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    Donning of the Kente Stole Ceremony Held

    The University of Scranton held its first in-person Donning of the Kente Stole Ceremony, celebrating and honoring the accomplishments of members of its class of 2021 from underrepresented identities who received their undergraduate degrees.
    May 26, 2021

    The University of Scranton held its first in-person Donning of the Kente Stole Ceremony to celebrate and honor the accomplishments of 45 members of its class of 2021from underrepresented identities who received their undergraduate degrees. The purpose of the ceremony was to highlight the success in overcoming the particular barriers and obstacles faced by students from these groups, particularly students of color, in attaining a higher education.

    For the past two years, the Multicultural Center set out to explore opportunities to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of students from underrepresented identities approaching graduation. The Donning of the Kente Stole Ceremony was a student led initiative that started with the research done by graduating senior Camila Robles Class of 2019, and the vision of Aba Amon-Kwafo Class of 2020, who lead the efforts to develop the proposal and approval of the Donning of the Kente Stole Ceremony and set the foundation for the ceremony to become a University of Scranton Commencement event.

    “The Donning of the Kente Stole Ceremony is an important and significant step the University has taken to provide graduates of color with a positive, rewarding experience that recognizes their hard work and dedication to their education,” said Samiel Torres, a member of the University’s class of 2021 and the student leader of Donning of the Kente Ceremony Committee.

    “We are here to celebrate you. And it is my opinion that the graduating class of 2021 is by far one of the most intelligent, resilient, and innovative graduating classes that I have ever seen, and probably that the world has ever seen. Time didn’t stop for any of us during this pandemic, but you mastered the art of finesse, getting it done, and commitment. Wear your Kente stole proudly,” said guest Glynis Johns, founder and CEO of the Black Scranton Project, who was selected by the students to speak at the event.

    The ceremony, organized by the student committee members and Jose Sanchez, assistant director of the University’s Cross Cultural Centers, took place on campus on May 21. The “Doning of the Kente Commencement Ceremony” was first held in the United States on May 15, 1993, at Westchester University of Pennsylvania. Through the years, The Kente Ceremony or versions of this ceremony have become an annual cultural achievement ceremony where families, colleagues, and friends gather to celebrate the accomplishments of graduates from underrepresented and marginalized communities receiving their undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. The significance of the Kente cloth dates back to 12th century Africa and was worn by Asante royalty in the area of Africa that is now Ghana and today is used as a staple for special occasions. 

    In addition to Torres, Sanchez and Johns, also speaking at the event were: Robert Davis Jr., Ed.D. vice president for student life; Helen Wolf, Ph.D., director of the Office of Campus Ministries, David Vergaray, member of the University’s class of 2021; and AnnMarie Onwuka and Tiannah Adams, members of the University’s class of 2022 and Donning of Kente Stole Ceremony Committee.

    Members of Scranton’s class of 2021 honored at the event were:

    Hussain Mohammed Alshakhori, Scranton, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering;

    Corine Jamie Auguste, Bay Shore, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in finance;

    John B. Baez, Brooklyn, New York, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in social media strategies;

    Sheryl A. Barba, Elmwood Park, New Jersey, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy;

    Vanessa N. Bueno, Uniondale, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology;

    Samantha Celine Camilo, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in international business;

    Nathalie Jean Cespedes, New Hyde Park, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in counseling and human services;

    Srivatsav R. Challa, Wilkes Barre, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology;

    Kelly C. Chavez, Northvale, New Jersey, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in strategic communication;

    Poul A. Chinga, Hazleton, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physiology;

    Breanna B. Cole, Bronx, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing;

    Mahmoud Y. Dabsheh, Shavertown, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physiology;

    Christina Marie De La Espriella, Parsippany, New Jersey, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in international business;

    Alba Rosa DeLeon, Somerset, New Jersey, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in early and primary teacher education;

    Crisel Rose Divinagracia, West Nyack, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy;

    Bashirah D’Ann Foy, Emmaus, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science;

    Jithin V. George, Newtown, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience;

    Christopher Gonzalez, Teaneck, New Jersey, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in finance;

    Jamie M. Greene, Somerset, New Jersey, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science;

    Giovanni Gunawan, Scranton, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience;

    Isaiah Jordan Harris, Scranton, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience;

    Jadriane Michelle Hernandez, Staten Island, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy;

    Trajan F. Hyde, West Orange, New Jersey, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology;

    Traevon Malakai Martin, Springfield, Massachusetts, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience;

    Guillermo Ernesto Martinez, Maywood, New Jersey, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology;

    Dilma Jacqueline Mejia, Alexandria, Virginia, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology;

    Bradley Andrew Mendez, Bronx, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology;

    Jessica Teheipualani Desiree Moufa, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree;

    Ngoc Khanh Nguyen, New Tripoli, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting;

    Brian Michael Noel, Cheltenham, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science;

    Kyra Z. O’Toole, Chalfont, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science;

    Stephanie Marie Panzenbeck, New York, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physiology;

    Ashna B. Patel, Monroe, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science;

    Denise Laura Pinto, Pittston, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology;

    Cassandra Ramirez, Spring Valley, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology;

    Annamarie Rodriguez, Kingston, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology;

    Taylor Kennedy Roman, Poughkeepsie, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in international business;

    Brian Santos Sevilla, Bergenfield, New Jersey, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting;

    Lucy Noelle Smeets, Glen Ridge, New Jersey, earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree;

    Marquis S. Swan-Lezama, Mount Vernon, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science in information technology;

    Tomi L. Toles II, Freeport, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting;

    Samiel C. Torres, Hasbrouck Hts, New Jersey, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science;

    Jalitza Vazquez, Newburgh, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting;

    David J. Vergaray Ramirez, Harrison, New Jersey, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in finance.

    The full ceremony can be seen from the University’s Commencement 2021 webpage
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