Photo by Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
With the recent events, we finally made it to the end of the semester. Normally, we would be sitting outside in the quad enjoying the weather, in the library pulling all-nighters for finals, some of us getting ready for graduation and enjoying the last few moments of being an undergrad.
A lot of sacrifices and privileges were taken away due to social distancing. College seniors have been pushed into the real world without a clue of what their future may look like due to recent circumstances. Graduating seniors have also lost their last few memories, their graduation pictures in their cap and gown, ceremonies including our Kente Graduation Ceremony, hosted by The Dowdy Multicultural Center.
Kente Graduation is an event held to celebrate the cultural identity of multicultural students on campus graduating. Graduating seniors walk across the stage and receive their Kente Stole; it’s a special event for them filled with tears, emotional goodbyes, families supporting and cheering and recognizing the accomplishments of those graduating. The first Kente celebration was held on May 15, 1993, with 30 students participating. The idea to celebrate the achievements of multicultural students came from director of Minority Affairs Jerome “Skip” Huston and the Director of Affirmative Action Dr. Franklin Simpson. Even though precautions have been taken online and through mail to try to make the best of the situation, it still doesn’t replace the memory that every other graduate got to experience before.
With these recent events, don’t let COVID-19 change the fact that you accomplished something major. College isn’t easy, but it’s also not a race or something that should be overlooked. A lot of you have been through so much over the years and have fought through personal battles just to get to this moment. The growth and the person you strived to be at the beginning of this journey is something you should be proud of. Cramming for finals and staying up late to finish assignments is something to be proud of. The impact you made with on-campus organizations is something to be proud of. The leadership opportunities you took and how you inspired others is something to be proud of. Mostly, be proud of yourself for never giving up during these years. Use that strength to continue to push through during this time and prepare to continue making a difference in the real world. Use this time to celebrate with your family and close friends, of course, safely and know that you’re recognized, you’re heard and this time is about you. Whether you finished in four years, or more, or less, whether you switched your major three times, or are scared for what the future holds, don’t let this moment be taken away.
Najah Hendricks is a third-year Social Work major, Youth Empowerment & Urban Studies Minor. Nh871270@wcupa.