BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – It is graduation season at Illinois Wesleyan University. From
Lavender Graduation to official Commencement, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate academic successes. One of those
ceremonies, Multicultural Graduation, participates in a culture of embracing scholastic achievements for Illinois Wesleyan
students of color.
Multicultural Graduation is usually held a few weeks before Commencement and gives
students of color the chance to reflect upon their journey here at IWU. For so many
MALANA (Multiracial, African-American, Latino-Hispanic, Asian-American and Native
American) students, racial identity is something that is truly important in how students
perceive their experiences and navigate the climate of a predominantly white institution
A lot of these same students have participated in the MALANA Pre-Orientation program, where they were given the opportunity to come to campus three days earlier
than Turning Titan first-year students. MALANA Pre-O students are offered the chance to get acquainted
with the area and to build relationships with students who look like them. Many of
us will tell you it is an invaluable experience and probably one of our fondest memories
throughout our time at IWU.
On Sunday, April 15, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) hosted the class of 2018’s Multicultural Graduation in the Young Main Lounge.
With 43 students participating, the event was one that allowed for the expression
of many different feelings: Warmth, joy, anxiety, passion, and so many other feelings
were evoked as baby pictures, current pictures, and student’s thoughts were shared
regarding their outlooks on the future.
The Spanish And Latino Student Association (SALSA) also gave a wonderful performance to the tune of “Remember Me,” from the
motion picture Coco’s soundtrack. It was touching to see students tell each other
that they’d always be there for each other. It was also refreshing to see faculty,
staff, families and friends come out and to support students up to their last days
on campus. As a sophomore, I wait in fear and anticipation for these moments of support
and love from faculty, staff, and younger students.
At the core of this ceremony is a sense of community building. For these students,
having a new home here makes a tremendous difference. It is the difference between
surviving a hostile climate and thriving in a wholesome community. Having first-hand
experience in this feeling, I have soon realized that the college experience is what
you make of it. In the sense of these soon graduating seniors, the foundation of community
has been developed, and it is up to us younger students to continue to erect the buildings
Although this is a time of celebration, I am sad to see some of my favorite people
leave school and enter the workforce or continue on to graduate studies. As a first-year
student last year, many of these people embraced me and my peers like younger siblings,
guiding us through the ins and outs of Illinois Wesleyan and abroad, all while cultivating
us into better versions of ourselves.
Ultimately, the presence and impact of these students will remain here on campus through
the younger people they influenced. That is something I hope to leave with the students
who come here after me, as our experiences here as students of color extend beyond
our personal observations and branch out to connect our work with students of the
past’s work. This is a collective effort.
Final Thought from the Writer Once again, I would like to thank the class of 2018 for their support of my peers
and me, as well as their many instances of creating a welcoming environment for us.
Lastly, I would like to thank ODI and the other faculty and staff who participated
and helped to make this graduation happen. If you haven’t been to a Multicultural
Graduation here, I strongly advise you to attend next year’s.