Welcome to the 2020 Lavender Graduation Virtual Celebration!
Lavender Graduation is held at universities and college across the U.S., and it was created in 1995 to address the erasure of LGBTQ+ students and families from graduation ceremonies at that time. We have been celebrating Lavender Graduation at the U since 2004.
While we could not celebrate in person this year because of physical distancing guidelines, this virtual celebration was created in the spirit of Lavender Graduation: an act of resiliency to make space for LGBTQIA+ people where there was not space before. It is so important to us that we recognize the many ways LGBTQIA+ students make our campus a better, more vibrant place to be. It is so important to us that we honor the accomplishments of LGBTQIA+ students obtaining their degrees and making progress in their goals. It is so important that we name hard-won victories and graduates’ persistence through the hard times and institutional barriers. It is so important for us to remember those who helped graduates get to this moment: friends, partners, family, mentors, professors, student leadership organizations, support staff, faith leaders, supervisors and co-workers, classmates and cohort mates, and all the other people who have supported graduates on their paths. It is so important for us to take this moment to be with you, graduates, to say how proud we are of you. You did that. Thank you for inviting all of us reading this to be part of this moment to celebrate you.
It is also important for us to hold this virtual celebration for those students we hear from every year who cannot openly participate in a ceremony for LGBTQIA+ graduates. This celebration is for you, too. Know that we are thinking of you as you reach this milestone, and our pride extends to you as part of our community, even if you can’t be visible with us.
For all Lavender Graduates, both named and unnamed, we celebrate you as part of our LGBTQIA+ community at the U, and we’ll keep cheering you on as you move into this next chapter of your life.
We invite you to get caught up in the spirit of this Lavender Graduation celebration! Enjoy the graduate profiles and the messages from university leaders. Follow us on social media to see real-time recognitions and shout outs to graduates. Create your own celebratory social media posts to honor your graduation: #UofULavGrads and #EDIgrads2020
We present the 2020 Lavender Graduates!
LGBT Resource Center Staff
Messages from University Leadership
I am honored to be able to take part in this celebration your accomplishments.
I know you have studied long hours and made a tremendous commitment over multiple years to be here now.
This may not be the way you saw yourself graduating from the U, but your ability to overcome recent challenges is a tribute to your resilience and strength.
You may be graduating from the U and leaving campus, but you will always be part of the U and we encourage you to stay in touch with us at the Alumni Association.
There are many opportunities to celebrate, cheer, mentor, advocate, and serve in our clubs and communities across the globe. While we are apart in the coming weeks, our Alumni are continuing to work together to make the U and our communities better- and hope you can join in with us.
I want to personally congratulate you and, on behalf of the U Alumni Association Board of Governors, give you a heartfelt welcome to the U Alumni Family.
University of Utah Alumni Association
Congratulations on your incredible achievement! Lavender Graduation has always been a market of resistance withing our communities. This viral pandemic has deeply affected our traditions, each and ever one of you have reclaimed this event, and are continuing to tranform the fabric of this university and higher education.
You are all therfore solidifying and making history as the graduating year that will never take no for an answer and continue to show up!
Take this with you as you embark on your new professional journeys because it has already started. Find strength, first and foremost, within yourself, your communities, and your chosen and/or given families. Continue to hope, dream and believe in a positive future.
Even in the face of adversity, you are lighting the way for other students to come. Continue to speak your truth and be your authentic selves.
What you can achieve is limitless.
Dr. Bryan Hubain
Associate Vice President
Student Development and Inclusion
Hi, I'm Lori McDonald, vice president for Student Affairs. I am here to wish you a very happy lavender graduation! This is a very strange ending to the year. (It's a little disappointing to me, because this is a time to celebrate and come together in the spring.) So we're doing it a little differently, but the heartfelt congratulations and pride in your achievements is real.
Thank you to all of the friends, family, mentors, advisors who helped you along the way. We really, really are proud of you! Congratulations on this milestone!
Good luck on your next adventures! Thank you.
Congratulations Class of 2020!!!! I hope you are all able to feel the flood of love and pride that many of us have for your accomplishments this year! How does one put into words all the happenings of this past year, especially how it is coming to a close. Covid has robbed us ;of so much-time together, events, resources-but your hard work and efforts cannot be taken from you. You have put the time in, done the work, and accomplished the pinnacle of your undergraduate experience. Thank you for being authentically “you” throughout this time and bringing your gifts and energy to our campus. You truly belong and are loved. It would be an understatement to say that I am excited to continue watching you from afar as you go to change the world! I know it will be scary as you face the uncertainty of your futures moving forward. But believe in yourself as you have during your time here, and you will have nothing but success moving forward. I share with you one of my favorite poems about hope:
Hope abides; therefore I abide.
Countless frustrations have not cowed me.
I am still alive, vibrant with life.
The black cloud will disappear,
The morning sun will appear once again
In all its supernal glory.
Hold on to hope, Class of 2020. Make bold and confident decisions moving forward. In my 20 years as a Higher Education administrator, I am always inspired by you. YOU give me and countless others hope. Spread love into the world, and thank you for making an everlasting mark on the hearts of many at the University of Utah. I chose to share this picture of my family because I truly believe you all to be family. Keep in touch with us, and, from the bottom of my heart, I wish you happiness and success!
The Ramirez Family
Congratulations, Class of 2020!
What an exciting time for you. You have accomplished so much at the University of Utah, and we are so proud of you. I look forward to hearing about all of your accomplishments and wish you a great journey!
I'm so proud of all you've achieved. I wish we could be celebrating this together in person. What you have accomplished is truly remarkable, and I know you are going to make a huge difference in the world as you go forward! Please know, the University of Utah is so proud of what you've achieved.
You're strong. You're resilient. You're remarkable.
Congratulations, and all best wishes for a very exciting future!
BA, Gender Studies
Ethnic Studies Minor
Disability Studies Minor
"Thank you so much to everyone in TRANSFORM, but especially to my dear mentors, Kim Hackford-Peer, Kilo Zamora, and Claudia Geist. I have felt seen, appreciated, and challenged by you all. I have learned so much about social justice and critical ways of viewing the world from you, but I've also learned so much about how to be a compassionate person."
Doctorate of Medicine
"I'll be starting my residency at LA County USC Medical Center as an emergency medicine doctor. Grateful for my friends who helped start the LGBTQIA+ And Allies in Medicine group and the U of U's Free PrEP Clinic: Jorgen Madsen, Julie Weis, Brian Coburn. You all are amazing!!"
BS, Information Systems
"I want to peruse a PhD in Information Systems with an emphasis on healthcare technology.
I want to thank my grandma for helping me so much financially during my education. Without her this would not have been possible for me. I also want to thank my partner Adam for being so supportive of me during my hardest struggles at the U. I also want to thank Hillel for Utah and my Brothers at Alpha Kappa Psi for their support as well. Finally, I want to thank my mom and dad for helping me get my service dog Shoyu who helps me every single day."
Emilio Manuel Camu
M.Ed., Educational Leadership & Policy
"Maraming salamat sa aking mga ninuno, kamag-anak, at magulang sa kanilang pagmamahal, pagtulong, at pangaral nang makatapos at makakuha ako ng masters."
"There are far too many people to list. To everyone who has supported my personal and professional journey in any way, THANK YOU. I wouldn't be where I am or the person I am today without each and every one of you."
"I have loved literature and language all my life. I'm not sure exactly where the future will take me, but I am scouting for a position in publishing or maybe a museum.
I am incredibly grateful to family and friends who have become family during this wonderful journey. Thank you for everyone who has listened, encouraged, and when necessary corrected me. And I would not be as happy and fulfilled as I am today without the LGBT Resource Center. I strive to someday recreate the gentle and safe space I was allowed to grow in for the next generation of queer youth in whatever manner I can."
"I will be joining Goldman Sachs as an Analyst!
I would like to thank the staff of Business Career Services for all their amazing mentorship and advice and my co-directors in Out For Business for their friendship and love."
BS, Gender Studies
Computer Science Minor
"After graduation, I'm going to change the world.
Thank you to Dr. Kim Hackford-Peer for her constant encouragement and guidance. Thank you, Kilo Zamora, for always putting a smile on my face and helping me to truly believe that I am in fact capable of anything I believe in. Thank you to Adriana Parker for welcoming me to the University in my first year and for quickly becoming one of my closest, most trusted friends in the years following. Thank you, Dr. Cassie Power (now sharing her talents with the students of Washington University in Saint Louis), for lighting within me the fire of resistance. The memories of our time together still ignite dedication to my causes daily. I'd like to thank my peers for making me feel welcome and supported. And lastly, I'd like to express gratitude to every one of my exceptional professors that were outstanding in everyday ways. I couldn't have made it this far without any of them."
Honors BA, Religious Studies
"I'm going off to graduate school, but I'm not sure yet - I'm hoping to study progressive theology to work with religion and wrestle with all the ways it's challenging and squishy and uncomfortable, and put a little love into the world with whatever I find.
Thank you to all my professors, and Professor McDannel especially for helping me get my thesis done!"
"After graduation, I'm hoping to promote literacy and a love of books by becoming either a librarian or a teacher. It breaks my heart that kids often think they're stupid because they don't like reading. I think everyone has a favorite book out there, even if they haven't found it yet!
Thank you to my mom and dad, who fed me, loved me, and believed in me through all of this. And thank you to my Daily Utah Chronicle family not only for helping me find my path in life, but giving me friendships I won't soon let go of."
M.Ed., Educational Leadership & Policy
Student Affairs Emphasis
"I will be moving to Co. with my wife! :D
Thank you to my cohort, wife, family, and friends. I literally could not have finished this degree without y’all.. <3"
BS, Political Science
BS, Ethnic Studies
BS, Family, Community & Human Development
"Thank you for TRIO for making a home for me on campus and for the Transform space for making a space for everyone feeling welcome and seen. I don't think I would have gone through my undergrad without all of the support from you all. Thank you for all the friends I had made along the way."
BA, International Studies
Honors BS, Management
"I am currently working at Sorenson Impact Center as a social media specialist and will be applying to jobs outside of Utah throughout the summer. By fall, I hope to have a full-time marketing role secured and to relocate to a city on the East or West coast of the United States.
I am grateful to the Emerging Student Leadership Program (ESLP) for allowing me to attend the Creating Change conference in Dallas, Texas and meet some incredible people. Special shout to Shelby Hearn, Jessica Hernandez, and Clare Lemke, who I look up to a lot. Being a part of this cohort was truly one of the highlights of my college experience, and I will take this experience with me wherever I may end up in the future."
BA, Film & Media Arts
"I want to make a living as a queer author and produce more content for my fellow LGBTQ+ peeps where the gay characters DON'T die.
Holly Sebahar and Paul Larsen are my favorite professors of all time!! They are incredible leaders and mentors and helped me so much over the years."
"Thank you to all of the advisors I've worked with, specifically those located in the Union. My advisors helped me be comfortable in my own skin and learn how to navigate life. I'm glad I'll be able to use those lessons in my future."
Masters of Social Work
"I plan to work in the community serving the unique needs that first-responders, medical personnel, and law enforcement have with regard to safeguarding their own mental health.
So many people have helped me along the way in graduate school, I can't choose just one! I've been lucky to benefit from working with many College of Social Work professors, but I'm especially thankful for the strength and wisdom of Cetrola Sanchez, Dr. David Derezotes, Jerry Buie and Troy Anderson. Jo Des Roches, formerly of the Office of the Dean of Students, has been a tremendous mentor and friend this past year. My practicum instructor, Yvette Gonzales Coronado has been a continual source of compassion and support. My longtime friend Christopher Kayuyo Ross-Leibow and the Salt Lake Buddhist Fellowship community have my unending thanks for sharing their love and for giving me time and space to help comfort, heal and celebrate. I'm also incredibly grateful for my grandmother, Marilyn Lindstrom, and to each of three parents for helping to support me financially so that I could focus on my education. Thank you to each and every person who has helped me achieve my goals and move into the next part of my life."
BA, Film and Media Arts
"I'm planning on trying to find work within the animation industry, or begin working on a personal animation or media project! I really hope to create great media centering on LGBTQI+ identities.
I want to thank the LGBT Resource Center for giving me a space to actually feel comfortable on campus, my friends for always being there and supporting me, my parents for letting me crash with them and actually urging me to go to school, and just everyone who helped me get through my rough patches during these four years."
Bachelor of Social Work
"I will be starting my Master's program this Summer through The University of Utah in Social Work, and eventually plan to be a School Social Worker.
I want to thank my fiancé, for stretching me, and helping me to realize that my passion really could become my work. Without realizing this I would not have been able to excel the way I have. I am so very grateful that I am now able to feel the love and determination I give return to me, both professionally and personally."
Doctorate of Philosophy, Biomedical Engineering
BA, Gender Studies
Matthew J. Plooster
Doctorate of Education - Educational Leadership & Policy
We’ve also created custom GIF stickers to use on your social stories to celebrate your graduation virtually! On any platform that uses GIPHY, search the keyword “UofULavGrads“ and post to your feed. Any Instagram/Twitter post with the hashtags #UofULavGrads and #EDIgrads2020 will be shared by us!