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WVU Tech community celebrates first Lavender Graduation ceremony

Lavender graduation

On Tuesday, April 26, students, faculty and staff gathered in the WVU Tech Center to celebrate the campus’ first Lavender Graduation ceremony – an event that recognizes graduating LGBTQ and ally students and their accomplishments.

The ceremony was organized by the Tech Alliance, WVU Tech’s LGBTQ and ally student organization.

Ashley Burns, the first president and founding member of Tech Alliance, was one of the graduates honored during the ceremony. She shared the history of Lavender Graduation and its importance as a milestone for students in the LGBTQ community.

“Lavender Graduation is a cultural celebration that recognizes LGBT students of all races and ethnicities and acknowledges their achievements and contributions to the university,” she said. “It is an event to which LGBTQ students look forward, where they not only share their hopes and dreams with one another, but where they are officially recognized by the institution for their leadership and their successes.”

The organization also recently received a congratulatory note from the Human Rights Campaign recognizing the newly founded group. WVU Tech will now join WVU on the list of college campuses who provide a Lavender Graduation. WVU and WVU Tech are the only campuses in West Virginia who are currently recognized by the HRC for hosting these ceremonies.

The Tech Alliance was founded in the spring semester of 2016. It seeks to promote awareness of, educate others about, set a positive example for and provide support to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally community.

Richard Carpinelli, WVU Tech Dean of Students, shared that he’s looking forward to seeing the new organization flourish at WVU Tech.

“This newly established group shows that we are about people, fairness and about moving forward as a family. I’m proud of this organization’s commitment to social justice, gender equality and human rights. You have set a tone for the students who follow you. They will feel the impact of your work in starting this organization,” he said.

Campus President Carolyn Long addressed attendees during the ceremony, encouraging the new group to continue their work.

“It’s never easy to be first, but you have been the first. We appreciate all of you for being active on campus and for making a difference,” said Long.

New Tech Alliance officers for the 2016-2017 academic year were also sworn in during the ceremony:
President – Madison Stone
Vice President – Cody Carter
Treasurer – Robert Simon
Secretary – Lesli Taylor

Check out photos below or on  Flickr.

WVU Tech students and staff shared their support of the event on social media.

I’m so honored to be a graduate of the first WVU Tech Lavender Graduation. I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life! I would like to thank everyone for their encouragement and support!
– Janet Cunningham, Biology student

Back in January, I spoke to some campus faculty and asked how it was that our campus could introduce a group specialized for the LGBTQA students on campus. To not only spread equality and love but to also help students whom don’t fit societies standard mold. As student founder and the first president, I learned so much not only about the LGBTQA community but met some amazing people and supporters along the way. Today, was the first annual Lavender Graduation for WVU Tech and I am so proud to be a part of it. I was honored with reading the history and meaning of this special event and sadly but proudly watched the new president take her oath. I am so amazed with this organization and what it has become in just one semester.
– Ashley Burns, Criminal Justice student

I am so honored to have been a part of history in the making for WVU Tech! We have a great group of people who are on the forefront progress and I am extremely happy that I am a part of it! 
– Cody Carter, Mathematics student

So honored to be a part of history at WVU Tech with the inaugural Lavender Graduation.
– Emily Sands, Associate Dean of Students

The first of something special. Extremely proud to be a part of WVU Tech’s first Lavender Graduation for our newly organized LGBTQ student organization, Tech Alliance! Super excited to continue to grow this organization as we move forward! Congrats to our two graduating seniors.
– Christina Dalton, Tech Alliance Co-Advisor and WVU Tech Chief Financial Officer