Karamu Ya Wahitimu celebrates AALANA graduates


Jameel Davis a senior criminal justice major holds his 11-month-old son Jahier in the KIVA on Friday April 26, 2013. Davis was waiting before the start of Karamu Ya Wahitimu, a Swahili celebration of the final rights of passage before commencement. . Photo by Jacob Byk.

Kelsey Leyva

The Kiva was packed Friday night as Kent State University honored its African American, Latino American and Native American students graduating this May in a ceremony called Karamu Ya Wahitimu. Karamu Ya Wahitimu is Swahili for celebration of the graduates.

Dr. Said Sewell, assistant provost, was the featured keynote speaker and discussed what he believes it takes to be great. He focused on three specific avenues to being great, and the first was eliminating excuse making.

“Number one is to create a no excuse culture,” he said. “Understand this, graduates, it’s how you look at things. It’s your perspective that matters in becoming great.”

The second topic he discussed dealt with personal achievment.

“The second thing to being great is to dream big,” he said. “Continue to set new levels. If you can conceive it, you can achieve it because greatness is in you.”

He further explained this concept by breaking it into three subcategories. The first was defining what a dream involves.

“Understand, young brothers and sisters, there’s a difference between a dream and a wish,” he said. “Dreams demand a plan. Before you leave here, develop a plan for how you see yourself reaching your dreams.”

The next subcategory was reaching out for necessary assistance.

“Find a mentor. Find people to help you reach your dreams,” he said. “None of us get to where we’ve gotten by ourselves.”

His last subcategory was learning to accept the possibility of failure.

“You will fail,” he said. “Henry Ford had two companies that failed before Ford Motor Company succeeded. Life is full of failures, but how you move past it will determine if you’re really great or not.”

Sewell’s third and final concept to being great is to understand that people have no control over time.

“You have no control over when you’re born, and you have no control over when you will die,” he said. “You only have control over the dash in the middle. If your birth was a miracle, why shouldn’t your life be a miracle as well?”

Trinidy Jeter, program coordinator for the Student Multicultural Center, said that the goal of the ceremony was to recognize the AALANA students’ achievements.

“At Kent State and other national colleges and universities across the board, AALANA graduation rates are lower than other ethnic groups,” she said. “This was an event to showcase and highlight our students’ accomplishments.”

Alyssa Hall, senior communication studies major, participated in the ceremony and said she appreciated the intimate atmosphere created at the event.

“It’s really nice to have our ceremony where we can get loud, be hype, have a good time and just celebrate minorities making it in the world,” she said. “It’s beautiful that we have something like this.”

Hall said that she is eager to graduate and find out what the future has in store for her.

“I’m very elated and excited to start this next chapter in my life, to see where I go in the world,” she said.

Sewell, before closing, encouraged the graduates to continue pursuing their dreams, despite the adversity they may face.

“Understand life is full of challenges,” he said. “It’s hard to beat the person that never gives up.”

Contact Kelsey Leyva at [email protected].