Wittenberg’s William A. McClain Center for Diversity hosted the third annual Hitimu: Multicultural Graduate Dinner honoring the University’s multicultural students, one of the many celebratory events leading up to the 173rd Commencement exercises tomorrow.
Approximately 18 graduating seniors were recognized on May 10 at the Hitimu (meaning ‘graduate’ in Swahili) event in front of friends and members of the Wittenberg University community in room 105 of the Joseph C. Shouvlin Center for Lifelong Learning.
The event featured a welcome from President Michael L. Frandsen, a closing statement from Casey Gill, vice president for student development and dean of students, and an invocation from David P. and Carol Matevia Endowed University Pastor Tracy Paschke-Johannes.
Associate Director of Career Operations and Student Employment Joi Garrett Scales and Associate Director of Admission for Multicultural Recruitment Tammi Love provided staff reflections. Additionallly, Shea Suggs from Liberty Township, Ohio, and Joshua Tarrance from Cumming, Georgia, both members of the class of 2023, provided student reflections, noting their many connections, lasting friendships, and good times they have had during their time at Wittenberg.
Scales encouraged students to “Find Your People” in her message to the class of 2023.
“My conversations with students have been centered around keep moving, push forward, continue the path toward goals, and find your people,” she said during the ceremony. “Find your people means to identify who your advocates are. These people are not just friends. These people are people who will advocate for you, people who will not just tell you what you want to hear but will tell you what you need to hear for your improvement and success. They are people who will speak up for your experience in spaces where you cannot be present and are willing to stand by your cause when it means something to you. Find your people means, well simply put, network, and create a network. Don’t be afraid to tell your story and be open to hearing stories from others. Seek to understand, make efforts to share, and develop connections.”
Love also had words of encouragement for the class of 2023.
“Embrace this moment of being a human being who not only survived your undergraduate years but accomplished them with great expectation of walking across a stage to receive the evidence of your undergraduate journey at Wittenberg University,” she said. “In this moment also embrace all the tough moments, the unseen moments, the ridiculous encounters, the overcoming, the joy, the good times, and embrace the moment when you exhaled and finally recognized who you are and who you are becoming. In spite of the institutional battles and your personal battles, you are who your ancestors envisioned you to be. And what a vision it is – a college graduate! Walk in the beautiful creation that you are and flow in the moments your Creator presents to you. Step into the streams of life and impact the spaces you are afforded the opportunity to be in.”
All students received a Kente or Latinx stole that they can wear at graduation and were recognized for their work in the various student groups throughout their time at Wittenberg. Students included Jayson Aguilar from Englewood, Ohio; Mariah Baker from Springfield, Ohio; Lea Blander from Ann Arbor, Michigan; SeRaye Bray from Springfield, Ohio; Amya Brown from Elyria, Ohio; Taijym Deloney from Richmond, Indiana; Brysen Dykes from Tampa, Florida; Daivion Greene-Tucker from Columbus, Ohio; Maya Hagander from Stafford, Virginia; Tala Hall from Springfield, Ohio; Kirstin Hawkins-White from Reynoldsburg, Ohio; Lauren Hernandez from Hilliard, Ohio; Ashley Laborde from Springfield, Ohio; Olivia Lawrence from Springfield, Ohio; Kevin Marshall from Springfield, Ohio; Tiffany Moss from Springfield, Ohio; Gene Nobles from Tavares, Florida; Azad Robinson from Cleveland, Ohio; Jaden Sarragua from Cosby, Tennessee; Satta Sheriff from Monrovia, Montserrado, Liberia; along with Suggs and Tarrance.
The stoles these graduates will wear collectively celebrate their identities, journeys, individual achievements as students in obtaining college diplomas, as well as the legacies that Black and Latinx graduating students have created and actively cultivated here at Wittenberg.
“We honor these graduates not only for their academic achievements but for their unwavering commitment to their communities and to making a positive impact in the world,” said Charlotte Hurst-Bluemlein, executive administrative assistant in Student Development, who coordinated the event and presented the stoles and cords to the students along with Brianna Langs, associate director of the McClain Center for Diversity. “Their successes inspire us all and remind us of the power of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. As these graduates move forward in their careers and lives, we know they will continue to make an indelible mark on the world. We congratulate them on their remarkable accomplishments and wish them all the best as they embark on their next chapter.”
Gill offered graduates a final congratulatory message.
“I want to take a moment to reflect on the incredible achievements we have celebrated,” she said. “We are here to recognize the hard work, dedication, and tenacity of our Black and Latinx graduates who have overcome numerous obstacles to reach this momentous milestone. Your successes, both academic and personal, are a testament to your strength, determination, and perseverance. You have challenged stereotypes, broken down barriers, and paved the way for future generations. You have pushed Wittenberg as a community to grow, reflect, and push for change. Your achievements have inspired us all, and we are incredibly proud of everything you have accomplished.”
Dinner and a dessert reception were catered by Parkhurst Dining.