16th annual Lavender Graduation


Members of the LGBT community will be recognized at the Lavender Graduation commencement ceremony on May 9, 2013. Graduates will be presented with a lavender stole, which they can choose to wear at the ISU commencement ceremony.

Greg Zwiers

Lavender Graduation is a commencement ceremony to recognize the accomplishments of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community who will be graduating this year.

The ceremony will be on May 9, in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union and this year marks the 16th Annual Lavender Graduation.

Awards and scholarships are given to underclassmen and faculty as well as the graduating seniors.

“In ways this is a benefit over regular commencement because it’s more personal it’s something that kind of makes you feel like you’re important rather than the giant commencement ceremonies,” said TC Dieckman, senior in psychology.

Dieckmann served as the treasurer and logistics personnel in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Allied Alliance (LGBTAA) this year.

Dieckmann said the ceremony is something nice that makes him feel like more than just a face in the crowd.

Brad Freihoefer said the presentation of the graduates is really the focus of the program.

After the presentation of the graduates, they each get the chance to recognize a significant other.

A significant other can be any person who had a significant impact on the graduate’s academic career.

“That’s really the moment that everything shines, I think it’s one of the most powerful things to hear from students,” Freihoefer said.

Recognizing graduating LGBT individuals and the people who helped them is critical because LGBT students may face a variety of different barriers and it is an achievement to get there while being who you are Freihoefer said.

Parents and family members will be at the ceremony as well as members of the community, which many of the students are involved in.

Buffy Jamison, senior in world languages and cultures and president of the LGBTAA, said what makes Lavender Graduation special to her is that it is so personal.

“It’s with people that you know, people that you love friends that you’ve built up through the years that kind of become like a family to you,” Jamison said.

Dieckmann’s experience last year made him decide to participate for this year’s ceremony.

“I absolutely loved it last year,” Dieckmann said.

Jamison said experiencing Lavender Graduation during her first year at Iowa State is what encouraged her to stand up and get involved in LGBT organizations.

Jamison said a lot of the time you do not get to see many of the people after the ceremony making the ceremony a final goodbye.

Lavender Graduation is not something all LGBT students are interested in participating in for one reason or another. Dieckmann knows students who will not be participating.

“Students have a variety of reasons why they may be or not be involved in LGBTIQA organizations while they’re here on campus, but still see a lot of value in attending this event and their attendance is just as important as anyone else’s attendance including those who have been part of organizations,” said Kelly Leonard, program assistant LGBTSS.

Freihoefer said it is great to see students who are involved in LGBT organizations or not at the event because Lavender Graduation is about honoring their path to graduation, which differs from person to person.

“People get emotional. And that’s part of it too, it’s hard not to,” Jamison said.

Graduates are given lavender colored flowers; scholarship and award winners receive rainbow colored flowers.

Lavender stoles with a rainbow section on each side will be given out to graduates. Students have the option to wear these stoles at the Iowa State graduation ceremony.

“What they had to overcome or who they needed to turn to for support, who was supportive and helped them along their journey, that’s critical, that’s really important as we look to why we do this event,” said Freihoefer.

Information on the specific awards and scholarships can be found on the LGBTSS website under the Lavender Graduation tab.