St. Ambrose University honored the ethnic diversity of its December 2020 graduates and celebrated academic and personal achievements during its inaugural Cultural Stole Donning Ceremony.
The ceremony was Sunday, Nov. 22. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a virtual ceremony was hosted via WebEx. Watch the ceremony using this link and the password SDEI (case-sensitive).
SAU's Coordinator for Student Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fritz Dieudonné said the ceremony recognizes the accomplishments of ethnically diverse graduates, encourages their continual pursuit of excellence, and inspires them through any future challenges.
The ceremony also was an opportunity for the upcoming graduates to honor the people who played a role in helping them reach this milestone and share what comes next.
"Commencement is not an ending; it is the beginning of a new chapter," Dieudonné said. "We want these upcoming graduates to express their goals so we can learn what we, the university, and their family can do to help them reach that next step,"
There are four stoles and each represents a cultural and ethnic identity: Asian/Pacific Islander, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, and Indigenous/Native American. For each ethnic group, the stole is a distinct color, yet all are adorned with the same three symbols. The first represents lifelong learning and knowledge. The second represents humility and strength. The third represents faith and trust in God.
SAU will honor the ethnic diversity of its December 2020 graduates and celebrate academic and personal achievements during a Cultural Stole Donning Ceremony.
"The symbols and what they characterize were not selected randomly. They truly speak to what we strive to be as a university and what we strive to nurture in our students from the minute they walk in the door and even after they graduate," Dieudonné said, adding the feedback he's received from students was positive and they look forward to wearing a stole during the St. Ambrose University Winter Commencement Ceremonies on Dec. 18 and 19.
"We are hoping this will be one more thing our students will aim for, a bit of motivation to keep them persistent through the finish so they can take part in the Donning Ceremony and wear a stole at commencement," he said.
SAU's Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Ryan Saddler, '96, '06 MEdT, said the university has wanted to do this for a long time. It began researching cultural stoles three years ago and spent a lot of time choosing the colors and symbols. "This is only possible due to the tremendous support we got from university administrators. Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD, President of St. Ambrose University and Paul Koch, PhD, Vice President for Academic Affairs, were great supporters in making this happen," he said.