On Friday April 21, 2017, Eastern Nazarene College held its 10th annual New Beginnings ceremony. The event, which was presented by the college’s Multicultural Affairs Office, celebrates the heritage of graduating students of color and their accomplishments.
The ceremony kicked off with a reception in the Linda Whitling Lounge, with live music and refreshments, for current students as well as family, friends, and former students and faculty.
Following the reception, attendees moved into the Ruth Cameron Auditorium for the remainder of the celebration. Robert Benjamin, the Associate Dean for Multicultural Affairs and Student Transitions, gave the opening remarks of the evening, and Dr. Corlis McGee offered words of welcome at her final New Beginnings ceremony as president.
Dr. Larry Bollinger and Brandy Fernandes offered their remarks and the ENC Gospel Choir performed throughout the evening. Current SGA President Noelle Rudeen delivered tear-jerking remarks as she recalled the time that she spent at ENC and shared some of her favorite memories.
As the speaking portion of the ceremony was winding down, Benjamin returned to the podium once more as he began to speak about the sashes that were about to be distributed. Benjamin pointed out the red and white colors on each of the sashes as being ENC’s school colors, stating, “You are part of ENC’s best.”
Continuing with his remarks, he stated, “Gowns have a true and rich European heritage. With the sashes, this is where we intersect this history. You also have a rich heritage. When you wear it, know what you are wearing. It’s the chorus of all those that have gone before you.” Benjamin then pointed out the unique patterns on each style of sashes, which is dependent on the students’ heritage. Students could choose from sashes representing African, Native American, Latino, Pacific Islander, Asian, and Middle Eastern heritages.
As students were called one-by-one to the stage to receive their sashes, the crowd cheered and applauded for their classmates and friends.
When asked about the significance of his sash, Fabio Maraschi, who is graduating with a Biology degree, stated, “It’s an honor and a privilege being the first Brazilian American to graduate college in my family.”
Senior Rosangel Vargas, who will be graduating with a degree in Biology and a minor in Psychology stated, “As a minority, it’s a privilege to represent Hispanics. Most of our people don’t get the opportunity to go to college.”
To close out the ceremony, ENC faculty and alum Chris Cherry (’12) delivered the benediction, and sang the Haitian hymnal “Reste Avec Nous Seigneur,” which means “stay with us Lord” in English. Cherry then encouraged the Class of 2017 to be the change in the world, and made certain that they knew to “Go in love. Go in grace. Go in color.”