The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

Lavender Graduation celebrates, sends off queer graduates

Presents and honors students with certificates, scholarships
Ann Penalosa
Graduates sit in their assigned rows as they prepare to walk the stage at the Lavender Graduation in the Hinson Campus Center on June 12.

The Lavender Celebration, the Pride Center’s annual event honoring graduating members, took place on Wednesday, June 12 at 6 p.m. This year saw 22 participating graduates. The event included a reception and a graduation ceremony open to the public in the Hinson Campus Center.

Per the color theme, the venue was decked out with purple balloon arches, tablecloths and ribbons. Miniature handheld pride flags peeked out from amidst the lavender decor, and each guest table also held an assortment of flags alongside the programs.

Lavender as a color has deep historical ties to the LGBTQ community. It was used as a symbol for homosexuality in mid-century America, resulting in the christening of the LGBTQ-centered communist investigation as the “Lavender Scare.” Lavender graduations have been held at various colleges and universities since the inaugural ceremony at the University of Michigan in 1995.

Lavender Graduation attendees self-serve food from the catering table in the Hinson Campus Center on June 12. (Ann Penalosa)

Prior to the beginning of the ceremony, the reception included catering by El Halal Amigos, a local restaurant, and dessert by Browned Butter Babe Co., a queer-owned company co-led by a former De Anza student.

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Jamie Pelusi, faculty coordinator for the Pride Center, opened the ceremony by thanking the Foothill-De Anza Foundation, donors to the Lavender Grad scholarships and supporters of the Pride Center. Interim President Christian Espinosa-Pieb briefly congratulated the graduates as well.

Alicia Mullens, member of the Pride Center Events Committee, spoke on her own experience as a transgender woman and the value of honoring LGBTQ student achievements.

Alicia Mullens, De Anza professor and member of the Pride Center events committee, speaks at the Lavender Graduation in the Hinson Campus Center on June 12. (Ann Penalosa)

“While community college is open and accessible, it typically has a very low graduation rate,” Mullens said. “The fact that we have these students celebrating the fact that they have completed their studies here is a really big feat in itself. Navigating a college career while also navigating living your authentic life as your true self at such a young age takes a lot of dedication and courage.”

After the opening speeches, Pelusi and Melissa Aguilar, co-director of the Student Success Center, welcomed the graduates to walk across the stage. Each participant walked to a song of their own choice, ranging from Aerosmith’s “Dream On” to “The Phantom of the Opera.” The graduates also had the option to invite a guest or loved one to present them with their lavender sash.

Huy Le, Pride Center Learning Communities counselor, announced four-year scholarship awardees after the graduation ceremony. Le presented the LGBTQ+ Leadership and Service Award to Yasmin Sharbiani and Jennifer Ulloa De La Torre, and the Trans and Transfer Award to Chris Franz and Dee Pascual. After scholarship announcements, the ceremony concluded, and the graduates dispersed to celebrate with family and friends.

Friends and family applaud graduating students at the Lavender Graduation in the Hinson Campus Center on June 12. (Ann Penalosa)

The Pride Center committee and staff have been planning the Lavender Graduation since Winter quarter.

“The employees, we actually made the leis that we give the graduates,” said Student Success Center co-director Melissa Aguilar. “The committee is made up of community members and we really want to celebrate our students. We love them, we care for them.”

The graduates expressed their appreciation for the Pride Center, as well as De Anza as a whole.

Lavender graduates pose onstage with their certificates in the Hinson Campus Center in the Hinson Campus Center on June 12. (Ann Penalosa)

“I’m really glad for the community and I’m very sentimental and sad that I’m leaving De Anza,” said Nichole Sunga Thorne, who is transferring to CSU Fullerton for business administration. “De Anza has been the best part of my academic life.”

“It’s bittersweet because finding the community and the Pride Center, even though I wasn’t looking for it at first, really helped me this year,” Val Oceguera, who is transferring to San Jose State University for psychology, said. “It feels like I really made a home here.”

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About the Contributors
Ingrid Lu
Ingrid Lu, A&E Editor + Features Editor
Hi! I'm Ingrid and I'm the Arts & Entertainment editor for La Voz this quarter. I love keeping up with music, movies, games, and the arts, especially when it's relevant to De Anza. I'm looking forwards to a good quarter!
Ann Penalosa
Ann Penalosa, Co-Managing Editor
a.k.a. mtndewkid, gabunomigrl.

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