More Than 40 Community Members Honored at Sixth Annual Lavender Graduation and Fourth Annual Lavender Awards
Celebration Includes New Recognition for Level Up Program Graduates, Occurs on Same Day as the LGBTQIA Resource Center's Gift to Tech Award Ceremony
On April 19, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and ally (LGBTQIA) students, faculty, and staff were honored during the at-capacity Sixth Annual Lavender Graduation and Fourth Annual Lavender Awards, hosted by the LGBTQIA Resource Center.
"During Lavender Graduation, graduates are recognized for their accomplishments at Georgia Tech by coming to the stage to receive a lavender diploma from the Center and a letter from Dean [John] Stein," said Aby Parsons, director of the Center. “The celebration also gives students the opportunity to connect with our alumni and learn how they can stay involved with LGBTQIA life at Tech after graduation."
This year’s Lavender Graduation honorees included Kirk Barrow, Caden Brooks Catoe, Phillip Cai, Sienna Creech, William Disser, Elliott Eason, Raphael Gontijo Lopes, Naiki Kaffezakis, Cailin Elizabeth Kellum, Michelle M. Lin, Raksha Muthukumar, Lela Myrick, Lauren O’Hara, Calvin Runnels, Sebastian Russell, and Eli Whisnant.
“I’m thrilled to conclude my college experience with this recognition because it feels like the culmination of all that I’ve gained from my work with the LGBTQIA Resource Center, Pride Alliance, and queer community on campus,” said Muthukumar, undergraduate student in the School of Computer Science. “The Center and queer community provided a safe place to develop my professional and social skills, a supportive network that gave me the confidence to dream big, and positive experiences that kept me motivated.”
Following Lavender Graduation, the Center presented the Fourth Annual Lavender Awards to recognize individuals who have made Georgia Tech a safer and more inclusive environment for LGBTQIA students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
Award recipients included:
- Friend of the Center Award – Naiki Kaffezakis and Kate Stauduhar
- The Billiee Pendleton-Parker Award for Outstanding Allyship – Matt Hall
- LGBTQIA Alum of the Year Award – Stanley C. Kimer
- Award for LGBTQIA Employee Leadership – Christopher Ruiz
- Award for LGBTQIA Student Leadership – Raksha Muthukumar
“This recognition is important to me because it came from Aby and the people in the Center who I admire greatly. Working with the Center, specifically in Q-Chats, allowed me to grow as a leader and as a person,” said Stauduhar, undergraduate student in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication.
Ruiz, area manager for the Department of Housing, added, “I am always trying to find ways to be more inclusive such as attending trainings, educating staff, and advocating for an adoption of gender inclusive spaces in residential halls. Recently, I attended the Center’s Level Up program, and this course helped me understand how I can continue to advocate and provide space for queer and trans voices.”
As a new recognition moment at this event, more than 20 faculty and staff graduates of the Level Up program were also honored. Designed to build on the knowledge and skills from Safe Space training, Level Up comprises advanced allyship courses over five weeks (level one) or 10 weeks (level two) that explore topics and concepts related to LGBTQIA histories, identities, and communities.
On the same day, the Center received the 2018 Gift to Tech from the Student Alumni Association to expand its space and programs. “It was an astounding day for the Center and the LGBTQIA community,” said Parsons. “After a difficult year for the community at Tech, we are excited about the year ahead thanks to our supporters.”
This summer, the Center will be bringing on a new coordinator and expanding into a multi-room space in the Smithgall Student Services Building. It will also partner with the Pride Alliance to host Welcome Week and OUT Week events in the fall.
The Sixth Annual Lavender Graduation and Fourth Annual Lavender Awards were supported by Institute Diversity, Student Life, Parent and Family Programs, Campus Services BuzzFunds, and the Georgia Tech Alumni Association.
To learn more about the Center’s Lavender Graduation, Lavender Awards, Level Up, and other programs and events, visit www.lgbtqia.gatech.edu.