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  • Writer's pictureJoey Amato

Oglethorpe University Celebrates LGBTQ Graduates with Inaugural Lavender Ceremony

Updated: Jun 21

The commencement festivities have already begun at Oglethorpe with the second annual Kente Robing Ceremony, the inaugural Lavender Ceremony, and the Si Se Pudo: Latinx Graduation Celebration.

An effort made possible through the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Intercultural Center, and the Office of Student Success, these ceremonies recognize students from marginalized communities for their academic achievement and matriculation from college into society.

Each ceremony received additional support and participation from faculty and academic departments. Spanish Program Coordinator Dr. Mario Chandler participated in the “Si Se Pudo” ceremony, presenting stoles to each student. The African American Studies Program sponsored the Kente Robing Ceremony, and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program funded the Lavender Ceremony.

Students were cheered on by faculty, staff, friends and family as they received the symbolic reminder of their identity. LGBTQ+ students and allies were given a lavender tassel, while Black and Latinx students received cultural stoles.

President Kathryn McClymond congratulated students at each ceremony and emphasized that Oglethorpe proudly stands by the graduates of these identity groups.

Jaden Poindexter ’24, a U.S. Social History major, assisted Dr. Anna Ziering with planning and executing the Lavender ceremony. They recognize the importance of holding a ceremony like this so queer students know that they have the support of faculty, staff and fellow students.

“Getting to help organize Lavender Graduation was very meaningful to me because I was able to uplift the voices of queer students on campus,” they said. “To me, Lavender Graduation is more than just a ceremony; it’s community building. So, to be a part of the process was really fulfilling, especially considering it was the first one, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.”

At each ceremony, student leaders gave their classmates words of encouragement as they prepare for this next chapter of their lives. Jose Valtierra ’24, a business administration major and active member of the OU community, believes Latino students have become more visible on Oglethorpe’s campus, especially in leadership roles, and looks forward to the “Si Se Pudo” ceremony growing each year.

“For first-year students waiting for the ceremony, I’d say to enjoy your time and know that there are people similar to you around campus and that it’s never too late to get back to your roots or learn about your family background,” says Valtierra.

Poindexter shares a similar outlook and encourages first-year students to find themselves and their community as they look forward to be celebrated in these ceremonies when they graduate.

“Join some clubs, talk to professors, try out new styles, and be a part of the change you want to see,” says Poindexter. “Queer liberation doesn’t stop at Lavender Graduation. So, in classic Oglethorpe fashion, go make a living and make a difference.”

Photo provided by Oglethorpe University and text provided by Valeri Cruz, Oglethorpe Class of 2023


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