Kent State’s Lavender Graduation Celebrates Student Achievement
Brandon Stephens has a passion to serve. For the past three years he has been the president of Kent State University’s PRIDE, a student organization standing for People Respecting Identity, Diversity and Equality.
As Stephens gets ready to graduate, he is hoping to work with Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) youth, and those with alcohol dependency.
“It’s something that affects the LGBTQ community a lot, and something that means a lot to me as well,” Stephens says.
Like Stephens, Yubi Orengo also is a member of PRIDE. She is getting ready to graduate and enter the field of fashion merchandising.
“Anywhere clothes are being made, I want to be,” says Orengo, smiling.
Both Orengo and Stephens credit their academic success to the support they have received from Kent State’s LGBTQ organizations and programs.
As a way to celebrate, they are preparing for Lavender Graduation, a ceremony to honor the importance of the graduates, acknowledge their achievements and proclaim victory over the obstacles that LGBTQ students often face.
This year’s keynote speaker features Kent State’s President Beverly Warren.
“The fact that she’s taking time out of her schedule to show compassion for LGBTQ students is phenomenal,” Stephens says.
Stephens and Orengo hope to see the entire Kent State community attend Lavender Graduation – a welcoming send-off as students transition from their academic life into a professional career.
“Everything I’ve wanted for my life is falling into place,” Orengo says. “This is just one step in a huge highway of things I want to do in my life.”
"I’m very excited,” Stephens says. “I’m nervous. I’ve had the time of my life here. It’s been five years and I’ve loved every second of it.”
The Kent State University Board of Trustees today established a comprehensive, national search to recruit and select the university’s 13th president.
The events of May 4, 1970, placed Kent State University in an international spotlight after a student protest against the Vietnam War and the presence of the Ohio National Guard ended in tragedy with four students losing their lives and nine others being wounded. From a perspective of nearly 50 years, Kent State remembers the tragedy and leads a contemporary discussion and understanding of how the community, nation and world can benefit from understanding the profound impact of the event.