Participants in Eastern Mennonite University's Donning of the Kente ceremony pose for a photo outside Martin Chapel on Sunday, May 1. The seventh annual ceremony honors graduates' international heritage. (Photos by Derrick Chirinos)

Donning of the Kente ceremony honors grads, their heritage and valued mentors

Eastern Mennonite University’s seventh annual Donning of the Kente Ceremony held plenty of moments that tugged the heart.

“Each time we do this, and this is the seventh time,” said Director of International Student Services Micah Shristi, “I tear up. This is beautiful.”

The beauty lay in the sharing of joyful and heartfelt speeches from sisters, fathers, husbands, friends, professors and classmates as they prepared to honor graduates of the Class of 2022. [View the recording of the ceremony on Facebook Live from our EMU Facebook page.]

The ceremony, among the first of the Commencement events, recognizes and rewards achievement; honors those who contributed to the graduate’s success; connects graduates to their heritage and international roots; and encourages them to continue striving for excellence. 

Senior Faith Manickam with professors Florina and Ashok Xavier.

Each graduate receives a stole of kente cloth, a symbol of prestige in many African societies, handwoven for each graduate, or a satin sash with flags from the countries they feel a connection with. Among the many countries represented were Jordan, Honduras, Colombia, Mozambique, France, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bolivia, Lebanon, India, and Vietnam.

Each student selects an individual to place the stole or sash around his or her neck. Many seniors choose to wear the stole at Commencement as an important component of their academic regalia.

Hosts of the ceremony were Celeste Thomas, director of multicultural student services, and Micah Shristi, director of international student services. Rodrigue Makelele MA ‘20 (conflict resolution) and drummers with Drums for Wellness and Community Inclusion performed a musical selection. Shannon Dycus, dean of students, gave the blessing.

Participants

Malak Bani-Hani, a business administration and accounting major, donned by her sister, Marwah Bani-Hani;

Rodrigo Barahona, an economics and environmental science major, donned by his brother, Diego Barahona ‘17;

Jessica Brinkley, earning an MA in transformational leadership and a graduate certificate in conflict resolution, donned herself in honor of her mother, Terri Childress;

Alcinda Brubaker, a marketing major, donned by her mother, Alta Brubaker;

Myles Crawley with his mother Pearl Crawley.

Kay Carbaugh, earning a graduate certificate in restorative justice in education, donned by her spouse, Eric Carbaugh;

Myles Crawley, a business administration major, donned by his mother, Pearl Crawley;

Simelwe Dlova, earning an MA in conflict transformation, donned by her daughter Asiko Dlova and Rachel Roth Sawatzky, director of student programs;

Fabiana Espinal, earning an MA in clinical mental health counseling and a graduate certificate in restorative justice, donned by Professor Cheree Hammond and Professor Jennifer Cline;

David Flores Cano, a international economics and global development major, donned by Calvin Miller;

Navy Kiersten Graber, a political science major, donned by Professor Deanna Durham;

Jareya Harder, a computer science major, donned by friend and classmate Josh Overacker;

Yassmine Mohamad Hawchar, earning an MA in restorative justice and peacebuilding, donned by Professor Gloria Rhodes;

Natalia Hernandez Bustillo, a computer science major, donned by Professor Deanna Durham;

Jose Juan Hernandez Urueta, earning an MA in conflict transformation, donned by his spouse, Maria Fernanda Carrera;

Juan E. Herrera Garzon, a global development major, donned by Professor JiEun Kim;

Furst Jenkins, earning a Master of Divinity degree and a graduate certificate in restorative justice, donned by Veva Mumaw, associate director of admission, Eastern Mennonite Seminary;

Jose Juan Hernandez Urueta, of Colombia, will be awarded an MA in conflict transformation on Sunday, May 8. He is donned by his spouse, Maria Fernanda Carrera.

Tasia Hoover, a biology and secondary education major, donned by Professor Laurie Yoder;

Terra Jones, a leadership and organizational management major, donned by her spouse, Christopher Jones;

Rachel Loyer, a sociology and Spanish major, donned by Professor Maria Esther Showalter, Latino Student Alliance advisor;

Faith Manickam, a biology major, donned by professors Ashok and Florina Xavier;

Lucie Martinot-Lagarde, earning an MA in conflict transformation, donned David Nyiringabo MA ‘20 (conflict resolution);

Korenn Paige, a nursing major, donned by her father, Frank Paige;

Ezrionna Prioleau, earning Master of Divinity and MA in organizational leadership degrees, donned by Hailey Holcomb, a friend and classmate;

Ricardo Quintero, a leadership and organizational management major, donned by his mother, Lucy Restrepo;

Avery Trinh, a psychology major, donned by Professor Daniel Showalter;

Karen Valdez, a political science, peacebuilding, and global development major, donned by Professor Timothy Seidel;

Evelina Yavny, a violin performance major, donned by her mother, Olga Kilimnik.

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