NMU celebrates cultural diversity

Ceremony salutes ethnicities, races

Graduates, family and friends gather to eat a range of culturally diverse foods after the ceremony where international students and students of color received their graduation stoles and cords. (Journal photo by Alexandria Bournonville)

MARQUETTE — Several Northern Michigan University diversity-focused entities held a ceremony and celebration on Wednesday in honor of 2024 graduates of a variety of cultures, ethnicities and races.

The event was sponsored by the Student Equity and Engagement Center, the international programs, the Center for Native American Studies and the President’s Committee on Diversity.

“Our celebration aims to honor the diverse cultures of our student body, featuring everything from captivating music to inspiring keynote speakers and a delightful array of cultural foods served after the ceremony,” said SEEC graduate assistant and president of the Black Student Union, MarLanaysia Rosser.

Native American Student Association secretary and membership coordinator Jolene Martinez performed the land acknowledgment, recognizing that NMU lies on the ancestral homelands of the Anishinaabe Three Fires Confederacy.

Shelby Boggs, NASA vice president and citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, detailed the importance of productive and respectful higher education for people of color, especially Indigenous peoples.

“I owe immense gratitude to the Native American Student Association and the Center for Native American Studies for guiding me through my journey in higher education, but more importantly, for guiding my journey of self-discovering cultural reclamation,” Boggs said. “Westernized education has long been a source of assimilation for my people. But at Northern Michigan University, the Center for Native American Studies and the Native American Student Association protect Indigenous students from the assimilation that higher education can often breed.”

Asian Student Union coleader Crystal Guo and Latinx Student Union President Rosalva Brito also made remarks in praise of the community their organizations have fostered at NMU.

Assistant Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion Shawnrece Campbell, the keynote speaker of the night, addressed the graduates with an inspiring speech recognizing the hardships that many had to go through.

“You have navigated through uncertainty with grace, adapting to new modes of learning, overcoming obstacles and rising above adversity. Your resilience in the face of adversity is a testament to your unwavering dedication to your education and your future,” Campbell said. “But today is not just about acknowledging the trials we’ve endured.

“It’s about celebrating the triumphs that have emerged from those challenges. It’s about recognizing the beauty and diversity that enriches our university community, the vibrant tapestry of cultures, traditions and experiences that make each of us unique.

“As we gather here this evening, let us be mindful of the rich tapestry of voices into the fabric of your journey. The poets, the visionaries, the voices of resilience, diversity, unity and hope.”

Campbell ended with a send-off on behalf of the university.

“As you embark on the next chapter of your journey, I urge you to carry forward the lessons learned during your time here,” she said. “Remember the strength you discovered within yourselves, the bonds of friendship forged and the knowledge gained. Let these be the guiding lights that illuminate your path forward.

“As you step out into the world, know that you carry with you the indomitable spirit and the power to affect positive change.”

Alexandria Bournonville can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 506. Her email address is abournonville@miningjournal.net.


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