SU Highlights Class of 2022 with Special Ceremonies and Campus Events

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As the Class of 2022 prepares to graduate this weekend, the students reflected on the last four years of their lives and how they have grown – academically, personally and emotionally. Syracuse University hosted four events this past weekend to send senior graduates, salute their accomplishments and celebrate the identities they have forged along the way.

Aboriginal Graduation Celebration
A traditional Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving blessing, “words come first,” began the May 7 Aboriginal graduation celebration. Translated into English, the blessing reflected the key pillars of Aboriginal culture: gratitude and humility.

The event spotlighted the SU’s Indigenous community. The Indigenous Student Program honored 17 senior graduates, 15 undergraduates and two graduate students, from seven different indigenous tribes and seven clans.

Maya Swamp, valedictorian for the program, spoke about the unique challenges of being Indigenous and pursuing a college education.

Swamp feared feeling like an impostor and feared losing touch with his home culture. But as she navigated through college, she said the Indigenous Student Program both affirmed her cultural identity and allowed her to use it for higher purposes.

“In the creation story, it says we are sent to Earth with certain gifts and duties, thrown into our lives to better those around us,” Swamp said. “I discovered that we could use our similarities and our differences, our gifts, to complement each other and create a sense of family and community, connected to each other through an incredible program.”

As the graduating students walked across the stage, they were recognized by name and degree, as well as their tribe and clan. Each received a traditional Haudenosaunee stole and had a choice of two books written by Indigenous authors.

Regina Jones, assistant director of the Native Student Program, pointed out that a college degree means more than academic success for Aboriginal students.

“A lot of our students were always told they would never go to college,” she said. “Getting a job, going to work, these are their usual options. The 17 students we get today have defied those expectations…Today we celebrate them, their bravery and their perseverance.

Blessing of students
As seniors prepare to leave campus and their friends behind, they are also leaving the institutions that offered them respite during their stressful college careers. For many older people, that respite is often found in Hendricks Chapel.

Eighty-five students were recognized at the Student Blessing Ceremony which combined music, prayer and congratulations for all seniors leaving the university and the Hendricks community.

After Abigail Wood, a sophomore at SU, played the organ to welcome students and well-wishers, Reverend Brian Konkol, Dean of Hendricks Chapel, spoke proudly of the grad students working at the chapel.

“It’s a wonderful day, because we have wonderful students,” Konkol said.

Reverend Gerry Waterman, the Catholic chaplain, offered a prayer for the elderly, highlighting their friendship and their goals for the future. The prayer then asked for peace within the administration of the League and wished good luck to family, friends and supporters of the promotion.

Following Waterman, JoAnn Cooke, the Buddhist chaplain, led the congregation in a guided meditation, asking everyone to imagine an ocean as a metaphor for the possibilities that lie ahead. The Jewish chaplain, Rabbi Sarah Noyovitz, followed Cooke and sang “Tefilat HaDeresh”, or “Traveller’s Prayer”.

Gail Riina, the Lutheran chaplain, highlighted the power of meaningful friendships as graduates embark on the next chapter of their lives. Imam Amir Duric, the Muslim chaplain, gave a poetic and powerful speech to the students and asked God to help them in their journeys ahead and enlighten their future. Finally, Baptist Chaplain Rev. Devon Bartholomew spoke about two Bible passages, 2 Timothy 1:7 and Proverbs 4.

Graduate students were honored with awards as Konkol presented each recipient with a certificate. Each graduate also received a flower from the chapel to represent their time there. Konkol concluded the ceremony with a prayer for the elderly.

“May you have the determination to be loyal, the conviction to embody your beliefs, the courage to set and achieve your goals, and the resilience to be yourself,” Konkol said. “God bless you all, from the spiritual heart of campus to yours, today and always.”

Lavender Graduation
Syracuse University’s LGBTQ+ students were honored at this year’s Lavender Graduation, which was the fourth such annual event at SU. The ceremony honored 26 undergraduate students, four master’s students and one graduating doctoral student from the class of 2022. To celebrate their graduation, the event included a spoken word performance, pep talks from staff members of the SU and a former guest speaker.

Jorge Castillo, the director of the LGBTQ Resource Center, kicked off the event with a brief explanation of why the lavender graduation is so important. Originally an event that began at the University of Michigan in 1995, lavender degrees have spread nationwide and now occur at nearly 250 universities, Castillo said.

“In addition to the immense accomplishment of completing your degree requirements, some of you may have experienced challenges expressing your gender identities or sexualities,” Callisto said. “So this ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate your authentic self and be surrounded by your queer family.”

To further illustrate the importance of the color lavender in the LGBTQ+ community and congratulate the graduates, Eboni Britt spoke after Castillo, using a clip from the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” to guide her speech. Britt, executive director of strategic communications and initiatives in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, used the clip from the film to talk about the power that one color can have – in the case of the ceremony, lavender.

In doing so, Britt traced the importance of the color lavender through queer history, from originally serving as a color for queer people to empowering activists during the Stonewall Riots in 1969. The fact that the queer students have graduated, Britt said, is a sign of the historic unity and power of the LGBTQ+ community.

“For decades, starting in the early 1900s, the color lavender was used as a way to stigmatize and discriminate against people suspected of their sexuality. But, as is typical of those who are oppressed and marginalized, we take the same things that people use to put us down and bring us down, and claim ownership of them,” Britt said. “We make these same things our own. We take the ugly and make it beautiful.

Class of 2022 launch party
A scene of SU’s trademark orange and blue, Goldstein Auditorium was bubbling with both nostalgia and graduating senior excitement. Organized by the Forever Orange Alumni Council, the Class of 2022 launch party on May 6 marked the end of the students’ undergraduate journey, but more importantly, the beginning of a whole new chapter in their lives.

While the celebration was a celebration of remembrance, with special lanyards for students to wear at graduation and a photo booth, it also prepared students for post-graduate projects through professional photos and networking opportunities. networking with successful alumni.

Behind every student is a story of how SU has become a place of learning and growth. A senior graduate, Anna Wojcik, reflected on the work she did with her core group in her environmental engineering major and how it gave her applicable, real-world experience before entering the labor market. Jessica McGowan, who will be graduating in civil engineering this weekend, reflected on all the fun times she had with new friends at Orange After Dark events and how they helped her acclimate to campus .

But Morgan Eaton, who will receive a degree in citizenship and civic engagement and political studies, said what he learned most from the League was the relationships he built along the way.

“Everything is fun when you do it with friends,” Eaton said. “The best part of SU is the people.”

A series of toasts, including a speech by Konkol to graduates on reflecting and learning from their experiences at SU, ended with class marshals, Ava Brietbeck and Morgan Storino, as they reminded their peers to make the most of their last days in Syracuse.

To end the celebration, SU style, Otto the Orange burst into the crowd to give high fives.

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