Cultural Achievement Ceremonies
Virginia Tech is honored to host ten cultural achievement ceremonies and receptions for our community members. Descriptions and details are below. These ten receptions/ceremonies are for students who graduate in the spring. Donning of the Kente is held for winter graduates as well.
Aliyah is a celebration of Jewish undergraduate and graduate students at Virginia Tech organized by the Jewish Student Union (JSU). The ceremony recognizes students for their hard work and dedication to the Jewish community, featuring a speaker who will address the students’ achievements. Students will receive a blue and white cord that they can opt to wear during University commencement ceremonies.
American Indian and Indigenous
The American Indian and Indigenous ceremony was founded by Native student leaders in 2017 as a way to incorporate Native culture into graduation, as well as to celebrate the accomplishment of Native students. The ceremony has grown steadily since its beginning. At the ceremony, students will receive stoles for their cultural background and achievements and receive support and recognition from family, friends, alumni, and faculty/staff within the American Indian and Indigenous community at Virginia Tech.
This growing event celebrates the accomplishments of Asian American undergraduate and graduate students, with more than 50 students in attendance. Participating students receive a commemorative cord, which can be worn with their academic regalia, and are invited to celebrate their culture and academic achievement at Virginia Tech.
Donning of the Kente
The first Cultural Achievement Ceremony at Virginia Tech, the Donning of the Kente began in 2013 as a celebration of African American heritage. It has continued to grow, with 250 students in attendance in 2019. The ceremony outside of Tech has a rich history, with the American tradition dating back to the 20th century, and the Kente cloth dating back centuries. At this ceremony, students adorn the Ghanaian Kente cloth graduation robe and gather with family, friends, and colleagues to celebrate undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students. Graduates will also receive stoles, which can be worn at the University’s commencement ceremony.
The Virginia Tech Gesta Latina, a Hispanic-Latino achievement ceremony, has been an annual tradition since 2005. Gesta (which has the same meaning in Latin and Spanish) means deeds or accomplishments. The ceremony, founded by Dr. Antonio Fernandez Vazquez, celebrates Latinx graduates and the community at Tech. Each year, one student is recognized with an award in Dr. Fernandez’ honor, which recognizes their significant contributions and outstanding service to the mission of El Centro. Participating students receive a commemorative stole, which can be worn with their academic regalia.
International Student Achievement Ceremony, since its beginning in 2016, serves as a celebration of achievement for undergraduate and graduate international student and highlights the important contributions they have made throughout the Virginia Tech community. The ceremony provides graduating students with a positive and rewarding experience that recognizes them for their hard work and dedication in completing their degree program while navigating the challenges faced by international students.
The annual Lavender Commencement Ceremony celebrates LGBTQ+ Virginia Tech graduates. The original ceremony, which began in 2009, featured 5 students and has grown to include more than 70 students in recent years. With great joy, the sponsoring organizations (the LGBT Faculty and Staff Caucus, HokiePRIDE, and Queer Grads, Professionals, & Allies) welcome family, friends, faculty, staff, students, and the community to celebrate this special occasion. Awards are given at the ceremony, and attendees will be presented with a rainbow cord to wear during University and college ceremonies.
This event celebrates the accomplishments of Virginia Tech Muslim undergraduate and graduate students, with more than a dozen students in attendance. The Muslim Student Union (MSU) designed this ceremony to provide graduates with a positive and rewarding experience that recognizes them for their hard work and dedication to the community. Faculty members, mentors, colleagues, and friends are an important part of this recognition ceremony and are given an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of graduates. Participating students receive a commemorative stole which can be worn with their academic regalia.
The Recovery Community at Virginia Tech was founded in the spring of 2016 with a grant from Transforming Youth Recovery. This group exists because higher education can be a very challenging place for students in recovery. Graduating attendees will receive a purple cord to wear at University commencement ceremonies, as purple is the traditional color of recovery. The recovery ceremony aims to create an atmosphere that isn’t just substance free, but actively engages students in practical ways to stay healthy, and promotes support for students in recovery to achieve their goals.
This ceremony celebrates the academic accomplishment of Virginia Tech student veterans, and has recognized as many as 75 students. Graduating undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students will receive a red, white, and blue cord, acknowledging the completion of their coursework and their service to our country.