Graduates of different ethnic backgrounds were honored in a cultural stole donning ceremony Sunday, Dec. 5, at St. Ambrose University.
Put on by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, students identifying as Asian, African American, Hispanic, LatinX, Native American, and Pacific Islander were honored and celebrated for their academic and personal achievements.
Stoles were bestowed on the graduates by an important person in their lives, such as a parent or friend, and will be worn during the commencement ceremony.
But the stoles mean much more to the graduates than a piece of cloth around their necks.
“For me, it’s to honor my country and to honor my people,” said Rosa Dominguez, who’s set to graduate this month. “To honor my parents and make my culture a sign that there is a way, there’s always a way to do something better in life. This is my way to say thank you for letting me be a Mexican.”
On the stoles, there are three symbols each with a unique meaning that honors the characteristics of both the university and the students. The topmost symbol represents life-long learning and knowledge, the middle symbol represents humility and strength, and the symbol closest to the bottom represents faith and trust in God.
“It speaks to the families, it speaks to the struggle, it speaks to their cultural heritage, it speaks to their ancestors, and so I hope that looking to that day of wearing the stole gives them hope in those tough times,” said Ryan Saddler, Associate Vice President of D.E.I.
There were 14 students that participated in the ceremony, both in person and virtually. The degrees they will receive range from criminal justice to graphic design.
“Being able to do this, especially when we talk about those that help them get to this point and the family members and friends that are not here really gives them a moment to kind of pause and reflect as they get the end of their collegiate career,” said Fritz Dieudonné, D.E.I. Coordinator.
This is the third year for this ceremony, and the Office of D.E.I. hopes to continue it in the future.
Photos of the event are courtesy of the Office of D.E.I. and more can be found here.