Event features lavender graduation and first-generation college graduate recognitions

Tuesday, May 14, 2024
Attendees at the Beauregard Center graduation

The Aulbani J. Beauregard Center for Equity, Justice, and Freedom held its second annual Celebration of Achievement and Excellence on May 8. The celebration featured the second annual lavender graduation and first-generation college graduate recognitions, which were established at UNH last year by the Beauregard Center.

UNH President James W. Dean Jr. awarded the first-generation college graduate medallions to participating graduates. The first-generation college graduate medallions are awarded to recognize and celebrate the achievements and contributions of graduating students who are first in their family to complete a degree from a college or university.

“This recognition is special because it validates the silent challenges, the internal doubts, and the sheer effort it takes to transcend barriers that many never experience. It is a celebration not just of personal success but a communal victory over the hidden hurdles that often accompany the journey of first-generation college students,” said student speaker Timothy Lalamentik. “We look at this as a beacon, a call to action for all of us. We must support and inspire the future of first-generation college students.”

Senior Vice Provost for Student Life Kenneth Holmes awarded the lavender stoles to participating graduates. Lavender stoles are awarded to recognize and celebrate the achievements and contributions of graduating students who identify within the LGBTQIA+ community.

“Many of us have faced challenges and obstacles, feeling at times like our voices were not being heard or that our efforts were in vain. But today's celebration is proof that our persistence has paid off,” said student speaker Lex King. “It's a testament to the fact that our concerns were not ignored, and that progress is underway to address the issues we've grappled with during our time here. This celebration demonstrates the power of people coming together to foster positive change and symbolizes what we can achieve in working together.”

Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President for the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Nadine Petty awarded the Kente Cloth stoles to participating graduates. Kente Cloth stoles are awarded to recognize and celebrate the achievements and contributions of graduating students who identify within the BIPOC community and students from other historically excluded backgrounds.

“It is because of events like the Beauregard Center’s Celebration of Excellence and Achievement that we feel heard and recognized for all our hard work and accomplishments, “said student speaker Jasmine Rodriguez. “We are a group of students and people with unique gifts and strengths. The Kente Cloth stole symbolizes our journeys and the journeys of many students who have come before us and who will come after us. It symbolizes strength and perseverance.”

Yashwant Prakash Vyas, director of the Aulbani J. Beauregard Center for Equity, Justice, and Freedom, kicked off the celebration by welcoming graduates and their families and friends.

“Education in general and postsecondary education specifically have become a cornerstone of our society. And in the absence of access, equity, and inclusion, the same cornerstone becomes a system that holds and perpetuates systemic inequities and marginalization of individuals,” Vyas said. “Affinity celebrations, like the Celebration of Achievement and Excellence, celebrate perseverance and achievement in the face of historic and ongoing exclusion and marginalization. This event is organized to offer community and to honor the contributions and collective experience and achievements of participating graduates.”

Student leaders from the Diversity Support Coalition were also recognized at the celebration. The Diversity Support Coalition is an umbrella student organization with seven member organizations: Black Student Union, United Asian Coalition, Middle Eastern Cultural Association, MOSIACO, Hillel, Alliance, and Native American Cultural Association.

The Diversity Support Coalition is housed within and supported by the Beauregard Center. The DSC promotes and supports multiculturalism, inclusion, diversity and equity at UNH through educational and cultural programming and advocacy efforts. Educational and cultural programming offered by the DSC and its member organizations collectively draw thousands of students, faculty, staff and community members over the academic year.

“I have the privilege of serving as the advisor to the Diversity Support Coalition and its member organizations. I say privilege because it has been an absolute joy to witness their leadership this academic year,” Vyas says.

To see more images, view our complete gallery of photos from the event.

Jeremy Gasowski | UNH Marketing | jeremy.gasowski@unh.edu | 603-862-4465