May 17, 2017

Fifth Annual Rite of Passage Ceremony to Celebrate Black Graduates, Transfer Students

By Lauren J. Mapp

Fifth Annual Rite of Passage Ceremony to Celebrate Black Graduate, Transfer Students

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 from.”


“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 campuses.


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

Tags: Black Studies, Rites of Passage, Commencement