Host of Events Celebrate Diverse Accomplishments of UNCW’s Graduating Class

Monday, May 08, 2017

Prior to the official spring 2017 commencement exercises, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion recognized graduating seniors with time-honored ceremonies and traditions.

"Sí, podemos educarnos y triunfar" ("Yes, we can achieve an education and succeed") was the message celebrated at the Successful Latinos Reception on May 4. Latinos are the largest and fastest-growing minority group in America, but still hold the least number of college degrees. Events such as this reception are just one of the many ways the university and Centro Hispano are supporting the growing number of Latino and Hispanic students applying to, attending and graduating from UNCW. 

Also on May 4, UNCW joined campuses across the nation in hosting a Purple and Lavender Reception to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and their contributions to the university. Recognizing the challenging road to graduation that many students in the LGBTQIA community and their allies face, the reception celebrates graduates across the spectrum of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. 

Sankofa is a West African word in the Akan language meaning "wisdom in learning from the past to build for the future," and symbolizes an African rite of passage. The UNCW Senior Sankofa story began when Joanne Nottingham was the director of the Office of Campus Diversity. In 2002, the ceremony was officially established to celebrate the success of UNCW’s African American graduates and link them to those who graduated before them. 

“Doc Nott” retired in December after serving as the faculty coordinator of UNCW’s Leadership Studies program and a lecturer in the Department of Educational Leadership in the Watson College of Education. She was honored at the 2017 ceremony, which took place on May 5.

Attracting and retaining high-quality, diverse students, faculty and staff, and fostering an inclusive campus culture that embraces a global mindset, are hallmarks of UNCW’s Strategic Plan.

-- Caroline Cropp