Black students who are graduating from schools in the San Diego Community College
District will participate in a Rite of Passage Ceremony at San Diego Mesa College
on Wednesday, May 17 at 5:30 p.m. in MC 211.
“From a cultural perspective, especially with the work that we do from an equity standpoint,
it is very important for African American students to really appreciate and recognize
their accomplishments,” said Larry Maxey, Dean of Student Success and Equity at Mesa.
“For them to go through this process and to persist and persevere through struggles
that all students have to face, particularly for African Americans, is significant,
especially recognizing the disadvantaged educational background that many of us come
“It’s important for us to acknowledge and to change the dynamic so that they recognize
that what they have done is a significant accomplishment and to encourage them to
move forward in their educational journey and process.”
Starting with a libation presented by Mesa’s Black Studies Department Chair Thekima
Mayasa and a welcome from Mesa’s President Pamela Luster, Ed.D., and Vice President
of Student Services Ashanti Hands, Ed.D., the event will also feature Black Student
Union President Jeffrey D. McKennie leading “Lift Every Voice and Sing” – a song that
has been referred to as the “Black National Anthem.”
SDCCD’s Rites of Passage Ceremony was first conceived five years ago by Hands, San
Diego Miramar College’s Vice President of Student Services Gerald Ramsey, M.Ed., and
San Diego City College’s Interim President Denise S. Wisenhunt, J.D.
“Many institutions have a formal, ‘black’ graduation and our district had not had
one previously,” Maxey said. “They decided to collaborate together and put on something
as a district-wide celebration for our African American students and others who would
want to participate.”
Created as a way to celebrate the accomplishments of students of color, the event
has grown over the years and hosting the event rotates each year between all three
Student testimonials from Mesa’s Vincent Ifill, City College’s Suma Massaley and Miramar’s
Ishak Mahamoud will also be included in the night’s festivities. Professor Kendrick
Dial from City College will present spoken word poetry and Mesa’s Black Studies Professor
Candace Katungi will give a presentation on “Why We Celebrate.”
The event will conclude with Ramsey, Hands and Whisenhunt presenting Kente Cloth stoles
to approximately 65 students who graduating and/or transferring.
For more information about the Rites of Passage Ceremony, contact Dean Larry Maxey
at (619) 388-5940 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: Black Studies, Rites of Passage, Commencement