Cultural Graduation Celebrations Highlight Diverse Campus Community

Students celebrate at Latinx Graduation in 2019.
Students celebrate at Latinx Graduation in 2019.
For the first time in two years, due to the pandemic, the Cultural Graduation Celebrations will be held in person prior to the Cal Poly Humboldt Commencement ceremonies. These collaborative events will honor the rich cultural heritage, knowledge, and resilience diverse students contribute to campus.

Hosted by the University’s Cultural Centers for Academic Excellence, the individual celebrations provide an opportunity for families and friends to come together to celebrate and highlight the academic accomplishments of students, many of whom are the first in their families to graduate from college. Several groups will be providing special sashes/stoles embellished with cultural designs, beads, pins, patches, shells, etc. as a reminder of the communities they represent. 

Students have noted that these celebrations are very important because they provide an opportunity to share their stories and express appreciation to their family and friends in a culturally comfortable setting. For many students, this is one of the few times loved ones are able to make the trek to Humboldt County and the celebrations create culturally affirming spaces for recognition.

In the early 1970s, the Indian Teacher & Educational Personnel Program (ITEPP) began hosting a dinner honoring Native graduates and their families and friends. Black Graduation was established in the 1980s, hosted by the Student Academic Outreach Program, and in 1994 shifted to the Multicultural Center (MCC), now known as the Social Justice, Equity & Inclusion Center. In 1997 Raza Grad (later La Graduacion, now Latinx Graduation Celebration) was hosted. This expanded to other groups under the direction of the MCC. In 2015 when El Centro Académico Cultural de Humboldt and Umoja Center for Pan African Student Excellence were established, the Latinx and Black graduation ceremonies transitioned to the new centers. 

The Cultural Centers for Academic Excellence seek to empower students as they navigate successful pathways through college in a way that honors, preserves, and sustains diverse cultural values. The Centers have provided students of diverse backgrounds with a sense of belonging and community on campus. Graduation is the culmination of years of sacrifice, hard work, and dedication, and the Cultural Graduation Celebrations demonstrate the success of the Centers in developing strong leaders.

Any student who hasn’t signed up for a cultural graduation celebration and would like to can contact the center coordinators. Find contact information here. 

This year’s celebrations include:

Queer (LGBTQIA+) Graduation Celebration (est. 2011): The Social Justice, Equity & Inclusion Center along with our partners (QSU, ERC, OSL, and others) on Thursday, May 5 in the Goodwin Forum from 5 to 7 p.m. Come celebrate the accomplishments of this wonderful graduating class of 2022. There will be food, music, a guest speaker, and a space to mingle with family, friends, faculty, staff, and others. Come join us and celebrate this momentous occasion. 

Native Graduation Celebration (est. 1971): Join the Indian Tribal & Educational Personnel Program (ITEPP) in honoring Native graduates, Thursday, May 12 in the Van Duzer Theatre 5:30 - 6 p.m. for social time and the graduation program at 6 p.m., with a reception and music by Native band Twice as Good 2XG immediately following the program.

Black Graduation Celebration (est. 1980s): Celebrate the achievements and hard work of the Black Graduating Class of 2022. The Umoja Center for Pan African Student Excellence will host a reception beginning Friday, May 13 at noon in the Green & Gold Room; there will be food, music, and photo opportunities. The ceremony starts at 1 p.m. in the Founders Hall Courtyard. Watch graduates receive their Kente sashes and listen to their messages about their journey and future. 

Latinx Graduation Celebration (est.1997): El Centro Académico Cultural de Humboldt will be hosting the Latinx Graduation celebration on Friday, May 13 at 3 p.m. in the Lumberjack Arena. El Centro hosts this annual ceremony in recognition of the academic and cultural achievements of graduating Latinx students. This year’s event includes performances from Danza Azteca de Humboldt, Humboldt Folklorico, Mariachi de Humboldt, and speeches from student leaders.

Asian, Desi, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, North African Graduation Celebration (ADPI+MENA) (est. 2006): The annual graduation celebration is on Friday, May 13 in Goodwin Forum from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Asian, Desi & Pacific Islander Collective and the Social Justice, Equity & Inclusion Center have teamed up to help honor and celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating class of 2022. There will be food, taiko music, a guest speaker, and a space to mingle with family, friends, faculty, staff, and others.