On Thursday, May 10, 2018, Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Division of Student Affairs led by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) held Cultural Achievement Ceremonies for Latinx and black undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. candidates. The number of participants in this year’s ceremonies was the largest ever at VCU, with 184 graduates being recognized between the two ceremonies.
Donning of the Kente Ceremony
The Donning of the Kente ceremony was held on Thursday, May 10, at 2 p.m. in the Grace E. Harris Hall Auditorium, celebrating the achievements of black students and recognizing their hard work dedication and perseverance at VCU. The Donning of the Kente is a celebration that combines a rich African cultural heritage to the celebration of educational achievement among VCU graduates. This year, 152 graduates participated in the ceremony, a 13 percent increase from last year.
Graduates and guests were addressed by student speakers Jaquan Smith and Taylor Jones, and keynote speaker Aashir Nasim, Ph.D., VCU Vice President for Inclusive Excellence, before receiving a Kente stole to be worn at Commencement, symbolizing their academic achievement.
The origins of Kente cloth date back to 12th century Africa, in the country of Ghana and the Ashanti people. The cloth was worn by kings, queens and important figures of state in Ghana’s society during ceremonial events and special occasions.
“The Kente Ceremony is important to me because it has historical background. It was born by African royalty, so the fact we are bestowed with Kente cloths today, on our graduation day, it just ushers us into our new beings as grown-ups, as adults, [and] into our next chapters, whatever that may be for us,” Tay Diggs, Kente graduate and Dance major, said.
The ceremony concluded with closing remarks by Jihad Aziz, Ph.D., VCU Interim Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and was followed by a reception.
For more photographs from the Donning of the Kente Ceremony, visit the USC&A Flickr.
Latinx Achievement Ceremony
The Latinx Achievement Ceremony was held on Thursday, May 10, at 6 p.m. in the Grace. E Harris Auditorium, honoring the achievements of Hispanic and Latinx undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. candidates.
The ceremony provided an opportunity for graduates to be recognized for their accomplishments and give thanks the their loved ones for their unwavering support.
“I’m super excited to graduate,” Jessica Diaz, Master of Teaching, said. “I did four years at VCU for my undergrad, and I’m finishing up my masters right now. It’s really exciting to share this moment with my mom because she’s been with me every step of the way.”
Thirty-two graduates participated in this year’s Latinx ceremony, an 18 percent increase from last year. Graduates and their guests were addressed by student speaker Ana Diaz Casos, and keynote speaker Montse Fuentes, Ph.D., VCU Dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences, before commemorative stoles were given out to graduates, symbolizing their academic achievement during their time here at VCU. The ceremony concluded with closing remarks by Rosalyn Hobson Hargraves, Ph.D., VCU Associate Vice President for Inclusive Excellence, followed by a reception.
For more photographs from the Latinx Achievement Ceremony, visit the USC&A Flickr.