Oglethorpe expands cultural identity graduation ceremonies

Last May, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) honored Black graduates of the class of 2023 by hosting Oglethorpe’s first Kente Robing Ceremony. As Oglethorpe continues to grow in number and diversity, the university is expanding the cultural identity graduation ceremonies this year to also include a Lavender Ceremony and Si Se Pudo: Latinx Graduation Celebration.

Black male graduate wearing cap and gown with his Kente stole.

2023 graduate wearing Kente stole.

Both the Kente Robing Ceremony and Latinx Celebration recognize the historical and personal struggles that Black and Latinx students face when completing their degrees.

The Kente stole and Serape stole — for Latinx students — have significant meaning and are given to graduates as a connection to their cultural community and ancestors.

Created in 1995, the Lavender Graduation celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and ally students to acknowledge their achievements. Lavender holds historical significance for the LGBTQ+ community as a symbol of “gay power” and liberation.

The goal for all three graduations is for students to feel a sense of belonging at Oglethorpe as they prepare for the next chapter of their lives.

“For many historically underrepresented communities, a college diploma represents a significant milestone,” says Intercultural Center Director Marisol Zacarias.

“Celebrating graduating seniors’ hard work and success is not just for the individual students but also for their family, friends, and supporters. These smaller events provide more intimate settings for students to share these personal milestones with their communities. They serve as an example for future graduates by honoring the importance of overcoming systemic barriers within higher education.”

These ceremonies are made possible through the collaborations between the Office of DEI, the Intercultural Center, Academic Programs, and the Office of Student Success. The organizers have encouraged students to invite friends and family to celebrate their accomplishments.

The Lavender Ceremony is scheduled for May 3. The Kente Robing Ceremony and Si Se Pudo: Latinx Graduation Celebration are planned for May 4. For more information about commencement, visit commencement.oglethorpe.edu.

Decorated graduation cap with two butterflies-- one with the US flag as wings and the other with the Mexican flag on its wings. A drawing of a Latina graduate sitting on a half globe-half brain is at the bottom of the cap. The quote on the cap reads "Si puedes cambiar tu mente puedes cambiar el mundo. Gracias mamá y papá." Translated "If you can change your mind, you can change the world. Thank you mom and dad."

2023 decorated graduation cap.

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