May 30, 2024
scattered clouds Clouds 62 °F

Binghamton celebrates student diversity and success at recognition ceremonies

Binghamton University shines a light on the achievements and triumphs of students from historically under-represented and marginalized communities at end-of-year recognition ceremonies.

Graduating students celebrate at this year's Lavender Celebration. Graduating students celebrate at this year's Lavender Celebration.
Graduating students celebrate at this year's Lavender Celebration. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.

Navigating the evolving landscape of higher education can be a formidable undertaking for any student. But students from historically underrepresented or marginalized communities, including first-generation, immigrant, LGBTQ+ and socio-economically under-advantaged, must often lay the course with fewer resources or higher hurdles than their peers.

So, each year, the University shines a light on the achievements and triumphs of these students at various recognition ceremonies that celebrate their brilliance, persistence and courage through sometimes challenging and adverse circumstances.

EOP recognizes more than 90 program graduates, celebrates 55th anniversary

First up this year, the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Senior Recognition Brunch and Awards Ceremony. On Saturday, March 18, EOP celebrated two milestones, the first in-person graduation celebration since 2019 and its 55th anniversary at Binghamton University. The senior brunch and ceremony honored the 90+ EOP students graduating this year, many with academic distinction.

Karima Legette, director of EOP, led the awards ceremony that featured remarks by President Harvey Stenger and other special guests.

Student Association (SA) president and graduating senior Nia Johnson was named the 2023 EOP Class Representative delivering the jury-selected student address at the awards banquet. Johnson, a human development major and education minor, is the fourth EOP student and first Black woman elected to serve as SA president in the organization’s 70+ year history.

The Distinguished Student Award is the highest honor bestowed upon an EOP senior, acknowledging superior merit, outstanding academic achievement and campus engagement. This year, the award was presented to Kevin Carchipulla Jimbo, a double major in nursing and biology, a Bartle Library undergraduate circulation assistant, resident assistant and a former student representative on the EOP Faculty and Staff Advisory Committee.

Forty-three seniors received the SUNY Outstanding Academic Achievement Award, a statewide recognition presented by the SUNY Chancellor’s Office of Opportunity Programs. Several Foundation Awards and certificates of merit were also presented to graduates, including 12 students graduating with academic honors.

MRC recognizes outstanding student cultural organizations, individuals

On Thursday, April 27, the Multicultural Resource Center presented its Fifth Annual Cultural Recognition Ceremony, “Walk Around the World.” The awards ceremony recognized individuals and student organizations for leadership, impact and fidelity to the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s core values: identity, unity and excellence.

Student performances by acapella group, Undivided, and dance group, Moda X, helped kick off the awards-style ceremony. Derek Jorden, resident director at Newing College, performed master of ceremonies duties.

Student organizations and individuals were nominated and selected by the MRC community, and the top organizations received funding for programming initiatives. Awardees include:

  • Cultural Pre-professional Organization: The Thurgood Marshall Pre-Law Society
  • Cultural Fraternity/Sorority: Pi Eta Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Cultural Performance Organization: IISU Tamasha
  • Multicultural Program of the Year: Shabbat 2000
  • Multicultural Student Organization: SHADES
  • Distinguished Diversity Service Award: Tian Burte
  • Rising Student: Elisha Choi
  • Community Trailblazer: Josef Thompson
  • Outstanding Senior: Fujiko Kashimada

More than 60 students received red, green and black cords to wear at their school Commencement ceremonies. These colors are from the Pan-African flag (also known as the Marcus Garvey flag), a symbol of the African diaspora or Black liberation.

Rainbow cords and pride awards

On Saturday, April, 29, the Q Center held its annual Lavender Celebration, to celebrate the accomplishments and perseverance of students in the LGBTQ+ community. The morning event took place in the Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center and included brunch, a cording ceremony and end-of-year awards.

Welcome remarks were provided by Q Center Assistant Director Nick Martin and Karen Jones, vice president for diversity, who also introduced Donald Hall, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost.

Hall advised attendees to embrace the support and acceptance of the Binghamton community. “As you go forward into the world and do fabulous things,” he said, “remember we are always here for you. Know that we celebrate and support you.”

Wren Evans, who is earning a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies, delivered the 2023 graduate address, and Garrett ImbrendaPolitano ’13, LMSW ’15, a senior counselor at the University Counseling Center, was the event’s keynote speaker.

The Pride Awards are an annual tradition celebrating students, faculty and staff who have made significant contributions to the LGBTQ+ campus community.

The year’s Pride Awards winners include:

  • OUTstanding Grad Award: Blessin McFarlane
  • “Sunshine” Award: Sheyla Santana Escoto
  • Community Service Award: Luis Hernandez
  • Activism Award: Noah Zimmer
  • Faculty/Staff Advocacy in Action Award: Tina Chronopoulos
  • Q Center “Queer of the Year”: Clare Wiberg

Aiden Braun, Q Center coordinator, and Tina Chronopoulos, associate professor and undergraduate director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, helped Martin announce cord recipients. Fifty-nine undergraduates and 10 graduate students received rainbow cords representing the colors in the original Pride Flag.

McNair Scholars Program honors 2023 grads and inductees

The McNair Scholars Program at Binghamton welcomed faculty mentors, friends and families of student scholars to its end-of-year Senior Graduation Banquet Tuesday, May 2, in The Union. The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program is a federal educational opportunity program that prepares students to pursue doctoral studies through undergraduate research and other scholarly opportunities.

Stephen Ortiz, director of external scholarships and undergraduate research center and associate professor of history, provided opening remarks. McNair’s Gervlyne Auguste, program coordinator, and Régina Nguyen, assistant director, facilitated the induction of new program participants and graduating senior recognition.

Seventeen McNair Scholar seniors received certificates of recognition and traditional Kente stoles, personalized with various symbols denoting prosperity, success and the continued quest for knowledge and lifelong education.

  • Joseph K. Afreh
  • Kwame Adu
  • Amy A. Astefanous
  • Nolawit Belachew
  • Zirong Chen
  • Sofia Jordan
  • Seoyoon Kim
  • JoceLynn Labossiere
  • Jessica Li
  • Gwyneth M. Lopez
  • Briana E. Lopez-Patino
  • Blessin A. McFarlane
  • Omar A. Maflahi
  • Valentina Pena
  • Ariana N. Rodriguez
  • Shuojie Teng
  • Amelia P. Thorp

Additionally, the McNair Scholars Program welcomed more than 30 inductees. At the end of the program, inductees and graduates were invited to share their personal Binghamton University stories. “Suffice it to say that the room was awash in heartfelt emotion and sentiments,” Nguyen said. “We are so grateful for the turnout and support we had for this event.”

BFirst celebrates first-generation graduates

On Thursday, May 11, Binghamton’s BFirst Mentoring Network held its second annual First-Generation Graduation Celebration and Cording Ceremony in The Union’s Mandela Room. BFirst is a support and mentoring network connecting first-generation students with first-generation faculty, staff and alumni who volunteer their time and efforts to help apprise and empower students on their way to earning a degree.

Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger provided opening remarks, followed by BFirst committee member and EOP fourth-year student Antinea Sanchez. Other ceremony speakers included Chancellor and President’s Award winner and TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) graduating senior Patrick Saint Ange; TRIO SSS alum Melissa Liu ’21; and Fleishman Center senior career consultant and first-generation graduate Jordan Smith.

This year, over 250 students, including undergraduates, master’s degree recipients and doctoral candidates, received the maroon and gold cords. Marissa Zelman, associate director of TRIO SSS and co-founder and chair of the BFirst committee, explained the significance of the cord colors. “Maroon symbolizes courage, willpower and strength; gold symbolizes prosperity, love, compassion and wisdom. But our cords use double strands of maroon to symbolize the exceptional courage and strength exhibited by our first-gen students.”

Learn more about Binghamton University’s 10 Commencement ceremonies and 2023’s featured grads >

Posted in: Campus News