May 6, 2016 | Atlanta, GA
For the past four years, Georgia Tech has celebrated its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and ally graduates with Lavender Graduation. This year, 16 graduating students were honored at the Lavender Graduation ceremony, which was hosted by the LGBTQIA Resource Center, and more than 100 guests were in attendance on April 21.
“Lavender Graduation rewards graduates for their accomplishments while at Tech and serves as a formal farewell to the community,” explained Aby Parsons, director of the LGBTQIA Resource Center. “This ceremony also gives students the opportunity to connect with our LGBTQIA alumni and learn how they can stay involved with LGBTQIA life at Tech after graduation.”
During the ceremony, Student Life Vice President and Dean of Students John Stein welcomed attendees, and Institute Diversity Vice President Archie Ervin invited each graduate on stage to receive a lavender diploma from the LGBTQIA Resource Center, a gift from the Georgia Tech Pride Alumni, and a letter from Stein.
“It is nice to be honored at Lavender Graduation before Commencement,” said R. Chase Adams, a computer engineering and Applied Languages and Intercultural Studies (ALIS) in Japanese student and Greek Allies facilitator with the LGBTQIA Resource Center. “Graduation is a bittersweet time for me as I have enjoyed my five years at Tech, but I am excited to start working at Intel in Oregon this summer.”
Following Lavender Graduation, the LGBTQIA Resource Center presented the Second Annual Lavender Awards to recognize individuals who have made the Institute a safer and more inclusive environment for LGBTQIA students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
Award recipients included:
- LGBTQIA Alum of the Year Award – Bradley Wilkinson, founding member, Georgia Tech Pride Alliance and Class of 1983
- Award for LGBTQIA Faculty/Staff Leadership – Melanie DeMaeyer, assistant director, Women’s Resource Center
- Award for LGBTQIA Student Leadership – Neha Singh, student, School of Computer Science
- The Billiee Pendleton-Parker Award for Outstanding Allyship – Emily Li, student, The George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering
The Lavender Lifetime Achievement Award was also introduced at this year’s Lavender Awards. Stephanie Ray, associate dean of students and director of Student Diversity Programs, received this special recognition for her support of and commitment to LGBTQIA inclusion at Tech for nearly 20 years.
“From launching the Safe Space program to helping create the LGBTQIA Resource Center, Dean Ray has been vocal and visible in innumerable courageous ways,” remarked Parsons. “It takes bravery, tenacity, and determination to keep going in the face of many obstacles, but she has never wavered in her commitment to overcoming these obstacles in support of the LGBTQIA community.”
“I am deeply humbled and touched to receive this high honor,” said Ray. “A few years ago, we didn't have a dedicated office to provide services for LGBTQIA communities; there were several committed individuals like Billiee Pendleton-Parker and myself who reached out to students. Our goal was to always make Georgia Tech a warm and inviting community for all.”
The Fourth Annual Lavender Graduation and Second Annual Lavender Awards were supported by Institute Diversity, Parent and Family Programs, Georgia Tech Pride Alumni, Georgia Tech Athletic Association, and Grace House.
To learn more about Lavender Graduation and Lavender Awards, visit www.lgbtqia.gatech.edu.