Why the Zombie Apocalypse? Because Professor Weis promised me five dollars
if I mentioned the Zombie Apocalypse during my remarks. Professor Weis, just so you
know: I’ll accept cash or check.
For the record, I’m pretty sure a Zombie Apocalypse will not happen any time soon,
but this is not to say that the past four years have been easy. In many ways, they’ve
been quite difficult. Globally, natural disasters have shaken whole countries. Nationally,
we have monitored the economy with baited breath. And closer to home, we have faced
the loss of colleagues and friends.
But during our time at Illinois Wesleyan, we have been equipped to engage such circumstances.
Of course, we have been prepared intellectually by being exposed to new ideas. From
music theory to game theory to political theory, general education has introduced
us to multiple disciplines of learning. Our liberal arts education has expanded our
knowledge repertoires in numerous and surprising ways. But our education didn’t stop
there. Inside and outside of the classroom, Illinois Wesleyan emphasized social justice,
sustainability, diversity. As a result, we are enabled to navigate the future with
aptitude, awareness, and compassion.
From this foundation, we have been encouraged to make our own way. Our education became
what we chose to make of it. We were encouraged to own our learning by conducting
independent research, participating in student groups, and engaging the community.
By hearing such a diverse array of speakers with bold, new voices, we began to find
our own voices. We have been granted a holistic education, one that has deeply informed us and also empowered us to, in the words
of Minor Myers, do both well, and good.
Such an education is a rare gift, so a simple and earnest thank you is deserved. After
all, most of the members of the Class of 2012, myself included, could not have gotten
this far without our families, professors, and support networks. The education that
you have helped us obtain, has, and will continue, to shape who we are.
To my fellow classmates: enjoy this well-deserved celebration, and in the future,
take your personal transformation out into the world to contribute—with both knowledge
and wisdom—to its transformation. Congratulations and best wishes to the Class of