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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Aggies celebrate second Lavender Graduation

Lavender Graduation attendees focused on celebrating the accomplishments, both academic and personal, of LGBT students on Wednesday evening.
The ceremony included LGBTQ Aggies, allies and campus faculty gathered to recognize the graduating Class of 2015. According to the Lavender Graduation program, Lavender Graduation began at the University of Michigan in 1995. Now in its second year at Texas A&M, the graduation celebration has resulted in a new tradition.
Hosted by the GLBT Resources Center, the event was open to all LGBT students and allies, and focused on creating a comfortable environment where they could highlight achievements surrounded by those within the LGBTQ community.
The lineup included speeches by administrators and students, with Will Jardell, Class of 2013, serving as the keynote speaker.
Sidney Gardner, program coordinator of the Division of Student Affairs, said in many situations students may not be out to family or friends.The Lavender Graduation celebration provides an opportunity for them to speak openly about what they have been involved in during their time at A&M.
“It’s really a celebration for the accom of our students, allowing them a space to celebrate who they are holistically,” Gardner said.
As each name was called up, the students received colorful tassels as part of the celebration, though they are not to be used at graduation due to ceremony apparel rules.
Psychology senior Christine Cummins was one of the student speakers at Lavender Graduation and spoke highly about the graduation ceremony.
“It is a great way for the community to celebrate LGBT individuals that are graduating and it’s really nice to see everybody come out and hear from students and get to see everybody just celebrating their time in A&M before going forth to the real world,” Cummins said.
The celebration was planned for this year despite controversy that arose last year because of the idea the LGBT community had a separate graduation ceremony.
Gardner said having a completely separate graduation ceremony goes against everything the GLBT Resource Center aims for, which is inclusivity, and the whole controversy was simply a misunderstanding.
“We want to make sure that our students feel welcome and involved in everything on campus so we would never want to have a separate ceremony,” Gardner said.
Jardell, who was runner-up on America’s Next Top Model Cycle 21, talked about his personal experience with coming out while at A&M. He also spoke of his time on the modeling competition show and the personal struggles he faced, such as receiving negative feedback from fellow contestants about wearing 6-inch heels.
Jardell said he missed out on a lot of opportunities of utilizing the resource center while at A&M. Being invited to return and speak at Lavender Graduation ceremony allowed him to speak to those students he can identify with.
Jardell gave three pieces of advice during his speech.
“Live your life, take risks, and be yourself,” Jardell said.
The GLBT Resource Center welcomes any student that may have be questioning or interested in becoming involved in the community.
“There are people here that are supportive and want to see them succeed through both their personal journeys and their academic journey,” Gardner said.
Cummins said she is hopeful that this celebration will only continue and see success at A&M.
“Aggies really accept one another, just on the value of being another Aggie,” Cummins said. “I would hope that that would continue in the future and that we can all support each other regardless of who we are.”

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