From Orientation to Graduation, Campus Community Centers Elevate Graduates

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From the first step on campus to the final step of graduation, NC State’s campus community centers celebrate and elevate the range of unique identities across the university. Each spring semester, our centers are overflowing with graduation projects.

While only the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) and the GLBT Center hold annual graduation ceremonies, all four centers work diligently to support graduates in their final season on campus.

Being involved in so many multicultural organizations and events has brought me so many memories that I will cherish far beyond college” -Rosali Su

the African American Cultural Center hosts the annual meeting Ebony Harlem Achievement Award, where graduating students are awarded AACC kente cords. The awards recognize the work and impact of Black students, staff, and faculty on and off campus.

the Women’s Center wraps up the year with signature spring events including Women’s History Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year, the Women’s Center celebrated its 30th anniversary with a one year celebration.

“I am forever grateful to the MSA and AACC for providing me with a community and a family.” -Brianna Brooks

Finding a community isn’t always easy when there are over 35,000 students to connect with. The MSA provides space for students to feel seen and heard while engaging with peers they see themselves in. identify.

“For at least a minute, it’s about you,” says Dave Johnson, acting director of the Multicultural Student Affairs Center.

The MSA organized its first multicultural graduation in 2015. Ever since the inaugural event, students have been anticipating the ceremony and the joyful moments it provides as they share a milestone event with the community they helped build. In 2022, the MSA Multicultural Diploma celebrated its 50 graduates.

MSA graduates take on Sherry Schwab, IOED vice president at NC State.
The Multicultural Graduation welcomed the family and friends of the 2022 graduates.

The GLBT Center also organizes a special ceremony, Lavender Graduation, which is celebrated throughout the country. The first event was organized in 1995 by Ronni Sanlo at the University of Michigan. Today, more than 200 universities maintain the tradition of holding their version of the ceremony to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, asexual, and aromantic students, and to celebrate their achievements.

GLBT Center awards and certificates are displayed on the table with a rainbow pom pom.

NC State’s first Lavender graduation was held in May 2009, a year after the GLBT Center opened. Every spring since, our LGBT+ students participate in the ceremony where identities are affirmed, awards are presented and each graduate receives a rainbow stole. This year, the GLBT Center celebrated three students with center awards and 35 graduates from across the university.

Rainbow graduation stoles are lined up on a display table at Lav Grad.
Rainbow stoles are presented to each Lavender graduate at the annual ceremony.

Lav Grad isn’t the most anticipated event of the year for the GLBT center – it comes second only to the annual event LGBT Symposium, held each fall. The symposium is the first opportunity for LGBT+ students to welcome incoming students to the community. The half-day event highlights the beginning of a journey for new students while Lavender Graduation celebrates the closing of it.

“It looks like really meaningful bookends,” says Rain Garant, deputy director of the GLBT Center.

From the first to the last event, the center works to support students throughout the year.

“I am grateful for the spaces within certain communities, such as the Goodnight Scholars program, multicultural student affairs, and engineering programs for women and minorities that have created nurturing and supportive environments during my career as a first cycle.” -Kerrington lampshade

Campus Community Centers – and the staff who operate them – strive to cultivate a community of shared identities and belonging. As current students settle into the physical spaces the center provides, they can take this home across campus, making it much easier for incoming students to find their place at NC State.

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