Asia Raymond, left, and Elaine Eng, right, celebrate their friend Monique Dunn, center, during the Lavender Graduation at San Diego City College, May 9, 2024. Photo by Samantha Griffen/ City Times Media
Asia Raymond, left, and Elaine Eng, right, celebrate their friend Monique Dunn, center, during the Lavender Graduation at San Diego City College, May 9, 2024. Photo by Samantha Griffen/ City Times Media
Samantha Griffen

Third annual City College Lavender Graduation celebrates LGBTQ+ students’ academic success

Lavender ceremony honors record number of students

Music filled the A terrace at San Diego City College as the third annual Lavender Graduation took place. A drag performance from Deja Re energized the crowd. Students and their loved ones gathered May 9 to participate in the celebration.

The number of students honored at graduation doubled from last year with 30 registrations. Some students were unable to make the ceremony but Pride Hub Counselor Lucy Plascencia called out all names. 

While the graduation was a joyous celebration, Lavender Graduation originated as a way to fight back hate. The Lavender Graduation was created by a University of Michigan faculty member after she was denied entry to watch her child’s graduation because of her sexuality.  

“Lavender Graduation is a space where LGBT folks can be recognized for their accomplishments, for our students, for our families,” Plascencia said.

Dakota Bolton, left, receives a lavender stole from Tristian Hartley, right, at the San Diego City College Lavender Graduation, Thursday, May 9, 2024. Photo by Samantha Griffen/ City Times Media

Plascencia has been the Pride Hub counselor for several years and organized all 3 ceremonies at City College with the help of Nursing and Pride Hub Mental Health Liaison Tristan Hartley. 

“Working as the counselor for the Pride Hub has been a really great honor, creating programming for our LGBTQ students,” Plascencia said.

Lavender Graduation was created for students like Monique Dunn who struggled to find a community for herself. 

“When I was a teenager, I didn’t really get to be a part of the community because I was in foster care,” Dunn said. 

Dunn is graduating with an associates in both psychology and liberal studies. She will be attending San Diego State University in the fall. 

“I became an adult and surrounded myself with community and I feel like that’s what Lav Grad is,” Dunn said. “Just knowing that there is a place that you belong, that you’re safe and people want to see the best for you.”

Mohammed Tawfeeq is another City graduate. He will also be attending SDSU pursuing a degree in social work. 

“This is my first actual graduation ceremony, when I got the email … I felt I (had) to come,” Tawfeeq said. 

Plascencia hopes to see the lavender graduation grow where people can continue to attend and celebrate. 

“To have a celebration at the end of the year to celebrate folks transferring and getting their associates, it’s a big deal,” Plascencia said.

Editor’s note: As of March 23, 2023, the Associated Press Stylebook, which serves as the primary style guide for City Times Media, was updated to use LGBTQ+ “in all references for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer and/or questioning.”

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