Graduations are often bittersweet. The sadness of saying goodbye combines with the excitement of looking ahead to bring a mix of poignant emotions.
For NC State’s GLBTQIA+ graduates, emotions can be even more multi-layered due to the obstacles and challenges they may have faced along the way. The GLBT Center’s annual Lavender Graduation triumphantly celebrated many journeys on April 23, 2019 in the Ballroom of Talley Student Union.
On pace with national trends, NC State’s Lavender Graduation has increased in size and recognition as more of the campus population becomes familiar with the celebration and ardently supportive of this special ceremony.
This year’s event capped a challenging period for the GLBT Center. Just past its 10-year anniversary, the center lost two key staff members to opportunities at other universities, leaving only two full-time staff members, Program Coordinator Andy DeRoin and Administrative Support Specialist Lynn Locklear-Fisher, under the leadership of Senior Director of Campus Community Centers Reggie Barnes, to maintain the center’s full slate of programming, training and support services.
Interim OIED Vice Provost Sheri Schwab noted a continuing theme of concern expressed during her “Lunch with the Vice Provost” opportunities this year and made intentional efforts to reassure center constituents that support for the center has not, and will not, decrease. “Every center faces growing pains due to the natural evolution of peoples’ individual goals and dreams, but our purpose here at NC State remains steadfast. We are working to strengthen the center so that it can continue and expand its critical work in supporting our GLBT communities and educating our campus about GLBT issues and identities.”
With plans to announce a new director later this month, the center looks forward to renewed energy and staff in the coming academic year.
Lavender Graduation Highlights
The Thomas H. Stafford Leadership Award, which recognizes a student who has demonstrated service to the GLBT community through peer education, peer mentoring, community building and/or community outreach or service, was awarded to Samanuel Martin, who served in leadership capacities as a resident advisor and with the Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC) organization.
The Evelyn Q. Reiman Activism Award, which recognizes a student who has worked to increase awareness about social justice issues, identify strategies for enacting change, engage peers in social justice activism and/or foster collaboration across communities to address campus or community climate concerns, was awarded to Marjorie Segule, who worked internationally on environmental justice issues and helped advance Title IX protections across the UNC System.
Over sixty graduates crossed the stage to receive a framed certificate of recognition and a rainbow stole to wear at NC State’s commencement on Saturday, May 11, 2019.
Andy DeRoin delivered closing remarks before the celebration continued with cake and fellowship.
Elizabeth Snively writes for the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity.