West Virginia University’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is holding its annual multicultural graduation that commemorates all the achievements of underrepresented students currently enrolled.
WVU has been doing this ceremony for around 10 years, and the deadline for students to register this year is April 19. For the second consecutive year, WVU will be holding this ceremony virtually.
Diversity outreach coordinator Aisury Vasquez has been part of the multicultural graduation process for the past two years it has been held online. Students interested in participating must apply and register their information through the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website.
“We actually have a registration link set up online on the diversity website and it's as easy as inputting your info; we’re asking for students that graduated August, December of 2020, as well as any 2021 graduates,” Vazquez said. “Once they fill it out online, I'll connect with those students to have them select their stole, and then we can kind of go from there.”
Although the ceremony has been restricted from its fullest extent, the significance of having this event remains the same.
“I think that any opportunity that a predominantly white institution has to celebrate students that have historically been underrepresented and intentionally kept out of educational spaces is an opportunity that we should embrace,” Vazquez said. “It’s a celebration intentionally highlighting, honoring and commemorating the achievements of underrepresented students at WVU.”
Recent WVU alumna Aisha Hashmi took part in the multicultural celebration during the first time it was held online.
“It’s really important to me, especially here; I grew up in Canada, and I was around my culture a lot because there were so many people that were Pakistanis and so many south Asian people over there,” Hashmi said. “Having this opportunity was really special to me because, like I said, I’m extremely proud of my culture, my heritage and it’s something I take a lot of pride in.”
During the first virtual graduation last year, WVU was able to compile a video of all of the graduates, people that submitted pictures of themselves, along with quotes and people they wanted to thank on their journey.
“Obviously that’s not enough,” Vazquez said. “In the past we were able to have snacks, play music and engage in this different way than just saying ‘we put together a video to highlight your achievements.’”
“I think it’s important because West Virginia and Morgantown are kind of isolated, not many people from different backgrounds come here,” Hashmi said about WVU holding more events like this for culturally diverse students.
“It’s nice to have a celebration of people’s cultures and a celebration of how diverse people are because diversity is a beautiful thing,” Hashmi said. “Especially with the political climate and the tensions that have been going around; it’s important to represent yourself and highlight yourself and show who you are.”
Participants in this year’s ceremony will receive a stole in the mail to wear over their graduation robe during the official graduation ceremony later this year.