by Nikolai Wise ’21
Each semester, the celebrations of our graduates commence days or weeks before the Commencement Ceremony, with recognition for student accomplishments.
First up is Lavender Graduation, a cultural celebration for graduating students of the LGBTQIA community and allies. The celebration was started by Ronni Sanlo, Director Emeritus of the Office of LGBT Programs at the University of Michigan. She started the organization after not being able to attend her biological children’s graduation because of her sexuality. The event provides the opportunity for friends and families of students to speak to and about the graduates and their accomplishments. At the end of the celebration, the speaker drapes the shoulders of the graduate with the Lavender Cord, to symbolize embracing the past and welcoming the future. Lavender Graduation will take place Monday, December 3, at from 6 – 8 p.m. in Highsmith 228-229.
Donning of the Stoles, which celebrates students of diverse cultural backgrounds and various racial and ethnic backgrounds and their achievements, takes place Dec. 13. With origins in the Kente Commencement Ceremony, during which African-American students were presented with a Kente cloth, a traditional Ghanaian cloth, to celebrate their African heritage, the ceremony draws from this tradition by teaching students and families about the history of the tradition and its cultural significance, as well as recognizing the graduating students. The celebration will take place Thursday, December 13, 4 – 6 p.m in Highsmith 225-226.
The next special graduation ceremony is the Veteran’s Cord Ceremony, which recognizes veteran student accomplishments through the presentation of a red, white, and blue cord to be worn at graduation. The celebration is an opportunity for family, friends, and faculty to speak about the graduates’ accomplishments and the importance of UNC Asheville’s veteran students to our community. Veteran students bring a unique insight into the campus community and they arrive with their own past experiences and backgrounds. The Veteran’s Cord Ceremony will be held in the Highsmith Grotto on December 12 from 5:30 -7 p.m. in the Highsmith Grotto.