Baccalaureate Speaker

The Rev. Guy Nave, Jr. is the 2024 Baccalaureate speaker. The Rev. Guy Nave, Jr.

The Rev. Guy Nave, Jr. is the 2024 Baccalaureate speaker.

Rev. Nave was educated in the public school system of Anderson, Indiana. After graduating from high school, he served six years in the United States Army in the JAG Corp. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Oral Roberts University, a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from Yale University.

Before joining the faculty at Luther College in 2001, Rev. Nave taught at Hartford Theological Seminary and Yale Divinity School. Rev. Nave is an ordained Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He served 14 years as an associate minister at churches in Oklahoma, New Jersey, Connecticut, and most recently, Waterloo, Iowa. He also served three years as a chaplain at Trenton State Prison in Trenton, New Jersey.

Rev. Nave is a professor of religion at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. His research focuses on the intersections of religion and social justice, the social construction of religious meaning, and race/religion/and politics. Rev. Nave is developing what he is calling Interfaith Liberation Theology and researching the power, politics, and meaning behind the rhetoric of “change.”

Rev. Nave is the author of numerous articles and book chapters and served as a New Testament Greek translator for the Common English Bible. His commentary on 2 Corinthians is published in “True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary,” and his book, “The Role and Function of Repentance in Luke-Acts,” has been identified as “the standard scholarly work on repentance in the New Testament.” Rev. Nave has lectured and spoken on issues of religion and race on college campuses nationally and internationally and frequently conducts DEI workshops for academic and corporate audiences. In addition to being an author and public speaker, Rev. Nave is a blogger who frequently writes for online publications such as Medium and Sojourners.

Senior Class Speaker

Grace Chapa '24 Grace Chapa ’24

As the recipient of the Distinguished Senior Award, Grace Chapa ’24 will give the senior class address.

Nominated by faculty members from three different academic departments, Grace graduates from Carthage with a major in Spanish and a minor in secondary education. A campus job as office manager for the Urban Teacher Preparation Program fueled her passion as an educator.

Grace served on the executive board of the Mi Gente student organization and taught salsa and bachata dance classes in the community. She was principal French horn for the Carthage Wind Orchestra, one of several instrumental ensembles in which Grace performed.

This has been an eventful year for Grace, who received one of the College’s inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Awards in January and won the Miss Kenosha scholarship pageant in February. Her Miss Kenosha service initiative centers on college accessibility.

Inspired by her own growth as a first-generation college student, Grace hopes to convince students “who did not think they were smart enough, rich enough, or privileged enough to attend university…that they belong in higher education.”

Faculty Speaker

Professor Rebecca Swambar Becky Swambar

The Class of 2024 selected Becky Swambar, an assistant professor and clinical coordinator in the Nursing Department, to deliver the faculty address.

Guided by the “strong belief that compassion is the foundation of great nursing practice,” Prof. Swambar began teaching at Carthage in 2021 and joined the full-time faculty the following year. This year’s graduating seniors praised her as a wise, patient, and supportive “nursing mother” who goes the extra mile to arrange clinical placements that match students’ specific professional interests.

Prof. Swambar draws from more than 20 years of combined field experience, primarily as an emergency room nurse but also in critical care, pediatric, and hospice settings. She began her healthcare career as a licensed EMT (emergency medical technician) at age 18 and then became a paramedic at 22.

She has a master’s degree in nursing education from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois. Progressing toward a doctorate, Prof. Swambar is on pace to graduate from Herzing University in 2025.

 Distinguished Alumni Award

Evelyn Ellenberger Bennett '85

Evelyn Ellenberger Bennett ’85

Carthage presents the 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award to Evelyn Ellenberger Bennett ’85.

Known by the nickname “Evie,” Mrs. Bennett thrived in a 31-year career at William Frick and Company — the last eight as co-owner and vice president. Based in Libertyville, Illinois, the business makes safety markers and RFID tags.

Unfazed by a heavily male customer base, she helped secure deals with Fortune 500 companies. Even as it outgrew the “small business” label, Mrs. Bennett preserved the family atmosphere, earning the firm a place on many “Best Places to Work” lists.

Maintaining strong ties to her alma mater, she served on the College’s career services advisory board and more recently joined the President’s Leadership Council. In her honor, longtime business partner Jeff Brandt established the Evelyn K. Bennett Scholarship Fund at Carthage.

Now retired, Mrs. Bennett lives with her husband, Jim ’85, in Lake Forest, Illinois, and the couple have an adult daughter. Besides service through her church, she raises funds that provide college scholarships for students in low-income North Chicago, as well as scooters for disabled veterans.

 Honorary Degree

Aldo Madrigrano Aldo Madrigrano

Carthage presents an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree to Aldo Madrigrano.

Learning and perfecting his family’s business niche, beverage distribution, Mr. Madrigrano enjoyed an extremely successful career. As CEO and co-owner of Beer Capitol Distributing Inc., he used efficient operations and strategic mergers to make it the largest beer distributor in Wisconsin.

The work brought Mr. Madrigrano a variety of accolades, including six Miller High Life Achievement Awards and Marquette University’s Family Business Award. He has served on the boards of numerous trade associations, charitable nonprofits, and economic development groups.

In retirement, he and his wife, Dawn, split time between Las Vegas and a summer home in Minocqua, Wisconsin. Their philanthropy supports the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and Carthage, heeding a lesson from Mr. Madrigrano’s generous parents: that higher education is the heart of any city.

Part of a family of dedicated Carthaginians, Mr. Madrigrano attended the College in 1981-82 before leaving to enter the business world. He joked that graduation day has simply arrived a bit later than expected.