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SDSU celebrates diversity with grad ceremonies

by Michelle Monroy

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Every year, graduating students can choose the way they celebrate their accomplishments other than the traditional graduation ceremony.

Different departments, organizations, clubs and affinity groups offer graduation celebrations to help students commemorate their graduation in the way that best fits them. Some of the cultural graduation events range from a student veteran’s celebration to American Indian celebration.

Chief Diversity Officer Aaron Bruce said many of these celebrations originated for different reasons.

“For example the Lavender graduation students felt that it was important to be recognized during their graduation through the lens of their own identity,” said Bruce.

Depending on the college that is graduating, students are only given about six or seven tickets for their family and friends to attend the graduation commencement ceremony at Viejas Arena. Some colleges like the college of Engineering and Education and Division of Undergraduate Studies are allotted 12 tickets per graduate.

“Having some of these other activities around graduation allow for a more inclusive experience in the sense that they can invite their grandmother, their aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews and everyone else,” said Bruce.

With more than nine ethnicities represented on campus, the different celebrations aim to create a place where students feel important and included.

“The school has such a wide diversity on campus so I think having graduation ceremonies to recognize that diversity is vital,” said Toni Vallido, public administration graduating senior.

In 2012, Diverse Issues in Higher Education ranked State at number 20 in the nation for awarding bachelor’s degrees to minorities. And according to campuspride.org, SDSU is one of the top 20 most LGBT friendly campuses.

Although these events celebrate student’s individuality and culture they are not designed to replace the traditional graduation ceremony. The celebrations are another way students can commemorate their accomplishments.

“I think coming into an institution when you come from an underserved background, these students come into the university not knowing how to succeed,” said Freddie Sanchez, assistant director of intercultural relations.

According to Sanchez, it’s important for SDSU to acknowledge their hard work. “When we’re celebrating and acknowledging their accomplishments not only are these students graduating, they’ve also contributed to the success of this institution.”

There are many more graduation celebration students can be a part of but below are just some of the cultural celebrations students can participate in.

The Lavender Graduation Celebration

This will be the 5th annual Lavender celebration. The event will be hosted at Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center on May 7 at 2 p.m. It is open to all students graduating in May who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or as allies of the community. At the event participants will receive a rainbow cord with their academic regalia to wear at the commencement ceremony.

“It celebrates the achievements of undergraduate and graduate students who are part of our LGBTQ campus, and also gives awards to faculty, staff or administrators who have enhanced the campus climate for LGBTQ students,” LGBT adviser Esther Rothblum said.

The Student Veteran Graduation Celebration

The Veteran graduation social will be hosted at Scripps Cottage on May 8 from 1 to 2 p.m. There will be an ice-cream bar, brownies and cookies at the event. Afterwards, grads get the chance to pick up their Veterans Honor Chord to wear at commencement.

AB Samahan’s Filipino Graduation Celebration

The Filipino graduation celebration will be held on Thursday, May 15th at 6 p.m. At this time location is still pending. The ceremony celebrates their culture and gives grads a chance to thank family and friends. Grads can invite as many guests as they’d like.

“This ceremony is so important to me, because it’s my opportunity to go back to my roots and back to the organization that made my first year of college,” Vallido said.

 Raices Unidas Family Graduation Celebration

This celebration will be held at Montezuma Hall on May 17 at 7:30 p.m. The graduation event focuses on the family and friends that have helped the graduate achieve their goals. At the celebration graduates get to sit with two of their loved ones, then walk across the stage with them to receive their certificate.

“This ceremony is made to be intimate and to share that experience with all their love ones,” said Janet Aparicio.

Grads can invite as many guests as they want and there will be a mariachi.

 RAZA Graduation Celebration

The RAZA celebration will take place at Montezuma Hall on May 18 at 12 p.m. It will be a banquet style event where graduates will get five minutes to talk about their successes on campus. There are currently 15 students participating in the event.

“It’s important for us to acknowledge that family values are important to these graduations, said Sanchez.”

According to Sanchez the event is meant to be more of a conversation between grads and their family rather than just walking across a stage.

Photo by Kristian Carreon, staff photographer 

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