Whittier College celebrated its 120th Commencement ceremony on May 2, 2023, honoring the achievement of more than 360 graduates.
Undergraduate and graduate students joined their Whittier College community, friends, family, and loved ones at Memorial Stadium for the event Tuesday evening.
The ceremony included words of advice and encouragement from honored guests, including writer and journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan and film and television director Arthur Allan Seidelman ’58. Kaplan and Seidelman each received honorary doctorates of Humane Letters, Whittier’s highest honor.
Joining them on stage was keynote speaker Francisco Rodriguez, Ph.D., chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District and member of the College’s Board of Trustees. Rodriguez has 30-plus years of experience within California public higher education, and speaks and writes on transformational leadership, racial equity and social justice, educational opportunity, and many other higher education topics.
“This is a day of celebration, of achievement, of persistence, of resilience,” he said. “As graduates of Whittier College, you have received an extraordinary and outstanding education… one that has laid a firm foundation for what lies ahead.”
“Many of us are here because we believe in the principle and practice of paying it forward,” Rodriguez said. “So I ask you, graduates, how will you use your life and your education as tools for positive change and for the public good? Find a way to use your own unique talents to make a difference.”
Read more about the honored guests and keynote speaker.
Addressing her fellow graduates, student speaker Leilanie McGregor ’23 shared her story of overcoming obstacles to earn her degree in social work. A first-generation college student who transferred to Whittier from El Camino Community College, she moved her family from Crenshaw — hours away via public transit — to a residence in Whittier. That proximity to campus, as well as her understanding professors, put McGregor on track to join the Class of 2023.
After taking a gap year, McGregor plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work and, ultimately, work on fostering student success on a college campus. Read more about McGregor.
Tuesday’s Commencement ceremony capped a season of end-of-year events, beginning with the annual Honors Convocation. In the days prior to Commencement, Whittier also celebrated APIDA, Black, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ students at their respective Cultural Graduations, which are organized, planned, and coordinated by fellow students.