For the fifth year, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee LGBT Resource Center will celebrate its annual Lavender Graduation ceremony.Â
"Lav Grad â€™14" will take place on Wednesday, May 14, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Union Wisconsin Room on the UWM campus.
The event will unite more than 25 graduating students to reflect upon and celebrate their academic and personal experiences at UWM.Â
"For many students walking into the LGBT Resource Center, UWM became the first place â€“ or even the only place â€“ where they could safely grow and explore their LGBT+ identities," says Jen Murray, LGBT Resource Center director.
Two-time Lavender Graduate Gary C. Cooper of the universityâ€™s African American Student Academic Services will be the keynote speaker.
Also during the ceremony there will be a recognition of distinguished guest Joseph R. Pabst whose donations made the universityâ€™s first Lavender Graduation possible in May 2010.
"Joe Pabst's support of this annual ceremony has meant giving voice and recognition to students who may, at times, have felt they were invisible or who may not have enjoyed a broad web of support during their academic careers," says UWM Dean of Students Timothy Gordon.
Graduating students can self-identify as a Lav Grad, or can be nominated by a member of the UWM community.Â
Nominations also are received for the annual Interactive Student Award, Cheryl Kader Distinguished Service Award, Eldon Murray Legacy Award, LGBTQIA Research Award and Dr. Jeff Merrick Leadership Award. Winners will be announced at Wednesday eveningâ€™s ceremony.
Graduates and winners will receive desserts, certificates and mementos of their time at UWM. Joseph R. Pabst will be honored for his five-year partnership with the UWM LGBT Resource Center at an invitation-only reception sponsored by The Private Client Reserve U.S. Bank from 6 to 7 p.m.
The first Lavender Graduation in the country took place in 1995 at the University of Michigan.Â
"Programs such as Lavender Graduation that both define traditions and celebrate multiple aspects of identity are critical to building a sense of community and family," says Murray.Â
On a personal note, as a graduate of UWM, I am once again feeling the Panther Pride for the progressiveness of my alma mater.
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