Cultural achievement ceremonies are rooted in Virginia Tech's unwavering commitment to celebrate the university's diversity. On Thursday, May 14, four ceremonies will honor graduating seniors from underrepresented groups, as they prepare for the university commencement the following day.

Rudney Danquah of Fredericksburg, Virginia, a senior majoring in psychology in the College of Science, has attended and helped to plan the Donning of the Kente ceremony the past four years, and she will be honored as a graduate this year.

“These ceremonies give students the opportunity to celebrate not only their academic achievements, but also their culture, giving them more of an intimate ceremony in addition to the big university commencement," Danquah said.

Each ceremony presents graduates with unique stoles or cords that graduates will wear at the university commencement on May 15. Families, friends, faculty, staff, students, and the community are invited to attend and celebrate the graduates.

  • Aliyah Ceremony, 9 to 10 a.m., Colonial Hall, Squires Student Center. The Aliyah Ceremony honors Jewish undergraduate and graduate students for their work and dedication to the community. A reception will follow the ceremony. Students should RSVP online by Friday, April 24 at 5 p.m. For  information, email Saul N’Jie, a graduate assistant for Multicultural Programs and Service.
  • Lavender Ceremony, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Old Dominion Ballroom, Squires Student Center. Each spring, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and ally community at Virginia Tech gathers to recognize the achievements of graduating students during the annual Lavender Ceremony. In addition to recognizing graduates, the Ally of the Year is announced. The deadline for students to sign up to participate is Friday, May 1 at 5 p.m. The sign-up form is available at the LGBT Caucus at Virginia Tech website. Contact Phil Nelson of Roanoke's Educating America or Chad Mandala, residential learning coordinator, the LGBT Caucus co-chairs, for more information.
  • Donning of the Kente, 2 to 6 p.m., Commonwealth Ballroom, Squires Student Center. This spring will commemorate the 41st semi-annual Donning of the Kente ceremony, which honors Black and African American graduates. The ceremony utilizes the Ghanaian Kente cloth as a symbol of African American heritage. A dessert reception will be held following the ceremony. Graduates who wish to participate in the Donning of the Kente ceremony are asked to RSVP online. In addition to the RSVP, students may purchase a Kente Stole for $30 at the Squires Ticket office. RSVPs and stole purchases should occur no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 23. Faculty and staff are invited to dress in academic regalia and participate in the processional; an RSVP for faculty and staff is requested by 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 30. If you have any questions regarding the ceremony, email Aida Gebretekle, a student organizer of the event.
  • Hispanic-Latino Achievement Ceremony, 5 to 10 p.m., Recital Salon and Old Dominion Ballroom, Squires Student Center. The Virginia Tech Gesta Latina has honored more than 250 Hispanic-Latino students since 2005. A dinner reception in Old Dominion Ballroom will be held immediately following the ceremony. The deadline for graduates to register online is Friday, April 24 at 5 p.m. An RSVP is requested of faculty and staff members who wish to attend the ceremony, and faculty and staff can indicate if they would like to participate in the processional in academic regalia. Faculty and staff must RSVP online by Thursday, April 30 at 5 p.m. Contact Veronica Montes, Hispanic-Latino student coordinator, for more information.

"Virginia Tech recognizes the significance of these ceremonies both as celebrations to honor academic achievement and as an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of community in the college journey, particularly to underrepresented students," said Tricia Smith, director of multicultural programs and services. 

Cultural achievement ceremonies are sponsored by Multicultural Programs and Services. Student organizations, such as the Black Organizations Council and Jewish Student Union, and faculty caucuses, such as the LGBT Caucus and Hispanic-Latino Faculty Caucus, design the ceremonies to provide graduates with a memorable experience that recognizes the students’ contributions and impact on the Virginia Tech community. 

Written by Holly Paulette.