Student Multicultural Center celebrates graduates with virtual pre-commencement ceremony


A screenshot of the introduction of the Karamu Ya Wahitimu/Celebración de los Graduados on May 7, 2020. 

The Student Multicultural Center recognized graduates and their achievements during the virtual Karamu Ya Wahitimu/Celebración de los Graduados ceremony on Thursday. 

“Usually with Karamu Ya Wahitimu/Celebración de los Graduados, there is a feeling in the air of pride and a lot of positive energy. I think it’s exciting for the graduates to be able to celebrate this occasion with their friends and families,” said Michael Daniels, interim director of the Student Multicultural Center. 

The Karamu Ya Wahitimu/Celebración de los Graduados is a “pre-commencement celebration and final Rites of Passage” graduation ceremony put on by the Student Multicultural Center “to celebrate the accomplishments of all graduating African American, Native American, Latinx, Hispanic and Multiracial undergraduate and graduate students,” according to the Student Multicultural Center page.  

This year’s ceremony was unable to be held in person due to the current restrictions on social gatherings. However, Daniels said the Student Multicultural Center still wanted to “recognize graduates’ achievements.” To honor the graduates, a video was put together that premiered on the Student Multicultural Center website at 6 p.m. 

Daniels opened the video by walking around the different spaces within the Student Multicultural Center, and then walked down to the M.A.C.C. and showed the different stoles the graduates will receive. He recognized several groups, such as Black United Students, Kent African Student Association, Spanish and Latino Student Association and several others by sharing their Kent State journeys. 

Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Alfreda Brown and Interim Senior Vice President and Provost Melody Tankersley shared words of congratulations with the graduates. 

“We honor your hard work, perseverance, commitment to your education,” Tankersley said. “I know you will use those qualities to excel in your careers and to contribute to your new communities, just as you have excelled and contributed to Kent State.” 

Approximately 150 graduates were recognized in this year’s ceremony. Each student’s name was shown along with a picture, a thank you note from the graduate or a description of their degree and a picture of the graduation regalia items they would have received. 

Daniels said he is unsure at this time how students will receive their graduation regalia, but the SMC plans to work out the details so they may be able to receive their stoles.

Faculty members such as Interim Dean of Students Taléa Drummer-Ferrell, Associate Professor in the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising Tameka Ellington and Executive Director for the Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Sonya Williams offered their congratulations to the graduates after all of their names were called. 

Starting at 6:45 p.m., Daniels and De’Von Gomez, the administrative special assistant at the SMC, were live on the SMC Instagram page to interact with graduates and their families as they gave shoutouts to fellow graduates and shared stories. 

Daniels also extended the deadline for graduates to enter photos and be a part of the virtual graduation until the end of May. Students are allowed to send in photos to the SMC for them to be added to the video posted on the website page. 

Gomez closed the virtual ceremony with some parting words for the spring graduates. 

“I am proud of you, they’re [faculty and staff in the video] are proud of you, and you should be proud of yourself. Congratulations class of 2020,” Gomez said. “Go out there, change the world, shake the planet and remember you can do it. You are always going to be undeniably Kent State and always remember: Flashes forever.” 

Rachel Karas is a general assignment reporter. Contact her at [email protected].