U ceremony honors minority graduates

The Coffman Union event honored 164 upcoming minority graduates.

by Kori Koch

University multicultural graduates strode into a new, yet long-awaited, ceremony Wednesday in Coffman Union’s Great Hall.

The Celebration of Achievement for Multicultural Students honored 164 upcoming graduates who chose to participate in the event. Invitations were extended to 895 graduating University minority students.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to be recognized at a smaller ceremony. Regular commencement can be so overwhelming,” said Destiny Peery, a graduating psychology student.

The Office for Multicultural and Academic Affairs hosted the unique celebration, with support from the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, Office for University Women and Disability Services.

“Events like this just don’t happen. They require care, nurturing and effort,” said Avelino Mills-Novoa, associate vice president of multicultural and academic affairs.

Much smaller events have honored specific ethnic graduates in the past, said Carolyn Nayematsu, an event coordinator.

The celebration recognized academic accomplishments of undergraduate, graduate and professional minority students representing 14 University colleges and schools.

“We wanted to get all our students together, so everybody can see them at the same time,” Nayematsu said.

E. Thomas Sullivan, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, delivered the keynote address.

He urged students to take advantage of their intellectual and emotional strengths by becoming leaders.

“Your potential for success is unreal and unlimited,” Sullivan said.

Each student’s name, degree earned and birthplace was announced as Mills-Novoa presented individual students with a symbolic stole on stage.

Patterned after traditional African Kente cloth and hand-woven in Ghana, the stoles feature important symbols of unity, wisdom and connection.

“The presentation of this stole is meant to remind students of the University and diversity here,” Nayematsu said.

Mills-Novoa described the often tumultuous journey multicultural students faced throughout their college experiences – problems their peers didn’t have.

“Multicultural students persevere through unique difficulties. Many students come from homes that lack proper information about college,” Mills-Novoa said.

Aniekan Udoh, a graduating aerospace student, said the event was important and should be continued in the future.

“Something like this might encourage more minority students,” he said.