Black students to celebrate success in second annual event

Black students graduating this semester will gather to celebrate their accomplishments Dec. 13 in the Union Boardroom for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion's second annual Celebration of Success.

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will hold its second annual Celebration of Success to honor the achievement of black students.

The event is for black students who are graduating this month. Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion Adam Gonzales said this invitational event is for these students to be recognized for completing their time at Northwest

The event includes a keynote speaker as well as a Kente Stole given to students to celebrate their accomplishments.

“There is a celebration of success where we recognize the achievements of our graduating students of color, specifically our black students, and we do that through the presentation of the Kente Stoles,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales said that these stoles are a tribute to black student’s heritage.

“(The Kente Stoles) goes back to African heritage to the Ashanti people in Ghana and it’s a recognition of the historical adversity that students of color have faced, black students in particular in this country,” Gonzales said.

The idea of the Kente Stole came from Director of Diversity and Inclusion Justin Mallett.

“The Kente Stole is very significant with our African students and it’s also with our black students, especially through the concepts of black student unions and black student organization,” Mallett said. “The Kente Stole and the Kente cloth and the colors that are represented in there represent various different components of life.”

The Kente Stole has five different colors, Mallett said each has a different meaning.

“Gold is status serenity, green is renewal, the blue in there is pure spirit harmony, the red is passion and the black is union with your ancestors and spiritual awareness,” Mallett said.

Gonzales pointed out that America is not too far removed from a time where segregation was an issue in schools.

“When you look back, we are not too far beyond the times when black students were not allowed in colleges and universities,” Gonzales said. “Segregation is something that many people still alive today went through.”

Gonzales also stressed the importance of showing students that successful individuals can be like the students.

“For some students, it’s important to see successful people who look like them,” Gonzales said. “If you watch TV or if you walk into some corporate office and you don’t see people who look like you, it inherently leads you to believe you can’t achieve any of those positions that you see.”

One of the struggles black students faced, as explained by Mallett, is the demographics of Northwest, with black students making up only 13 percent of Northwest’s student population.

“We are on a predominantly white campus and we have an underrepresented population that goes through a lot of the things our majority students also have to experience as well, but studies show and research shows that adjustment, transition, persistence and retention are greatly affected by or with our minority students which are black students which are on a predominately white campus,” Mallett said.

Mallet hopes that this ceremony will help students realize that these students overcame those struggles.

“I want them to know we do recognize their academic achievement,” Mallet said. “For a lot of these students, they are the first one to graduate from their family. Being able to have a ceremony where they can obtain their Kente Stole and be acknowledged for their academic achievement and their personal assistance, is something that we should be doing every year on this campus.”

The event is being held on Dec. 13 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in the Union Board Room. The event is invitation only and is not open to the public.

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