Kent State Grads honored at annual Karamu Ya Wahitimu

Stephanie Martoccia Diversity Reporter

Over 180 African, African American, Latino, Hispanic and Native American students celebrated their pre-commencement at the Karamu ceremony this past Saturday.

“The Karamu Ceremony was inaugurated in 1995 to acknowledge and recognize the diligence, accomplishments and academic achievement of our African, African American, Latino, Hispanic, and Native American student population in a way that represents their unique cultural experiences,” said Linda Piccirillo Smith, senior lecturer for the department of Pan-African studies.

Friends and family members of students earning both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees cheered as students processed into the MAC Center wearing their caps and gowns to celebrate the struggles and victories of their college years.

“This celebration is a significant event for the entire university community,” said Oscar Ramos, director of the student multicultural center. “It recognizes our graduates as members both as Kent State University students and as members of a larger student multicultural population.”

Sharlene Ramos Chesnes, 2016 president’s ambassador and Kent State graduate, served as the keynote speaker. She encourages students to allow themselves to celebrate their success and not to allow anyone to tell them who or what their success is like.

Ramos Chesnes left students with five takeaways: have a good attitude, work hard, have passion, have values and learn from your failures and success.

“Every failure you encounter is the best lesson you’ve ever learned,” Ramos Chesnes said.

Following the keynote, every student was recognized for their achievement and given one of three different cultural stoles. The Kente stole was given to African and African American students, the Serape stole was given to Latino and Hispanic students and the Native American Stole was given to Native American students.

“It was like a comfortable feeling celebrating with people who share the same culture as me,” said Tahlia Pate, who will be graduating with her bachelors form the college of education health and human services.