WASHINGTON – Howard University’s Office of Student Life and Activities hosted the 2021 Inaugural Lavender Graduation Ceremony on May 19, 2021. The “lavender graduates” are an extraordinary group of students who exemplify academic excellence and resolve.
The celebration, conducted much like a commencement ceremony, was an opportunity for the Howard University community to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer identifying graduates. The event featured a keynote address, remarks from faculty and administration, and a reading of the graduates’ names, pronouns, future plans and proudest moments as Bison.
The inaugural lavender graduates are Imani K. Bryant, Sydney Stevens, Michael Franklin, Wynter Moore and Kemuel Farmer. They intend to go to graduate school, become entrepreneurs or begin work. In their own way, each of the graduates has advocated for inclusion both on and off campus and in and out of the classroom. Our lavender Bison show us that inclusive spaces are inspiring, necessary and sustained through their tireless efforts.
Keynote Speaker Ravi Perry, Ph.D., (he/him), chair of the political science department, shared an empowering call to action with the inaugural graduates.
“We cannot wait for others to advocate for us,” he said. “We must advocate for ourselves.”
The keynote address celebrated the graduates for who they are and what they will accomplish in the future.
Provost and Chief Academic Officer Anthony Wutoh, Ph.D.; Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tashni-Ann Dubroy, Ph.D.; and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Cynthia Evers, Ph.D., extended congratulations and offered advice to the new alumni.
“We are relying on you to change this world and make it a better place, and to improve the path of those who come after you,” said Wutoh.
Dubroy shared, “Actively seek to be pioneers of diversity and inclusion, embrace your colleagues for who they are, all the while being true to who you are. Be your authentic selves.”
Evers welcomed participants to the event and offered congratulations to the lavender Bison who have actively worked in service of others all while staying true to themselves.
“You are an inspiration to us all, and we congratulate you again on this significant milestone,” Evers said. “Always remember your time at Howard University and reach back and continue to make an impact.”
Imani Bryant (they/she), the student keynote speaker, also shared a powerful message for their peers.
“We are stepping out into the world during a time of great political and social change,” Bryant said. “We have helped shape this new world.”
Associate Dean Thomas Foster, College of Arts and Sciences, offered closing remarks and celebrated this historic inaugural event.
“Your achievements are historic, not only because you completed your degrees during an unprecedented global crisis, but it is also historic for Howard, because through your hard work, you’ve made this extraordinary institution more inclusive.”
Foster closed the event acknowledging the significant achievements of the graduates and the historic event itself, reminding all Bison that all inclusion efforts are worthy of celebration. To watch the ceremony, visit this link: https://howard.zoom.us/rec/share/iHbR061Y0jyWAiuIq8PBbnl1kwBsO3ojeYX2n_fleDPWq6wtM-vKyxYzSHl_0Jhv.Z0kesSS_iHBxxPAS?startTime=1621458120000
*Photo: Imani Bryant, student speaker and president, CASCADE 2020-2021
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About Howard University
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.
About the Office of Student Life and Activities
The Office of Student Life & Activities is the programmatic hub of student leadership, clubs, and organizations. A unit under the Division of Student Affairs, the office is dedicated to building, shaping and cultivating the next generation of leaders at Howard University through hosting several programs and initiatives. For more information on the Office of Student Life and Activities, visit https://studentaffairs.howard.edu/activities.
Written By: Assistant Director of Intercultural Affairs Ivory Gaelle