Graduating seniors celebrated their heritage and culture at four diversity graduation ceremonies held from May 2 to 8.

A man and a woman smile at the camera.
Bryan Massingale, S.T.D., a gay Catholic priest and the James and Nancy Buckman Chair in Applied Christian Ethics at Fordham, with a graduating senior at the Lavender ceremony

“We are so happy that you joined our community, that you brought your blazing talent to Fordham, and that you worked incredibly hard,” Tania Tetlow, president of Fordham, said in a video message to students. “All of it has led to this moment.” 

In total, more than 200 students were recognized at the third annual Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, Latine, and Lavender (LGBTQ+) graduations. 

Si Se Puede: Yes You Can

The series of ceremonies began with the Latine graduation, which honored more than 80 students from both campuses. Each student was given an aqua blue stole, a color selected by students because it reminded them of the Caribbean. From a banquet table, they collected colorful patches stitched with the flags of Latin American countries, as well as stickers with slogans like “Si Se Puede,” which translates to “Yes You Can.” At the end of the evening, they ate empanadas, plantains, and rice and beans while listening to an eclectic group of Latinx artists that included Bad Bunny, Celia Cruz, and Rosalía. 

Juan Carlos Matos, assistant vice president for student affairs for diversity and inclusion, set the scene for the Latine graduation. 

“Tonight, let’s take in all of the joy in our ability to celebrate Latinidad in all its forms, from those born in Latin America, to those born in the States,” Matos said. “To those who are native Spanish speakers, to those who get along with their Spanglish … and everyone in between.” 

A man places an aqua blue stole on a woman's shoulders.
Chief Diversity Officer Rafael Zapata places a stole on a student at the Latine ceremony.

Finding A ‘Family’ at Fordham

In a heartfelt speech, student Maya Dominguez shared how her life changed after joining the Latine club at Rose Hill, El Grito De Lares, where she found a community of people who understood and embraced her culture. 

“Finding a community where you can share your struggles, laughter, and success is finding a family,” said Dominguez, who earlier that evening won a Sonrisa Award, given to two graduating seniors who demonstrate dedication to Fordham’s Latinx community. 

Arthur Ze An Liu, a senior who won the Lotus Award at the AAPI ceremony, said he found a similar community at Asian Cultural Exchange. He joined the student club during his first year at Fordham and rose in the ranks, from freshman representative, to treasurer, and finally president. He recalled their inaugural lunar year celebration, hosted by their club last year. 

“We were able to bring one of the most significant cultural holidays for the Asian community to Fordham,” said Liu, who was born and raised in Hong Kong and is of Chinese descent. “I’m glad that I represented my heritage and happy to have seen other people interact with my culture.” 

The celebrations, which were held at both the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses, were sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, Office of the President, and the 2023 Senior Week committees. 

Three women wearing lavender stoles smile in front of a lavender backdrop.
Three graduating seniors from the Lavender ceremony

Below are the award winners for each graduation:

AAPI Graduation:

  • Lotus Leadership Award: Naimal Chisti (Lincoln Center) and Arthur Ze An Liu (Rose Hill)
  • Most Likely to Sell Out a Lincoln Center Concert (Superlative Award): Liz Shim (Rose Hill)
  • Most Likely to Start a Successful Youtube Channel (Superlative Award): Maleiya Lorenzo (Rose Hill)
  • Most Likely to Survive the Last of Us (Superlative Award): Jonathan DeFelipe (Rose Hill)
  • Most Likely to Open a Michelin-Star Restaurant (Superlative Award): Ishrat Soha (Lincoln Center) 


Black Graduation:

  • Black Leadership Award: Chanelle Dortch, Kiya Brown, Sophia Henderson (Lincoln Center) and Aminata Konateh, K.D. Spencer Roman, Alvin Feliz Varona (Rose Hill) 


Latine Graduation:

  • Sonrisa Award: Annabel Filpo (Lincoln Center) and Maya Dominguez (Rose Hill)
  • Pa’Lante Award: Daniella Lopez (Lincoln Center) and Alexander Chavez Sanchez (Rose Hill)


Lavender Graduation:

  • George Takei Arts and Media Award: Adah Unachukwu (Lincoln Center) and Chloe McGee (Rose Hill)
  • Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera LGBTQ+ Activism Award: Trystan Edwards (Lincoln Center) and Santiago Plaza (Rose Hill)
  • Audre Lorde LGBTQ+ Research Award: Caridad Kinsella (Lincoln Center) and Benedict Reilly, Lillian Gieseke, Ethan Hammett (Rose Hill)
  • Fr. Bryan N. Massingale Faculty LGBTQ+ Award: Karina Hogan (Lincoln Center) and Jennifer Moorman, Ph.D. (Rose Hill) 



Taylor is a visual storytelling strategist in Fordham University's marketing and communications department, where she documents University life through photography and video. Since joining Fordham in 2018, she has served as a writer, photographer, videographer, and social media manager, dividing her time between University Marketing and Communications and the Office of the President. She earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Stony Brook University's School of Communication and Journalism and her master's degree in public media from Fordham University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Her work has appeared on NPR, NBC New York, and amNewYork METRO.