UCF President John C. Hitt’s fourth goal: “Become more inclusive and diverse.”
Three cultural graduation celebrations ─ Nguzo Saba, Lavender and Veterans ─ highlighted the academic accomplishments of students with the opportunity to celebrate among their family, friends, faculty, staff and supporters.
Nguzo Saba Graduation Celebration
Multicultural Student Center and Multicultural Academic and Support Services hosted the annual Nguzo Saba Graduation Celebration on May 5. The graduation recognized and celebrated the scholastic achievement of approximately 150 minority and first generation students at UCF. Each student received a UCF kente stole or first generation stole. The UCF Gospel Culture Choir provided two musical selections. Keynote speaker was Anthony Jenkins, SDES senior associate vice president and dean of students.
“Make those around you proud, but remember first to always be proud of yourself. Put yourself in charge of your own destination as you transition from UCF,” stated Brice Yates, Multicultural Student Center coordinator.
Lavender Graduation Celebration
The Office of Social Justice & Advocacy’s Multicultural Student Center and LGBTQ+ Services hosted the annual Lavender Graduation Celebration on May 6. During event, UCF faculty and staff and Orlando community members participated in the “pouring of the sand.” This special part of the graduation celebration recognized the colors of the LGBTQ+ flag: Red is for Life, Orange is for Healing, Yellow is for Energy, Green is for Nature, Blue is for Harmony, and Purple is for Spirit.
The graduation recognized and celebrated the scholastic achievement of approximately 20 LGBTQ+ and ally students at UCF a day prior commencements. Each student received a lavender stole or medallion. Keynote speaker was Karen Morrison, chief diversity office.
“Realizing the important work that has been in the short period of time at UCF for our LGBTQ+ students, has allowed us to have this wonderful celebration in recognition of who students are and their amazing accomplishments,” stated Justin Andrade, LGBTQ+ Services coordinator. “It is important that each graduate remembers who you are and where you came from.”
Veterans’ Graduation Celebration
UCF’s Veterans Academic Resource Center hosted the inaugural Student Veterans’ Graduation Celebration on May 6 in the Harris Corp. Engineering Center. The celebration recognized and focused on the scholastic achievement of 29 of the 176 graduating student military veterans at UCF. Each attending student veteran was given a commemorative UCF VARC coin.
Keynote speaker was Aaron Smith, university mathematics professor and faculty advisor to the UCF Chapter of the Student Veterans of America.
Veteran student attendees commented on the event:
- Roxanne Griffin, Liberal Studies, BS: “It was a great event and a chance for me to talk, and personally thank the people who helped me integrate into UCF.”
- Jay Parsons, Business Management, BSBA: “It was nice to have the recognition and highlight the accomplishments of student veterans. It was nice that the VARC thought about doing this for us.”
- Robert Fernandez, Political Science, BA: “It was fantastic. Happy that UCF was willing to provide something special and unique for our student veterans.”
- Edwin Shiver, Vocational Educational, MA: “It was very inspirational and exemplified perseverance for sure! Because we [veterans] have gone through a lot to get to where we are today! I was a SEAVee and the ‘can do’ attitude helped us get through those tough days.”
In each of the three celebrations, presenters shared a portion of their life’s experience, encouraging and commending students for their efforts, achievements and contributions. The ceremonies and celebrations were opportunities to acknowledge student’s academic achievements and future endeavors; honor and thank their families, communities, and other significant people in their lives; and celebrate the cultural influences that have contributed to their academic success at UCF.