Commencement speaker Alejandro Chávez Rodríguez '24 reflects on his college journey

May 2, 2024

When Alejandro Chávez Rodríguez steps up to the podium next week to address his peers at Commencement, he’ll be part of a family tradition. 

Commencement speaker Alejandro Chávez Rodríguez '24“My mom also had the experience of giving a speech at her college graduation ceremony, which was a great inspiration for me and motivated me to not let this opportunity pass,” said Chávez, a film major with minors in theatre and communication arts and visual culture/visual media.

Chávez, who goes by Chachi, was born and raised in Lima, Peru, and studied at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru before transferring to Whittier with the dream of studying film directing, movies, and music in Los Angeles. He hopes his message to his classmates will strike an optimistic yet contemplative tone, urging them to follow their own aspirations while showing determination in the face of adversity. 

“I aim to convey to them the importance of pursuing our dreams with courage and to remind them that happiness does not come when we have no worries, but rather when we become strong and learn to deal with the problems that life inevitably brings us, carrying hope in our pocket and with the certainty that tomorrow will be a better day,” he said. 

He credits his parents, friends, and mentors for his success in school and his confidence when it comes to expressing himself. His parents will be traveling from Peru to attend Commencement and watch him give his remarks in person. 

“My parents have been a constant source of inspiration,” Chávez said. “Even when they are far away, they continue to give me valuable life lessons and send me their strength, love, and energy.”

At Whittier, Chávez has been active in the film and theatre departments. He joined the crew of the student stage production of She Kills Monsters, and was a member of the Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Honor Society. Thanks to an Art and Technology Fellowship from Whittier, he and a friend were also able to produce their own short film, Theogonical Dialogues of a Broken Clock. 

For his senior project, Chávez studied the convergence of cinema and song behind famous musicals. Next, he hopes to further his arc as a singer in the Latin music industry, with the goal of becoming a film and music video director or starting his own production company. 

“I'm planning to focus on my artistic career as a singer. I want to resume music composition, dance, and explore new musical instruments.” 

In the final days before Commencement and what are sure to be bittersweet farewells, Chávez has been feeling reflective. 

“I've wanted to take my time to walk around the campus, sit, and watch the sun under the tree on the hill,” he said. “I've realized that it's hard for me to part from this place more than I ever thought in any other place, but that also means that I've had a great time, so my time at Whittier College will be remembered in the best way.”

As far as what pushed him to become class speaker, he again cites his mother’s positive influence.

“I saw it as ‘one of those opportunities that do not repeat,’ a phrase my mom often says for moments she considers important in life.”  

Whittier College Commencement is Thursday, May 9, at 4 p.m. in Memorial Stadium. Doors open for families at 2 p.m.