Ceremony recognizes minority students

Elizabeth Wood, Contributing Writer

Seniors lined up next to the stage and, with a slight delay, the graduation fanfare softly floated through the room. Students walked over to the podium, some giving a wave or gesture to the crowd, before Maggie Burkhead, director of TRiO, announced their names.

Once the seniors were recognized and “graduated,” students were given awards and scholarships during the Minority Graduation and Recognition Ceremony at the Grand Ballroom in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union Thursday night.

Mona Davenport, executive director of the Office of Inclusion and Academic Engagement (OIAE), said the graduating seniors will receive their Kente Stoles.

According to the Black Perspectives website, the Kente Stole currently represents a student’s successful completion of college and the cloth “weaves together the wisdom of Africa before the Middle Passage with the persistent struggle to (re)attain knowledge of oneself.”

The website also states the colors on the cloth each represent different things—gold for status and serenity, yellow for fertility, green for renewal, blue for purity in spirit and harmony, red for passion and black for union with one’s ancestors or spiritual awareness.

Overall, the Minority Graduation and Recognition Ceremony recognized minority students for their academic achievements, leadership and senior status.

Chanell Hall, graduate assistant for OIAE, said the event shows the graduating students that they matter to the university.

“(It shows) the population of, you know, minority students (that) you are important, you graduating is not going unnoticed and, I don’t know, gives them a sense of like excitement and just what the future may bring,” Hall said. “So gathering them all together and just putting them in a room with others that look just like them, or whatever, I think it’s a good feeling and I think there should be more events like this on campus.”

The Minority Graduation and Recognition Ceremony kicked off with Davenport welcoming and thanking staff members as well as everyone for attending before she handed President David Glassman the podium.

Glassman said during his speech that the students should feel proud of all that they accomplished at Eastern.

“After years of hard work, years of dedication, years of commitment, you have demonstrated not only to us but to all of your future employers and throughout your career that you are an individual with the ability, dedication and intellect to get things done, and that’s so important and you should feel extremely proud of that accomplishment,” Glassman said.

While the audience waited for the seniors to “graduate,” Burkhead kept the crowd entertained and later informed the audience that both the guest speaker and presenter were unable to come to the celebration because they were sick.

Some of the awards given out during the ceremony were the Academic Achievement Awards, OIAE and TRiO Retention Funds, Minority Affairs Scholarships and Leadership Awards.

One of the seniors that had “graduated” was Breana Willis, an elementary education major, and she said she was glad the ceremony gave the students campus-wide recognition for their work.

“Showing recognition is a way to show recognition to the whole campus as a whole, instead of just us, others, that might have missed this opportunity, they are now aware of it, so that means it  can bring in (and) make a pool of us (that is) even bigger,” Willis said.

Elizabeth Wood can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].