Laptop with graduation attire

Two senior celebrations end the semester on a high note

Illustration by Sophia Rodriguez
By Genesis Cosme

Illustration by Sophia Rodriguez

Two senior celebrations end the semester on a high note

By Genesis Cosme
Seniors recognized for their hard work and academic accomplishments in virtual observances of Senior Mwambo and Lavender Celebration

With all the changes to the Spring semester, University departments and their senior celebrations are adapting to circumstances to ensure seniors get the recognition they deserve. Although spring 2020 commencement ceremonies have been postponed to December, Multicultural Student Affairs and the LGBTQ Student Center have moved their annual senior traditions, Senior Mwambo and Lavender Celebration, respectively, online.

Students and their families can attend the virtual ceremonies and participate from home. The two events are designed to commemorate students' academic and civic achievements. Therefore, these two departments are doing what they can to keep these traditions alive.

“As an office, we have challenged ourselves to find ways to move forward in the midst of COVID-19,” said Christopher Clarke, director of Multicultural Student Affairs. “With Virtual Senior Mwambo, our goal is to give graduating seniors an experience and celebrate their hard work. Although we cannot do this in person, we will do our best to make it look and feel like a normal rite of passage ceremony. Hopefully, they will look back years later and watch this with their families. It will be archived and saved digitally forever.”

In its twenty-eighth year, Senior Mwambo celebrates the University’s graduating black and brown students. The term “Mwambo” originates from the Chichewa language spoken in Malawi, East Africa, translating to "ceremonial rite of passage."

As students who are transitioning from one part of their life to another, the ceremony serves as a space to gather, celebrate, and reflect on their hard work. Participating students will receive their kente stole and are encouraged to wear them during the rescheduled commencement ceremonies in December. This year’s virtual Senior Mwambo ceremony will take place on May 8 at 12:30 p.m. EST. Visit the Multicultural Student Affairs website for more information.

The Lavender Celebration honors the accomplishments of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and ally students and the safe, inclusive spaces they contributed to while at the University of Miami. In its sixth year at the University of Miami, the celebration is also a reminder of the progress towards inclusivity the University makes each year.

"Given the significance of Lavender Celebration, it is imperative that we still make these ceremonies available in a time of worldwide separation and isolation," said Vanessa Kania, the LGBTQ Student Center's assistant director. "Not only does it provide virtual connection, but it also elicits the feeling of importance and mattering, and a spark of positivity when it feels like there is so little to celebrate with everything going on."

The color lavender itself is also significant: it is a combination of the pink triangle that gay men were forced to wear in concentration camps and the black triangle designating lesbians as political prisoners in Nazi Germany. The LGBTQ civil rights movement took these symbols of hatred and combined them to make symbols as well as the color of pride and community.

Graduating LGBTQ+ students can participate in the celebration on May 8 at 3 p.m. EST. They will receive a rainbow-colored cord that they can wear at their commencement ceremonies as well. Visit the LGBTQ Student Center website for more information.