The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

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Successful alumna to speak at commencement

Photo courtesy Beth Shelton’s website
Beth Shelton will speak at the 2024 spring commencement ceremony.

Beth Shelton, a Simpson alumna from the class of 2001, will be the keynote speaker for Spring Commencement on Saturday, April 27.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in religion and religious studies, Shelton has been the CEO of Girls Scouts of Greater Iowa since 2015 and was even named one of the 15 People to Watch by the Des Moines Register in 2020. 

“Jay Byers called me up, and he said, ‘Hey, I wanna talk to you about something,’” Shelton recalled.

She didn’t know when she answered the phone that she would be asked to speak at commencement, but this is far from the first time she’ll speak in front of an audience.

Shelton started public speaking about five years ago after she developed a policy at Girl Scouts that got national attention from the Today Show.

Some big conferences started reaching out to her and asking her to speak, and through doing events like that, she got to grow and get better.

“When he called, you know, I don’t know, maybe he has seen me speak somewhere? I’m not sure (…) Certainly, he has seen snippets online,” she said. “So, I was really honored because, you know, I don’t always fit the mold of traditional leadership. Like right now, for instance, my hair’s purple, you know?”

When looking back at her time at Simpson, Shelton recalls her time on the tennis team as being one of her favorite parts.

“I really loved everything about it,” she said. “A big part of my experience was being a tennis player. I loved being an athlete there (…) I just felt like they really took a chance on me in many ways, and so that was a big part of my experience that I loved.”

Shelton credited much of her great experience to her coach and the professors and faculty at Simpson College.

“They really took the time to work with me, to listen to me, to be patient when I would change my major again, and a few times I would do independent study classes with professors if we couldn’t fit something into my schedule,” she said. “I always felt like they really saw me as a person, and that was probably one of my favorite things.”

Shelton’s Simpson experience did not end at graduation. She spent ten years working in Simpson’s admissions office.

“My very first job out of college was with a rental car agency, which is not everything I ever

dreamed of,” she said. “And after about maybe a year of doing that job, an opening had come up at Simpson, and I was like, oh my gosh, I loved my experience so much, I would love to go back and work at Simpson.

“So I did. The first ten years of my career were at Simpson, and I was in the admissions office. Then, it evolved over time to do a lot more with marketing, and it was a great ten years.”

After ten years at Simpson, Shelton wanted to broaden her horizons and start a new chapter. Before she started working for Girls Scouts, she spent a little bit of time working for Corporate America and then fundraising for a non-profit health organization.

After her time at Simpson, both as a student and an employee, Shelton was still shocked to have President Jay Byers ask her to speak at spring commencement.

“It was both shocking and really gratifying because it really made me feel proud to be part of Simpson, a place that’s really willing to say, ‘we accept a lot of different kinds of people’ and, in fact, not just accept them, but want to put them on stage to shine, even if they don’t fit the mold,” she said. “That’s really exciting.”

What matters the most to Shelton is being able to make an impact on students and leave them with something they can resonate with at the commencement.

Shelton will be speaking to the class of 2024 at spring commencement on Saturday, April 27, in Cowles Fieldhouse.

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Josephine Brockman
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