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A group of students wearing purple regalia, black caps, and a variety of stoles stand together for a group photo

Congratulatory events celebrate diverse graduates at Northwestern

Here’s to continuing onwards in visibility. Be the cool adult that a 12-year-old version of you would have stared at with some confusing sense of yearning.”

Rae MacCarthy
Class of 2023

Multicultural Student Affairs Honors Students During Graduation Week

When Rae MacCarthy got up to speak before a crowded Cahn Auditorium at Wednesday’s Lavender Graduation, the McCormick senior didn’t want to tell a story. They wanted to talk about moments.

“My experience at Northwestern as a queer individual has not been one coherent story,” MacCarthy said. “It has been more of a mosaic of minutiae, coming together to form something holistic and memorable once seen all together.”

It was the perfect way to kick off a series of congratulatory events hosted by Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) to recognize the plurality of identities that Northwestern University graduates hold.

Rae Macarthy

MacCarthy was voted the student speaker at Lavender Graduation, an annual celebration of graduating students in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA) community.

MSA also hosted celebrations for communities within the Class of 2023 including the Latinx Congratulatory, APIDA Senior Send Off, The JOY: NU’s Black Congratulatory and the Native American and Indigenous Community Celebration.

“These celebrations serve as a powerful recognition of Northwestern's diverse student body, embracing and honoring their unique backgrounds, experiences and contributions,” Northwestern Director of Multicultural Student Affairs Alejandro Magaña said.

At each congratulatory, students received a stole to wear during Northwestern’s Graduation Weekend events. Speakers included MSA staff and faculty, alumni and student speakers.

2023 Congratulatory Highlights

While MSA hosted these events, every congratulatory embodied a different community of students. At the Lavender Graduation, Black- and Queer- centered community healer Tune.In.With.Tristen led a sound vibration healing ceremony. The JOY: NU’s Black Congratulatory included a poetry reading and student speakers.


“I implore us all to reflect that the student activists behind the Bursar’s Office Takeover didn’t anticipate the struggles they faced along their journey either,” African Student Association President Faith Oviawe said. “With this honor comes the responsibility of ensuring that their legacy and our legacy continue for the Black students that will follow behind us.”

 When they were asked to deliver remarks at Wednesday’s Lavender Graduation, MacCarthy said they didn’t consider themselves much of a public speaker. But MacCarthy knew they would regret it for the rest of their life if they didn’t take the opportunity to address the Class of 2023.

Both MacCarthy and Oviawe ended their remarks with an eye toward the future.

“Here’s to continuing onwards in visibility,” MacCarthy said. “Be the cool adult that a 12-year-old version of you would have stared at with some confusing sense of yearning.”

For Magaña, this week of congratulatories was important for that very reason.

As Northwestern prepares to welcome the most diverse class in its history, MSA will continue to create spaces to honor these students.

“These celebrations symbolize our collective belief in creating a future where every student feels seen, heard and valued,” Magaña said.