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NIU’s Lavender Graduation to honor past, current LGBTQ students

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Northern Illinois University will be holding their virtual Lavender Graduation on Tuesday, May 4, on Zoom.

“In addition to recognizing our graduates from 2020 and 2021, I’m excited this virtual format will allow us to reach more NIU LGBTQ+ graduates,” said Molly Holmes, NIU’s director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center. “We are thrilled to invite NIU LGBTQ+ alumni who graduated prior to the first ceremony in 2010 to join us as participants this year and be recognized.”

The annual event, which was founded in 2010, honors the achievements and persistence of graduates with underrepresented gender and sexual identities, centering LGBTQ+ students and alumni.

This year, the ceremony will be virtual via Zoom, with pre-registration required.

Ceci Fischer-Benitez, ’20, will be the event’s featured alumni speaker this year.  She participated in one of the first Lavender Graduations during her years of study at NIU, and that experience made a lasting impression on her life.
“It was a very heartwarming experience,” Fisher-Benitez said. “It felt very special to be able to walk a smaller stage with other LQBTQ+ folks, most of whom I knew and had friendships with.”

Fischer-Benitez noted that NIU is a wonderful opportunity for NIU to help foster unity within the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s an affirming feeling for folks who are part of the LGBTQ+ community to feel seen and represented on campus,” she said. “In my personal experience, while searching for schools to attend, my school of choice needed to have an organization that supports the LGBTQ+ community. At NIU, the Lavender Graduation was a huge bonus.”

Fischer-Benitez added that events like the Lavender Graduation are important for all Huskies to support because it creates a sense of community and unity.

“It’s incredibly important for the campus to be known as a champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” she said.

In addition to Fischer-Benitez as the alumni speaker, the event will feature a student speaker and remarks from NIU’s senior leadership, as well as faculty and staff. This continuing tradition is another way NIU remains among the best LGBTQ+-friendly colleges and universities, previously highlighted by the inclusion among the 100-Best LGBT-Friendly Colleges and Universities in the Advocate College Guide and the 4.5/5-star ranking in Campus Pride’s climate index.

The ceremony is free to students and guests, semi-formal dress is requested in place of regalia, and graduates will receive rainbow tassels.

Graduates can RSVP to be recognized in the ceremony by clicking here. Individuals who want to support the graduates through participating as virtual audience members can email Molly Holmes at [email protected].

For more information, please contact the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at [email protected] or 815-753-4772.

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