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Honoring diverse graduates

Black and Lavender Graduation celebrate underrepresented students

Sam Dunaway | News Editor

While many graduates sit in eager anticipation for the June 16 commencement ceremony, two additional graduation ceremonies highlight inclusion and diversity on Western’s campus: Black Graduation and Lavender Graduation.

The 8th annual Lavender Graduation honors graduating members of the LGBTQ+ community, celebrates their accomplishments and acknowledges struggles that some have faced. During the ceremony, students will receive rainbow graduation cords and will have an opportunity to speak about their journey at Western.

The 5th annual Black Graduation recognizes black and African-American graduates. This ceremony allows these students to share their success with their friends and family while celebrating the hard work that earned them a college degree.

American Sign Language Studies major Shanna Thomas is participating in both graduation ceremonies to celebrate all aspects of her individuality.

“I’m participating because this is a time to celebrate my other identities,” Thomas expressed. “I am not only a student who worked extremely hard for my Bachelor’s, but I am also a black, biracial, mix, bisexual, cisgender female who had to overcome different obstacles because of those identities.”

Thomas believes that these ceremonies are important because they provide an opportunity to show how much can be accomplished in a world that does not give the same advantages to everyone. She explained: “These are important ceremonies because it gives these communities the opportunity to celebrate themselves openly and unapologetically for who they are and what they have had to overcome to get to where they are today.”

All students are welcome to attend Lavender Graduation on June 14 at 7 p.m. in the Columbia room and Black Graduation on June 15 at 3 p.m. in the Willamette room.

 

Contact the author at journalnews@wou.edu

Photo by: Paul F. Davis