Claremont Colleges Lavender Graduation Welcome Speech (04/29/16)

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the Lavender Graduation of the Claremont Colleges, Class of 2016.

My name is Rebecca Lee and I am so honored to be here to introduce this ceremony. Lavender Graduation is our annual celebration of you, this year’s graduating LGBTQIA+ students at the 7Cs. It is also the culmination of the Queer Resource Center’s programs this year, which started in September with our Open House and Bisexual Awareness Week, and continued this semester into Gaypril. Last Saturday was the workshop and reading by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, a beautiful and power experience that I’m so thankful to have been a part of. I’ve only been at the Claremont Colleges for a year, but I’ve already witnessed just how wonderful the queer community here can be.

Last year, I was where you all are sitting now, ready to graduate, excited and nervous for what was to come. I had my people in undergrad, and I was scared that I would somehow lose that community by graduating and moving away. (That did not happen, by the way…) Through working at the QRC, I’ve been able to meet even more amazing people who I’ve come to love. I hope your experiences have been as rich with support, and I hope you have been able to find your people in your four years here.

So welcome to this space of celebration and love for all that we are and all that we can be. Graduation can be tough for so many reasons, but it is also a time of joy, a way to honor just how far you’ve come in the past four years (or two, or three, or more). These last few weeks are sacred. You are saying goodbye to four years of hard work, four years of growth, four years as part of whatever capacity of community has enveloped you at the Claremont Colleges. It’s scary, stepping into an unknown future, but know that you have been developing the skills to succeed since even before you arrived on campus, and you have the tools to get through whatever life throws at you.

For now, I hope you will take this time to reflect. Process your time here and spend these last weeks with your friends and your community. Appreciate the good that you’ve been able to find here, and be ready to let go when you cross that final stage at Commencement. Trust that the people you love will have your back even after graduation. Your community will always be there when you need it.

Now please join me in welcoming Al Forbes, acting director of the Queer Resource Center, to deliver the Lavender Graduation Invocation.

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